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In 5e, the Blinded condition is described in the PHB p.290 as:

A blinded creature can't see and automatically fails any ability check that requires sight. Attack rolls against the creature have advantage. and the creature's attack rolls have disadvantage

Grappling in the PHB calls grappling a “special Melee attack.” PHB p.195:

...you can use the Attack action to make a special melee attack, a grapple....

But grappling is also described as an ability check.

...Using at least one free hand, you try to seize the target by making a grapple check, a Strength (Athletics) (Athletics) or check contested by the target's Strength Dexterity (Acrobatics) check...

Given these details, if a character were to attempt to Grapple a Blinded creature, which then is true?

  1. The character grappling the Blinded creature gets Advantage against the Blinded condition
  2. Grappling is not technically an attack but rather an Ability check and thus doesn’t get Advantage
  3. Grappling is both (a Melee attack subject to Attack modifiers and an Ability check subject to Ability modifiers)?
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  • \$\begingroup\$ Updated with the latest from DnD beyond \$\endgroup\$ – Praxiteles Dec 10 '17 at 2:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ What is that update for? I don't see how it changes or clarifies the question. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Dec 10 '17 at 3:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie It was actually related to comments on the answer below, but not sure why it was added to the OP. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Dec 10 '17 at 3:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ Okay, I've removed that section. It's not necessary to update questions with new sources of rules information that shed light on the answer to the question; let answers handle that kind of thing. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Dec 10 '17 at 17:54
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No because grappling does not involve an attack roll

The Blinded condition is described as:

Attack rolls against the creature have advantage, and the creature’s Attack rolls have disadvantage. (basic rules)

As you rightly say, grappling in the PHB calls grappling a “special Melee attack” which allows you to make an ability check to apply the grappled condition to a creature.

Using at least one free hand, you try to seize the target by making a grapple check instead of an attack roll... (PHB p. 195)

It is a contest, not an attack roll. No attack roll means no advantage. Simple as that.

So, for your final question, none of those are correct, but #2 is close. Because Grappling is technically an attack, it is a special melee attack action but it requires no attack roll.

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A grapple involves two opposed ability checks - there are no attack rolls. Therefore there is no advantage or disadvantage arising from attack rolls.

That leaves the question of if the blinded person “automatically fails”. My ruling would be that breaking a grapple with Strength or avoiding it with Dexterity do not automatically “rely on sight”, however, I would give the blinded creature disadvantage.

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