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I am creating a character for a game where Feats and Flaws are permitted and when I finished my character background I came to the conclusion that both the Blind-Fight feat and the Murky Eyed flaw are a perfect fit for my character. According to the RAW, the flaw allows me to take the feat at the cost of having to roll twice for concealment, but the feat allows the character to reroll his miss chance (amongst other things). I am concerned that this combination would be overpowered. Before starting a long discussion with my GM, I would like to ask for advice from the stack:

  • How do Blind Fight and Murky Eyed interact by RAW?
  • Would this combination be strong enough to affect game balance, and if so, how should my GM and I address these balance concerns, ideally without straying too far from RAW?
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Flaws empower characters. This is an unavoidable fact of the system. Unearthed Arcana tries to deal with min-maxing by making flaws the negative of two feats:

Flaws are generally bigger in magnitude than feats. That's because players always choose flaws that have the least impact on their characters, while taking feats that have the most. For example, while a feat affecting skills grants a +2 bonus on two skills, its counterpart flaw might impose a −4 penalty on two skills.

Basically, the authors of Unearthed Arcana understood that players would be drawn to flaws that don’t penalize things of great value to them, and use the bonus feat to get benefits that are of significant value to them. That’s natural, and frankly not even meta-gaming—a real person with real flaws is also likely to focus on endeavors that are not unduly penalized by their flaws. Someone who is color-blind is not likely to go into business selling subtly-different shades of paint.

But the authors of Unearthed Arcana were either unaware, or refused to acknowledge, another important point: a lot of feats are crap. Those feats that give +2 to two skills? They’re awful. A character should never take them.1 They’re not worth even half a feat. So doubling that bonus as a negative doesn’t really represent a fair cost for a bonus feat—even before min-maxing is involved.

So flaws as a system empowers characters. They’re a substantial advantage over not taking flaws. Even when you aren’t going out of your way to game the system. That’s just the way things are. I’d call it a problem, if I weren’t too busy calling the lack of early feats a problem in the system—which I strongly think it is. Humans are the best race in the game for almost everything solely because they start with 100% more feats than everybody else—watering that advantage down by making them have, say, only 33% more (4 instead of 3) goes a long way to improving balance. Plus it helps a lot with the system’s myriad feat taxes. And flaws can be fun!

As for Murky-Eyed and Blind-Fight, that is not a particularly abusive combination. For one thing, Blind-Fight is a kind of mediocre feat—it’s not awful but really, miss chances are bad enough that you’re going to want to do better than simply rolling twice, whether that means supplying light, banishing darkness, getting out of the fog, or seeing through illusions. And Murky-Eyed is a really brutal flaw—there are plenty of flaws that are simply much less negative, like Noncombatant or Shaky in a ranged or melee character, respectively. Plus, as you say, the flaw and feat go together really nicely—it makes perfect sense that a character with really bad eyesight would train to fight better when they can’t see well.2

Really, my concern is more, what actually happens when you have both? You roll twice when you might miss, and fail if either die fails—and then you get to reroll. Do you have to reroll two dice again? Or just a single die, and only have to succeed on the one? Or do you get to reroll one of your two dice—pointless if both failed? I have no idea. None of these approaches is particularly powerful—the flaw is mitigated somewhat, but hardly obviated. Honestly, my preference would be for something that actually isn’t possible by the rules, but would be how I’d go for speed of play: I would have you roll three dice and have to succeed on two out of three.

I would welcome such a character; if anything, I’d be concerned that you may have gone a little overboard with the flaw and were hurting yourself too much. As I said, flaws generally empower characters—I would expect other characters to have benefited more from their flaw and bonus feat than this.

  1. Barring prerequisites, but frankly very few of them are actually used as prerequisites anyway.

  2. Though it arguably makes more sense that they would avoid sight-based combat altogether—but maybe the Murky-Eyed flaw came from an injury or disease later in life after they’d already committed to a more martial path. Or maybe they had some other reason to be stubborn about it and fight that way despite their poor eyesight.

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The benefit of the feat Blind-fight (Player's Handbook 89) says

In melee, every time you miss because of concealment, you can reroll your miss chance percentile roll one time to see if you actually hit….

An invisible attacker gets no advantages related to hitting you in melee. That is, you don’t lose your Dexterity bonus to Armor Class, and the attacker doesn’t get the usual +2 bonus for being invisible…. The invisible attacker’s bonuses do still apply for ranged attacks, however.

You take only half the usual penalty to speed for being unable to see. Darkness and poor visibility in general reduces your speed to three-quarters normal, instead of one-half….

The effect of the flaw Murky-eyed (Unearthed Arcana 91) says

In combat, every time you attack an opponent that has concealment, roll your miss chance twice.

If either or both results indicate that you miss, your attack fails.

Taken together, the effect of Murky-eyed would apply first so that whenever the creature makes a melee attack against a foe that possesses concealment, the creature would roll twice to see if it missed. If the miss occurs, then the creature will realize the benefit of the feat Blind-fight, allowing the creature to reroll that miss chance once to see if the creature actually hit its foe.

This DM sees no problem with a creature possessing both the feat and the flaw, especially since the effect of the flaw Murky-eyed also applies at range and the benefit of the feat Blind-fight does not. However, make sure that the DM knows ahead of time what happens when you're fighting in melee a foe that possesses concealment: not because it's unbalanced but because your combination of feat and flaw might slow down the game, and that rarely makes others happy.

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    \$\begingroup\$ But when you reroll, do you have to roll twice again? \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jan 16 '18 at 15:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan Nope. You've already attacked and rolled twice. The benefit of Blind-fight only kicks in on a miss, which had to be done twice first because of Murky-eyed's effect. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Jan 16 '18 at 15:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ But when you are rolling to check your miss chance while attacking an opponent that has concealment. Wouldn’t Murky-Eyed just apply again? \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jan 16 '18 at 15:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan It sounds like we could go back and forth. To me, it doesn't seem that Murky-eyed's effect can trigger a second time off of Blind-fight because Murky-eyed must check first upon making the attack. After the attack's made and Murky-eyed's checked, you've moved on to a different step because you've already made the attack against the foe: every time you attack an opponent that has concealment it says, yet Blind-fight only checks after a miss has already been determined when there's no more attack rolls to be made. Does that make sense? \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Jan 16 '18 at 18:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan That's totally fair. Do you need this answer to waffle more so that it accommodates your position? I mean, I can try, but I have trouble (ahem) seeing that position, especially when that position means the game freezes until a judge intercedes and an equally tenable position means it doesn't. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Jan 16 '18 at 18:14

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