There is a Combat Maneuver called dirty trick which allows a character to - amongst other things - throw sand at another character's face to blind them for some time.

A player wanted to throw ground glass to an foe's eyes, and I guess the difficulty would be the same as for throwing sand, and I think I'd allow for a save to not get blinded permanently.

As there is no "Very dirty trick", and I'm afraid he might wander around with a pouch of ground glass, is there any rule to handle this in the RAW ?


The Dirty Trick maneuver has some limitations. If your player wants to attempt Dirty Trick frequently, then you should make sure to consistently enforce the rules.

  1. Dirty Trick can only impose temporary penalties. In your player's case, you can say that the target is temporarily blinded, and then may spend a move action to wipe the glass dust out of their face. Or they wait it out. Either way, the enemy is not permanently blinded.

    This condition lasts for 1 round. For every 5 by which your attack exceeds your opponent’s CMD, the penalty lasts 1 additional round. This penalty can usually be removed if the target spends a move action.

    If you possess the Greater Dirty Trick feat, the penalty lasts for 1d4 rounds, plus 1 round for every 5 by which your attack exceeds your opponent’s CMD. In addition, removing the condition requires the target to spend a standard action.

  2. There is no saving throw involved. It's a combat maneuver that the player would attempt versus the enemy's CMD.

  3. Attempting a Dirty Trick normally provokes an attack of opportunity, unless the player's character has the Improved Dirty Trick feat or a similar ability.

  4. Dirty Tricks cannot cause damage. Even though having glass dust in your eyes is probably painful, no damage would be involved if it's done via a Dirty Trick.

If you want the thrown glass powder to cause actual hit point damage, or involve some sort of saving throw, then you may want to treat it as an alchemical weapon instead of a maneuver.

For example, the "Dust Knuckles" item involves throwing dust toward the eyes of your opponent. The target may make a reflex save or be blinded for 1 round. Glass dust sounds very cheap to make, so if you treated it as an alchemical weapon, then I imagine it would have a very low save DC.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I know that, but the Dirty trick accounts for sand in the face, not glass shards which would deal considerable damage to the eyes, hence my question. \$\endgroup\$ – Saryk May 5 '18 at 21:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ Dirty Trick's description includes sand an as example. Glass shards aren't a weapon type, so they'd would only deal damage if you, the GM, said so. But in that case, it wouldn't be considered a Dirty Trick. \$\endgroup\$ – MikeQ May 5 '18 at 22:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Saryk Are you talking "ground" (powdered) glass, or "shards"? Not really the same thing. \$\endgroup\$ – Geoffrey Brent May 6 '18 at 0:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Geoffrey Brent I'm talking about the fine glass dust that you end up having if you break and crush glass from like a bottle ; and that is definitely sharp enough to cut and small enough to be similar to sand \$\endgroup\$ – Saryk May 6 '18 at 0:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Saryk you claim you're asking for RAW. The RAW answer is no, arguing that you want it that way means you should be asking a different question. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk - SE stop being evil May 6 '18 at 16:34

It wouldn’t do any damage.

Ground glass is pretty much the same as sand. Coarse glass powder is not any sharper than natural cubic silica crystals. And if it’s shards rather than even coarse powder, it’s not ground enough to act like thrown sand. The real-world dangers of silica/glass powder in the air is lung damage from long-term exposure and things like that, not eye damage.

So basically, no damage and it would be easier to carry a pouch of sand, which does the same thing.

If your player wants to weaponise broken glass instead of ground glass, then that’s a different story and question.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, “sand is basically the same as powdered glass” was the first think to occur to me.... ;-) \$\endgroup\$ – Stephen R May 6 '18 at 2:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ also if you're carrying it around in a pouch any shards will become broken into sand-like coarse powder. \$\endgroup\$ – Jasen May 6 '18 at 8:31

As Mike Q has posted, per RAW Dirty Trick cannot create a permanent effect.

However, if the character is high enough level to take the Blinding Critical feat, what you can do is to let them treat the glass as a reskinned shuriken, or as many shuriken as the character can throw in one round. If they want to improve their chances of success, they can then take the relevant throwing/crit feats.

A strict GM might treat this as an improvised weapon, but since it's not actually conferring an advantage over buying regular shuriken, it'd be fine to overlook that issue in the interests of flavour.

IRL, there are plenty of ways to permanently blind somebody in melee combat. A blow to the back of the head can cause retinal detachment or occipital lobe injury; being stabbed or shot in the face can also do it. You can even do it in grappling. And, yes, glass dust or sand in the eye could do it in the long term (not immediately, but through corneal scratching, infection, and scarring after the fight is over).

But Pathfinder isn't that simulationist of a game. Most weapon attacks just do hit points; to cause permanent impairment you need something like Blinding Critical, and the prereqs for those feats are set quite high. If a 14th-level character can't blind somebody by stabbing them in the eye with a dagger, then a much-lower-level character probably shouldn't have the option to do so with what's essentially an improvised weapon.

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