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Various monsters and spells have effects on creatures than can see/hear them.

As a result, it may be situationally advantageous for a character to make themselves temporarily blind (e.g. via a blindfold, or closing their eyes) or deaf (e.g. via wax, or covering their ears).

Is it possible for a PC to cause themselves temporary blindness or deafness? If so, how does it work (including how long does it take to "don/doff" the condition)?

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I'll split the answer in two, one for blinded and one for deafened. Note that these are DM adjudication, except for when I'm quoting Crawford or PHB.

Blind

Yes. Simply closing your eyes is enough to blind yourself. Crawford agrees.

With your eyes closed, you're blinded. No effect on movement. See "Unseen Attackers and Targets" (PH, 194). #DnD

Closing your eyes is a "free" action (it does have a cost though, thus "free"). You remain with your eyes closed until you open them again. You can open them in your next turn, or possibly by using your Reaction to Ready the "I open my eyes when I hear X thing" action and spending your reaction to do so. Putting or removing the blindfold has the same effect and spends the same resources.

Deafened

This one is a bit harder. First because, unlike closing your eyes, which is directly useful e.g. for the Medusa fight, being deaf has less direct applications I know of, thus AFAIK no Crawford or rulebook statement about self-inflicting the condition.

Second because simply covering your ears is fairly different from the actual condition

A deafened creature can’t hear and automatically fails any ability check that requires hearing.

It doesn't say "can't hear clearly". It says can't hear. Covering your ears is not enough to not being able to hear any more. Note that our adventurers have senses a lot better than ours (i.e. their Passive Perception is usually way higher than 10), so if you can hear while covering your ears, your Elf Ranger certainly can as well.

Putting some sound-blocking object inside your ear might be enough, but that is up to the DM. The duration is also straight-forward here: it lasts as long as the object is inside the ear. It probably should take one free action (object interaction) to put it there and one to take it out.

Not that temporary

Disclaimer: Slightly gore for people that like to imagine what I'm describing. But the "pierce your eardrums" already agonized me enough, so I'm keeping that line.

Well, you can always take the knife out and cut your eyeballs out or pierce your ears. You can then revert it by casting Regenerate. Yeah, your Bard/cleric/druid isn't happy to waste his 7th level spell slot because you decided to cut your eyes, but it works.

Again: the duration is until you fix it.

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It seems very much possible, since you've just described exactly how a player might go about it in a very plausible fashion.

This is even sometimes mentioned with certain abilities like Medusa's Petrifying Gaze, where you can explicitly avert your eyes to avoid the effect.

The time required depends on what exactly might the player choose to do, so for example:

  • close your eyes, avert them - free action ("other things you can do on your turn")
  • cover your ears/eyes might be a free action, but you are then unable to use your hands
  • wax in ears or blindfold might take an action to set up if you have the material ready
  • as Mołot suggested: pierce your eardrums; be sure not to test this method IRL

Note that for certain combinations of effect and solution the DM might still rule that they only soften the effect, not avoid it completely (since you can for example never truly deafen yourself).

Be also aware that being blinded or deafened has its own disadvantages (on saving throws and so on).

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'll emphasise that closing/averting your eyes - although a free action - is something you must do on your turn (or possibly your reaction if you have Readied an action). And then you are effectively blinded until your next turn where you can obviously choose to open them again or not. (i.e. you can't just close/open your eyes on a medusa's turn) \$\endgroup\$ – PJRZ Jun 19 '18 at 10:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ I believe you can also cast Blindess/Deafness on yourself? (The spell only says to target one creature you can see, so I presume that can be yourself). \$\endgroup\$ – PJRZ Jun 19 '18 at 10:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ One can pierce his eardrums. From what I heard, it renders you deaf, at least for the first minutes when pain is all you can perceive from your ears. And it's kinda canon, was used in one of Forgotten Realms books. \$\endgroup\$ – Mołot Jun 19 '18 at 13:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ From a "fantasy game" perspective, I would strongly argue that one should be able to temporarily deafen themselves to eliminate hearing based magic effects. The reason being: The Odyssey, the sailors were able to make themselves immune to the Siren's Song. That should be considered a "classic trope" for this. In my opinion at least, but, I'd be mighty upset if that didn't work against a group of Harpy. \$\endgroup\$ – Reginald Blue Jun 19 '18 at 15:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ReginaldBlue I wanted to include the Odyssey, but wasn't sure if they deafend themselves or just tied themselves to the ships's mast. Now I see it was both (Odysseus was bound, the rest beeswaxed their ears). \$\endgroup\$ – J.E Jun 20 '18 at 6:25

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