Shadow Arrow:

You weave illusion magic into your arrow, causing it to occlude your foe’s vision with shadows. The creature hit by the arrow takes an extra 2d6 psychic damage, and it must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw or be unable to see anything farther than 5 feet away until the start of your next turn.


A creature with blindsight can perceive its surroundings without relying on sight, within a specific radius.

If a creature with blindsight (like a Flying Sword) fails its saving throw against an arcane archer's Shadow Arrow, is its ability to perceive enemies via blindsight restricted? Would creatures with truesight or tremorsense be handled the same way?

It seems to me that this is fairly straightforward, but upon reading this question about opportunity attacks there seem to be cases where the word "see" is used more generically as all forms of perception.


Tremorsense and Blindsight are 'seeing', but cannot be blocked by shadows.

Truesight would not be affected either, but for a different reason.

Tremorsense and Blindsight are a little more complicated. Let's deal with them first.

Do Tremorsense and Blindsight function as seeing?

The question you cite contains two examples of how such senses can function as seeing.

Jeremy Crawford on Twitter states that blindsight allows you to spot an invisible creature, although that creature can still attempt to Hide.

Even more explicitly, Mike Mearls says that blindsight and tremorsense count as seeing for spells and abilities that require sight to target.

So while blindsight and tremorsense are not sight per se, within the realm of abilities that require sight, they can function as sight. To your question, they are eligible to be disrupted by an attack which targets sight.

Can illusion spells target senses other than vision?

"School of Illusion" (PHB118)

You focus your studies on magic that dazzles the senses, befuddles the mind, and tricks even the wisest folk. Your magic is subtle, but the illusions crafted by your keen mind make the impossible seem real.

Clearly the illusion school can create effects that are not limited to the visual. Phantom Steed, for example, creates a mount that is so tactilely existent that you can ride on it! So an illusion effect could be used to 'blind' the senses of someone with blindsight or tremorsense. Illusionary 'white noise', for example, could disrupt blindsight, while illusory vibrations could block tremorsense.

However, look at the description of Shadow Arrow. If it simply read "You weave illusion magic into your arrow, causing it to occlude your foe’s vision.", that would be sufficient for it to to be able to stop blindsight and tremorsense. Illusion magic has that capacity. But it continues, "You weave illusion magic into your arrow, causing it to occlude your foe’s vision with shadows." Under the principals that there is no fluff in spell descriptions, spells do what they say they do, and specific beats general, we are forced to conclude that the Shadow Arrow achieves its effects specifically through shadows. Thus, it can only block the vision of things whose visual systems would be affected by shadows (that is, darkness). It will be ineffective against creatures using blindsight or tremorsense, because those senses are not blocked by shadows. Other illusory sensory effects might work on them, but not shadows.

What about Truesight?

"Truesight" (PHB 185) (emphasis mine)

A creature with truesight can, out to a specific range, see in normal and magical darkness, see invisible creatures and objects, automatically detect visual illusions and succeed on saving throws against them, and perceives [sic] the original form of a shapechanger or a creature that is transformed by magic.

Truesight says that it can see in darkness, so trying to block it with shadows will be ineffective. What's more, Truesight specifically says it allows you to automatically make your saving throw against visual illusions. Shadow Arrow allows a Wisdom save for no effect against its illusion magic. A creature with Truesight would automatically make that save and remain unaffected.

Note that while [https://rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/72157/can-you-blind-a-demilich-creature-that-has-truesight/72158#72158] has been used by others answering this question to suggest that Shadow Arrow could blind something with Truesight, that is an erroneous conclusion. That question speaks to imposing the blinded condition on something. Yes, a creature with Truesight can have the blinded condition if something specifically imposes that condition. Effects do what they say they do. Shadow Arrow does not say it imposes the blinded condition, rather it says it 'occludes your foe's vision with shadows'. It does not overcome Truesight.

Tremorsense and Blindsight are 'seeing', but cannot be blocked by shadows.

Truesight means you make your save and are not affected.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Considering that blindsight says it lets you perceive "without relying on sight", I'm not sure it's even eligible. It functions as a substitute for sight but it specifically is not sight. I do think you have a good point about Shadow Arrow occluding one's vision "with shadows", though. \$\endgroup\$ – Mark Wells Sep 10 '20 at 20:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MarkWells Blindsight is certainly not sight. The question is whether it can interact with other game rules that refer to sight 'as if' it was sight. The tweet from Mike Mearls says yes...FWIW. I know it is not RAW, but the OP specifically wanted that citation addressed. \$\endgroup\$ – Kirt Sep 10 '20 at 20:38

Tremorsense and Blindsight are not "seeing"

Blindsight is pretty clear from the description:

without relying on sight.

Tremorsense is also not sight and only requires contact with the ground:

A monster with tremorsense can detect and pinpoint the origin of vibrations within a specific radius, provided that the monster and the source of the vibrations are in contact with the same ground or substance.

So the Arcane Archer's Shadow Arrow would not affect blindsight and tremorsense at all.


Truesight is still seeing, and seeing requires being able to see, so Shadow Arrow would prevent truesight from functioning outside of 5 feet. See this answer for details.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.