# How to rule a permanently blind PC in D&D 4e?

One of my players wants to build a totally blind character, and while we've run RP-only disadvantages in the past, this time around he wants mechanics to back it up. He's interested in taking on the challenge of overcoming the mechanical disadvantage, but so far as I can tell the system has no rules for it, despite coming close. Blinded is a condition that more accurately reflects having dirt thrown in your eyes, and seems to explicitly not apply in this case:

Blinded

• The creature can’t see, which means its targets have total concealment against it.
• The creature takes a -10 penalty to Perception checks.
• The creature grants combat advantage.
• The creature can’t flank.

A blinded creature cannot have combat advantage against anyone.

This condition applies to creatures that have been temporarily blinded, such as by exposure to brilliant light or a magical darkness clouding their eyes. It doesn’t apply to creatures that are naturally blind (such as oozes).

Blind is both a keyword and a sense set aside for monsters, but they always have an alternate sense:

blind
A blind creature relies on special senses, such as blindsight or tremorsense, to see within a specified range, beyond which the creature can’t see. The creature is immune to gaze attacks and cannot be blinded.

So, how might I mechanically represent a truly, naturally blind PC that also does not have any alternate senses?

Inflicting the blinded condition permanently looks simplest, but it doesn't feel right and I'd like to explore other options. I know the player has done a lot of research and plans to augment the PC with feats/features/items to help compensate whatever penalties this will give him, so don't worry about 'playable' blindness; he feels he can make that happen regardless.

I realize this question sounds like it's asking for rampant speculation, but please cite (preferably 4e) mechanical inspiration. [consideration of potential ramifications in play is also welcome]

• Having the Blinded status permanently would also be inaccurate, because it describes a situation where a creature hugely dependant on sight (like you and I) is temporarily completely deprived of what is probably their primary sense; they probably find it hampering and disorienting. A truly blind person would have had years (or their entire life) to adjust and learn to do things without sight, and don't suffer the way a sighted person would in a few seconds of blindness – doppelgreener Nov 30 '12 at 3:39
• @doppelgreener Yes, exactly! Though I suppose one could justify the feats the player intends to take as representing that experience... – BESW Nov 30 '12 at 3:45

## Give him the Blind keyword and Tremorsense 0

The Blind keyword states that the creature uses special senses to 'see' within a specified range. The quotes are intentional because see is used as a game term here.

The Blinded condition and the many vision-obscuring powers define not seeing something as it having total concealment against you.

You can give him the special sense of Tremorsense (to represent his sense of touch) with a range of 0. This follows the rules of Blind by giving him a special sense but it still keeps the feeling that he can't interact easily with creatures outside of his own square.

The mechanical results of this are:

• All of the characters targets outside of the characters square have total concealment against the character.
• The character is immune to gaze attacks.
• The character cannot be blinded.
• The character always has line of sight to his own square.
• The character is always aware of creatures in his own square.

He does not suffer the following consequences from the Blinded condition:

• Take a -10 to perception checks
• Cannot flank

Note that anybody that has total concealment against him will get Combat Advantage on their attacks. The important point here is that if he can remove the opponents concealment through an ability, then that opponent doesn't get Combat Advantage just because the character is blind.

• This is a really interesting way of approximating blindness as it occurs IRL, although total concealment of characters not being felt might be a bit harsh since they would have to be totally silent. I wonder where one would find actual blind players as I imagine there would be more cool suggestions from a conversation about this with one of them. I'm super interested in disability in sci fi and fantasy in general. – beth Oct 27 '16 at 17:21

Just Roleplay It

I've had the same situation come up in my game, a player wanted to play a blind warrior inspired by an anime where blindness is "cool" rather than "crippling."

The problem in, in D&D 4th edition, blindness is CRIPPLING. As you see yourself from the blind condition, it heavily penalizes a player, and afflicting someone with that all the time will probably make things miserable for everyone else in the party, which is why you are rightly seeking an alternative.

Mechanistically, there really isn't any. We explored a lot of options, and nothing really worked. You can start giving blindness and blindsight or tremorsense or other countermeasures, but then the character suddenly becomes immune to penalizing effects from monsters that ought to penalize them. You either suffer too much or become overpowered. There's unfortunately no middle ground that we could find.

On the other hand... you can just role-play it. The character can be mechanistically normal, but the player role-plays being blind. The player rolls a perception check as normal and you describe the character as hearing or smelling or feeling something rather than seeing it. When affected by the blinded condition, the character role-plays being dizzy or having their special senses disrupted.

Also consider the ramifications of playing someone blind in a world of Divine Gods and powerful Arcane Magic. Why are they blind? This is a world where you can take someone's finger and regrow their body and bring them back from the dead. This is a world where people can ascend to immortality or become undead (and continue to see with empty eye sockets), transform into fantastic shapes (eg: turning into a six-eyed dragon, yay extra eyes!), and transcend the barriers of space and time. Curing blindness is pretty trivial. It's quite plausible that anyone born blind or who becomes blinded could be healed of that blindness, especially if they have the wherewithal to become a great adventurer. A blind character may simply not make any sense in your setting.

If you're really set on afflicting someone with the blinded condition in order for them to play blind, there is a feat called Blindfighting Sentinel they could take:

Benefit: You do not grant combat advantage to enemies invisible to you. While you are blinded, you do not take the normal -10 penalty to Perception checks.
Also, you gain a +2 feat bonus to Perception checks.

This eliminates two of the five penalties for being blinded, though they still take a -5 penalty to attacks, they still can't flank with allies, and they still cannot gain combat advantage.

Another option is Passage of Mael Arn'dreygh

Benefit: When you are blinded or in darkness, creatures within 2 squares of you have concealment rather than total concealment, provided you have line of effect to the creature’s space and it is not invisible for a reason other than darkness or blindness.

Now it's just concealed (-2 to hit instead of -5) but this doesn't affect the perception, flank, or CA penalties.

EDIT: found a few more feats.

If the player plays the Thri-Kreen race, they can feat for Blindsight 1 with Thri-Kreen Antennae.

The Deep Delver theme grants Blindsight 2 at level 10.

The Impure Scion paragon path (requires the Foulborn Heritage feat) grants Blindsight 5 as a level 11 feature.

The Darkstrider paragon path for rangers gives Blindsight 2+wis mod at level 16.

There are a handful (19) of other powers that grant one or more turns of Blindsight...

There are four familiars with blindsight and the paragon feat Sight of the Familiar allows you to see through your familiar's special senses while it is in passive mode.

And you could inflict yourself with the Faceless Hate disease, which grants Blindsight 5 while bloodied!

I've actually played a game where another player wanted to do the same thing.
Normally, the character operated under the blinded condition; however, depending on the character, they may instead opperate under the [blind] keyword. I know you said he has done research himself, but it is important for me to show this to you, because a lot of the things require you to overlook the rules. I'll go over 3 augmentations I'm familiar with, and then go over a few options you can take to apply to the character.

# Item

In the adventurer's vault there is an item called "Grimlock Helm". It has a minor action daily which gives blindsight 5 until you deactivate it. For a normal character, having an item like this would be a trade off, because it causes a "visor... to cover your eyes," but if you're permanently blind, you can use it all the time. It is a level 17 item, so its up to you as far as if/when he gets it.

The DM said that as long as his background incorporated it, he could have it to start and his character would be blind. It really didn't make him too OP.

# Feats

The DM allowed him to take the Blindfighting Sentinel (Essentials) feat. In the description, it says while you are blinded you don't grand combat advantage and you don't take a minus to perception, AND you get a +2 to Perception.

There is also a feat called Blindfighting Warrior which allows you to ignore concealment while blinded, also in Essentials.

Now, if you're blind, you can't be blinded, but the DM overruled that to make the character more balanced. The only reason he did this was because we fought a lot of ghosts that game as well as ranged troops, so the charater was still a bit underpowered.

Now, those are a few augmentations, but here are basic setups for the blind character based around 2 archetypes: Newly Blind and Born Blind

# Newly Blind: Touch-based, Grimlock Helm, Sound-based, and Touch/Sound

Newly Blind Characters would be characters that lost their sight later in life. Based on your campaign, make them the Touch-based, Grimlock Helm, Touch/Sound or Sound-based Newly Blind Character. FYI, Touch- and Sound-based do include house-ruled "spells." Its not really a house rule, since its technically something a character could do with their minor action, but it isn't described in any book. Skip to Grimlock Helm for no houseruling.

## Touch-based

1. Permanently apply blindness, thus allowing for Blindfighting Sentinel and Warrior. Taking both of these feats effectively will cancel out all of the minuses but you can't do much.

2. Give the character an at-will minor action utility called "Feel," which rolls Perception vs. Reflex. It would be a close burst one, targeting either one, or all creatures in burst (your choice), and if successful, allows you to "see" the character until the start of your next turn.

An alternate way to do this is to do a Perception roll against a DC check of whatever you decide to give tremorsense 1 until the start of your next turn.

3. (optional) When a character "sees" an enemy, their token will remain in that square (for his turn) that he last saw them in. He can still target these characters, but if they aren't really there, the attack automatically fails.

## Sound-based

Sound-based is the same as Touch-based, except instead of "Feel," the character gets "Hear," which would be a close burst (whatever range you decide) to get a general idea (3X3 square) of the enemy's location. The character can target any of these squares, but if the enemy isn't there, it fails and if they are, the character takes a minus to the roll. This offers more range, but less accuracy than Touch-based.

## Touch/Sound

Just combine Sound and Touch and there you go. The character gets both of the abilities.

## Grimlock Helm

1. The character has the Grimlock Helm

2. Permanently apply blindness, but only to squares outside of the 5 squares of blindsight. Inside the squares, the character operates under blindsight.

Blindsight, at least in terms of Grimlocks, opperates through sound and smell, according to the Monster Manual.

As such, the DM can interpret this to mean that if a character wearing the Grimlock Helm has one of these senses disabled, they cannot use the blindsight, but I do not agree for the following reason:

The Grimlock Helm is a magical item while Grimlocks are Beserkers and Ambushers (not magically inclined). As such, it should be infered that this is merely called the Grimlock Helm due to its indirect similarity to Grimlocks, not to its direct relation.

# Born Blind

Characters who have been born blind (or have been blind for a really really long time) are naturally going to be better at navigating the world, so, instead of giving the blinded condition, give them the [Blind] keyword, thus taking away the minuses associated with this. It also takes away the ability to get blindfighting feats. A [blind] character and a blinded character with those feats essentially operate the same, except the [blind] character has 2 more slots for feats.

Even still, you're left with a character who can't do much, so i've set up the same subsets as before. Also, I did some research and read in real life that some people who are born blind actually rely heavily on SMELL to navigate, so i made a bit of a more lighthearded subset for Olfactory-based Born Blind Characters. The combination for these 3 senses works as it did above for Touch/Sound- Based.

## Touch Based

The same as above, but, since the character has grown up with this sense of navigation, you can choose to make "Feel" a free action, with the same effects as usual.

## Sound Based

This works as sound above, but you can choose to make "Hear" a free action, with the same effects as usual.

## Olfactory Based

This would work as the others, except instead of "Hear" or "Feel" the character would get "Smell" as a close burst (whatever you choose). It is a Perception DC roll and if successful, will give a general range like "Hear" except it will be more accurate the stronger the character smells

Determining range for Smell can either be based off of Charisma (there's not exactly a Smelly stat, but this comes the closest) where the area could be equal to a (Cha mod X Cha mod) square, or it can be based off of the GM's discretion.

## Grimlock Helm

your good old rule-friendly version works exactly like above.

# On Houserules

OP, while I did include options for rule-friendly building, since you're already going off of what is expected by the rules (a blind character) I also included house-ruled options. I know the character wants the mechanics for it, so I included it because of the lack of mechanics inherently created for a blind character. That being said, if you would like for me to take the house-ruling out, just give me a comment and i will gladly edit it.

# Conclusion

Based on the path you and your characters choose to take, your blind character could go down a variety of paths. Unfortunately, there is little information regarding how to work with blind characters, resulting in a big requirement of interpretation on your part. There are ways to make a blind character in a rule-friendly manner, but if you do wish for some greater personality and tactics for you character, a little bit of house-ruling can do the trick nicely.

• Welcome to RPG.SE. Please take the tour and visit the help center to get a sense for how this Q&A site works. What would improved your answer is getting your hands on the source material you cite and providing a reference, so that you have the item's name right, and even a small quote/citation from the item description. Thanks for participating, and happy gaming. – KorvinStarmast Oct 24 '16 at 14:11

Say 'Tada! You're blind!' during character creation, remind the player that he should probably fail any absolutely sight dependent tasks when they come up and play the game as normal. If Steve wants to play his Fighter as Zatoichi then go with it. The game supports people that turn into bears, swarms of bees, and trees, shoot lightning or get so angry they erupt into flame, it can handle a guy who is the action-movie-protagonist version of blind with no trouble whatsoever. Seriously, like don't even worry about mechanical changes to anything.

If you're feel that it would ruin plausibility too much, insist he take a race/class/feat/item that would grant him the mechanical effect of darkvision so he has a specific reason that he can hang around in the dark all the time without a torch, but unless he's building a forward operating scout, he'll probably be standing around a bunch of other people who have light sources so it shouldn't really matter enough to worry about.

I say you just add blindsight to the blind character and have the blindsight range equal to his or her perception skill bonus, and get a bonus to perception checks related to senses other than sight.

• Welcome to rpg.se! Please take a look at the tour and the help center; they're a useful introduction to the site. This doesn't address my question, as I specifically want to explore mechanics to represent a truly blind character--someone who doesn't have any other senses to compensate. Please re-read the question and see if you can edit this answer to address its concerns. – BESW Oct 30 '14 at 6:52