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A streamer I found was talking about the P2E Reading Ring, which is designed to give blind characters a way to read in-game. That got me wondering: How would one go about making a combat-viable PC who is blind? I'm thinking like the blind master in Circle of Iron, or perhaps even Daredevil.

I'm assuming (so probably wrong) that a P2E blind character would effectively always have the blinded condition. The big handicaps there being that they effectively move at half speed (everything is rough terrain), and you have to use other senses, which will be by default imprecise (hearing) or even vague (smell). Imprecise means that other creatures are hidden, which in turn means -2 to your own AC, and a DC11 flat check (50/50 chance) to be able to target them.

That seems too harsh to be viable. Which means we probably need to find a way to upgrade our other senses to precise, or at least mitigate that precise hidden penalty up to Concealed.

So what are the workable options here? Or are there really none, short of throwing myself on the uncertain mercy of my GM and asking for hearing to get upgraded to precise (on the theory that this would put the PC no better off than a standard character)?

One thing I found is the level 1 focus spell hyperfocus, which sharpens imprecise senses to precise for up to a minute. Assuming the character refocuses between fights (and can purposely fail the saves), that would allow them to operate effectively in melee range at will. I'm not sure what one has to do to get access to it though. Perhaps be a Champion or Cleric with the Delirium domain.

Another option would be a Barbarian that took acute scent and instinctive strike. However, that's a 2 feat investment, doesn't come online until level 8, and only allows that one 2-action strike without the flat check. Supernatural Senses at level 4 would reduce the check on other attacks to a flat check of 3, for another feat spent.

Heat Vision might work, if you could come up with a good explanation for how PC can see heat but not light (I guess real-world Vipers do this). However, its a rank 3 spell, so it doesn't come online until level 6, and only lasts an hour until upcast to 6 (at level 12).

That's all I've been able to find. Is there anything else/better I missed?

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3 Answers 3

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Paizo's Suggestion

Paizo writes about this in the Core Rulebook, saying specifically:

Conditions such as blinded and deafened aren’t a good fit for a character who has been living with a disability long-term.

So don't use the blinded condition verbatim. Their specific recommendation for blindness:

A blind character can’t detect anything using vision, critically fails Perception checks requiring sight, is immune to visual effects, and can’t be blinded or dazzled. You might give this character the Blind-Fight feat for free.

A character with impaired vision might take a –2 to –4 penalty to vision-based Perception checks. Spectacles or other corrective devices might reduce or remove this.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Thank you! That's about 80% of what I was asking for (and probably deserves 20% extra credit for being RAW for this exact situation). It would still be nice to know what could reasonably be done (if anything) to get rid of or lower that DC5 flat check for a fully-blind character. I think that's essentially like starting every round 1 MAP action in the hole, which seems a tad harsh to make a viable character with. \$\endgroup\$
    – T.E.D.
    Jan 9 at 21:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ @T.E.D. - does the Magical Prosthetic Eye work for you? It basically undoes blindness, sort of. Otherwise I think you're going to be out of luck. \$\endgroup\$
    – ESCE
    Jan 10 at 0:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ Interesting. I think it certainly counts as an option. However, that basically gives someone without vision vision, so if I'm doing this at character creation, what's the point? \$\endgroup\$
    – T.E.D.
    Jan 10 at 1:20
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You want to gain a Precise Sense other than sight

Unfortunately, there don't seem to be many ways to do so permanently. The rules assume that a given creature has vision as its only precise sense and hearing as its only imprecise sense. You could try...

A Beastkin with Greater Animal Senses

As a Beastkin of an animal that can gain echolocation or tremorsense, you can take this feat twice; first, to gain the sense, and a second time, to upgrade it to precise. At the cost of 2 feats, this is probably the best way to gain a precise sense as early as level 9.

A Kinteticist with Geologic Attunement

Taking this impulse will give you precise tremorsense at level 13.

A Major Saurian Spike

Attaching one to your armor or weapon will give you, among other things, a precise scent with a range of 60 ft. This option doesn't have a level requirement, however it is quite pricy at 6500gp, so baring extraordinary circumstances, you won't be able to get it early.

(Adapted from this Reddit answer on this exact topic.)

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    \$\begingroup\$ There are some really interesting options in there I wish someone had brought up here. One thing I hadn't thought about was shapeshifting in general. Sure, oozeform doesn't need sight, but one could also make a good case that any shapeshifted form probably would have that form's standard sight, even if the PC's normal form does not. \$\endgroup\$
    – T.E.D.
    Jan 10 at 14:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ In fact, I could see the blind PC shapeshifting into humanoid form just to gain vision for a while. \$\endgroup\$
    – T.E.D.
    Jan 10 at 14:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ @T.E.D. I overlooked shapeshifting as well, since I was looking for ways to get the blind character themself to perceive their surroundings. That is a possible solution though, since as far as I know you do gain the creature's senses while polymorphed. Could have interesting roleplay potential as a means of escapism and coming to terms with the disability. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 11 at 0:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ How do you take two 5th level ancestry feats at level 5? I think Greater Animal Senses gives you precise senses at level 9 the earliest, not 5. \$\endgroup\$
    – András
    Feb 4 at 10:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ @András Oops, it seems like you are correct. Sorry for the mistake, I'm more of a DnD person. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 4 at 11:03
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You can make a viable PC

Of course this depends on your definition of viable. You cannot make just any build blindness-compatible, but you can build a very potent character around blindness.

Getting a generic idea where the enemies are

Pick a Heritage, Ancestry or Feat for scent, Sensate Gnome is common for example. Now you know in which squares enemies are in 30 feet1.

Getting a decent movement speed

With Beastmaster you can have a quite durable Animal Companion as a mount, it is not affected by your perceived difficult terrain. Rootball chair is great, you do not need it to attack, and it has lots of hit points.

Reducing the penalty

Cat's Eye Elixir makes the flat check DC 5 instead of 11, a very significant improvement.
RAW you do not need any explanation, it just works, but you can say if you want that you are only legally blind, and with the Elixir it becomes just bad instead of horrible.

It is best on builds that need a free hand anyway, like Fighters with Combat Grab. You walk around with a Cat's Eye Elixir in one hand, and at the first sign of trouble you chug it.

Sidestepping the penalty

You only care about the miss chance if you target someone. So pick area effecting spells and abilities, like Caustic Blast (Player Core p319), Haunting Hymn or Kobold Breath.

Getting another PC

As long as the Eidolon can see things, the Summoner being blind is not that serious.

Recommended build

Only the things related to blindness:

  • Sensate Gnome
  • Summoner
    • Fey Eidolon might be tempting, so it can cast targeted cantrips with Magical Understudy, but you cannot do much useful with your 1 action from Act Together. Plant is better for you, see below
  • Your main cantrip is Caustic Blast, so pick an Eidolon that does not have many 2 action activities
  • 2nd level feat: Beastmaster (now you can move a lot for 1 action)
  • Pick area spells like Fireball

Other possibilities

  • Kineticists have many good area options
  • Animal companions can not only carry you, but also attack instead of you

  1. as brandon says in the comments, everyone already posesses an imprecise sense that could be used to find the right square; Hearing. However, every GM I ever played with said a battle is too noisy for this to be useful, but allowed Scent without questions. So in theory, Hearing and Scent are equivalent, in practice not. I guess it has to do with paying extra for Scent
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  • \$\begingroup\$ Hearing is an imprecise sense, though scent or other options would help against quiet foes. \$\endgroup\$
    – brandon
    Jan 10 at 21:16

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