I want to create a blind archmage villain, and I'm trying to find all the handicaps that his blinded condition would come with. My first impression is that "if you can see the target" spells are all out of the archmage's reach.

So my question is, What drawbacks does a blind spellcaster have?

I'm interested in RAW answers as well as rules interpretations.

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Do you want your villain to be truly blind? Since you could create a blind archmage that would have blindsight/tremorsense or any other non visual sources of locating enemies. \$\endgroup\$
    – pppddd
    Apr 7, 2016 at 13:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah I'm interested on a truly blinded spellcaster, the villain was sort of an example. \$\endgroup\$
    – Trolleitor
    Apr 7, 2016 at 13:50
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Related, and possibly duplicate: Do you need line of sight to cast spells on someone? \$\endgroup\$ Apr 7, 2016 at 15:07

2 Answers 2


GoodSirTheSir has a good response about the mechanics, but if this is something you really want to do then you can use RAW to make it work.

Advantage and Disadvantage

One of the biggest boons for this is that Advantage and Disadvantage do not stack, but instead cancel out.

Basic rules p. 57:

If circumstances cause a roll to have both advantage and disadvantage, you are considered to have neither of them, and you roll one d20. This is true even if multiple circumstances impose disadvantage and only one grants advantage or vice versa. In such a situation, you have neither advantage nor disadvantage.

If your spellcaster is blind, they will always have disadvantage on attacks. However, if they find a way to give themselves advantage on the attack (which is pretty easy in 5e with helping, spells, and DM fiat), then the disadvantage goes away and they're back to making regular attack rolls. They will never be able to get advantage on an attack, but spells like Bless can help make up for that. An additional bonus is that as long as they can give themselves advantage in some way, they will never ever be forced to roll attacks at disadvantage.

Unseen Attackers

5e, in my opinion, has very strange rules for unseen attackers. Being unable to see someone seems to have no bearing on whether or not you are aware of their location. Furthermore, there is nothing that states that being unable to see someone has any negative effect on your combat efficacy at all. Other than failing checks that rely on sight (which, other than counting birds a mile away through a plate glass window is 100% up to interpretation and thus DM fiat), you can be blind as a bat and still have perfect situational awareness. In fact, there are some situations where it is easier to detect someone if you can't see them than if you can (passive perception vs active perception for hiding, using the 'Lucky' feat, etc).

Here are the rules for attacking unseen attackers:

When you attack a target that you can’t see, you have disadvantage on the attack roll. This is true whether you’re guessing the target’s location or you’re targeting a creature you can hear but not see.

This is a very important part. It states that you have disadvantage whether you're guessing the target's location, or whether you can hear but not see them. In your case, you can hear but not see the enemy, so by RAW you don't ever have to guess where they are. You just 'know' their location.

If the target isn’t in the location you targeted, you automatically miss, but the DM typically just says that the attack missed, not whether you guessed the target’s location correctly.

Again, the above rules state this only applies to when you have to guess at the target's location, which is not the case when you can hear the attacker.

So, as long as you can hear the attacker, you always know where they are.


The biggest downside I can determine is that if you're blind, anyone can hide from you at any time as a standard action. Basically, you're granting the enemies permanent invisibility:

An invisible creature can’t be seen, so it can always try to hide.

If you're facing smart enemies, they will realize this eventually and make stealth checks even when they're standing next to you. If you fail the perception check to detect them, they are now 'hidden', and according to the rules that means that you no longer know their location (and would thus be beholden to the 'attacking unseen targets' rule above).

So, if you concentrate on giving yourself advantage, and giving your enemies disadvantage, you'll have almost the same efficacy as if you were never blind in the first place.

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ "... very strange rules for unseen attackers. Being unable to see someone seems to have no bearing on whether or not you are aware of their location." Sounds right to me. If you are in a room with someone and you close your eyes but you can still hear them, you have a pretty good idea of where they are in the room, right? \$\endgroup\$ Apr 7, 2016 at 19:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ @LegendaryDude To me, having a 'pretty good' idea is saying 'they're in that general direction'. However, in 5e, it lets you pinpoint their location to within a 5-foot square, and even throw something at them with an accuracy only slightly lower than if you could see. That seems a little ridiculous to me, especially since this is all happening in the heat and chaos of battle. As an experiment, close your eyes, walk into a semi-large room with 5 or 6 people, and try to point out EXACTLY where everyone in that room is. That's what RAW says you can do. \$\endgroup\$
    – Percival
    Apr 8, 2016 at 15:34
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ The example is more along the lines of, "walk into a room with a 3 foot long stick, listen for people, and then try to swing your stick at them and see if you can hit them." If you don't want to get hit with a stick, don't make enough noise that the person swinging it at you can hear where you are. This requires more judgment from a DM than, "Can I hear them?" "Yes." "Okay I know where they are and I attack." \$\endgroup\$ Apr 8, 2016 at 15:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ As a side note, the example in your comment assumes play on a grid, but that is not the default nor is it how everyone plays. D&D 5e doesn't use 5 foot squares by default. You aren't targeting a 5 foot square when you guess the location of an enemy, you are just swinging blindly at the general area where you think the enemy might be. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 8, 2016 at 15:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ Don't forget that attacks against the blind[ed] creatures are made with advantage. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 21, 2018 at 3:09

Let the spellcaster be blind but give him a familiar that he can use to see through and deliver spells through.

He'd want to stay hidden since his defenses would be weak (per the Blinded condition) and the familiar might need to be beefed up (or give him multiple) to keep combat interesting.

However, as @KorvinStarmast hints at, if he had Blindsense, he might still be able to use touch spells in melee as well as helping him defend against melee attacks normally. Blindsense would be no help against ranged/area attacks though.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Have you considered blindsense or tremorsense for this answer? \$\endgroup\$ Jan 20, 2018 at 16:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ I do not think that the spellcaster needs to have superhuman abilities in order to be effective, so I left these options out of this answer. I think a Warlock (chain) or Sorcerer with Familiar could still be effective. I doubt there are braille spellbooks, so Wizards are probably not viable (unless this spellcaster has a non-visual way to record and prepare spells). --- However, extra senses would help the Wizard overcome their blindness. I figured that such an idea deserves its own answer. --- I now see that maybe you mean that blindsense could shore up his very poor defenses. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nick Brown
    Jan 21, 2018 at 0:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ Just a thought, like the answer in any case. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 21, 2018 at 1:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ After my comment, I did go back and incorporate some Blindsense in this answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nick Brown
    Jan 21, 2018 at 19:15

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