Playing a blind character

A recent thread on EN World got me thinking: What would it be like to play a blind character in a role playing game?  Could it be done?  Would it add anything from a role playing perspective?

Here is how I imagine the rules for a blind character.

  • Lacks normal vision
  • Has blindsight, representing super-sensitive hearing and to a lesser degree smell and touch. It’s also reasonable to assume that some magic is at work here in improving the other senses to offset the lack of sight (sixth sense).
  • No penalty to attack rolls, damage rolls or defenses (thanks to the other super senses)
  • Can’t detect anything that is silent and too far away to touch and smell (cannot serve as a lookout on a ship, for instance
  • Unaffected by the blinded condition
  • Immune to gaze attacks or any attack that requires the target to see something (certain illusions, though some illusions can fool other senses)
  • Crippled by the deafened condition (-10 to all attacks, -5 to all defenses)
  • Normal perception in general, though the DM may rule that some uses of the skill are purely or primarily sight-based (such as following tracks) and can impose penalties or rule certain things to be impossible
  • -2 penalty to insight in general (no ability to read facial expressions, but keen ability to hear inflection)
  • Speaks one bonus language, but cannot read or write any language

I could imagine a blind monk character, for instance, using his hands and feet not only to deal damage but also to better get a feel for where exactly the target is.  A blind cleric has lots of flavor potential.  What about a blind shaman, relying on a spirit companion to be her eyes? (Ooh, I like that idea a lot!)

I’m very interested to hear your thoughts on this.  Have you ever played or played alongside a blind character?  What would it be like both from a rules perspective and from a role playing perspective?  It seems that there are lots of opportunities for fascinating role playing with this type of character, and I’ll admit that I’m tempted to try this out in the next campaign I run or play in (for a home game, obviously, not public games).

7 thoughts on “Playing a blind character

  1. I agree with you, this is an exciting idea! I had considered it in the past, bit wasn’t familiar enough with the rules to attempt it. I think I’ll try it, though, next time I get to play (instead of DM.)

  2. Obviously you would need a certain type of player to play such a character, but I could see many great things coming from it.

    I think, however, I would be inclided to give more penalties than you did. If you are worried that this would make the character unplayable, consider adding some other abilities

    -large bonuses to rolls involving other senses
    -heightened sense memory (ie can near perfectly identify someone based on sound of voice, or smell)
    -speak several extra languages (instead of reading)

  3. We had a blind 3.5 paladin, and it worked pretty well. He didn’t quite have blindsight, but could tell where a nearby foe was by touch/sound. We gave some penalty to attacks and defense before he had engaged in melee combat (CA and -2 to hit would work), but after that he attacked normally. Ranged attacks were out, but that wasn’t his thing anyway. There were other definite disadvantages that popped up, but I think immunity to blindness is a good benefit to make up for this. He definitely “felt” blind, but was very playable.

  4. I love this idea. Have you considered a blind character in 5e? I am considering a blind monk character and would love to hear your thoughts.

    • I’m glad you like the idea! I haven’t played much D&D the past few years, so no, I haven’t tried it in 5e. But I’d love to hear how it turns out for you!

  5. I’m playing a blind shadow monk in 5e. Trying to figure out the shadow step, since you have to see where you wamt to move. I’m thinking some sort of shadow sense feat homebrew… Sigh. I don’t want my awesome character archetype to be ruined by this one thing.

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