Making a permanent blind character viable

28 posts / 0 new
Last post
Hello guys.

Our group has a big doubt: how can we make a blind character viable? One
of our players made a awesome story about a little child who was cursed to
be blind for ever. That child trained hard to become a monk and he achieve it!

So, how can we play with this character in a balanced way? I was looking for rules
for blindsight and tremorsense, but it might be a little OP. Anyone has a better idea?

Thank you for all help.
Which system are you playing?  (Also, which level and any special char creation rules?)

In 4e, there's a Thri-Kreen feat — Thri-Kreen Antennae — which gives Blindsight 1.  Some high Paragon/Epic gear can give tremorsense or blindsight.

If you don't mind having a little character-sheet improvisation, you might consider doing something like this:
• She has Blindsight or Tremorsense 2/5/10 or 1/2/3 or 2/3/5, scaling up by tier, or whatever you want to give her.  (I'd do Blindsight 2/3/5, if it were me.)
• She is considered Blind within her "blindsight" area, as per the Monster Keyword (ie, immune to gaze effects, but no other penalties/restrictions).
• Outside of the area, she is considered Blinded (All attacks are -5 for Total Concealment; -10 to Perception checks; grants CA to those outside her blindsight; can't have CA against anyone outside her blindsight area, and so on).

So she gets a benefit within her blindsight range (no concealment penalties, even for invisible, and a different way of determining if something's hidden from her, and so on); on the other hand, she gets a penalty outside the area (as listed above).  She likely won't be worrying much about the ranged attack penalties she'd be taking, but the permanent state of CA would cancel out any benefits for the concealment ignorance.  Might even give her a minor +2 perception & insight bonus for checks involving things within her blindsight radius.
Remember Zatochi the blind samurai?  When you lose sight at birth, other senses such as hearing, smell, touch compensates and becomes almost supernatural. (This is also true in RL.  Amazing how blind birth individuals function without sight.)

Sound, smell, touch has to be the means for the player to process the information of his/her surroundings in place of sight.  What this means for the game is that the dm has to translate how much info the blind pc has of his surroundings into workable skill challenges.

In return for his loss of sight at birth, & to balance the game for this pc so he isn't just a handicapped, useless baggage for other players, you need to give him extra bonuses for his Perception skill (relating to sound, smell, touch & not sight) to make him "special" or supernatural with those 3 senses.

Very doable.  

Means when combat starts, in the beginning of each round for the pc, he has to make perception check (miner DC perhaps 15) to know exact location of combatants, and what they are doing.  if his perception roll is high enough (lets say 25), he gets no normal -5 penalty to his attack. If not he gets the -5.  Sound of hearts beating, breathing, armor brushing against one another, sensing movement of air, the smell of sweat...etc. 

To make this workable for the player you really got to give him the high perception skill he needs so that majority of the time, he knows npc's locations & he don't get the -5.  Special thing about this player is that he can be extremely effective in complete darkness or against invisible players and easily find hidden npc's (even by the sound of their heart beating etc).

Even perception checks for an ambush...while others primarily may depend on sight, this player hears the foes, smells the scent in the air etc. or notice unnautral silence to notice possible ambush.  He also gets to roll like the rest.

Also give him bonus to his insight skill as well.  By picking up change of tone of voice, change of breathing, rapid heart beating...this pc can tell when someone is lying or telling the truth.

also since he has to sort of feel his way on the grid & not simply walk off a cliff, trip himself or fall into a pit, you can stipulate that as long as he moves only half his speed, he can automatically avoid such things.  But if he moves his full speed, he is moving without feeling his way and he can trip, fall, run into anything that may be in his way. (Understand this is huge disadvantage In combat for the pc, having to move half speed.  So, help him make it count when he gets to his opponant.  Balance him out with exeptional damage...perhaps a better magical weapon.)

help him make his blind pc cooool and functional this way.  This is what i would do for your pc.  Luv his choice of trying this interesting pc out.

Also don't allow other players on the table to expect to be able to do the same simply by closing their eyes & demand same DC as the blind pc.  Sometimes players can be so cheesy.  Tell them this only applies to this blind pc because his other 3 senses developed beyond theirs.

or use Swmabie's break down with existing blindsight & tremore sense. 
I have a controversial solution:

The character bio is really well thought out? The other players are happy with his story?

Then just roleplay the blindness. Treat him exactly as a normal character otherwise. Saves you a lot of time working out rules and you can get on with the game. If he is blind from birth, his other senses will mean he can effectively "see".
Bingo.  He gets hit by something?  It's because he's blind.  He fails a perception check?  Blind.  He MAKES a perception check - Blind, so other senses are heightened.  The Blinded condition causes some sort of disorienting sensory feedback, or pain, hence the penalties.  Etc etc.  Reflavour, that's what it's for.
Harrying your Prey, the Easy Way: A Hunter's Handbook - the first of what will hopefully be many CharOp efforts on my part. The Blinker - teleport everywhere. An Eladrin Knight/Eldritch Knight. CB != rules source.

In "The Last Airbender" cartoon series there is a blind character - Toph - who effectly see's through what could be termed tremorsence.  She is so effective that other characters seem to forget she is blind and will point writing in a book and say look at this, or hold a wanted poster in front of her, Have you seen this  - Um no, I'm blind, remember...


It would be interesting to figure out the how to balance.  They effective can sense any creature with some small distance - 20-30' maybe (or scale it by tier?), but not any farther.  Immune to effects of darkness/blindness even magical.  Cannot read or write.  Maybe a penalty to social skills (the blindness is manifested physically - milky eyes, or scars, or something - and turns offers off), bonus to dungoneering and thievery for being able to sense vibrations.  Maybe they have to be barefoot to sense vibration in the ground, and then suffer hieghtened terrain penalties.  Or just reduce their speed by 1 or 2 depending on the kind of terrain in general.


Could go through lots of options.  I think I would want to talk it over with the rest of the players first to make sure they were OK with it.  Maybe get their ideas for benefits and drawbacks while still making the character effective/balanced with the rest of the party.


TjD

Yes, what BobbieM and thespaceinvader said. Make a regular character and just say he's blind. No need for mechanics.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
DMs: Don't Prep the Plot | Structure First, Story Last | Prep Tips | Spoilers Don't Spoil Anything | No Myth Roleplaying
Players: 11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer | You Are Not Your Character     Hilarious D&D Actual Play Podcast: Crit Juice!

FREE CONTENT: Encounters With Alternate Goals  |  Full-Contact Futbol   |   Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs  |  Re-Imagining Phandelver  |  Three Pillars of Immersion

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

I agree. If the player wants mechanical differences to play a part of the character, that's when you worry about it. If not, just roll with it for storyline purposes. No need to rework the rules unless you need to after all.

Happy Gaming
Not to edition war or anything (since this is more about the forums than editions), but I think it's amazing how people's attitude's about this have changed over the years. The OP got 6 positive, helpful replies. I had a blind character in a campaign I ran back in 3rd edition. When I posted for suggestions in the forum, numerous posters were downright apopleptic at the very idea of allowing a blind character to be functional, and I received very few replies consisting of more than "if she wants to blind, let her be, but don't give her anything in return. That's Powergaming".
That's only tangentially edition warring, Paladin, and you make a solid point. Previous editions were very simulationist in their approach. Mechanics and fluff were indivisible in many ways. 4e is highly narrativist in its approach and so mechanics and fluff are easily separated out. My players frequently come up with the most awesome character concepts, but when you look under the hood, it's nothing out of the ordinary. I'm reminded of one of my players who played a sentient owlbear named Owl Dirty Bastard (grapple fighter hybrid).

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
DMs: Don't Prep the Plot | Structure First, Story Last | Prep Tips | Spoilers Don't Spoil Anything | No Myth Roleplaying
Players: 11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer | You Are Not Your Character     Hilarious D&D Actual Play Podcast: Crit Juice!

FREE CONTENT: Encounters With Alternate Goals  |  Full-Contact Futbol   |   Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs  |  Re-Imagining Phandelver  |  Three Pillars of Immersion

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

We are playing D&D 4e. Nice ideas guys. Does someone have
more? I would like a bunch of them. =D
There are games that would play "Blind" as a Disadvantage, and give one points at character creation to buy Advantages that would potentially balance that out. A system like that has potential, but often fails because the player has little incentive to remember the disadvantages, and the DM can't always keep track. When the DM does keep track, the disadvantage is often sprung on the player in a way that shuts down the player's idea. That can be okay, forcing the player to think of another way, but it can also be a major momentum killer.

Spirit of the Century and many other newer games use Aspects. An Aspect can be as good or bad as you want, but if you want it to give you a mechanical advantage you have to spend a point. The points are only replenished if something about the character puts them at a disadvantage. This is like a Disadvantage system, but now the player has an on-going incentive to have bad things happen as a result of the character choice.

So, one way to balance the character might be to give him a sort of floating bonus, accrued the first time the player chooses to have the character get into an interesting situation for being blind. Not like just bumping into things, but like not moving out of a bad tactical position, or drinking the half-orc brawler's mug of beer, or even just roleplaying the fact that the character can't read or something . The player can then spend the bonus in a future situation, such as declaring that a particular spell wouldn't work on him specifically because he's blind, or that he takes no penalty to Perception checks in a darkened room. Once the bonus is spent, the character must suffer again before gaining any advantage.

The DM can suggest points at which the character might gain or lose the bonus, but shouldn't force it. If the bonus isn't being used, the character is simply a normal chararcter. After trying this out the DM might decide that the character can accrue multiple bonuses, or even start out with some, but I'd limit it early on.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

I'm actually playing a blind character right now actually. Well, he was mostly blind and had a really good sense of smell and hearing, but after recent.....events, he's completely blind(and can survive in the vacuum of space). I just play him normally, and the blindness bit only really comes up if it's relevant.
I second just reflavoring, let the player play as normal, let them roleplay not being able to read or not knowing sight based things. 

Depending on how you want to do it you could add on something like blind or tremor sense with a range.  but if not there is no reason to just let the player roleplay it. 

Play whatever the **** you want. Never Point a loaded party at a plot you are not willing to shoot. Arcane Rhetoric. My Blog.

I have a controversial solution:

The character bio is really well thought out? The other players are happy with his story?

Then just roleplay the blindness. Treat him exactly as a normal character otherwise. Saves you a lot of time working out rules and you can get on with the game. If he is blind from birth, his other senses will mean he can effectively "see".



I think this is the easiest choice here.

Blindness is only a disadvantage if you make it one.


How far do you want to houserule?

If you want to play it out, have the player make a Perception check at the start of every major encounter. Have a scale for -2,-1,0,+1,+2 to hit bonus, depending on how well they fail/pass the check.

Also, suggest they play an Avenger, or at least MC Avenger so they can use Oath of Enmity.
It is very complicated and can easily be exploited (or turned into a night of disagreements).

I would avoid it.
I second just reflavoring, let the player play as normal, let them roleplay not being able to read or not knowing sight based things.


Yeah. Generally for things that would require actually seeing it, I just either don't roll or take a 1 for the Perception check. Otherwise, if other senses would suffice, I just play normally.
Just roleplay and reflavour it.  No mechanics, his other senses and his training have compensated for his blindness.  If you try to make up mechanics for it, the best case scenario is that it will take up session time and be needlessly complicated.  Worst case scenario, whatever mechanical approach you try can cause serious problems for you, your player, or the group.
DM advice: 1. Do a Session Zero. 2. Start With Action. 3. Always say "Yes" to player ideas. 4. Don't build railroads. 5. Make success, failure, and middling rolls interesting. Player advice: 1. Don't be a dick. 2. Build off each other, don't block each other. 3. You're supposed to be a badass. Act like it. Take risks. My poorly updated blog: http://engineeredfun.wordpress.com/
OP: does the Monk have WIS as a secondary? If not, then definately make it the Monk's dump stat, to ensure a low perception. But I do support the whole handwave approach as well.

"Ah, the age-old conundrum. Defenders of a game are too blind to see it's broken, and critics are too idiotic to see that it isn't." - Brian McCormick

The problem I foresee is that any mechanics you add will become tedious over time.  If, for example,  as someone else suggests, the player has to make a perception check every round of combat in order to perceive the position of his allies and foes, it can become boring very quickly especially if you give the character a perception skill bonus and failure is rare.  In fact those rare failures would probably be even more annoying.

And if you do not give any sort of Perception bonus, then the player will feel obligated to invest a lot of skill points into perception to insure that he can "see," and therefore detract from other skills that might better suit the rest of the character concept.

I tend agree with the "strategy" of just roleplaying the blindness, no mechanics required.  At most, at your (as the DM) discretion, let the character be able to "see" when a normal character would normally be vision impaired (darkness spell, no light in a room, etc).

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/19.jpg)

RedSiegfried wrote:
The cool thing is, you don't even NEED a reason to say yes.  Just stop looking for a reason to say no.
Since the monk archetype is full of supernatural abilities anyway, you could play up the fact that he has honed his 'instincts' in training and thus has no penalties whatsoever as far as combat goes. You could say his full abilities kick in whenever he's in dangerous situations such as combat or when he's about to walk off a cliff or when a trap sends darts flying in his direction.

But to retain the aspect of playing a blind character, he has to rely on his allies to describe a scene... this gives them roleplaying possibilities.

The DM describes a scene in great detail, let's say.... a DOUBLE RAINBOW.

The monk can roleplay politely asking his ally to describe the scene in his own words.

The ally can describe the double rainbow in his own words and ask the wise monk, "What does it meaaaaaan?"
A rogue with a bowl of slop can be a controller. WIZARD PC: Can I substitute Celestial Roc Guano for my fireball spells? DM: Awesome. Yes. When in doubt, take action.... that's generally the best course. Even Sun Tsu knew that, and he didn't have internets.
It is very complicated and can easily be exploited (or turned into a night of disagreements).

I would avoid it.

Exploited?

You must be thinking of the type of of player who thinks they should always spot everything (unless, of course it has a gaze attack).

That was my initial thought... but being a DM long enough will make you paranoid, lol.
A rogue with a bowl of slop can be a controller. WIZARD PC: Can I substitute Celestial Roc Guano for my fireball spells? DM: Awesome. Yes. When in doubt, take action.... that's generally the best course. Even Sun Tsu knew that, and he didn't have internets.
The problem I foresee is that any mechanics you add will become tedious over time.  If, for example,  as someone else suggests, the player has to make a perception check every round of combat in order to perceive the position of his allies and foes, it can become boring very quickly especially if you give the character a perception skill bonus and failure is rare.  In fact those rare failures would probably be even more annoying.

And if you do not give any sort of Perception bonus, then the player will feel obligated to invest a lot of skill points into perception to insure that he can "see," and therefore detract from other skills that might better suit the rest of the character concept.

I tend agree with the "strategy" of just roleplaying the blindness, no mechanics required.  At most, at your (as the DM) discretion, let the character be able to "see" when a normal character would normally be vision impaired (darkness spell, no light in a room, etc).


Even more tedious for the player's allies as varying situations keep the DM and player of the blind monk constantly engaged in private conversation. If the DM is exceptionally good at making sure each player gets a fair amount of attention, not a big deal, but it seems like anything that requires anything more than a simple dice roll will become redundant, for everyone.

If the DM is good at 'winging it' and the players aren't rules lawyers, the unique problems can be easily surmounted, since a lot of them will be simply common-sense or 'what works better for the story' answers.
A rogue with a bowl of slop can be a controller. WIZARD PC: Can I substitute Celestial Roc Guano for my fireball spells? DM: Awesome. Yes. When in doubt, take action.... that's generally the best course. Even Sun Tsu knew that, and he didn't have internets.
I think simple 1 perception roll per that blind charactors turn & having to move half speed is a quick representation of his condition in combat. Don't think that will slow game at all. Their should be advantage & disadvantage. Just fluffing it ignores both. IMO ;)
I think simple 1 perception roll per that blind charactors turn & having to move half speed is a quick representation of his condition in combat. Don't think that will slow game at all. Their should be advantage & disadvantage. Just fluffing it ignores both. IMO ;)



But wouldn't successive failures result in slower combat?  Say he rolls three failures in a row and simply cannot engage in combat in a timely manner, the character becomes worth less in a combat situation and combat takes longer because he cannot do anything of worth.

So to counter this you give the character a perception skill bonus to compensate, but that has to be carefully balanced.  Too high and he never fails (except on a 1) making the roll pointless.  Too low and the player may feel obligated to put points into perception at the expense of other character concept defining skills, eventually leading to the roll being pointless anyway.

Lastly, as Centauri would probably say, that's a boring consequence.  why bother?

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/19.jpg)

RedSiegfried wrote:
The cool thing is, you don't even NEED a reason to say yes.  Just stop looking for a reason to say no.
Lastly, as Centauri would probably say, that's a boring consequence.  why bother?

It's always important to consider success and failure when calling for skill checks, and there's usually not much reason to risk either being frustrating.

I could imagine someone wanting to bother with such a mechanic primarily as a nod to "realism." The tendency seems to be that if there's no mechanic for something then it's not real, and that even an unrealistic mechanic is more real than simply imagining it.

I could also imagine someone believing that a mechanic like this could prompt interesting results, as the player much think of other ways to fight besides normal combat. The movie "Blind Fury" has Rutger Hauer as a blind swordsman, and he defeats his enemies in very creative and interesting ways. This can work in D&D but it requires a DM who is prepared to say "Yes, and..." to the player's alternate ideas, because there are no rules for it that are going to lead organically to the sorts of contrived situations that happen in movies like "Blind Fury."

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

If you want to keep it really simple, I would recomend treating the character as if it were perfectly normal in terms of mechanics. The character has a normal "sight" range, and is effected by any conditions that normally effect sight. They are just reflavored for the blindness.

If you want to make it mechanically more flavorful, I would recomend using tremorsense 10, increasing to 15 at level 21, and blindsight 1.

The blindsight 1 makes it easier for the character to interact with things. It can be explained as some magical enchantment, or a superhuman sense they have developed through training. It will allow them to see just like a normal person, but only in range 1. So they can read, help decifer clues, etc.

Tremoresense means they can't "see" anything that is outside the tremorsense range, or anything that is not touching the ground(flying monsters). A unique benifit they have however, is they can "see" creatures on the ground, even if they are magically invisible. They can also "see" perfectly in that range, regardless of light conditions. They are of course, immune to the blind condition, but automatically fail sight dependent perception checks.

If a creature is moving using stealth, I would still use a perception check as normal to detect thier location, but give them a conditional +5 bonus when the creature is within tremoresense range. If a creature is outside tremoresense range, they must always make an active perception check to determine thier location.