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DnD4e: Blinded and Blind

Blinded and Blind

A quick question...when I was building my first monk a long time ago, I thought it would be interesting to make him blind--fighting with a blindfold or literally blind, I thought it added to the flavour of a character who was so in tune with his spirit that he didn't need to see.

Then someone pointed out that blinded is a condition that causes creatures to take a -5 for attack rolls. Not being as familiar to the rules as I was starting out, I'd completely missed it. Of course, it made that idea unviable, and instead I went with someone who'd sacrificed an eye in order to gain esoteric knowledge (aka Odin).

But its always made me wonder since then, is there a way to make a blind character mechanically work?

You've posted this in 4e, so I don't know if this will work for you or not. I played a blind cleric once in a 3.5 Eberron campaign and the GM and I worked out some of the details to not make it SO cumbersome and limiting for the game. Most of the time it was just fluff and it really only hindered in direct combat. However, I played a pretty passive character built mainly for buffing the group. Anyway, from the it has this on blinded:

The character cannot see. He takes a -2 penalty to Armor Class, loses his Dexterity bonus to AC (if any), moves at half speed, and takes a -4 penalty on Search checks and on most Strength- and Dexterity-based skill checks. All checks and activities that rely on vision (such as reading and Spot checks) automatically fail. All opponents are considered to have total concealment (50% miss chance) to the blinded character. Characters who remain blinded for a long time grow accustomed to these drawbacks and can overcome some of them.
Specifically, I point to the last line that was highlighted. If your character was born blind, or blinded at a young age, you might work out lessening some of the effects with your GM.

I guess that's the best way to go about it, all roleplay. It would depend on the GM and what they'd allow in terms of mechanics.

What about the Blindsight property? Are there many items that grant it?

4E pretty much goes with the idea that being blind is a major handicap, not an "interesting character choice". The mechanics of the Blind condition are pretty harsh:
  • You grant Combat Advantage. The +2 to hit is bad enough. Toss in the extra damage that Lurker types can do with CA, and this becomes a Very Bad Thing.
  • All targets have total concealment. That's a flat -5 to your melee and ranged attacks ... assuming you can even target the right square. Remember: You have to make an Active Perception Check vs Stealth to even find the square an concealed target occupies. See below for how badly this sucks for you.
  • You take a -10 penalty to Perception checks. This means you'll fail even the "Easy" DC about 75% of the time.
  • You can't flank an enemy. Melee type that can't flank? Ouch. At higher levels, that +2 bonus is almost assumed. Not only will YOU have a hard time hitting, you'll hamper your other melee allies as well.

Items that grant Blindsight are few and far between. None of them grant persistent blindsight the way you could get in 3.5. At best, you may find a mid-Paragon item that will give you blindsight for the duration of an encounter once per day.

Yeah, these are the consequences I meant. It is pretty harsh--and in a hack 'n slash setting, completely understandable. Would a blind child even be kept? Would a man who loses his sight be capable of defending himself?
On the other hand, I think there's a lot of potential for a blind character (or with some other sort of disability) in a setting like this, overcoming the handicap on their way to heroism. In a story-telling sense, anyway. You're right--mechanically, there doesn't seem to be much that could be done without either hamstringing the player or begging concessions from the DM.

There is a feat of two in Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdom that might take the sting out of real-blindness. I was mulling over a blind old Sentinel who hit people with a shovel, at one point.

Blindfighting Sentinel will axe the -10 Perception penalty and some of the brunt of constant CA... depending on whether total concealment = Invisible. Which I'm not sure it does, and can't be bothered to go research for hypothetical thought exercises.

Blindfighting Warrior totally negates concealment penalties for melee.

That'll leave you with being unable to flank, and whatever portion of granting CA the rules allow.

The tools are there, they're just not perfect. 2 feats is a lot to spend to permanently handicap your character for awesome points, even if your grizzled old druid has a seeing-eye-krenshar.

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