Friday, October 23, 2009


Yesterday, I came just that close to making a character blind. The die tumbled and the character was spared.

When I calculate it, there is a 1 in 50,000 chance that a character will be blind. The character must first roll a 1 in 5 chance on a d20, and then I must roll a 1 in 25 chance on a d100 (97-00), twice. The second % roll, I rolled a 90 and the ten-sided showed a ‘7’ and then rolled over to show the ‘3’. Look at your ten-sided die. They are right next to each other.

So I have been thinking about what a blind character would be like.

First of all, I think that where it came to hand to hand combat, the character’s abilities would be unaffected. If the character is blind and has achieved class status, I think it must be argued that the character has overcome their blindness. That their hearing accomplishes what their eyes might have, and that they are able to hit and do damage normally ... under certain conditions.

Hearing range for normal voice is 60’ (I’ve long used that as a meme) – beyond that you can only hear shouting. That means the blind character can shoot missile weapons a maximum of that distance; 0-20 feet is near range, 21-40 feet is medium range and 41-60 feet is long range.

If the character is a spellcaster, spells which are not dependent upon sight are probably a good idea. Self-spells, touch spells, character affecting spells ... excellent. And if the character can get a familiar, all the better! That would be a major solution to the problem. Not a perfect one, granted ... a familiar can’t sit perpetually on the mage’s shoulder in every instance. But it would go a long way to easing some of the difficulties.

For the record, I also have possible results for deafness, epilepsy and asthma and a host of rarer maladies, which players might, as an extreme long shot, have to manage. There are many, many players out there who might feel that such things are grossly unfair to include on a character background table. But I don’t think life is fair.

I do think life is interesting, however, and it would be interesting to have a blind mage or a deaf fighter playing in a campaign. There would be obvious benefits, in terms of fighting basilisks and groaning spirits. “Just leave this
one to me, fellas,” would be a standard trope, I think.

Any thoughts on other limitations blindness might add to the character?


Ragnorakk said...

Tough. Maybe I'm being cynical, but I think many players would become very focused on finding ways to circumvent blindness (like Find Familiar you mentioned) vs. integrating it into the character.

crazyred said...

This is the stuff of great characters, imho! Do you read those Westeros books by George R.R. Martin? Bran is paralyzed from the waist down and Hodor clearly was min/maxed to have 18 str. but 3 int.... and they're the best characters in the story!

Great post, great blog!
(is that Raphael?)

sirlarkins said...

Timely post--I just had a player voluntarily start out with a blind character. I came to much the same conclusions you did. In effect, I'm treating his "sixth sense" the same as infravision, with all the inherent difficulties (limited range, not being able to see colors, being compromised by sensory overload--sound rather than light in this case).

JoeGKushner said...

No mention of the blind swordsman yet, Zatoichi? For shame internet!

Alexis said...



2eDM said...

I suddenly have the desire to play an epileptic bard . . . .