The official description of blindness is as follows: (Source – Roll20)
- A blinded creature can’t see, and will automatically fail any ability check that requires sight
- Attack rolls against the creature will have advantage
- Attack rolls made by the creature will have disadvantage
The Blind condition lasts for 1 minute unless otherwise specified by the specific item or GM’s rule. It can also be removed by using an action to wipe your eyes. (At least, it can be at my table)
Causes of Blindness in 5e:
There are many potential causes of the blindness condition, including magical items, spells, and improvised weapons. In some instances, the effect can be a permanent effect from the backstory of a newly made character.
Here is a shortlist of possible causes of blindness:
- Through the use of the Blindness Deafness Spell
- Using the Gem of Brightness‘s Second effect
- The Robe of Eyes can blind the user if a light spell or daylight spell is cast on the robe
- The Wand of Wonder 91-95 D100 Table
- Moonblade 95-96 D100 table (Pg 217 of Dungeon Masters Guide)
- The Sight Rot Disease
- Through the use of Malice Poison
- Long Term Madness 56-65 D100 Table
- Though the use of an improvised weapon
- Throwing sand or dirt at someones eyes
- Lingering Injury
- Homebrew reasons
Homebrew Causes: In the case of homebrew and character-building opportunities, there is a feat you can incorporate into someone who is permanently blind that I found on Pinterest, of all places. This feat is quite interesting, but keep in mind that blindsight is very powerful. It essentially turns you into an echolocation expert that relies on your other senses for perception rolls.
How Blindness Can Be Used for Storytelling:
A magical effect on an area can apply blindness to prevent people from making out the area around them without getting close, even with dark vision. Using the condition in this way allows that sort of thematic darkness that puts your party on edge—not knowing what is around the corner, with echoes of scraping and grinding around them. Then, you can incorporate screams or other jarring sounds, which force the party to quicken their pace as panic sets in place.
The fear of the unknown is something we humans feel like a primal emotion. Play on that fear, and use it to immerse your players into some creepy and spooky elements. This is a powerful option for a good theatre of the mind gameplay, especially given that there is no visual reference for the players to use at all – they are already playing using their imagination.
Or perhaps a member of the party was kidnapped, blinded, and restrained in an undisclosed location. Even if they had the ring of communication on and were within that mile radius where it was still in effect, they wouldn’t be able to give any details of their surroundings outside of sounds they heard. Using blindness in this way can make a fun session out of trying to figure out where the party member was taken to, as they try to piece out their location based on distinct noises they describe to the party.
How Bad is the Blinded Condition?
As far as conditions go, blinded is one of the more tame ones, at least as far as temporary in-combat conditions are concerned. In my group, if we are inflicted with blindness, we can usually spend an action to clear our eyes, assuming it wasn’t caused by the blindness/deafness spell, as that has a specified duration.
However, regarding a more permanent effect, blindness is rough. Permanent blindness is typically caused by a lingering injury, which is only healed by a regeneration spell. As that is a 7th level spell, the character who suffered that debilitating injury would be at a significant disadvantage in combat situations, potentially for an extended period. This would quickly derail the party’s plans as they will actively seek out ways to try and fix this wound asap.
Of course, there is also the Lesser Regeneration spell, which is available far sooner (3rd level). However, this is a homebrew spell I found on the Unearthed Arcana Reddit, and it seems a bit powerful for that level.
If you or your DM does not use the lingering injury system, as is common with more casual group settings, then the likelihood of being blinded with any level of severity is somewhat low and usually a non-issue. However, you or a member of your party may want to create a blind monk or something along those lines. In that case, I recommend taking a look at this homebrew feat. Just remember that blindsight is very powerful compared to regular sight. Consider swapping it out with something similar to Blindsense if you feel it is a bit too strong.
Counters to Blindness
In some cases, there are specific effects that can override the drawbacks that come from blindness. At the 14th level, Rogues gain access to one of them, known as Blindsense. Another, more powerful version is blindsight, which essentially turns you into Daredevil.
As for spells to end blindness, the Heal Spell is the one you’re looking for. If a wound to the eyes caused it, lesser regeneration or regeneration, as mentioned above, would be the one to use. Finally, there is a magic artifact major beneficial property, which grants immunity to blindness.
- An Artifact with the Major Beneficial Property “91/100”
- “While Attuned to the artifact, you can’t be blinded, deafened, petrified, or stunned.”