When exploring ancient ruins and abandoned caverns, life and limb are on the line in more ways than one. D&D adventurers have to contend with all sorts of dangers, meaning they need to keep their eyes peeled for danger.
But, what happens when their vision is taken from them? What can players do to avoid succumbing to the blinded condition in D&D 5e?
Here’s a guide about what the blinded condition is and how to turn it from a hazard to a tool in your party’s belt.
What Is the Blinded Condition in D&D 5e?
The blinded condition in D&D 5e refers to a state where the character or monster can’t see what’s around them. Whether temporary or permanent, the creature is thrust into pitch-black vision and has to rely on other senses to interact with the world around them.
Here’s what the Player’s Handbook says about the blinded condition:
- A blinded creature can’t see and automatically fails any ability check that requires sight.
- Attack rolls against the creature have advantage, and the creature’s attack rolls have disadvantage.
Basically, the blinded condition is a terrible one to receive, especially in combat.
It’s one thing to have disadvantage on all of your ability checks that use sight, but the double whammy of attacking with disadvantage and being hit with advantage severely skews combat in your foe’s favor.
Spellcasters can suffer from this condition, too. While many spells don’t need an attack roll, many buff and area spells require that you can see the target or area you cast the spell on.
Without sight, a spellcaster’s options become limited.
How To Get Rid of the Blinded Condition
Given how bad the blinded condition is, let’s take a look at some options players have to get rid of it.
Wait for the Effect To Wear Off
It’s not the most glamourous option, but many sources of blindness in D&D 5e are temporary. Depending on the source, you can wait for the effect to wear off after its duration or continue to make saving throws against it.
You see, the developers of 5e know that the blinded condition is rough to deal with.
Many sources of the condition give players a saving throw, generally Constitution, to avoid the effect outright. Even if the player fails, the effect will usually state that the player can try again at the end of their turn.
Otherwise, waiting out the effect is the easiest thing to do. It doesn’t cost any resources and could overlap with any short or long rest you and the party wanted to take anyway.
Use the Lesser Restoration Spell
If you need your vision back fast, then a spell can fix blindness. Many classes get access to the lesser restoration spell, a 2nd-level spell that cures, among many other conditions, blindness.
The spell can only clear one condition at a time though, so don’t expect this spell to set you right if you have multiple nasty conditions on you.
If you have access to higher-level magics, then the heal and mass heal spells add the restorative effects of lesser restoration to a big healing spell.
This combo lets the spells pull double duty in both keeping allies conscious and capable in a fight.
As a note, greater restoration doesn’t help with blindness. Many tables houserule that the spell covers the same things as lesser restoration, but that isn’t the case by the wording of the spell normally.
You can always check with your DM and see what they think, though!
How To Inflict the Blinded Condition
Given how powerful the blinded condition is, many players will look for ways to use it against their foes. It’s a useful condition to simultaneously shut down an enemy and give allies a better shot at landing their attacks on the foe.
The blinded condition is a rare condition to apply as a player, though. The list of ways to do so is small but accessible for the right classes.
Most classes don’t get features that let them impose the blinded condition. Still, some of the Charisma-based casters have features that, while unreliable, do blind foes:
- Wild Magic Sorcerer: While it is not reliable, Wild Magic Sorcerers have a Wild Magic Surge outcome that lights the Sorcerer up, blinding adjacent creatures until they move away.
- Celestial Warlock: Though it’s a late-level feature, the Searing Vengeance feature gives the Warlock a way to blind nearby creatures and also get up from unconsciousness.
As a player, the easiest way to get access to the blinded condition is through spells. Many spells offer blindness as part of their effects, if not the focus of its effect to begin with.
Here are some examples of the spells that let you get the blinded condition onto your foes:
- Color Spray: This spell blinds low-hit-point creatures in its cone, making it one of the few effects that don’t afford a saving throw against blindness.
- Blindness/Deafness: The quintessential blindness spell, this spell lets you blind or deafen foes. It can also be upcast to affect more targets with higher-level spell slots.
- Blinding Smite: Paladins have the option to prepare this spell that combines some of the extra damage a Divine Smite pulls off with a saving-throw effect against blindness to the struck foe.
- Hunger of Hadar: Warlocks generally look to this spell to deny an area to their foes, but creatures caught inside the area are blind until leaving it.
- Contagion: Clerics and Druids can inflict, among many other terrible diseases, Blinding Sickness to a foe that fails their save against this spell.
- Holy Weapon: Most casters use this spell to provide extra radiant damage to a weapon user, but having a bonus-action ability to force a save against blindness in an area opens up some interesting tactics in melee.
- Sunbeam: Every round, the caster of this spell can inflict radiant damage and a blinded status condition to foes that fail their save against this Cleric and Druid spell.
- Divine Word: In addition to blinding low-hit-point creatures, this spell is one of the few blindness spells that target the Charisma saving throw, which tends to be a weak one for many monsters.
- Prismatic Spray: Though there’s a low chance a creature is blinded by this spell thanks to its randomized nature, the high roll of getting both damage and blindness on a foe with two colors is an exciting idea.
- Sunburst: The area of effect version of sunbeam, this spell forces big radiant damage and blindness onto foes that fail the saving throw.
- Prismatic Wall: One of the most powerful abjurations in the game, this spell forces blindness both when foes get close to the wall and when affected by the violet layer.
Outside of class features, feats are another way to access the blinded condition.
While there aren’t any feats that give you a way to directly inflict blindness, there are plenty of feats that let you choose from some of the low-level spells that inflict the condition.
- Aberrant Dragonmark: As part of this feat, you can choose the color spray spell from the Sorcerer list, letting you blind some low-hit-point foes occasionally.
- Magic Initiate / Strixhaven Initiate: Both of these feats give players a way to poach spells from the Sorcerer and Wizard lists, one of which can be color spray.
- Shadow-Touched: As an illusion spell, color spray counts as a valid option to take with this already awesome feat.
- Svirfneblin Magic: Deep gnomes are one of the few races that, with a racial feat, can pick up the blindness/deafness spell, giving them a chance to apply blindness without concern for their foe’s hit points.
For the DMs out there, you have plenty of ways to mess with your players using the blindness condition.
It’s best not to rely on it too much to ensure you keep your players having fun, but the occasional bout of blindness can force players to get creative.
The next time you flip through monster statblocks, check out some of these options that deal with blindness:
- Creatures that Swallow: From the lowly giant toad to the monstrous Purple Worm, monsters that have the Swallow action mention that, as part of consuming their target, they blind the creature stuck in its gullet.
- Cloakers: These monsters are famous for dropping onto unsuspecting adventurers, blinding and suffocating them while they latch to the target’s head and face.
- Shambling Mound: Once a shambling mound grapples a foe, it can force the target into its writhing mass of vines, causing blindness and other status conditions.
Also, DMs should check out any monster that has the Innate Spellcasting or Spellcasting features. Some monsters will have spells that let them blind creatures or the chance to prepare those spells.
You can even change up these statblocks and give these creatures access to the spells anyway if you want to make for a unique and terrifying encounter.
The blinded condition is not one you want affecting your character. It forces a lot of penalties and makes the creature an easy target if it relies on sight normally.
However, with some knowledge and careful selection of feats and spells, players can use this condition to potentially swing nasty fights in their favor.