Learn how the blinded condition works and how you can take advantage of it and protect yourself from it
Being blinded in D&D 5e involves having your vision heavily impaired and in the thick of combat or safely navigating a dangerous dungeon, this is obviously a huge problem. Not only are you unable to see to strike your opponent, but it’s also a huge challenge to fend against your opponents blows. You’ll also have major problems spotting and disarming traps and other hazards.
But not to fear, not only have we put together this guide to help you understand all the rules associated with the blinded condition in D&D 5e. We’ve also got loads of advice on how to use the condition to your advantage, or escape its clutches.
The Player’s Handbook explains the rules for the blinded condition, explaining that it causes the following effects:
Player’s Handbook, p290
- A blinded creature can’t see, and fails any ability check that requires sight.
- Attack rolls against a blinded creature grant advantage, while the blinded creature’s attack rolls are made with disadvantage.
What is the blinded condition in D&D 5e?
The blinded condition is a status effect that can be applied to a player or creature that causes them to have their vision seriously impaired.
In practical terms, being blinded significantly hinders a character’s ability to engage in combat. They will not be able to spot traps or enemies, and they lose a lot of accuracy when attacking. On top of this, a blinded character will have a harder time moving through an environment, as they will not be able to see obstacles or terrain features.
To dissect the impact of the condition a little more, blinded creatures obviously fail all ability checks that require sight. This means you can still avoid a grapple or use your mind for a history check for instance, but you aren’t going to be able to use perception to spot an enemy (though your DM might rule that you might hear a noise for instance as that sense is still intact).
It’s especially debilitating in combat as not only do you have disadvantage on attack rolls, but enemies have advantage against you as you can’t see their incoming attacks to dodge or deflect them. While not strictly laid out in the rules, it’s important to be aware that the blinded condition will also affect how you interact with the environment. You can’t just move to where you think something is because you see it as a player for instance and difficult terrain might be particularly problematic for blinded creatures for example.
It should be noted though, that blinded creatures can still cast spells and while they’ll get disadvantage on spell attacks rolls, they can still be used. And there are many other spells that do not require an attack roll that can be used normally or with some adjustment from the DM. For example, touching someone to cast a healing spell is not restricted by the blinded condition (as long as you can find the injured character) while a DM might justifiably rule that while fireball needs no attack roll, knowing where to chuck your fireball might do so they might introduce an element of randomness to where the fireball lands for example.
What can cause the blinded condition?
The blinded condition can be caused by a few things:
- Closing your eyes – It could be caused by simply shutting your eyes if you’re fighting a medusa for example and don’t want to be turned to stone.
- Being somewhere dark – Perhaps you’re in a cave and don’t have a torch or darkvision, you may suffer from the effects of the blinded condition.
- Being swallowed – Similar to the previous point, if you’re swallowed by a huge creature, it’s going to be dark and you will usually be blinded.
- Spells – Some spells can cause the blinded condition from as low as level 2. While they do give the opportunity for saving throws (and often each turn) this can be the easiest way to incur blinded on others.
- Abilities – A few abilities can cause the blinded condition, but these are rare.
Spells that cause blinded
There are a bunch of spells available to spellcasters that can cause the blinded condition. We’ve outlined these below along with some key details about each spell:
|Spell Name||Level||Casting Time||School||Range||Components||Duration||Saving Throw||Classes||Description|
|Color Spray||1st||1 action||Illusion||Self (15-foot cone)||V, S, M (a pinch of powder or sand)||1 round||None||Sorcerer, Wizard||Causes the blinded condition on creatures in the area of effect whose hp adds up to equal or less than 6d10.|
|Blindness / Deafness||2nd||1 action||Necromancy||30 feet||V||1 minut||Constitution||Bard, Cleric, Sorcerer, Wizard||Can cause the blinded or deafened condition.|
|Blinding Smite||3rd||1 bonus action||Evocation||Self||V||Concentration, up to 1 minute||Constitution||Paladin||The next time you hit a creature, you do an extra 3d8 radiant damage and may cause the blinded condition.|
|Hunger of Hadar||3rd||1 action||Conjuration||150 feet||V, S, M (a pickled octopus tentacle)||Concentration, up to 1 minute||Dexterity||Warlock||Creatures in the area are blinded and no light can illuminate the area. In addition, creatures starting their turn in the area take 2d6 cold damage and those ending their turn in the area take 2d6 acid damage.|
|Contagion||5th||1 action||Necromancy||Touch||V, S||7 days||Constitution||Cleric, Druid||Afflict a creature with a disease that can cause the blinded condition.|
|Holy Weapon||5th||1 bonus action||Evocation||Touch||V, S||Concentration, up to 1 hour||Constitution||Cleric, Paladin||Weapon deals an extra 2d8 radiant damage and can end spell causing a flash of light, 4d8 radiant damage and blinded for a minute.|
|Sunbeam||6th||1 action||Evocation||Self (60ft line)||V, S, M (a magnifying glass)||Concentration, up to 1 minute||Constitution||Druid, Sorceror, Wizard||6d8 radiant damage and blinded for a turn.|
|Divine Word||7th||1 bonus action||Evocation||30ft||V||Instananeous||Charisma||Cleric||Various including being blinded.|
|Prismatic Spray||7th||1 action||Evocation||Self (60ft cone)||V, S||Instantaneous||Various||Sorceror, Wizard||Various including causing the blinded condition|
|Sunburst||8th||1 action||Evocation||150ft (60ft radius)||V, S, M (fire and a piece of sunstone)||Instantaneous||Constitution||Cleric, Druid, Sorceror, Wizard||12d6 radiant damage and blinded for 1 minute.|
|Prismatic Wall||9th||Abjuration||60ft (line 90ft long, 30ft high and 1 inch thick||V, S||10 minutes||Constitution||Wizard||Various including causing the blinded condition.|
Abilities that cause the blinded condition
There are only 2 abilities from class features that allow you to be able to cause blinded and only 4 feats that really give you access to spells to cause blinded. These are:
- Celestial Warlock – The searing vengeance ability can be used to blind creatures though it does only come at later levels.
- Wild Magic Sorceror – While you have little choice over actually using this ability, a wild magic surge from a sorceror can cause the blinded ability
- Aberrant Dragonmark – Gives access to the color spray spell which can cause the blinded condition.
- Magic initiate – Gives access to the color spray spell which can cause the blinded condition.
- Shadow-touched – Gives access to the color spray spell which can cause the blinded condition.
- Svirfneblin Magic – Gives access to the blindness/darkness spell which can cause the blinded condition.
Creatures that can cause the blinded condition
There are a bunch of options for DMs if they want to invoke blindness on a party. Our only caution is that such tactics be used relatively sparingly as constantly having a character become useless during battle can be frustrating but used occasionally can add an interesting dimension to combat.
Generally, any creature that can swallow causes blindness such as a kraken. Blindness can also be caused by creatures that cover the head or face of an enemy and it can also be caused by creatures that have access to level 2 or higher spells like blindness/deafness. A temporary, area specific blindness can also be cause by creatures that can cast spells like darkness too.
We’ve listed below as many blind incurring creatures as we can find:
- Giant Frog
- Giant Toad
- Gibbering Mouther
- Mummy Lord
- Purple Worm
- Shambling Mound
How do you protect against being blinded?
There are a few ways to protect yourself from the blinded condition or to heal yourself from its effects:
- High constitution – Most spells that cause the blinded condition require a constitution saving throw to see if the spell affects you. A high constitution will help increase your chances of a successful saving throw.
- Wait for the effects to wear off – Most blinded conditions occur because of a spell or other temporary effect and usually, you’ll be able to take a saving throw each turn to see if the effects wear off, so you could just wait for your natural constitution to protect you. Even more effective would be to attack (or have an ally attack since you’re blind) the creature casting the spell to break their concentration and end the spell that way.
- Enhancing saving rolls – Some abilities and spells will enhance your ability when making saving throws such as bardic inspiration or heroes’ feast. These can be useful if you know you’re going to be bombarded with creatures that cause magical blindness.
- Spells – Some spells can remove the effects of blindness like the heal spell. If you’ve been blinded from an injury to your eyes, lesser regeneration and regeneration can help you out there.
- Abilities – Some abilities counteract the impact of the blinded condition such as blindsense (a rogue ability) that allows you to be aware of the location of hidden or invisible creatures within 10ft of you. Blindsight takes this a step further and allows you to see using other senses like a bat (or Daredevil). It’s something that eyeless creatures like oozes have and in rare circumstances, might be available to PCs too.
- Open your eyes – It may seem daft, but perhaps you’re experiencing the blinded condition because you did so on purpose. You could just open your eyes or take that blindfold off! A variation of this would be to move away from the thing obscuring your vision so exiting a darkness spell or a dark cave or even escaping from the stomach of the kraken that just swallowed you (probably easier said than done)!
All condition guides
Conditions are powerful tools or problematic obstacles in D&D 5e. You can learn more about all the conditions of D&D 5e in our guides below: