Published on December 19, 2023
Unveil the unseen with blindsight in D&D 5e. Figure out how you can use it to your advantage, and strategies to navigate around creatures that use it against you.
Craig Spearing - Wizards of the Coast - Seraphic Greatsword
Table of Contents
Blindsight in D&D 5e
So, you’re in a pitch-black dungeon facing off against some drow. You’ve got darkvision, but that giant drow with spider legs just cast darkness and now you can’t see squat. Tough luck, right? Not if you’ve got blindsight!
This nifty sensory ability lets you know what’s around you without needing to see it. It’s like having echolocation in those tricky situations where your eyes just don’t cut it. Let’s take a look at this impressive ability, how to pick it up for your character, and how to deal with monsters when they’re using it against you.
What is Blindsight?
The Basic Rules describe blindsight as follows:
A monster with blindsight can perceive its surroundings without relying on sight, within a specific radius.
Blindsight is like having a sixth sense. It’s a special ability that lets creatures sense their surroundings without relying on sight. This means they can navigate and detect things in complete darkness, through dense fog, or even when dealing with invisible foes. It’s not about seeing with their eyes; it’s about perceiving with other senses.
In D&D 5e, blindsight is often described with a specific range, like 60 feet. Within this range, a creature with blindsight can pinpoint locations, detect movements, and essentially ‘see’ without using its eyes.
While some creatures with enhanced senses, like dragons, have blindsight in addition to their regular sight, creatures who are naturally blind, like the gray ooze, have a parenthetical beside their blindsight radius that species is “blind beyond this radius.” The latter case is typical for creatures that don’t have eyes and must rely on other sensory abilities, whether it’s sensing vibrations in the ground or using their heightened sense of smell, to track targets,
Blindsight doesn’t mean these creatures can see in the traditional sense. They can’t read, discern color, or perceive fine details. But when it comes to detecting a creature’s presence, movement, and basic shape, blindsight can allow them to do so when other creatures can’t.
Specific Rulings on Blindsight
Blindsight has a bit of a blindspot when it comes to rules as written (RAW) in different scenarios. To help clarify some hotly debated points, here are some official rulings:
Can you cast spells that require to you “see” with blindsight? Yes. Blindsight qualifies as sight for spellcasting, as per Jeremey Crawford’s ruling.
Can creatures with blindsight be blinded? Creatures with blindsight can be blinded, per se, if they are not immune to the condition. However, blindsight still allows them to perceive their surroundings while blinded, so they will not suffer from disadvantage in attacks and creature who attack them will not have advantage . If a dragon is blinded, they could only use their blindsight, but that only extends for a certain radius, meaning it might still be an effective tactic. Blinding a gray ooze who only has blindsight wouldn’t do anything.
Can creatures with blindsight see invisible creatures? Yes. The invisible condition states, “An invisible creature is impossible to see without the aid of magic or a special sense.” Blindsight is a special sense that allows creatures to perceive anything in the radius stated, which includes invisible creatures.
Can you hide from creatures with blindsight? This is up to interpretation. Seeing as creatures with blindsight perceive their surroundings using echolocation, sensing vibrations, or smell, it could mean that it’d be impossible to hide within their blindsight radius. But, your DM will have to be the judge based on the circumstances.
Ways to Gain Blindsight
Blindsight is typically an ability reserved for monsters in the worlds of D&D 5e, but there are some ways to pick it up as a player character:
- Blind Fighting Fighting Style: Fighters, paladins, and rangers can pick up blindsight to a radius of 10 feet by taking the Blind Fighting Fighting Style.
- Rogue’s Blindsense: While it’s not quite blindsight, rogues get the ability to sense hidden or invisible creatures within 10 feet of them at 14th level.
- Dagger of Blindsight: This rare dagger gives its wielder blindsight out to a radius of 30 feet, making it one of the best ways to get consistent access to blindsight.
- Dragon Masks: These legendary items bestow a number of draconic powers on their wielder, including the ability to gain blindsight out to 30 feet for 5 minutes per day.
Fighting Monsters with Blindsight
Blindsight is a common trait among many monsters who lurk in hostile environments in D&D 5e. This ability allows these creatures to perceive their surroundings without relying on sight, making standard stealth tactics like invisibility and illusions less effective.
Which D&D 5e Monsters Have Blindsight?
Several types of monsters in D&D 5e are equipped with blindsight, making them adept at detecting hidden or invisible characters. Here are some notable examples:
- Dragons: Many dragons possess blindsight, enabling them to detect intruders or hidden foes within a certain radius, even in complete darkness or when facing invisibility and illusions.
- Underground Creatures: Denizens of the dark, such as ropers and grimlocks, rely on blindsight to navigate and hunt in their lightless environments. They can sense vibrations and movements, making them dangerous predators in caves and dungeons.
- Oozes, Constructs, and Naturally Blind Creatures: Most creatures that function without eyes, whether it’s a pile of corrosive ooze, an undead hand, or an animated sword, will likely have blindsight.
- Beasts: Any creature that naturally can sense creatures without sight in the real world, like snakes, spiders, scorpions, and bats, are likely to have blindsight as well.
How to Counter Monsters With Blindsight
When planning strategies against monsters with blindsight, players need to think beyond the usual stealth and illusion tactics. Here are some tips:
- Physical Cover: Blindsight typically doesn’t allow creatures to see through solid objects. Therefore, using physical barriers for cover can be an effective strategy. This includes hiding behind walls, using terrain to your advantage, or creating barriers with spells or objects. Be careful with this one, though, as you DM may rule that they can still sense your heart beat, hear your breathing, or feel the vibrations when you walk on the ground.
- Non-Visual Deception: Since blindsight often relies on non-visual senses, employing tactics that focus on other types of deception can be effective. This might include creating misleading sounds, using spells that alter scent or vibrations, or employing diversionary tactics that confuse the creature’s other senses.
- Stay Out of Range: Blindsight is a limited-range ability, and some creatures with blindsight cannot sense anything outside of this radius. If you know you’re going up against a creature with blindsight, it’s best to keep at least 60 feet away, if you can help it.
- Be Careful With Defensive Buffs: Creatures with blindsight can see through defensive self-buffs that rely on illusory magic, like mirror image, blur, and even invisibility/greater invisibility.