Can characters without sight be effective spellcasters?


Rules Questions


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

From page 334 of the Core Rulebook:

You must be able to see or touch the target (unless the spell has an attack roll; see Spells with Attack Rolls below), and you must specifically choose that target. You do not have to select your target until you have finished casting the spell.

Many races do not have sight-based precises senses, such as the selamid or the blind vlaka. Can characters without sight be effective spellcasters, or are they unable to target their enemies with target spells using their other precise senses?


You can't target people with non touch spells.

You'd have a 50 50 miss chance on touch spells.

You'd be kinda hosed. I mean, you could have a list with all cure spells, summoning spells, and buffing your allies with polymorph spells. My mystic plays that way except he has haste as an offensive option. The party would have to group hug for that.


I always assumed "see" to be used in the general sense. Especially since a variety of species have blindsight in whatever other sense. So it's a form of sight, thus you "see" with it.

Not sure on races that only have blindsense though. If something lacked any form of precise sight, I am curious to know and tagged the FAQ. Considering the inclusiveness of Starfinder, even down to sign and tactile language, I can't see them making an option that couldn't effectively do whatever the player might want.

Sovereign Court

If you're blind and have no blindsight, you're definitely hosed. If you have blindsight, it's a bit murkier. There's nothing in the CRB specifically saying that you can substitute blindsight for regular sight when targeting. On the other hand, it's a precise sense called "-sight", and:

CRB p. 263: Blindsight wrote:

If you have blindsight and succeed at a Perception check to notice a hidden creature, you are observing the creature.

(...)

Blindsight is still limited in many ways compared to normal vision. Blindsight never allows a creature to distinguish color or visual contrast, though it might be able to make out other features depending on the sense. A creature cannot read written text with blindsight, though it could still use tactile communication. Blindsight works underwater and in fog or smoke, but it typically does not work in a vacuum (although this depends on the nature of the sense; for instance, emotion-based blindsight would work in a vacuum).

It doesn't list "unable to target with spells" as one of the typical limitations of blindsight. In fact, you can observe creatures trying to hide. Presumably you can also observe creatures not making an effort to hide.

CRB, p. 260: Observing wrote:

Observing

When you are observing a creature, you can directly perceive the creature with a precise sense. Generally, this occurs when a creature is visible, when the situation makes it impossible for the creature use Stealth to hide, or when you have succeeded at a Perception check to pinpoint the creature using a precise sense such as blindsight. You must be observing a creature to use a ranged effect that targets a specific creature without requiring an attack roll to hit (such as magic missile). You can also make normal attacks, including ones using ranged abilities, against creatures that you are observing. Again, it is subject to area effects that affect its location.

Observing seems necessary and sufficient to target spells.

So I'd say that RAI is that blindsight allows you to target spells on anyone you can "see". The rules are circuitous but not unclear. Which brings us to:

Nethys wrote:

Selamids have blindsight (vibration) with a range of 60 feet.

Blind: A blind vlaka has blindsight (hearing) with a range of 60 feet, blindsight (scent) with a range of 30 feet, and the blinded condition. The vlaka is naturally sightless, so the blinded condition can be removed only by effects that grant sight to creatures with no natural vision.


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QUICK! everyone try to hide from our caster so he can haste us!

When you've hit that level of legal exploit you've probably also left the rules anyway.


I believe blindsight lets you target spells, even if you can't see the target with vision.

I derive the developer's intention from the following rules:

CRB page 263 wrote:

If you have blindsight and succeed at a Perception check

to notice a hidden creature, you are observing the creature.
Blindsight negates concealment, displacement, invisibility,
magical darkness, and similar effects, though a creature with
blindsight still can’t perceive ethereal creatures (see the ethereal
jaunt spell on page 354). A creature with blindsight cannot be
blinded (see page 273) and is not subject to gaze attacks (see
the Starfinder Alien Archive).
CRB page 273, Blinded condition wrote:
Creatures that become blinded but that have a precise sense (see page 260) other than vision still automatically fail all checks and activities relying on vision, but they suffer none of the other effects.

Blindsight negates the effects of invisibility or magical darkness, letting you target a creature with a spell that you cannot see with vision. You still can't read anything on them or tell what color clothes they're wearing. It should be the same for a permanently blind character.

From a balance point of view, blind + blindsight should let a character function normally, except in a few corner cases. It shouldn't be something that prevents certain races from even being able to cast half the spell list except at point blank range. The fact you're limited to a 30' or 60' bubble of vision that doesn't work in space is already a huge penalty for vlaka, for example.

Second Seekers (Jadnura)

Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

Related question: if you're a race without eyes, like a khizar, can you get cybernetic / magitech / biotech eyes implanted to see like other races?
As far as I can tell, nothing that goes into the Eyes system specifically says "grants plain ol' sight" as a feature. I guess it's up to GM Fiat, but seems reasonable to me that shelling out 2,825 credits for Wide-Spectrum Ocular Implants should grant vision comparable to a normally sighted races' vision, in addition to their usual functioning.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

As a rules forum question, I believe the answer is no, those implants don't grant sight to the sightless.

As a homebrew question, I would make buying eyes for a race that does not normally have them a higher level/more expensive procedure than the ocular implant, because you would need to modify the brain much more heavily to process a sense that didn't exist, whereas darkvision could more reasonably be rendered into a form that the recipient could already handle.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Hiruma Kai wrote:

I believe blindsight lets you target spells, even if you can't see the target with vision.

I derive the developer's intention from the following rules:

CRB page 263 wrote:

If you have blindsight and succeed at a Perception check

to notice a hidden creature, you are observing the creature.
Blindsight negates concealment, displacement, invisibility,
magical darkness, and similar effects, though a creature with
blindsight still can’t perceive ethereal creatures (see the ethereal
jaunt spell on page 354). A creature with blindsight cannot be
blinded (see page 273) and is not subject to gaze attacks (see
the Starfinder Alien Archive).
CRB page 273, Blinded condition wrote:
Creatures that become blinded but that have a precise sense (see page 260) other than vision still automatically fail all checks and activities relying on vision, but they suffer none of the other effects.

Blindsight negates the effects of invisibility or magical darkness, letting you target a creature with a spell that you cannot see with vision. You still can't read anything on them or tell what color clothes they're wearing. It should be the same for a permanently blind character.

From a balance point of view, blind + blindsight should let a character function normally, except in a few corner cases. It shouldn't be something that prevents certain races from even being able to cast half the spell list except at point blank range. The fact you're limited to a 30' or 60' bubble of vision that doesn't work in space is already a huge penalty for vlaka, for example.

I too believe this to be the case with precise senses, not just blindsight, but it would be nice if the devs could confirm it, since the rules don't.

Sovereign Court

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I think they do, using the rules for Observing:

CRB, p. 260: Observing wrote:

Observing

When you are observing a creature, you can directly perceive the creature with a precise sense. Generally, this occurs when a creature is visible, when the situation makes it impossible for the creature use Stealth to hide, or when you have succeeded at a Perception check to pinpoint the creature using a precise sense such as blindsight. You must be observing a creature to use a ranged effect that targets a specific creature without requiring an attack roll to hit (such as magic missile). You can also make normal attacks, including ones using ranged abilities, against creatures that you are observing. Again, it is subject to area effects that affect its location.

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