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Flaw: Blind

by: Jesse Balanger A Legacy Article from Sanguinus Curae

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Sometimes, through deliberate measures, or circumstance, a Kindred is, or becomes permanently blind. While this is quite the handicap, it can be offset, and even used as an advantage, by the wise and clever vampire.

Being blind does offer some protection from disciplines, yes. A purely visual illusion will fail outright, for it cannot be perceived. Some of the blinding powers of Obtenebration are useless. At the ST's option, some Presence powers may be reduced in effect.

A blind character cannot be normally Dominated. However, the elder-level Dominate power that allows one to not bother with eye contact, as well as the Blood Bond, will both allow the user to Dominate the blind character, as eye contact is not needed.

The flip side is that the blind character cannot use Dominate, himself. Some STs, however, have interpreted that the target must see the user's eyes. However, since the blind person doesn't know when the target is looking, he's got a bit of a problem. (Note that under this interpretation, sunglasses do not protect you from Dominate. They do, however, keep you from using yours.)

Some other powers also require 'line of sight'. This, unfortunately, gets handled on a case-by-case basis. Many Dementation powers require line of sight; however, since the blind character can never have line of sight, this can either be interpreted as 'is aware of the presence of' or 'is within earshot'. I usually go for the first. Blind people can use Aura Perception, as is said in the Flaw. Other perception based powers, therefore, should also work without flaw.

What's the main downside to being blind? Well, you're blind. Consider walking into a room you've never been into before. Your normal vampire will take maybe two seconds to locate all possible escapes, the position and relationship of everyone in the room, possible weapons, and so on.

Your blind Kindred, on the other hand, will get a jumble of voices, know that he can get out the way he came in, and that's about it. And consider that if you're attacked, and you don't have Blind-Fighting, you can kiss the character good-bye, since he can't even dodge attacks sent his way. That's right. 'You fail all rolls based on visual perception', which normally includes things like fists, knives, and bullets (yes, bullets, since the bullet travels faster than sound).

Let's also look at the main disciplines for the 13 clans.

Animalism: Unaffected, save for Subsume the Spirit, which requires eye contact.

Auspex: The blind person's best friend. Even with Heightened Senses, the amount of information gleaned is vast. Heightened Hearing allows him to pick out voices, clothes rustling, the small creaks of furniture, etc. Heightened Smell lets him identify an individual's scent, with the obvious advantages thereof. Telepathy, when properly used, can substitute for eyes. Just bring along a ghouled Retainer, and use Telepathy to scan his surface thoughts. Once you get used to the disjointed perceptions, things may function a bit easier.

Celerity: use with caution, especially in unfamiliar places. Running into a wall at high speeds is not good for one's health.

Chimerstry: Visual illusions are going to be mighty hard for a character to reproduce. Even images gleaned through Telepathy are going to be filtered through two brains, and will probably look fuzzier than normal.

Dementation: This is a double edged sword. It can be useful for distracting your enemies and the like, but you gotta be nuts to use it.

Dominate: covered above, 'nuff said.

Fortitude: The blind guy's second best friend. Let's face it, if he's blind, he'll likely be seen as weak, and someone will try to take him out. (To say nothing of running into things at high speed.) While this isn't necessarily next on the blind's Discipline shopping list, it should be up there.

Obfuscate: same thing as Fortitude. Note that Obfuscate is basically a mystical 'Ignore Me' sign, not an Invisibility spell, and so the blind person cannot detect Obfuscated characters without Auspex.

Obtenebration: If your character knows a friendly Lasombra, then Shroud of Night is wonderful at leveling the playing field.

Potence: eh. Low on the list. Let's face it, most of your blind folks aren't going to be major-league ass-kickers.

Presence: Fairly handy. It's always good for the blind guy to have people watching his back, especially since he can't watch his own front. Dread Gaze can be awfully useful; rip off the shades, give your attacker a shot of immortal terror, and you're good. Well, better off, anyway.

Protean: Gleam of the Red Eyes (or Red Socket, depending on how your character was blinded) will probably not help much. Other than that, Protean's low on the list of 'must have' disciplines.

Quietus: Again, not generally too terribly useful in overcoming the lack of sight.

Serpentis: Eyes of the Serpent gets tossed right down the drain, but other than that, it's all good.

Thaumaturgy: Oh, lord, there's too much to cover here. Just try and extrapolate from the other examples given. (i.e., it's tough to try and aim that fireball, but enhancing your Generation shouldn't be a problem.)

Vicissitude: At lower levels, it's possibly to take working eyes from others and craft them into your own sockets. And while a blind Zulo might seem amusing in though, in game, it's probably a different story.

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