On Blindness

So as I’m sitting here looking at vision-based traits for a character with magical eyes, it dawns on me: why buy Blindness? Blindness is a whole -50 points. Seems like a worthwhile amount for such a limiting disadvantage. Consider, however, the following list:

  • Bad Sight (Nearsighted) [-25]
  • Colourblindness [-10]
  • Night Blindness [-10]
  • No Depth Perception [-15]
  • Tunnel Vision [-30]

None of those are mutually exclusive, and they add up to a massive -90 points. Obviously, something is wrong here. Now any reasonable GM would just forbid that combination outright — but I don’t want to be reasonable, I want a concrete reason to give to my players for why the rules don’t work that way. Finding that reason is deceptively simple, but you have to think a little outside the box.

Blindness is -50 points. This suggests that not being blind is a 50-point advantage that every character has by default; effectively Vision [50]. Now, if Vision is an advantage, does that mean the various disadvantages are limitations?

  • Vision (Nearsighted, -50%) [25]
  • Vision (Colourblind, -20%) [40]
  • Vision (Night Blind, -20%) [40]
  • Vision (No Depth Perception, -30%) [35]
  • Vision (Tunnel Vision, -60%) [20]

All of those work out to the same effective cost as their actual-disadvantage counterparts. But taking them together, you can’t take more than -80% in limitations! -80% of 50 points is a -40 point discount — and so, it would be quite fair to tell your players that they can’t get a discount of more than 40 points from Vision disadvantages unless they’re actually blind.

“But wait, Mr. GM!” they cry! “I have Hyperspectral Vision [25], doesn’t that mean my Vision advantage is more expensive!?”

Sure, I say! Vision (Hyperspectral, +50%; Nearsighted, -50%; No Depth Perception, -30%; Tunnel Vision, -60%) [10]. You’ve got some serious colour perception but lousy everything else — are you playing a mantis shrimp?

While no GM should be afraid to stamp out munchkinism where they see it, I hope this gives you a couple rounds of ammunition to back you up — and perhaps makes you look at disadvantages with a new eye.