You can blind or deafen a foe. Choose one creature that you can see within range to make a Constitution saving throw. If it fails, the target is either blinded or deafened (your choice) for the duration. At the end of each of its turns, the target can make a Constitution saving throw. On a success, the spell ends.
At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 3rd level or higher, you can target one additional creature for each slot level above 2nd.
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 30 feet
Duration: 1 minute
School: 2nd-level necromancy
Player’s Handbook, pg. 219
Blindness/Deafness is one of those spells that does exactly what its name implies. But players still have plenty of questions about how both the blinded and deafened conditions work, so we’ll do our best to explain a few example scenarios.
We’ll also get into how exactly you can use Blindness/Deafness to your party’s advantage, and compare it to other second-level spell options that fill a similar niche.
Who Can Cast Blindness/Deafness in 5e?
The following classes have Blindness/Deafness on their spell list:
The following subclasses get Blindness/Deafness for free:
- Warlock (The Fiend)
- Cleric (Death Domain) (DMG 96)
- Druid (Circle of Spores) (TCoE 36)
- Warlock (The Undying) (SCAG 139)
- Warlock (The Undead) (VRGtR 30)
What Does Blindness/Deafness Do in 5e?
Blindness/Deafness forces a Constitution saving throw for a creature within 30 feet. If it fails, you can choose to make it suffer either the blinded or deafened condition. The creature can repeat this saving throw at the end of each of its turns and end it early if succeeds. Otherwise, it lasts for one minute, with no concentration required.
When upcast, you can target one additional creature in range and impair it with the condition of your choice (even a different one than the first target) if it fails its saving throw.
The blinded condition causes a creature to automatically fail ability checks that require sight and gives the creature disadvantage on attack rolls. Attack rolls against a blinded creature have advantage.
A deafened creature can’t hear and automatically fails saving throws that require hearing (PHB 290).
What Are the Rules for Blindness/Deafness in 5e?
The rules for Blindness/Deafness in DnD 5e are as follows:
The Blinded condition can affect a creature with Blindsight. While Blindsight itself doesn’t protect a creature from the Blinded condition, many creatures with Blindsight are also immune to the Blinded condition. However, Blindsight is also limited to a certain range — creatures are effectively blind outside of that range.
For creatures that have Blindsight but aren’t immune to the Blinded condition, like Dragons, you can still cause them to have disadvantage on attack rolls and give your party advantage on attack rolls against them. They also still automatically fail sight-based ability checks.
When upcast, you can choose different conditions for different targets. The spell’s description indicates a three-step process: choosing a target, forcing a save, and then selecting the condition of your choice if they fail.
Upcasting Blindness/Deafness means repeating step one, but steps two and three can be different. While not directly related to Blindness/Deafness, this Sage Advice thread on Chromatic Orb and Twinned Spell suggests that you’re not forced to make the same choice when a series of discrete attacks against multiple enemies.
When upcast, you cannot choose to target the same creature twice. The spell’s description clearly states “one additional creature” (emphasis mine), so you can’t blind and deafen one creature by upcasting Blindness/Deafness.
Rules as written, you cannot choose to automatically fail a saving throw. So if you wanted to blind or deafen yourself or a party member, you’d have to find another way (like a blindfold or ear stoppers). Note that many DMs will reward clever spell uses like this if it pays to be blinded or deafened for some reason, so you can probably get around this ruling.
A Beholder’s Eye Rays are affected by blindness, but its Antimagic Cone isn’t. Because Eye Rays require sight, but Antimagic Cone does not. Here’s Sage Advice confirmation.
How Do I Use Blindness/Deafness in 5e?
Here are a few ways to use Blindness/Deafness in 5e:
Shut down spellcasters. Most spellcasters have a low Constitution modifier, so the spell’s more likely to land. Plus, many spells require sight of the target, and even area of effect spells will have to be cast without knowledge of the party’s whereabouts.
This is the best and most consistently useful function of the Blindness/Deafness spell.
Reduce incoming damage. Blindness is also great for archers and melee foes, who will have to guess their targets’ locations and have disadvantage on the attack to boot. There’s really no foe that isn’t hurt by the blinded condition (besides the ones who are immune to it).
Boost party damage. Attack rolls against blinded creatures have advantage, meaning Rogues, with their Sneak attack, will be especially grateful. But really, every single member of your party that’s making attack rolls is going to get a nice damage boost by attacking blinded creatures.
Make an escape. While Blindness/Deafness is great for combat scenarios, it’s also great for getting out of situations without fighting. If you’re dealing with just one or two powerful foes, blinding them and making a mad dash for the exit is a perfectly viable strategy.
Pairing this with the Silent Image spell can help ensure that your foe has no reason to even chase you (if they’re a dumb troll or something).
Protect yourself from negative effects. While you can’t automatically fail saving throws RAW, most DMs ignore this. This means you can purposefully deafen yourself or your allies to nullify the effects of Dissonant Whispers, Vicious Mockery, Command, or any other spell/effect that requires you to hear the caster.
Deafening yourself can also be great if you’re going up against Harpies with their Luring Song ability. Likewise, purposefully blinding yourself or your allies can be a great defense against something like a medusa.
Sneak past sleepers. While deafen has more limited utility than blind, it can be useful for sneaking past a creature who’s sleeping. It might also be useful for speaking secrets in mixed company, although they may be worried by their sudden deafness.
“Blind” creatures with Echolocation by deafening them. Creatures with the Echolocation ability, like bats, effectively become blind (because they lose their blindsight ability) when they’re deafened. Limited usage, but satisfying when you’re able to land it.
Pair with Subtle Spell. Sorcerer’s Subtle Spell metamagic can allow you to cast this spell in mixed company to blind or deafen a creature you don’t want to see or hear something. They’ll likely still be concerned about their one-minute loss of senses, but at least they won’t know why it happened.
On the subject of metamagic, the Heightened Spell metamagic is also useful for making it more likely that Blindness/Deafness lands by making a harder saving throw.
Pair with Bane or Bestow Curse. Reducing a creature’s chances of landing the initial saving throw and the repeated saving throw each round can ensure that you get a whole lot more mileage out of Blindness/Deafness.
Who Can I Target With Blindness/Deafness 5e?
You can target any creature within 30 feet with Blindness/Deafness. If you upcast the spell, all targets must be in range, but they don’t all need to be within 30 feet of each other.
Note that this is slightly different from a spell like Hold Person, which requires targets to be within range of each other.
Is Blindness/Deafness 5e a Good Spell?
Yes, Blindness/Deafness is a good spell. The fact that it doesn’t require concentration is a real strength of the spell, and only 32 creatures in the game’s official sourcebooks are immune to the blinded condition.
The spell’s ability to both boost your party’s offensive capabilities while kneecapping an opponent’s ability to deal damage is everything you want from a straightforward utility spell.
On the downside, Blindness/Deafness requires a Constitution saving throw, which tends to be the highest ability score of monsters in the game. But if you’re smart about who you target or find ways to enhance your spell save DC/debuff your enemies’ spell saving throws, you can get around this issue.
Blindness/Deafness 5e Compared to Other Second-Level Spells
All right, so the real question is where Blindness/Deafness stacks up compared to other 2nd-level options on the table. Let’s go over a few spells that fill similar roles as Blindness/Deafness:
Phantasmal Force. Depending on your DM, Phantasmal Force can completely take an enemy out of the fight and even get some damage in to boot. This spell also requires an Intelligence saving throw, which enemies are much more likely to fail.
Hold Person. Hold Person has the slightly worse Wisdom saving throw, but it also comes with the stronger paralyzed condition. All around, if you’re in a campaign with a lot of humanoids, Hold Person is usually the superior option to Blindness/Deafness.
And as far as Reddit is concerned, Hold Person is the superior option.
Tasha’s Mind Whip. Another Intelligence saving throw spell, TMW is good for limiting an enemy’s options in combat to one of three: action, bonus action, or movement. It also deals a healthy 10.5 average damage on a failed save, or half that on a successful one.
Overall, if you want to guarantee damage and don’t care as much about great, party-wide utility, Tasha’s Mind Whip is the better option. But as far as net party damage (incoming and outgoing), it usually trails behind.
Silence. Silence is right up there with Counterspell as premier anti-spellcaster spells. Blindness/Deafness also fills the niche decently and has extra benefits.
Still, if you’re looking for a straightforward “no spells at all from this particular area” spell, Silence is the stronger choice.
Blindness/Deafness 5e DM Tips
We left DMs with one unpopular ruling above: that players can’t automatically fail saving throws to purposefully blind or deafen themselves with Blindness/Deafness.
In my opinion, players should always be rewarded for creative thinking, so if this is how they approach blinding themselves before a fight with a Medusa or deafening themselves against a Harpy’s Luring Song, I say let them on — no saving throw required.
Simple Blindness/Deafness 5e Spell Text
Blindness/Deafness: (2nd-level necromancy, 30 feet, 1 minute, V) Force a creature to make a Constitution saving throw. If it fails, the target is either blinded or deafened (your choice) for the duration. At the end of each of its turns, it can repeat the saving throw. On a success, the spell ends. | Can target +1 creature per slot level above 2nd.