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Old 11-10-2017, 02:58 PM   #1
johndallman
 
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Default [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Bad Sight, Blindness and Night Blindness

Bad Sight, Blindness and Night Blindness are all mundane physical disadvantages. The first two appeared at GURPS 1e, and have not fundamentally changed since. Night Blindness appeared in Bunnies & Burrows for 3e.

Bad Sight is [-25], but if you're from a TL that has optics, a -60% mitigator for glasses, contact lenses, or whatever's appropriate is normally required, reducing it to [-10] -- they can still be lost or damaged. This is definitely a playable simplification, since there are vision defects that can't be entirely mitigated at TL8, from personal experience. Being farsighted makes reading very slow, imposes -6 to Per at close range, and gives -3 DX for close manual tasks, including close combat. Being nearsighted makes it impossible to read at a distance, imposes -6 to Per except at close range, gives -2 to melee attacks and doubles all distances for calculating range penalties. Either is a major handicap for an adventurer.

Blindness is [-50] and is very simple: you have no vision at all, and can't buy visual abilities that would offset it, although there are other ranged senses that are permitted. Many things are impossible, and you have to travel slowly and carefully, or be led. You are at -6 on melee combat skills, and can't use ranged combat skills unless you guess at where enemies are, or can hear them. This is a substantial improvement on someone who isn't used to being blind, who uses melee skills at -10. On the upside, you suffer no darkness penalties, and if you are a cinematic martial artist, the points for Blindness will buy Trained by a Master and a lot of Blind Fighting skill.

Night Blindness is [10]. You suffer double penalties for poor lighting, with a minimum of -3, and are effectively blind if your doubled penalty is -10 or worse. This is mutually exclusive with Night Vision and Dark Vision. You can have Acute Vision, but it only works if there is no penalty for poor lighting. There's a quirk level version of this in Power-Ups 6: Quirks.

Bad Sight is a common disadvantage option on published characters and templates, and quite a few animals have it. Blindness and Night Blindness are much rarer, although Blindness is an example for Afflictions and curses, can be a side-effect of attacks with acid, or explosive decompression, and can be inflicted using Pressure Points skill. Banestorm has a very skilled blind bard, matching the archetype in Fantasy. Bio-Tech has genefixing to prevent Bad Sight and Night Blindness, diseases that can cause any of these disadvantages, genetic therapy to cure them, and Blindness as a critical failure result on eye surgery. DF has spectacles, nageteppo flash-bombs and monsters that cause blindness. High-Tech has lights powerful enough to cause temporary blindness, flash from bombs that can cause lasting Bad Sight or Blindness, laser treatments for Bad Sight, and more detail on eyeglasses, while Horror has brains in jars without eyes, and hysterical blindness.

Infinite Words has a species that have Bad Sight for neurological, rather than optical, reasons, and can't mitigate it with simple optics. Low-Tech has more detail on early eyeglasses and eye surgery; Magic has spells that won't work on the blind, and Dungeon Magic has a style that requires vision. Martial Arts has critical hit results that cause sight problems, and Powers has advantages and disadvantages that go with these ones. Enhanced Senses defines Bad Sight in more detail, and The Weird makes use of those rules, to define surgical upgrades for animals. Psi-Tech has a way of forcing people to develop psi powers by removing mundane senses (eww), and Psionic Powers has psi attacks on the senses, astral vision and sensory effects of crippled psi powers.

Several Reign of Steel robots have limited vision, or none at all, and Space has vision guidelines for alien species, reminding us that human vision is really good. Ultra-Tech has blinding lasers, strobe warheads, and bionic eyes. Underground Adventures has blind cave-dwellers, and Zombies emphasises the difficulties of losing your glasses during an apocalypse.

I've never used any of these disadvantages on a PC, since I have really rotten sight and like to escape from its limitations. Has it been interesting or funny in your games?
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Old 11-10-2017, 04:13 PM   #2
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Bad Sight, Blindness and Night Blindness

I have night vision problems worse than quirk but probably not as severe as the full disadvantage. But I can't imagine ever making a character suffer that without also making them compulsively carry mid to high tech light sources.
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Old 11-10-2017, 04:28 PM   #3
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Bad Sight, Blindness and Night Blindness

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Originally Posted by Flyndaran View Post
I have night vision problems worse than quirk but probably not as severe as the full disadvantage. But I can't imagine ever making a character suffer that without also making them compulsively carry mid to high tech light sources.
Poor Night Vision [-1] and SOP (Carries a light source at all times) [1], seems legit to me.

Last edited by sir_pudding; 11-10-2017 at 04:42 PM.
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Old 11-10-2017, 04:30 PM   #4
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Bad Sight, Blindness and Night Blindness

Yep, if I ever needed to travel, that would fit me. Makes sense.
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Old 11-10-2017, 04:31 PM   #5
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Bad Sight, Blindness and Night Blindness

I think that since Bad Sight is quite common in real life, so it ends up appearing in a lot of characters in fiction because it is a disadvantage that someone can live with without major issue (eye glasses are not that hard to keep safe day-to-day and extra pairs are relatively cheap). It is also a stereotypical disadvantage for intellectual characters, so it tends to be an easy fit for most intellectual characters in modern settings.
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Old 11-11-2017, 03:06 AM   #6
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Bad Sight, Blindness and Night Blindness

This (along with related sensory disads) is curiously asymmetrical: there's a generic Acute Senses, but the equivalent of Dull Senses is modelled separately for each sense, and it tends to be less nuanced. Where's the disadvantage that gives you a slight sense penalty? Is it just that anything less severe than this grade of Bad Sight is not regarded as interestingly playable (and that anything more might as well be full-on Blindness)?

I've used this disadvantage on quite a few modern and recent historical characters (with the mitigator): it's an interesting occasional challenge to work with (even if, as I grew up with something near the short-sight version of the disadvantage, it's fairly close to my own experience). I tend to assume that in settings significantly advanced over the present day it'll be routinely corrected.
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Old 11-11-2017, 07:59 AM   #7
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Bad Sight, Blindness and Night Blindness

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Originally Posted by RogerBW View Post
This (along with related sensory disads) is curiously asymmetrical: there's a generic Acute Senses, but the equivalent of Dull Senses is modelled separately for each sense, and it tends to be less nuanced. Where's the disadvantage that gives you a slight sense penalty? Is it just that anything less severe than this grade of Bad Sight is not regarded as interestingly playable (and that anything more might as well be full-on Blindness)?
This is a design philosophy you see in several places: Arm ST vs Weak Arms, High Manual Dexterity vs. Ham-Fisted, and so on. This reflects the principle that anybody who takes a disadvantage will arrange things to not be inconvenienced by it as much, so small incremental penalties aren't really significant. Personally, I like it, and actually wish there were less things in GURPS that need to be adjusted to some exact number, since exact numbers are usually not actually very important.

Also lesser vision penalties can be quirks.
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Old 11-11-2017, 09:32 AM   #8
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Bad Sight, Blindness and Night Blindness

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Originally Posted by RogerBW View Post
This (along with related sensory disads) is curiously asymmetrical: there's a generic Acute Senses, but the equivalent of Dull Senses is modelled separately for each sense, and it tends to be less nuanced. Where's the disadvantage that gives you a slight sense penalty?
Usually Quirks.

Minor Handicap gives the example (in Power Ups 6) of a generic minor eyesight problem that gives -1 to Vision rolls if you don't take an extra second to focus,

Dull Taste/Smell which gives -1 to both, or -2 to one.

Limited Hearing Loss has a quirk for High Frequency & Low Frequency.

Poor Night Vision gives an extra -1 in bad lighting.
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Old 11-11-2017, 10:11 AM   #9
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Bad Sight, Blindness and Night Blindness

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Originally Posted by RogerBW View Post
This (along with related sensory disads) is curiously asymmetrical: there's a generic Acute Senses, but the equivalent of Dull Senses is modelled separately for each sense, and it tends to be less nuanced. Where's the disadvantage that gives you a slight sense penalty?
I suppose you're forgotten you can just buy down Perception?
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Old 11-11-2017, 10:44 AM   #10
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Default Re: [Basic] Disadvantage of the week: Bad Sight, Blindness and Night Blindness

An IQ 16 character with Per 8 would fit a number of intellectual tropes (especially if he or she also had Attentive or Single-Minded).
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