[RPG] Blindness spell on earth elemental


Can an earth elemental be blinded using the blindness cleric spell. I tried it and even though it failed the saving through my DM said it appeared to have no effect on its ability to attack.

Best Answer

It's complicated, but by RAW, the Earth Elemental should probably have suffered the penalties of the Blinded condition.

What makes it complicated is that Earth Elementals have Tremorsense. Tremorsense is defined on page 9 of the Monster Manual as:

A monster with tremorsense can detect and pinpoint the origin of vibrations within a specific radius, provided that the monster and the source of the vibrations are in contact with the same ground or substance. Tremorsense can’t be used to detect flying or incorporeal creatures. Many burrowing creatures, such as ankhegs and umber hulks, have this special sense.

So the Earth Elemental would certainly have known where its targets were in order to attack them. However, preventing creatures from seeing is not the only thing the Blinded condition does.

  • A blinded creature can’t see and automatically fails any ability check that requires sight.

  • Attack rolls against the creature have advantage, and the creature’s attack rolls have disadvantage.

Earth Elementals aren't immune to the Blinded condition, and while Tremorsense means that the first bullet point wouldn't really affect their ability to attack, the second still would.

"But Miniman! If the Earth Elemental can still tell where its targets are, why would it have disadvantage?"

On page 194 of the PHB, there is a section on Unseen Attackers and Targets. The important bit for our purposes is this:

When you attack a target that you can’t see, you have disadvantage on the attack roll. This is true whether you’re guessing the target’s location or you’re targeting a creature you can hear but not see.

The Earth Elemental, using its Tremorsense, can pinpoint the location of its target, and doesn't have to guess which square it's in. However, it still can't see the creature, and should suffer disadvantage.

Finally, you didn't ask, but using the same reasoning, you should also have had advantage on attacks against it.