[RPG] Would bats, or other echolocation-based creatures be able to see in a storm


I came across a situation in my campaign where our druid used a Sleet Storm to obstruct the view of some bandit archers. As a summoner, I decided to send my eidolon in and start summoning Earth Elementals to enter the storm and bash the bandits to death, as Earth Elementals and my eidolon have tremorsense.

Our GM accepted this as reasonable, based on the tremorsense description.

However, our druid wanted to then summon dire bats, which have blindsense. According to the pathfinder definition, blindsense would work in a sleet storm, but we all know that bats use echolocation, and not "blindsense".

It doesn't make sense for Paizo to create a million types of "visions" and "senses" in their books (as every creature is slightly different), so should dire bats be able to see in a sleetstorm (knowing bats truly have echolocation, and not blindsense)?

Best Answer

Dire Bats have blindsense, not echolocation

The statblock for the Dire Bat lists only Blindsense, not echolocation.

When playing a game like pathfinder, you have to make some allowances for the system to work. Stats, turns, and actions are a simplification (with sometimes ridiculous implications) of real-word scenarios.

Thus, when it comes to creatures (especially in combat, which can already drag on) it's best to trust the stat block implicitly. This serves a few purposes

  1. It saves non-experts from having to do research: If the GM isn't an expert on bats, then all he needs to do is know the keywords used on the stat block and he's good to go. Something like a bat is one thing (most people are aware of echolocation at this point), but when it comes to Green Slime knowing whether the creature is completely immobile or not is obscure trivia, and could start a table argument. For the purposes of combat, it's best to trust the statblock and agree that the slime isn't going anywhere, and the bat can see in any condition.

  2. It could affect balance: Sometimes stats don't make a ton of sense. Why does damage for some weapons change between some editions of D&D, but not other weapons? Did steel get less sharp and more pointy? Rather than explore minutiae it's generally best to trust the designers of the system that they made things the way they are. If you start worrying about how rain, snow, sleet, dust, and fog affect echolocating creatures different you could wind up inadvertantly making bats weaker than intended (after all, there are a lot of ways to conjure up some of those things, and some aren't even magical).


In the real world we're not really sure if storms mess with echolocation in the first place

We know that bats don't like to be out in the rain, but we're not entirely sure why. There's been some research done, but due to limitations in the equipment used they were unable to test echolocation hypotheses. The researchers did determine that the caloric cost of flying as a wet bat vs a dry one was around twice as high, which would be a serious factor, but aside from wind-levels pathfinder doesn't try to address adverse weather conditions much in Flight, and certainly doesn't model the difference between how rain affects a Duck and a Bat very well.