PENALTIES IN DARKNESS
These rules apply to total darkness, and are the penalties a creature incurs for acting in such darkness. If conditions are not quite as bad as total darkness, then these penalties will be reduced to about half severity. All blindfighting advantages only apply to melee combat and situations within melee reach of the blindfighter. Missile attacks strike at a blindfighter as if he was unskilled, with the exception of Masters, who can defend against missile attacks, if they pass their check, detailed below.
Penalties in Total Darkness
-4 penalty to hit.
Inability to oppose incoming attacks, thus, each attack gains a +4 to hit, or defenders AC is penalized by 4 points, however you want to look at it.
Loss of all DEX bonuses to AC.
Loss of all special AC(Dodge) bonuses from kit or class based on dodge/avoid ability. Swashbuckler bonus, Monk bonus, etc. are all lost.
AC(Dodge) bonus from Single Weapon Style is lost.
Half(rounded down) of the AC bonus for a shield is still applied so long as the defender keeps the shield between him and any attackers(ie. the shield only helps against attackers in front of the defender), but this only applies against foes who are likewise blinded. Against opponents who are not blind, blind defenders do not get their shield defenses at all. It is up to each DM whether or not to allow magic shield plusses to continue to count in full regardless of the situation.
Defensive combat cannot be used, any such defensive points used for defense are simply wasted.
The special ability of warriors, clerics and rogues to critical on numbers other than a natural 20 if the target was hit by 5 or more than needed is lost. All classes can only critical on a natural 20, just like a mage, if they hit the target by 5 or more than needed.
All movement rates are reduced by 1/3.
Weapon mastery bonuses to hit, to damage, that increase damage and knockdown dice, and to improve critical hits, both critical number and severity, are lost. The multiple attacks and speed factor reductions are all retained.
Backstabbing bonuses are lost, as are any other sight related bonuses.
Attacks of opportunity are lost, and so fumbles have no special effect aside from missing.
Active/passive defenses: block, dodge, etc. are not allowed, and called shots are also prohibited.
Finally, all skills, proficiencies and abilities that have total reliance on sight are lost. Those with partial reliance on sight are penalized according to how important sight is to the abilitys success. This includes thieving abilities.
The blindfighting skill helps reduce the above darkness penalties. Some of the blindfighting bonuses require a proficiency check for the skill to help, but others take effect without need for such a proficiency check. The blindfighting skill is now WIS based. You must use my system for the following details to make sense, and even if you do not wish to use my system for all skills, at least use it for this one. The bonuses gained depend on the skill of the blindfighter:
Novice(Skill Rating 1-6)
The blindfighter has only a -2 to hit in darkness and the inability to oppose attacks, thus giving attackers a +4 to hit, is removed against blind attackers, and against attackers who can still see, the bonus to hit is reduced to +2 against those attacks the blindfighter is able to oppose. Additionally, against blind attackers, the novice gets his full shield defenses, and still gets half(rounded down) of them against attackers who can see. This is the extent of the bonuses a novice blindfighter receives.
Skilled(Skill Rating 7-12)
The skilled blindfighter gets all the bonuses he had as a novice, plus the following additional bonuses or upgrades, however, these extra bonuses require a proficiency check each round to be available that round, or they are not open to the blindfighter in any round he fails his check: can oppose attacks of seeing attackers as well as he can those of blind attackers; he gets his full shield defenses against all attackers, whether blind or not; he can apply half(rounded down) of his formerly lost DEX/dodge bonuses against blind attackers only, this includes combat defense bonuses, against seeing attackers, he does not get this bonus; he also gets back half(rounded down) the use of his sight related bonuses, such as mastery hit and damage bonuses, critical number reduction(a warrior normally gets a 2 point reduction from the 20 critical number mages have, so half of this would allow him to critical in a range of 19-20), damage/knockdown/severity die increase(instead of gaining a full die increase, he gets only a +1 bonus), backstab(instead of double damage, he gets 50% extra, instead of triple damage, he gets double damage, x4 becomes x2.5 and x5 becomes x3), etc; finally, he can attempt to block/dodge(active or passive) attacks of blind foes and make called shots against them, but each such attempt requires a separate proficiency check, with failure indicating the attack was used up, but failed. Against seeing foes, he can attempt the same things, whether it be a block/dodge or called shot, yet his proficiency check suffers a -4 penalty.
Expert(Skill Rating 13-18)
Expert blindfighters gain all the abilities they had when they were skilled, and because they are now experts, they can ignore the requirement of making normal proficiency checks to gain the extra bonuses of the skilled blindfighter. Only when attempting to block/dodge or make a called shot against a seeing foe does he still require a check, because the penalty is -4, to much for his expert ranking to allow him to ignore, but even here, he gets to reduce this penalty by the 2 points all experts are entitled to, so his check is only at a -2. In addition to these improvements, experts also gain the following bonuses or upgrades, but must pass a -4 proficiency check to have access to them, making this check on a round by round basis, and the expert +2 penalty offset does apply to this -4 penalty as well, so the actual check the expert must make to gain access to these bonuses is a -2 check: no to hit penalty when attacking, as opposed to the usual -2 less skilled blindfighters must take; he gets his full DEX/dodge and combat defense bonuses against other blind attackers, and even gets half(rounded down) of this against seeing foes; he is able to take advantage of attacks of opportunity his foes open up to him, so well does he sense his surroundings; finally, he can sense attacks coming so well, he is allowed to oppose and defend against(ie. use his DEX/dodge and/or combat defense points against) flank or rear attacks, but shield bonuses cannot be applied in this way. He can use this ability even when he can see, but must pass the -2 proficiency check to be able to use it that round.
Master(Skill Rating 19+)
Master blindfighters are truly masters of their own intuition and have fully developed their sixth sense powers. Only truly blind warriors or martial artists gain this level of skill, as for a seeing student to achieve and maintain this level of mastery, he must purposely fight blind at least half of the time he fights in is life, or he will slowly come to rely on his eyes, and lose the heightened senses his intuition seeks to bring him.
Masters gain all the benefits of experts, and because they can ignore proficiency checks with up to a -4 penalty, they get the abilities of experts at all times, without the need to check for them each round. In addition to these benefits, masters get the following additional abilities, but these require a -8 check for the master to have them during each round, making a new check at the start of each round. The master does get his +4 penalty offset, so his proficiency check is actually made at -4 when checking to see if these bonuses are gained in a round: masters gain full use of all sight related bonuses, DEX/dodge and combat defense bonuses, and can move at full normal rate. Finally, masters can sense missile attacks, if they pass their check at -4, and get to react and defend against them. This makes masters potentially as competent in the dark as they are when they can see. Because of this, masters always seek to fight in darkness, so their foes are at a severe penalty and the master can make full use of is skill against them.
Certain conditions will impose additional proficiency penalties upon blindfighters. Magical silence or intense noise(either makes the blindfighter unable to detect the noises around him) imposes an additional -4 penalty to any check the blindfighter must make. This may force experts or masters to have to make checks they could normally ignore, because the combined penalty would push the total penalty over that which allows the expert or master to ignore the check. Other conditions which disrupt the calm spirit and senses of the blindfighter will also impose penalties. Confusion, magical or otherwise, will impose at least a -4 penalty, and fear will also impose a penalty, as it interferes with the mind and spirit of the blindfighter, giving from -1(fear associated with a new or dangerous situation) to a -4 for magical fear effects, like dragon fear.
Although novices need not make checks normally, if the penalties imposed on them, or any other skill ranking for that matter, would reduce a proficiency check to 0 or less, the blindfighter functions so poorly, he gets only some of the usual benefits his skill would allow which do not require any check. That is, he gets a -3 to hit(rather than -2), and opposed attacks of blind foes still get a +2 to hit him, while opposed attacks of seeing foes get the full +4 to hit him(ie. he is unable to oppose these now). Also, he is no better with a shield than when not using his blindfighting skill, so he only gets half(rounded down) of his shield bonus against blind foes and nothing against seeing foes.