D&D 5E Replacing Darkvision with other special senses

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
In one of the threads about racial ASIs, the suggestion of beefing up other race features to compensate for their removal came up, and one of the suggestions was giving dwarves tremorsense. And I absolutely loved the idea.

Now, I don’t want this to be another thread about racial ASIs, so forget that element of the suggestion. What I want to focus on is the concept of replacing some or all races’ darkvision with other forms of special senses. Here are some possibilities I have been considering:

Dwarves - 60 ft. Tremorsense
Elves - “Low-light vision” a-la the Skulker Feat (dim light doesn’t impose disadvantage on your Wisdom checks that rely on sight), or Keen Sight a-la some monster stat blocks (advantage on Wisdom checks relying on sight, which would cancel out with the disadvantage from dim light). The latter would replace the Perception proficiency as well as Darkvision.
Dragonborn - 30 ft. Blindsight, 60 ft. Darkvision (I know they don’t usually have darkvision to begin with, but I feel they could use a boost anyway, and this would put their sensory perception in line with that of dragons, but at half the range)
Gnomes - 60 ft. Tremorsense, or 30 ft. Tremorsense and “low-light vision”
Half-elves - “Low-light vision”
Half-Orcs - maybe 30 ft. Darkvision and Keen Smell (advantage on Wisdom checks relying on smell) to tie in with their classic porcine association?
Tieflings - 60 ft. Devil’s Sight, a-la the Warlock Invocation (normal vision in darkness within range, including magical darkness, but no change to perception in dim light)
Drow, Duergar, and Svirfneblin - 60 ft. Darkvision and Sunlight Sensitivity on top of the special senses for their base race

Any thoughts on introducing such a change? Alternative suggestions? Complaints about balance issues?
 
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Xeviat

Community Supporter
Supporter
I haven't really looked it over for balance, but I like the idea and differentiation.

One thing I'd like to see is making their senses different from humans, and not just better. Mutants and Masterminds has some sense tags that make this possible. Senses can be acute (can identify things with the sense), accurate (can target attacks), ranged, and radius, or some or none. For humans, you get this:

Sight: Ranged, Acute, Accurate
Hearing: Ranged, Acute, Radius
Smell: Ranged, Radius
Touch: none

What would be neat would be taking something away from some of the nonhumans, making humans senses stand out in certain ways against some creatures. Maybe dwarves have poor vision and their vision isn't accurate (poor depth perception or focal length); their tremor sense allows them to fight ground based opponents just fine, but they're at a loss against flying opponents so they prefer to fight on their turf and have truces with the Aarakocra because of that.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
One implication of these changes would be that stealth would be a much less effective tactic against dwarves, gnomes, and especially dragonborn. Even with invisibility, they would be able to detect would-be ambushers that come within 60 feet, which would make ranged attacks much more important for stealth-focused characters and monsters alike.

Also, I went with the 60 ft. base range for everything, but maybe I should halve the ranges balance out the fact that they’re potentially stronger than Darkvision?
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
What would be neat would be taking something away from some of the nonhumans, making humans senses stand out in certain ways against some creatures. Maybe dwarves have poor vision and their vision isn't accurate (poor depth perception or focal length); their tremor sense allows them to fight ground based opponents just fine, but they're at a loss against flying opponents so they prefer to fight on their turf and have truces with the Aarakocra because of that.
I like this a lot in concept, but I worry that it would be difficult to sell players on the idea of such a trade-off if it was mechanically reinforced (e.g. giving dwarves disadvantage on attack rolls against creatures they can’t detect with their Tremorsense or something). As a bit of extra lore though, I think that would be awesome!

EDIT: Ooh, but what if Duergar were blind, but had Blindsight within their Tremorsense radius, which could be double that of other dwarves!
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
I am hoping for an official "Senses" option in a new book.

I would created Nightvision, and Lowlight Vision. And combine Superior Darkvision with Sunlight Sensitivity.

One for those with good sight. One for the nocturnal. One for the cave folk. One for those who nocturnal cavefolk.

Lowlight vision is "Dim light doesn't impose disadvantage on Wisdom (Perception) bonuses made with sight."
Nightvision is "You see dim light as bright light.".

Thus...

Lowlight Vision - Half Elf, High Elf, Wood Elf, Forest Gnome, Rock Gnome
Nightvision- 60- Shifter
Darkvision 60' - Hill Dwarf, Mountain Dwarf, Goblin, Hobgoblin, Bugbear,
Deepvision 120' (Superior Darkvision 120" with Sunlight Sensitivity) -Drow, Kobold
Blindsense - Rogues
Tremorsense - None
Blindsight 10'- Dragonborn, Bugbear

Don't know where to put Half Orc, Orc,
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Lowlight vision is "Dim light doesn't impose disadvantage on Wisdom (Perception) bonuses made with sight."
Nightvision is "You see dim light as bright light.".
I don’t think there’s a functional difference between these.

Lowlight Vision - Half Elf, High Elf, Wood Elf, Forest Gnome, Rock Gnome
Nightvision- 60- Shifter
Darkvision 60' - Hill Dwarf, Mountain Dwarf, Goblin, Hobgoblin, Bugbear,
Deepvision 120' (Superior Darkvision 120" with Sunlight Sensitivity) -Drow, Kobold
Blindsense - Rogues
Tremorsense - None
Blindsight 10'- Dragonborn, Bugbear

Don't know where to put Half Orc, Orc,
Nice! I’d put orc in the Darkvision 60’ category and half-orc in the Nightvision category.
 


Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
I love these suggestions. I did a blog post on this recently, here is my attempt: D&D: Alternate Vision Rules
Ooh! I really like the idea of elves not suffering range penalties! That gets across their superior vision and makes them naturally suited to archery in a way that feels biological and is useful to characters of all classes. Consider that idea stolen 😁
 



Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
you're right
I was trying to separate Elfsight and Night vision
What is the difference between elf vision and lion vision?
Depends on how you want elves vision to work. In Tolkien, elves have superior vision because the world appears to them as if it was flat, so there is no horizon and they can theoretically see for ever unless an object blocks their line of sight. In D&D, elves have traditionally had a small bonus to vision-related checks, and some ability to see in the dark (ranging from infravision to Darkvision to low-light vision depending on edition.)

I have no interest in further differentiated senses. The last thing I want to do is spend even more time describing and relaying how the PCs perceive every new room or environment.

I'd be in favor of eliminating darkvision entirely, quite honestly.
Also totally valid!
 
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Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
Depends on how you want elves vision to work. In Tolkien, elves have superior vision because the world appears to them as if it was flat, so there is no horizon and they can theoretically see for ever unless an object blocks their line of sight. In D&D, elves have traditionally had a small bonus to vision-related checks, and some ability to see in the dark (ranging from infravision to

So should Elfsight be a bonus to Perception and not a cancellation of penalty?
 

G

Guest 6801328

Guest
I agree about Elves and Half-elves (except for those of Drow descent). Elves like the woods and starlight/moonlight, not absolute darkness. So I can see removing the Perception penalty to dim light, but giving them nothing in total darkness.

And in general I think there's too much Darkvision.
 




G

Guest 6801328

Guest
I really like the idea of elves seeing further than everyone else rather than just better.

I agree, but I think what you mean (or what I mean anyway) is not just how far you can see, but how well you can see detail at a given range. And there aren't really rules for that*, so no useful way to let elves see more. I suppose it could be a ribbon.

Also, I'm overly influenced by Tolkien. Maybe it makes no sense for D&D elves.

(*Or did I miss something in the DMG?)
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
I agree, but I think what you mean (or what I mean anyway) is not just how far you can see, but how well you can see detail at a given range. And there aren't really rules for that*, so no useful way to let elves see more. I suppose it could be a ribbon.

Also, I'm overly influenced by Tolkien. Maybe it makes no sense for D&D elves.

(*Or did I miss something in the DMG?)
Ranged weapons attacks have disadvantage beyond their close range. Elves could ignore that. Maybe throw in “elves never suffer disadvantage to Wisdom checks relying on sight due to distance” to cover cases where the DM would fiat such a penalty.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
Dwarves: Lesser Tremorsense 60' (+10 perception against stealth within 60', can see walls etc, no disadvantage attacking invisible non-hidden creatures in contact with ground), weak eyesight (disadvanage on vision checks, attacks in creatures not touching ground (unlimited range)).

Elves: Keen sight (advantage on vision perception, no disadvantage long range weapon attacks)

Gnomes: Low light vision, keen smell

Dragonborn: Blindsight 5', keen smell (smaug!)

Tieflings: Devil's Sight 20'.

Orcs: Darkvision 30'.

These all suck compared to "classic" darkvision, intentionally. All of them would prefer a bright light. You'll be fumbling around in darkness if exploring a dungeon eithout a torch.

Ooo:
Halfling: Always honest. Magic cannot detect their lies. Disadvantage on insight checks to detect lies on them.

Halflings always tell the truth: they believe what they are saying the moment they say it. A moment later, less so.
 
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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I agree, but I think what you mean (or what I mean anyway) is not just how far you can see, but how well you can see detail at a given range. And there aren't really rules for that*, so no useful way to let elves see more. I suppose it could be a ribbon.

Also, I'm overly influenced by Tolkien. Maybe it makes no sense for D&D elves.

(*Or did I miss something in the DMG?)
I think @Charlaquin has it right on this one.
 

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