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Say, a PC fires a longbow at an enemy without their knowledge before combat has begun, how should combat start?

  • Should there be a stealth/perception opposed check?
  • Should a successful/unsuccessful opposed check give a benefit/failure to initiative?
  • Should a successful opposed check cause an automatic hit or crit?
  • When should initiative be rolled?
  • Should there be a surprise round?
  • If I whisper to my party what I'm doing, do they automatically fail to be surprised?
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up vote 14 down vote accepted

Check out Pathfinder's rules for Surprise in Combat.

In short, the one shooting his longbow starts "Combat Mode", but he gets a surprise round, in which only he, and anyone who rolled high enough Perception to be aware of the attack, can act. If it's something done completely in stealth, the GM can rule that everyone is surprised.

The attack can then be resolved normally for the shooter, with the added caveats that all opponents are flat-footed, losing the Dex bonus to AC.

Other then that - it's pretty much standard battle rules.

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