I'm trying to find out if a particular surprise attack & assassination loop would work out:

  1. It is the rogue turn. He surprise attacks with 2 daggers at the same time. Does he get a surprise attack with both?

  2. Assuming the rogue got a surprise attack with both daggers, do both trigger assassinate?


    Starting at 3rd level, you are at your deadliest when you get the drop on your enemies. You have advantage on attack rolls against any creature that hasn't taken a turn in the combat yet. In addition, any hit you score against a creature that is surprised is a critical hit.

  3. In case both trigger assassinate, would that be 2 critical hits? Would both critical hits each trigger Great Weapon Master?

    Great Weapon Master

    You've learned to put the weight of a weapon to your advantage, letting its momentum empower your strikes. You gain the following benefits:

    • On your turn, when you score a critical hit with a melee weapon or reduce a creature to 0 hit points with one, you can make one melee weapon attack as a bonus action.
    • Before you make a melee attack with a heavy weapon that you are proficient with, you can choose to take a -5 penalty to the attack roll. If the attack hits, you add 10 to the attack's damage."
  4. At this moment, would the NPC still be surprised? If so, could both attacks earned from Great Weapon Master trigger Assassinate? If yes, can I loop like this?

  5. If not, can this skulker rogue do the following: in a lightly obscured place, try to hide in plain sight. If the mobs are still considered surprised this turn (are they?), and the rogue has actions left, could he assassinate again and return to step 3?

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to the site! You should only post one question per stack (possibly with a corollary or two), but are welcome to ask each in a separate one. You can take the tour (under "help" in the header bar) to get a feel of how it all works around here. \$\endgroup\$
    – Szega
    Sep 4, 2017 at 10:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ When you say "surprise attack", do you mean "Sneak Attack"? or do you mean that the target has the "surprised" condition? \$\endgroup\$
    – Taxi4Dave
    Sep 17, 2019 at 14:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ Huh, didn't realise that GWM bonus attack works with non-heavy weapons. Seems strange but that's how it's written. \$\endgroup\$
    – Taxi4Dave
    Sep 17, 2019 at 14:29

3 Answers 3


There's one small problem with all this. Here's what Great Weapon Master lets you do:

On your turn, when you score a critical hit with a melee weapon or reduce a creature to 0 hit points with one, you can make one melee weapon attack as a bonus action.

The rules for bonus actions include this all-important clause:

You can take only one bonus action on your turn, so you must choose which bonus action to use when you have more than one available.

So yes, every time you hit while your target is surprised, it will be a critical hit and trigger a bonus action attack from Great Weapon Master. But you can only ever make a single attack that way, because it requires a bonus action, and you can only take one bonus action each turn. And, as @Secesptius points out, if your second attack came from dual-wielding, that required a bonus action, so in that case, you won't be able to get a bonus action attack from Great Weapon Master at all.

For your specific questions:

  1. Yes, if you surprised the target, they're surprised until the end of their first turn, so every attack will be on a surprised target.
  2. Since they're attacks on surprised targets, each attack will trigger Assassinate.
  3. Yes, since they trigger Assasinate, they are critical hits and trigger Great Weapon Master.
  4. Yep, as before, they're surprised until the end of their first turn.
  5. Therefore any further attacks you make would trigger Assasinate. Unfortunately, as discussed, you can't make any further attacks.
  6. You still can't make more attacks, so there's no attacks to loop with.
  7. Hiding would also require an action or bonus action, and you still don't have either of those.
  8. They would still be surprised regardless of whether you hid.
  9. Still out of actions to attack (and thereby Assassinate) with.
  10. Same again.
  • \$\begingroup\$ So if I understand right, this rogue can surprise attack, triger assassinate, triger great weapon master and triger sneak attack? But is it not possible to perform a main hand attack and the off hand bonus action at the same time? This sounds quite feasible... Shouldnt both attacks triger assassinate, critically hiting and ending with a sneak attack? \$\endgroup\$
    – Badargo
    Sep 4, 2017 at 10:48
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ @Badargo Yep, but can only make 2 attacks per round, one using an action to take the Attack action, and one using a bonus action to take the bonus action attack from either dual-wielding or Great Weapon Master. \$\endgroup\$
    – Miniman
    Sep 4, 2017 at 10:50
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Sneak attack only works once per turn "Beginning at 1st level, you know how to strike subtly and exploit a foe's distraction. Once per turn, you can deal an extra 1d6 damage to one creature you hit with an attack if you have advantage on the attack roll. ..." \$\endgroup\$
    – illustro
    Sep 4, 2017 at 17:59

No, there is no loop or bug that you could exploit - you get only one Action and one Bonus Action per turn

The first problem in your assumptions is the usage of two attacks.

If you attack with one light weapon you can make a Bonus Action to attack with another light weapon, which you wield in your other hand. This means that your Rogue can attack with one dagger as his action. If the target hasn't taken a turn yet this attack is done with advantage. If your Rogue hits and the target is surprised the hit is a critical hit.

After this attack you can make another attack as a Bonus Action with your second dagger, again as a critical hit because the target is still surprised.

The Great Weapon Master states (emphasis mine):

On your turn, when you score a critical hit with a melee weapon or reduce a creature to 0 hit points with one, you can make one melee weapon attack as a bonus action.

This means you get another Bonus Action with which you can attack.

But you only get one Bonus Action per turn. You can choose which one you want.

This Bonus Action attack could still trigger the Advantage part from Assassinate. It would still trigger the Critical Hit part, because the target is still surprised until the end of their turn. That means the Bonus Action attack triggers the part about you getting a Bonus Action to attack. But you have already taken a Bonus Action in that turn, so this is meaningless at this point.

There is no loop you can exploit. You have to carefully read the texts in regards to what grants you a Bonus Action and remember that you can only ever take one Bonus Action per turn.

The same applies to hiding.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ You are surprised until your turn stars, not until you are hit, so the off hand attack is also a critical hit, if the other one is. \$\endgroup\$
    – András
    Sep 4, 2017 at 10:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Miniman Yeah, I changed that part. Thanks for pointing it out. \$\endgroup\$
    – Secespitus
    Sep 4, 2017 at 11:00
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Wow, I missed that rule about bonus attacks completely... thanks a lot guys! So if I get this right! I get a surprise attack, a crit, a great weapon master bonus attack which is another surprise attack and another crit, then a sneak attack: sumarizing. 2 crits and a sneak attack... that is so disapointing :~~ \$\endgroup\$
    – Badargo
    Sep 4, 2017 at 11:04
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @Badargo That's right. Keep in mind that you don't need to attack with a light weapon to trigger the Great Weapon Master though, so you can output (a bit) more damage. Especially if you use the advantage of a surprise and use the second part of the feat. That is, if you can find a suitable weapon. \$\endgroup\$
    – Secespitus
    Sep 4, 2017 at 11:07

First, what is "surprised"?

You are surprised if your DM determines that you were not ready for combat (usually when you were not aware of your attackers) when initiative is rolled. Note that someone already fighting an enemy cannot be surprised by an attack. Their attacker may be hidden to them (and get advantage), but they cannot be surprised.

If you were surprised, you cannot take actions of any kind (including bonus action and reactions) until the end of your first turn (at which point you are not longer surprised).

If you were not surprised, then combat occurs as normal.

So, if a dual wielding assassin rogue can surprise an enemy, they can get advantage and auto-crits on both attacks. However, you can only proc your sneak attack once on your turn. So, if you are level 3, you could do 2d4+4d6+dex damage with one, and then 2d4 with the other dagger.

Great Weapon master does not apply here for a number of reasons:

  1. GWM only applies to 2 Handed Weapons, and weapons with the versitile trait. All weapons that qualify for one of these does not have the finness property, which allows you to use DEX instead of STAR. Using DEX for your attack is a prerequisite for triggering sneak attack.

  2. GWM requires a bonus action to gain an extra attack. You already used your bonus action to make your offhand attack, and you are only allowed on bonus action per turn.

This means that not only can you not use GWM in this situation, there is no situation where GWM can give you more than one additional attack. There is no way for anyone to gain more than one bonus action.

Now, with skulker, you can sneak out and hide when you miss your attack. This will not happen with rogues assassinate feature. But even if it did, surprise only lasts one round, no matter what.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Actually, Great Weapon Master can be used here (the first bullet of it at least), because that one only requires a melee weapon, which is not required to be two handed, versatile or anything else. The only requirement is "On your turn, when you score a critical hit with a melee weapon or reduce a creature to 0 hit points with one". You are, of course, right about the bonus action though. \$\endgroup\$
    – Patta
    Sep 9, 2017 at 8:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ The 2H (or versatile wielded in 2 hands) requirement is for the GWF fighting-style (reroll 1s and 2s on weapon-damage dice, not Sneak Attack damage), not the GWM feat. GWM requires a weapon with the "heavy" property to use the -5 hit +10 dmg feature, but only a "melee" weapon for the bonus action attack after a crit or kill. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 14, 2021 at 19:27

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