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At the beginning of an encounter, the DM determines which participants are surprised, then participants roll initiative.

A feat like Alert allows a character to never be surprised while conscious.

There are a variety of non-action, non-movement activities that can be taken during a turn. Here are a few examples of the sorts of thing you can do in tandem with movement and action:

  • make “utterances and gestures”
  • draw or sheathe a sword
  • open or close a door
  • withdraw a potion from your Backpack
  • pick up a dropped axe
  • take a bauble from a table
  • remove a ring from your finger
  • stuff some food into your mouth
  • plant a banner in the ground
  • fish a few coins from your belt pouch
  • drink all the ale in a flagon
  • throw a lever or a switch
  • pull a torch from a sconce
  • take a book from a shelf you can reach
  • extinguish a small flame
  • don a mask
  • pull the hood of your cloak up and over your head
  • put your ear to a door
  • kick a small stone
  • turn a key in a lock
  • tap the floor with a 10-­foot pole
  • hand an item to another character

Presumably an unsurprised participant could use their action, movement, or activities to do something to try to help the other participants escape their surprise.

Is there any mechanic to remove surprise from other participants in an encounter?

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There is no mechanic to remove surprise. They're surprised til the end of their turn, and then can take reactions for the rest of the round. There's no way for a non-surprised person to get them out of surprise (especially, flavor-wise, given the immediacy of things, you can assume that an attempt to have them not be surprised, because of the rolls, is just not understood/takes too long for them to respond).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ ha, my first down-vote might have been this 100% right answer to the question (mechanically speaking). \$\endgroup\$ – Seth R. Feldman Mar 17 '18 at 17:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ Seth, welcome to the club, I think your answer is pretty sound. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Mar 17 '18 at 18:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ It may be worth mentioning that a Barbarian's 7th level feature "Feral Instinct" allows a surprised barbarian to act normally on their first turn as long as the first thing they do that turn is enter a rage. Technically, the barbarian is still considered surprised, but it does remove the restriction that you can't take any actions until that first turn passes. \$\endgroup\$ – Adam Mar 17 '18 at 20:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ It would be overkill, but technically you could Wish that an ally wasn't surprised (if you managed to avoid being surprised and your turn comes up first). \$\endgroup\$ – Nick Brown Mar 20 '18 at 13:38
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There is one way

The effects of surprise ends if a creature's turn ends. You can only remove the effects early from a participant in a battle if you are able to mount the participant. The mount must then select or be selected as a controlled mount causing its turn to overlap with the yours. This will end the surprised condition on that creature after that turn.

You can control a mount only if it has been trained to accept a rider... The initiative of a controlled mount changes to match yours when you mount it.

In the Sage Advice section of the Dragon Talk on 03/15/2018, which was focused on mounted combat, Jeremy Crawford, lead designer, clarified that an intelligent creature could serve as a controlled mount if it chooses to (TS 25:51).

Note: Surprise should end when these effects disappear. Nothing explicitly removes the surprised state, but this answer makes some argument to that effect

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Facinating and clever. This is the kind of answer this question was aiming to discover. We had a party with a druid who would wildshape and a paladin who would ride him. They designed their feats to work together which led to unusual combat synergies. Theoretically, using this answer, the paladin could “unsurprise” the druid. \$\endgroup\$ – Praxiteles Mar 17 '18 at 19:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ Sort of, but the druid would only get to use reactions for the rest of the round since its turn was shifted to overlap the paladin's. Additionally, the druid would be serving as a controlled mount so could only Dash, Disengage, and Dodge until dismounted or until the druid somehow becomes independent again (I rule that the decision has to be made at the end of the druids turn, costing it that round's turn to avoid double turns for the PC). \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron Mar 17 '18 at 19:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ If a PC wanted to do that, I think it's fine, and as David said, just needs to be adjudicated by the DM so the PC doesn't get a double turn. \$\endgroup\$ – Seth R. Feldman Mar 18 '18 at 15:29

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