I have a scenario where it may be possible for a character to jump over a crate behind which a giant rat is sleeping.

What would happen in the situation where a character leaps directly on top of a creature, where neither the creature or the player are aware of each other?

I'd guess an initiative roll would be in order, but what about damage to the creature and also isn't there chance the player may land prone if they don't land on solid ground?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Are you looking for RAW answers, or for some sort of homebrew solution to this situation? Also, I don't think the 'surprise' tag is entirely relevant here, it doesn't really matter if this happens by surprise or not? \$\endgroup\$ – Theik Jun 5 '18 at 13:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ Either homebrew or RAW solutions, then I can make a call on it. \$\endgroup\$ – timstermatic Jun 5 '18 at 13:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've unknowingly stepped on a sleeping cat once, my foot was scratched half a dozen times before i could raise it back. He wasn't even hurt. \$\endgroup\$ – FenrirG Jun 6 '18 at 14:37

3 points here:

  1. Creature/player awareness and initiative can be handled by the existing Surprise rules from the Player's Handbook. In this case, because neither side is aware of the other, the surprise factor effectively cancels out and everyone rolls initiative as usual. (The DM may rule otherwise if he feels the rat has a chance to hear the player and wake up with an awareness check, but that's just an option).
  2. There aren't rules about damaging a creature by landing on it. Logically you could use the rules for Falling damage (Player's handbook again) and apply it to the creature being landed on by a falling player. This is 1d6 damage per 10 foot fallen . But since the player is merely jumping over a crate the damage is going to be negligible and probably ignorable.
  3. Again, no rules about landing on an uneven surface. The end result should be the player ending up adjacent to the rat. It would be up to the DM if he felt an Acrobatics check is called for to avoid the player landing prone.
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    \$\begingroup\$ Typically, an Acrobatics check would be used to avoid landing prone. \$\endgroup\$ – A Very Large Bear Jun 5 '18 at 14:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ @A Very Large Bear: Oops, correct. I always get those mixed up in my head. Have amended my answer \$\endgroup\$ – PJRZ Jun 5 '18 at 14:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm thinking it should be an easy DC, but I would like to make it as I don't see why it should be automatically successful. I think that landing on top of a giant rat should have some impact on balance upon landing. \$\endgroup\$ – timstermatic Jun 5 '18 at 14:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ @timstermatic I would probably make it a DC10 Acrobatics check. \$\endgroup\$ – A Very Large Bear Jun 5 '18 at 14:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ @PJRZ Sure, but for roleplaying I'm kind of enjoying the idea of a "Whoah what the..." moment. Even though mechanically, the surprise is cancelled out, if I choose to damage the rat, I think it would be pretty cool and equitable to also have the player check her balance. \$\endgroup\$ – timstermatic Jun 5 '18 at 14:45

I concur with PJRZ's answer regarding initiative and surprise. (In sum: the surprise rules can handle the question of whether the character and the rat are aware of one another and how, if at all, their actions in combat are affected as a result.)

However, I do think there would be a Dexterity (Acrobatics) check required for the character to avoid falling prone.

Since the jump in question (over a crate and onto a creature behind it) is intended to clear horizontal distance, not just vertical distance, it would have to be a Long Jump. The paragraph on Long Jump on PHB p. 182 states: "When you land in difficult terrain, you must succeed on a DC 10 Dexterity (Acrobatics) check to land on your feet. Otherwise, you land prone." And from PHB p. 190: "The space of another creature, whether hostile or not, also counts as difficult terrain."

Landing in the giant rat's space means landing in difficult terrain, and so would prompt a roll to avoid falling prone.

  • \$\begingroup\$ You might want to sum up the answer you're referencing, so that your own answer can stand on its own (e.g. if the other answer gets deleted/removed later). \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jun 10 '18 at 4:00

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