Volo's Guide to Monsters p. 119 lists Bugbears as a playable race, with the Surprise Attack trait:

If you surprise a creature and hit it with an attack on your first turn in combat, the attack deals an extra 2d6 damage to it. You can use this trait only once per combat.

Aren't both emphasized clauses redundant? Is it possible to have multiple "first turns in combat" on a single combat, such that the final clause would be necessary?


1 Answer 1


It is not possible to have multiple "first turns in combat" in a single combat, but you could certainly hit with an attack multiple times during your first turn with the Extra Attack feature or similar. The "once per combat" clause ensures that the extra damage is only applied to the first successful attack.

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    \$\begingroup\$ You beat me to it. \$\endgroup\$
    – screamline
    Jul 24, 2018 at 14:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ As a suggestion, you could mention how other wordings would also fail; "your first attack" weakens the ability slightly, for example. It could say "once per turn" instead of "once per combat" and have the same meaning, but a "once per combat" ability usable "once per turn" seems even stranger. ;) \$\endgroup\$
    – Yakk
    Jul 24, 2018 at 15:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ This answer is mostly correct, but note that the character can choose whether to use this ability on a hit, so could (for some reason) save the feature for their second hit on their first turn. For instance, maybe they are moving between attacks and want to use their first attack on a minion and then try to unload their extra damage on a second target. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nick Brown
    Jul 24, 2018 at 23:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NickBrown are you sure? The wording given in the question seems to imply that triggering this ability is not optional: "The attack deals..." \$\endgroup\$ Jul 25, 2018 at 9:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Yakk True, but that starts to drift away from the point of this question. Besides, I can't explain why the writers didn't use some other wording such as "Your first successful attack against a surprised creature on your first turn in combat deals an extra 2d6 damage to it," which in my opinion is clearer. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 25, 2018 at 10:20

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