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This question already has an answer here:

This is a follow up question to: Does NPC engaging in combat remove penalty for re-stealthing?

Is there a scenario when a surprise attack can be made without triggering combat? Maybe there is a different term for it than "surprise attack".

For example, If the entire party is hidden, can a surprise attack be made without triggering combat?

Scenario : Party is hidden behind a castle wall, Rogue fires a crossbow bolt thru an embrasure / arrowslit. The NPC down below would only know a general direction. But it seems there is no way for that NPC to engage in combat.

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marked as duplicate by Ifusaso, Rubiksmoose, ZwiQ, A_S00, Tiggerous Apr 6 at 20:47

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • \$\begingroup\$ This is NOT a duplicate. The referenced question asks "what should happen if...? " I am asking the opposite: "how to avoid triggering combat" A completely separate question. \$\endgroup\$ – Acts7Seven Apr 7 at 19:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ To clarify, the other question is how to start combat. This is how to NOT start combat with an attack. Is that even possible? \$\endgroup\$ – Acts7Seven Apr 12 at 23:34
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If there could be consequences to the battle, then yes, combat should be triggered.

That's really up to the DM's discretion. If it were a situation where a battle would only serve to waste time and would most certainly go in favor of the players, then yes I would most likely skip the combat. However, if the guard were to begin yelling, which brought more guards and alerted enemies, then the encounter has consequences.

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