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My character is a lvl 6 Bugbear Warlock Assassin Rogue, with the invocation Eldritch Spear and Spells sniper. This makes the range of EB 600 feet.

  1. Is it correct to assume that by attacking from that range, even when not hiding or stealthed, I would have a surprise on a Target that still hasn't detected me due to the long distance?

  2. After I hit or miss, would I be detected by the Target if I am out of its line of sight? Would I still keep the surprise element as long as I am unseen?

  3. would the Target stop being surprised after the first EB beam hits it, and before the second beam hits? Because the duration of the spell is "instantaneous". So even if the beams are interpreted to be consecutive, they would still hit at instant speed. So I figure that it would be like being shot by a machine gun: by the time you realize what's going on, múltiple bullets have already hit you. So I believe that they should all crit thanks to Assasinate. Is this correct?

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2 Answers 2

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You don't "have" surprise

Surprise does not describe a relationship between creatures; it describes the status of a creature. It is not something one creature has over another creature.

The DM determines who might be surprised. If neither side tries to be stealthy, they automatically notice each other. Otherwise, the DM compares the Dexterity (Stealth) checks of anyone hiding with the passive Wisdom (Perception) score of each creature on the opposing side. Any character or monster that doesn't notice a threat is surprised at the start of the encounter.

  1. RAW, the target will not be surprised if you are not trying to be stealthy. You need to try to hide, and depending on the circumstances, the distance between you might warrant advantage on the Dexterity (Stealth) check.

  2. You must be in the target's line of sight, or you can't hit them with Eldrich Blast. Or any other spell; "To target something, you must have a clear path to it, so it can't be behind total cover." If you can target it, it can see you.

  3. A surprised creature is surprised until the end of its turn. If it is surprised, it's still your turn, so the target is still surprised.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Ok, so if i moved stealthly, had a clear line of sight on the target, and passed the stealth check, the the Target would be surprised, and any attack that I made on that turn (vgr, action surged quickened EBs with 2 beams each) would be critical hits on that target thanks to Assasinate for as long as it is my turn. Is that correct? Is your statement "A surprised creature is surprised until the end of its turn. If it is surprised, it's still your turn, so the target is still surprised" RAW? \$\endgroup\$
    – chinoscut
    Jan 31 at 6:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ @chinoscut Re: "any attack that I made on that turn...would be critical hits". No. Any hits would be critical hits. You still need to roll to hit (with advantage), and missing is still possible. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Jan 31 at 6:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ @kirt they also need to win initiative. They could surprise the target, lose initiative, target takes turn and is no longer surprised. \$\endgroup\$
    – Dale M
    Jan 31 at 7:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DaleM yes, true \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Jan 31 at 15:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ @chinoscut The DM can always determine that a target is surprised even if you aren't hiding. If you were making an assassination shot from hundreds of yards away with the target unaware that anything is going on, of course I'll give you the benefit of surprise. But if you're in a war zone and snipers are a problem, not so much, maybe? \$\endgroup\$ Feb 2 at 19:42
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1 and 2 are incredibly dependent upon your situation, and in a vacuum of numbers on paper it looks good, but you're going to have to ask your DM.

Things like terrain come into play here; it depends very heavily on your style of game, but it's not exactly common to fight on 100 feet of flat, open terrain, much less 600, especially if you're underground, where lighting can become another vision issue- since most of the best darkvision effects that I can think of cap out around 120 feet, meaning you also couldn't see them at that range to target them with the spell in the first place.

3) If an enemy is surprised, which is entirely at the DM's discretion, then no- it wouldn't stop being surprised after the first hit from EB.

The DM determines who might be surprised. If neither side tries to be stealthy, they automatically notice each other. Otherwise, the DM compares the Dexterity (Stealth) checks of anyone hiding with the passive Wisdom (Perception) score of each creature on the opposing side. Any character or monster that doesn't notice a threat is surprised at the start of the encounter. If you're surprised, you can't move or take an action on your first turn of the combat, and you can't take a reaction until that turn ends. A member of a group can be surprised even if the other members aren't.

Any character or monster that doesn't notice a threat is surprised at the start of the encounter.

Sage Advice elaborates

You can be surprised even if your companions aren't, and you aren't surprised if even one of your foes fails to catch you unawares.

Remember, there is no 'surprise round.'

Surprise is like a pseudo-condition- it applies at the start of the encounter and applies until the end of the first turn of a surprised creature. While the trigger condition to be surprised is to have not noticed any threat before the start of the encounter, once the encounter has started, it lasts until the end of their first turn, not until they're attacked the first time.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Imagine that I have an invisible Pact of the Chain imp familiar with voice of the Master to scout for an infinite distance and locate enemies that excede my normal range of vision. Also, i am picking genie warlock, so i would be able to fly to have a better view of the battlefield. And Spells sniper would help me ignore most cover. With that in mind, supposing that i am not underground or in a closed space, would it be feasible to surprisingly snipe targets from afar with EB ? \$\endgroup\$
    – chinoscut
    Jan 31 at 6:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also, regarding vision range outdoors, this post ( rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/65263/…) states that it is 2 Miles on a normal sunny day, according to the DMG book. So there wouldnt be a problem there, assuming a clear view. \$\endgroup\$
    – chinoscut
    Jan 31 at 6:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ @chinoscut if you can see 2 miles on a sunny day, then others can also see you for 2 miles on a sunny day. Unless you are somehow not seen. \$\endgroup\$
    – VLAZ
    Jan 31 at 6:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ Fair. I am starting to realize that i must move stealthly to ensure the surprise. What if i casted darkness on myself (assuming i had Devil's sight), flew upwards, and attacked from the air while shrouded? Would I surprise the Target? \$\endgroup\$
    – chinoscut
    Jan 31 at 6:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ @chinoscut While I might rule as a DM that in a given niche circumstance you fired a shot from 600 feet away using some beam-bending tricks and this was blatantly something one might find surprising, unless your whole party was actively hiding and they all beat the passive perception check, that's very much a ruling and not RAW. ---For your last comment, ask yourself this question; as the sort of adventurer/magical creature that finds itself in a position to see floating orbs of darkness, if you see one, are you aware of a threat? Choose carefully; good for the goose, good for the gander :-D \$\endgroup\$ Jan 31 at 19:11

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