I'm new and I just had a quick question.

I'm going to be DMing a d20 modern on shot adventure for the first time. I am very new to DMing so many questions arise when making/creating the adventure.

One thing that I seem to be unable to find is how drawing a gun and firing would work before the real combat round has begun. For example, I imagine something like this: "Hero 1 is beginning to walk away but as he does, he draws his barretta from its holster and takes a quick shot at the man he was walking away from."

In this instance, since the "bad guy" wasn't expecting the "hero" to turn around and shoot, is this to be considered like a "got the drop" on someone situation? Would this just turn into an attack or does a surprise round happen where the hero gets to make an attack and then, assuming "bad guy" lives, everything turns into normal combat?

Any and all help is appreciated. Thank you.


1 Answer 1


As soon as someone pulls the trigger, the combat starts, either as a surprise round or a regular shootout.

Let's go by the book.

SRD tells us that

Combat is played out in rounds, and in each round everybody acts in turn in a regular cycle. Combat usually runs in the following way.

  1. Each combatant starts the battle flat-footed. Once a combatant acts, he or she is no longer flat-footed.

  2. The GM determines which characters are aware of their opponents at the start of the battle. If some but not all of the combatants are aware of their opponents, a surprise round happens before regular rounds begin. The combatants who are aware of their opponents can act in the surprise round, so they roll for initiative. In initiative order (highest to lowest), combatants who started the battle aware of their opponents each take one move or attack action. Combatants who were unaware don’t get to act in the surprise round. If no one or everyone starts the battle aware, there is no surprise round.

  3. Combatants who have not yet rolled initiative do so. All combatants are now ready to begin their first regular round.
  4. Combatants act in initiative order.
  5. When everyone has had a turn, the combatant with the highest initiative acts again, and steps 4 and 5 repeat until combat ends.

In your example, "bad guy" is probably allowed to roll (DM call. No roll if they are walking away from each other, for example) to see if he is aware that the "hero" is drawing a gun. If "bad guy" is not aware of this peril, as in your example, the "hero" shoots him as his surprise round action, and then the regular combat sequence commences.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ So, if I wanted to, I could make the "bad guy" roll a spot check for example to see if he realizes the "hero" is drawing a gun? Anyways, thanks for clarifying. I wasn't really sure if I should look at it as one party being unaware of the other or not. Thanks for the help! \$\endgroup\$
    – Erries
    Feb 5, 2013 at 15:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yes, if the "bad guy" just stands there and watches, a spot check could be in order. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 5, 2013 at 15:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ Alright. Thanks a lot. Like I said, I'm still learning and for some reason I couldn't decide on how to deal with this. Thanks for the help. \$\endgroup\$
    – Erries
    Feb 5, 2013 at 16:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ A Sense Motive or opposed Spot v. Sleight of Hand check could also make sense in this context. \$\endgroup\$
    – starwed
    Feb 5, 2013 at 19:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ Completely Homebrewed: Me and some buddies, after watching Bob Munden, converted Iaijitsu Master into a Quick Draw Master for D20 Modern - which allowed one quick draw shot as a free surprise round even if the opponent is aware- the Quick Draw McGraw version of Strike With No Thought. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ruut
    Sep 11, 2014 at 1:04

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