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If a rogue gains a second action during a surprise round (through Haste, action surges, etc.), can he ready the second action to interrupt an enemy's turn while they are surprised? Or does there need to be an action to key off of?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm confused about one thing.... the mention of 'surprise round'. 5E does not have 'rounds' of surprise. Surprise is something a creature or player character either is or is not at the start of combat (the first round of combat), and any number of creatures might or might not be surprised depending on stealth vs perception checks. Surprised creatures DO get a turn in the initiative on the first round, they just can't move or take an action on that turn and have no reactions until they end their first turn in the initiative. So what kind of trigger are you trying to accomplish? \$\endgroup\$ – Airatome Jan 21 '16 at 16:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ It also requires mentioning that once a creature or character TAKES that turn in the initiative, regardless of them being surprised or not, they are no longer surprised. So this means if the rogue was stealthy enough to evade perception and surprised a creature, rolled initiative that was LOWER than the surprised creature, the creature still get's to act first.... the surprise 'status' has now ended for them. Preparing a trigger will all depend on how surprise and initiative rolls play out. All on pg 189 of the PHB \$\endgroup\$ – Airatome Jan 21 '16 at 16:29
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There is no surprise round in D&D 5, there is only a surprised creature!

Therefore, I don't think your question makes sense.

Assuming the hasted rogue (HR) is not surprised and the surprised victim (SV) is, the first thing that happens is that they each roll for initiative. There are 2 possible outcomes:

  1. SV beats HR SV takes their turn, being surprised they can do nothing but they are now no longer surprised. HR then takes their turn which can include as many Ready actions as they have actions available based on a perceivable trigger.

  2. HR beats SV HR takes their turn while SV is surprised. This can include as many Ready actions as they have actions available based on a perceivable trigger. Given that SV is going to do nothing on their turn it is difficult to see what the trigger could be. After their turn SV can take a reaction and this could serve as a trigger provided there is someone else in the combat to cause SV to take a reaction. If it is just the 2 of them then it is HR's turn and the Readied actions are wasted. I can't see why you just wouldn't use the extra actions to e.g. attack SV while they are still surprised i.e. on HR's turn.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The intent of HR here is to push the second attack off turn, for a second sneak attack. It's worth noting that a RAW workaround to get that ready action to function is a trigger along the lines of "when my fighter buddy swings at an enemy I will attack it too." \$\endgroup\$ – Ethan Jan 21 '16 at 20:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Ethan The trigger would work but it wouldn't give a second sneak attack - you only get one, on your turn or as part of the reaction from the Ready action, not both. Sneak attack "resets" at the start of your next turn. \$\endgroup\$ – Dale M Jan 21 '16 at 22:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Dale M Actually, you can get a sneak attack outside your own turn. The wording clearly states "once per turn", not "once per round" or "until the beginning of your next turn ...". It's one of the rwasons that Commander's Strike works so well with a rogue in the party. \$\endgroup\$ – MrNattious Jan 21 '16 at 22:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MrNattious I stand corrected. \$\endgroup\$ – Dale M Jan 21 '16 at 22:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Dale M Cheers. No problem. I had the same thought until I looked at the PHB :) \$\endgroup\$ – MrNattious Jan 22 '16 at 1:44
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This will depend on your DM

According to the text for a readied action:

Sometimes you want to get the jump on a foe or wait for a particular circumstance before you act. To do so, you can take the Ready action on your turn so that you can act later in the round using your reaction. First, you decide what perceivable circumstance will trigger your reaction. Then, you choose the action you will take in response to that trigger, or you choose to move up to your speed in response to it.

So, you can ready an action during a surprise round, however in order to use it you'll need to give your DM the perceivable circumstance that you're interested in. Some DMs may consider 'the enemy starts their turn' as perceivable, but some may not. It is definitely a 'meta' approach (turns aren't real things, they're abstractions), and many DMs would not let you do that.

Also, consider the fact that the text later says:

When the trigger occurs, you can either take your reaction right after the trigger finishes or ignore the trigger.

So whatever trigger you set has to occur first, then you can act. So if you say something like 'the enemy begins their turn', and your DM accepts that, the DM is well within their rights to determine what the 'beginning' of the turn includes. That may allow the target to attack back, slink away or even take the dodge action at the beginning of their turn, which would make it harder for you to hit your action (or even potentially lose your action altogether).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Great answer. The 5e mechanic for "total defense" is the dodge action, which might make that point more clear. \$\endgroup\$ – Derek Stucki Jan 21 '16 at 14:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DerekStucki I knew I had the term wrong! Thanks for the correction, I've edited my answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Percival Jan 21 '16 at 15:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ It needs stressing that Readied actions occur after the triggering action, so you cannot interrupt an enemy's action. \$\endgroup\$ – Greenstone Walker Jan 21 '16 at 20:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ @GreenstoneWalker " A reaction is an instant response to a trigger of some kind" And it is after the trigger finishes, not the entire action. At the very least some actions can be interrupted. For instance, moving across a room, a RA might trigger in the middle of this movement. \$\endgroup\$ – Jonathon Jan 21 '16 at 21:50

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