Characters peek through a doorway and see 5 goblins fighting a giant badger.

The rogue decides to sneak in around the goblins. The rest of the party wants to wait by the door, hidden and peeking in.

The rogue gets half way through the room when one of the goblins spots him and cries out. Combat begins.

  • How does the surprise round start? The players should have a surprise round since the goblins aren't aware of them.

  • Does the rogue have a surprise round?

  • The giant badger doesn't care about the players, only the goblins it is already in combat with. Is it surprised as well?


1 Answer 1


There is no such a thing as "surprise round" in 5e.

What you get is that everyone has an initiative order, and then some "skip" their first turn because they are surprised by the combat happening.

In your case:

  • The goblins aren't surprised by the rogue, as they have spotted before he could get the drop on them

  • The rogue isn't surprised, as he was approaching an enemy he saw

  • The rest of the party is (arguably) not surprised (more to follow).

Now things get tricky: The goblins are already engaged on the badger, so even if they are hostile to the party, they may decide not to attack the rogue. If they do decide to attack the rogue immediately, your DM may decide that the sneaking failure wasn't something the rest of the party expected, and make the rest of the party surprised and miss their first turn.

Personally, I'd just make the whole party (rogue included) roll for initiative, as they enter a 3-way fight, and then not having anyone surprised.

This is because goblins are hostile. If they were walking by, say, two knights dueling each other who didn't care, that wouldn't trigger combat for the party (unless they attacked them). If in your universe goblins aren't hostile to the party, YMMV.

  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 for covering the scenario for ALL 3 sides, and how surprise wouldn't factor in for either of them as surprise is something that either is or is not when combat starts, and initiative is rolled regardless of surprise. There's been a lot of 'Surprise Round' terminology questions popping up lately. Is that a 3.5 / 4 E thing? \$\endgroup\$
    – Airatome
    Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 22:03
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Yep, you cannot be surprised if you are aware of any threat. The badger is a threat to the goblins and vice versa - no surprise. \$\endgroup\$
    – Dale M
    Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 23:04

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .