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Questions tagged [surprise]

Many RPGs have specific mechanics that govern the benefits of attacking by surprise. Surprise mechanics vary greatly across RPGs, which may include granting extra damage, extra time to act, special attack options, or even instantly-lethal effects.

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How does surprise work in Vampire combat?

Making this a separate question from this VTM question which was too broad One side in a fight has achieved Surprise (p300). Call them Janet & John. The rules say that they make the surprise ...
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488 views

If the party is hidden prior to attacking enemies, do they surprise the enemies and/or get advantage on their attacks?

Our adroit heroes tracked the goblins back to a small camp in the woods. Completely unaware of the threat around them, the goblins sit around a fire, easy prey to the hidden band of adventurers ...
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Does the UA alternative ranger's Ambuscade affect his possible surprise on the opponent?

This question is about this UA alternative ranger. Ambuscade, by its meaning, is basically an ambush. If two characters, Alice and Bob, are interacting peacefully, and Alice suddenly attacks Bob, Bob ...
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1answer
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How does surprise affect AC?

Under wrestling rules, the Grindhouse rulebook tells that everyone involved in wrestling is attacked as though they were surprised. Under Encounters, in the surprise section, there is info on how to ...
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Can an Arcane Archer fighter use a Banishing Arrow to effectively get two surprise rounds?

The Arcane Archer fighter (Xanathar's Guide to Everything, p. 28-30) gets a number of Arcane Shot options, allowing them to unleash special magical effects when they fire a longbow/shortbow. One of ...
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3answers
495 views

Is there any need to roll for surprise when the enemy has no way to detect you?

Supposing my wizard has an owl familiar (120ft darkvision) and spots a band of enemies 120 feet away at night. If my wizard engages from a distance that they cannot possibly detect her from, is a ...
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3answers
446 views

If a hidden creature fails to surprise a character, is the creature still hidden?

If a hidden creature fails to surprise a character, is the creature still hidden? For example, a goblin is hiding in some bushes, and a PC walks by. To determine surprise, the DM rolls for the goblin'...
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Can you get a surprise attack by distracting an enemy who is aware of you?

I'm currently playing as a halfling monk who is very fond of a drink. Let's say I encountered some enemies sitting around a campfire. Through means of deception or otherwise I ingratiate myself with ...
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4answers
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How do stealth and surprise interact for full-round actions?

This is something of a clarification question off of Is it really impossible to surprise someone with a full-round action? Suppose we have the following situation: A sorcerer is stalking an unaware ...
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7answers
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Is this alternative initiative house-rule balanced?

As a fairly new DM, one thing that has commonly occurred in my sessions so far is my PC's starting combat outside of initiative. For example after a telepathic conversation with a Nothic was going ...
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2answers
208 views

Is it really impossible to surprise someone with a full-round action?

Is it true that not even the person/creature/thing doing the initial action that starts a combat is able to use a full-round action? According to all sources I can find, the initial attack already is ...
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If an attack alerts someone to your presence, can their initiative save them from being surprised in time?

In D&D 5e "Surprise" is a condition that can affect a creature during the first round of combat, only until the end of their turn: [... T]he GM compares the Dexterity (Stealth) checks of anyone ...
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When exactly does combat start and surprise take effect?

So say I'm going to ambush an orc. I successfully sneak up on him and I attack. The DM determines that the orc is surprised. The orc happens to get an initiative roll of 19, while I get a 10. How ...
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How does combat start when one PC is not seen as a threat?

Imagine a party of four - three honest characters standing face to face against three evil bandits, one sly, backstabbing type some 30 ft behind the bandits' backs; the bandits may know he's there, ...
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2answers
225 views

Accidentally jumping on top of a creature

I have a scenario where it may be possible for a character to jump over a crate behind which a giant rat is sleeping. What would happen in the situation where a character leaps directly on top of a ...
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1answer
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What’s the point of Surprise preventing reactions?

If a PC is 'surprised,' (PHB p 189) he/she cannot take a reaction until the turn ends. Given that Surprise is determined at the start of combat, i.e. before any turns have happened, how could you ...
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1answer
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Does a Troll benefit from its Regeneration trait if it is surprised?

The rules of surprise in D&D 5e state: 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 troll has ...
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2answers
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How much can a surprised character do?

When a character is surprised, they can't move or take actions (including bonus actions) on their first turn, and they can't use a reaction until the end of their first turn. Well and good. But can ...
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1answer
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What actions can a surprised PC with the Alert feat take against Hidden opponents?

A PC with the Alert feat cannot be surprised by Hidden opponents. According to "When does a hidden opponent become visible when attacking?" - opponents only become visible on their turn in the round ...
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2answers
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Is there any way to remove Surprise?

At the beginning of an encounter, the DM determines which participants are surprised, then participants roll initiative. A feat like Alert allows a character to never be surprised while conscious. ...
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2answers
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How to resolve surprise and “instant actioning” initiating combat

DMed for the first time yesterday and one of the things I feel I need to sort out, among other comments, improvements, and similar, is how combat itself is actually initiated. The main example I ...
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Can I use Moment of Perfect Mind in response to a surprise attack?

Say I want to use the Tome of Battle maneuver Moment of Perfect Mind, a maneuver that replaces my Will save with the equivalent Concentration Check. Out of combat, my warblade and an enemy wizard ...
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4answers
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Holding an NPC at knifepoint vs quick draw

Suppose a PC walks into a room to find Evil Guy #1 holding Good Guy #1 with a knife to his throat. EG immediately says, "Don't move at all, or I kill him!" The player of the PC then tells me, the DM, "...
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2answers
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When being Unaware ends after surprise round? [duplicate]

In D&D 5e we have surprise round effective until it is ended. On that first round characters that are not surprised can act as in normal round. Those unaware of them (thus surprised) grant them ...
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1answer
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Does Dexterity Really Affect the Chance of Being Surprised in Gamma World 2e

In the Basic Rule Book for Gamma World 2e on page 6 it says the following about Dexterity: DEXTERITY: A character's Dexterity Score is a measure of the speed at which he functions, his reaction ...
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Can one enemy in a group get a surprise attack before battle?

So my group and i are right at the entrance of a big room where there are a bunch of enemies. We were talking to one of the enemies, everybody's alert getting ready for initiative. While we're talking ...
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Could I use surprise on the group even if they hear the monster coming?

So in my campaign, the group are about to enter a grove where they hand an Elven prisoner over to some Dwarves. A Treant notices the exchange and enraged by what he sees uproots himself and charges in ...
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Can a PC be surprised if he expects combat before the encounter?

In a Hunger Games-like fighting pit, a character knows he is fighting a rogue that will try to ambush him. This area is densely forested, but small, so the encounter will occur very soon. If he is ...
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1answer
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How often does a bugbear's Surprise Attack trait trigger?

Surprise Attack. If the bugbear surprises a creature and hits it with an attack during the first round of combat, the target takes an extra 7 (2d6) damage from the attack. Does it deal extra ...
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5answers
3k views

An initial stealthy/surprise attack with subsequent adventurers entering combat afterwards?

A group wants to maximise the potential for surprise attacks using their stealthy members. They don't want their less stealthy members to blow a surprise attack. A party of four; two stealthy, two ...
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1answer
296 views

What happens if an encounter starts with both sides being stealthy? [closed]

At the beginning of an encounter, what happens if both sides are being stealthy?
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2k views

Does surprise begin during the planning of an ambush?

From the rules in 5e, I understand that a combat encounter starts with the DM determining surprise, then setting starting positions, and rolling initiative. Then round 1 starts. Surprised participants ...
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3answers
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Does casting a Subtle Spell count as surprising a target if target does not know you are caster?

I understand you can't Sneak Attack with spells, something to do that both abilities scale thus game breaking. So that takes away one aspect of my predicament. However the Assassinate ability still ...
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1answer
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Stealth and passive Perception range

I'm a very fresh DM in 5e, having never played the game before, although I have played computer games based on DnD. Likewise, all of my friends are first time players so we're trying to teach each ...
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4answers
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Does Death Strike apply to unconscious creatures?

A 17th level Assassin Rogue has an ability called Death Strike (PHB, pg. 97) which applies when you attack and hit a surprised creature. An unconscious creature (PHB pg. 292, emphasis mine): is ...
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379 views

How can we model “acting first” in a hostile parley?

Two parties are arguing with each other, but combat has not started. Perhaps leaders on each side are trying to avoid combat, but having trouble controlling their troops. Perhaps they were interacting ...
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1answer
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What does it mean to “remain alert to danger”?

A ranger gains the following ability when traveling for an hour or more (Natural Explorer from PH and Unearthed Arcana Revised Ranger, emphasis mine): Even when you are engaged in another ...
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How Does Surprise Work With Multiple Attackers? [duplicate]

I'm starting my own campaign this weekend and had questions about how the surprise aspects work in D&D 5e. I know this question has been asked before, but I have yet to see an answer describing ...
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2answers
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Does the Rogue Talent Surprise Attack do +(½ level) damage per die or per roll?

So Surprise Attack says A rogue with this ability adds 1/2 her rogue level to her sneak attack damage rolls made during the surprise round. For a level 10 Rogue, having a sneak attack of +5d6, ...
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3answers
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Surprise, ready an action and bashing doors

I'm a bit confused about how "surprise" and "ready an action" interact in the following situation: Behind a door two ogres are having breakfast. One PC kicks the door, the others PCs says that they ...
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Should there always be a check (stealth vs perception) before someone can be surprised?

Here are some questionable scenarios: Adventurers go in a cave and clear it out (multiple encounters). On the way out some goblins "Hide" outside the cave with total cover (awaiting for the ...
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2answers
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Can a Surprised character use powers triggered when initiative is rolled?

Certain powers are triggered when initiative is rolled, such as the power for the Casque of Tactics. Power (Daily): Free Action. Use this power when initiative is rolled. Swap initiative check ...
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1answer
508 views

What is a “readiness” level?

Page 22 of Hoard of the Dragon Queen contains the following text (emphasis mine): Determine surprise normally; the dragonclaws' readiness is high. I checked the PHB and SRD for information on "...
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1answer
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How many Critical Hits for Assassinate? [duplicate]

I am currently Playing a Monk 8/ Rogue 4 The Rogue is an Assassin. pg97 of the PHB says that for assassinate the move In addition, any hit you score against a creature that is surprised is a ...
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1answer
401 views

Using Total Cover after ranged attack to guarantee stealth check

Is it true that a I would auto-succeed any stealth check if I did the following each round: Starting from prone behind any object large enough to grant total cover against the enemies in front of me. ...
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4answers
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Can surprise be granted by another skill than Dexterity (Stealth)?

As a DM, I'm wondering if allowing a group to use social skills instead of stealth in some situations would still be within the rules or fall under the house rules category. I have in mind a group of ...
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How does the Alert feat change the first turn of the battle?

One of my players has the Alert feat, according to which: [...] You can’t be surprised while you are conscious. Now, does this mean that a hidden enemy is automatically spotted? Let me provide a ...
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Can a character be surprised mid-combat?

Imagine the following scenario: Four adventurers are traveling from one city to another. They have 1 horse which is pulling a covered wagon. One adventurer is riding and controlling the horse, two ...
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1answer
613 views

Can a surprised creature contest a grappling attempt?

We know a suprised creature can't move or take an action on it's first turn of the combat, but can it actively try to contest a grappling attempt by making a Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (...
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2answers
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How does the abstraction of AC make sense when flat-footed?

I am looking for a rule-wise explanation of the logic as to why your deflection bonus (e.g. a shield) is counted in your flat-footed AC. From what I understand, being flat-footed means you didn't see ...