Questions tagged [surprise]

For questions on 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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5 answers
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Would a charmed creature be considered Surprised when attacked?

One of my players, an assassin rogue recently took the Fey Touched feat and used it to learn Charm Person. In our last combat, they used it to successfully charm an enemy in the middle of the fight, ...
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7 votes
4 answers
1k views

If a guard is "on guard", should the "Active Perception" be rolled by the guard, instead of the "Passive Perception"?

Say we have 2 veteran guards, standing inside a room in a mansion, guarding the guild's treasure. These guards are "on duty"/"on guard" 'cause their job is obviously to constantly ...
18 votes
3 answers
3k views

Is a turn considered "taken" at its start or the end? (re: Assassinate and new bugbear PC features)

Looking at the rules for the 5e Assassin subclass (and similarly for the PC Bugbear Surprise Attack feature), Assassinate Starting at 3rd level, you are at your deadliest when you get the drop on ...
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9 votes
1 answer
3k views

What is the point of the Battle Smith artificer's Steel Defender having the Vigilant trait?

The Battle Smith subclass of the Artificer (TCoE, p. 19) has a Steel Defender companion, whose statblock includes a trait called Vigilant: The defender can't be surprised. This sounds good, and I ...
35 votes
4 answers
5k views

Ambushed while Sleeping (with a Watch)

The party goes to sleep around the campfire, and one member volunteers to take the first watch. A couple of hours later, a dozen bullywugs try to stealthily ambush them. The DM makes stealth rolls for ...
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2 votes
1 answer
213 views

Can you warn your teammates that they are being surprised? [duplicate]

Can I warn my party members of an enemy even if they're surprised. If I can does that mean that they are not surprised?
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4 votes
1 answer
253 views

Multiple attacks against unaware targets

Searching for how to handle all surprise scenarios, I still have one question. Say that the PC is sneaking up on enemies/enemy and silent-cast Dissonant whispers. You whisper a discordant melody that ...
-4 votes
1 answer
205 views

Can "partial" surprise happen? Would it be an acceptable rule?

I'm thinking the "surprise round" rule (PHB page 189) just isn't fair. It says : 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 ...
5 votes
1 answer
835 views

When should initiative be rolled during a surprise attack?

This question does a good job explaining how surprise attacks work for the most part, but I'm not sure how such an attack would actually play out, here is what happened in my last game: There was a ...
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5 votes
2 answers
762 views

Can an NPC rogue (who pretended to be allied) use Sneak Attack against a character, even without advantage or another hostile creature nearby?

Our DM had an NPC who essentially "joined our party", but was actually an enemy rogue. In the middle of combat, the NPC ran up and attacked a party member (i.e. a player character); the DM ...
4 votes
6 answers
1k views

Can Alert prevent Surprise if you don't know the enemy exists?

Here's the situation: In a large dark temple, a player character with the Alert feat has darkvision out to 60 feet. However, 100 feet away, there is an enemy with 120 feet of truesight within the area ...
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2 votes
1 answer
193 views

Can Alert prevent Surprise if you don't know combat is occurring yet? [duplicate]

If part of the party enters combat with enemies but the rest of the party is not aware of the threat or aware there is combat happening yet, does a player with the Alert feat who rolls highest on ...
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13 votes
4 answers
3k views

Can I avoid surprise through my familiar?

You might have seen a more complicated variant of this question going on about different types of speed but a comment by Szega made me realize that a much simpler question would probably suffice and ...
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23 votes
4 answers
2k views

Interaction between Subtle Spell, Initiative and Alert Feat

I'm running a game and I'm trying to gank a few of my players with an NPC Sorcerer with Subtle Metamagic. However, one of the players has the Alert feat which states he cannot be surprised. Can I cast ...
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4 votes
2 answers
3k views

How does the Gloom Stalker ranger's Dread Ambusher feature interact with Surprise?

In D&D 5e, if a Gloom Stalker Ranger uses their Dread Ambusher feature's secondary attack on a creature during a surprise round (whether on the same target or a different one), is that creature ...
3 votes
2 answers
4k views

Are there any magic items in 5e that will cast Pass Without Trace?

I've been looking for a way for my Assassin Rogue 12/War Domain Cleric 2 character to be able to cast Pass Without Trace, so they can more easily not abandon the party and still get surprise. Getting ...
8 votes
2 answers
342 views

Can you use Sleight of Hand to draw a firearm during a surprise round to get the initiative boost?

Can you use Sleight of Hand to draw a firearm during a surprise round to get the initiative boost? How you implement it since it's vs yourself? A Spot Hidden vs Sleight of Hand? or Sleight of Hand vs ...
6 votes
1 answer
527 views

Can a PC with the Alert feat alert his friends?

Assume the following situation: The party has been surprised by an ambush. Every PC is surprised except PC Bob because he has the Alert feat. Thanks to his high initiative bonus Bob gets to go first. ...
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2 votes
2 answers
410 views

Can Nerveskitter be cast during a surprise round, let's say directly when you realize that you are being ambushed?

Let's say my group is ambushed and no one is aware, the ennemies then have a surprise round against us. As soon as I am aware of the attack (they could jump/charge in front of us, shoot an arrow AND ...
5 votes
2 answers
431 views

Which of these surprise mechanics is correct?

I've been reading information about the surprise mechanic and still confused on which to use. There are 3 methods of Surprise that I see all over the internet. First: Group Surprise Check To make a ...
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8 votes
2 answers
428 views

What happens if the party is noticed while attempting to surprise this character in the LMoP adventure?

In Lost Mine of Phandelver (the Starter Set adventure), you have the opportunity to What happens if Will he be able to escape? Since you are blocking the door for his escape, does he fight you now (...
  • 331
10 votes
2 answers
832 views

How does surprise work when both sides of an encounter are attempting to surprise the other?

I an a total noob in D&D and just started LMoP (the Starter Set adventure). We are now in a room before Klarg's cave (the Twin Pools, I think). One goblin escaped to tell Klarg that there's an ...
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5 votes
1 answer
336 views

How does ambushing / surprise work?

I have perused the Core rulebook to figure out how to handle an ambush. What I found seems very underpowered, and I am not sure if I have missed something or this is intentional and all there is to it....
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9 votes
1 answer
1k views

Does Assassinate come into play whenever the Rogue catches the target off guard?

The Assassinate ability under the Assassin subclass of Rogue states: Starting at 3rd level, you are at your deadliest when you get the drop on your enemies. You have advantage on attack rolls ...
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5 votes
2 answers
130 views

Can "Get Away" be used to hide?

Can the second tier Stealth flavour ability Get Away (p. 51) be used to hide, such as to allow a character to do a surprise attack each round? The text of the ability is: Get Away (2 Speed points): ...
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4 votes
1 answer
261 views

What definition of the noun "threat" do the rule books use when it affects gameplay mechanics?

I have recently asked a question about Surprise where the unclear interpretation of the word "threat" in the sentence "Any character or monster that doesn’t notice a threat is surprised ...
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9 votes
1 answer
699 views

Can a creature be surprised if it is aware of possible danger, but does not perceive an immediate threat?

From the section on Surprise in the PHB: The GM determines who might be surprised. If neither side tries to be stealthy, they automatically notice each other. Otherwise, the GM compares the ...
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29 votes
1 answer
3k views

Can a surprised monster use lair actions if they roll an initiative above 20?

The rules for lair actions say: On initiative count 20 (losing all initiative ties), it can use one of its lair action options. It can’t do so while incapacitated or otherwise unable to take ...
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19 votes
3 answers
3k views

Is it possible for both sides of an encounter to be surprised?

Is it possible for both sides of an encounter to be surprised and if so what would happen? This is a hypothetical idea I just came up with but it made me wonder what would happen. Would the surprise ...
2 votes
0 answers
122 views

How to handle "I attack" during a peaceful narrative [duplicate]

Abdullah, Ben, and Caroline are talking to a Drow that they know may prove hostile. Abdullah and Ben are fine with seeing how the conversation goes, but Caroline doesn't want to risk it. As the ...
14 votes
1 answer
308 views

When a creature runs away from combat, when can it trigger surprise again?

I understand how surprise works, but one thing I’m curious about is clarification on when combat “ends”, if it doesn’t resolve in the defeat of either side. This might make a little more sense with ...
7 votes
1 answer
112 views

If an encounter is already underway, can an enemy who joins combat surprise existing combatants?

If an encounter is already underway, can an enemy who joins combat surprise existing combatants? Suppose the party is fighting some gnolls a few rounds in. A stealthy lizardman sees the fight and ...
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13 votes
2 answers
2k views

How does burrowing interact with surprise and attacks from hiding?

I'm running a campaign that the players are about to encounter several burrowing creatures. The creatures in question do have Tremorsense so they'll be able to tell where the players are and with ...
1 vote
1 answer
537 views

Does flanking a creature make it a surprise attack, meeting the requirement for the Assassin rogue's Assassinate feature?

The optional rule on flanking (DMG, p. 251) says: Flanking on Squares. When a creature and at least one of its allies are adjacent to an enemy and on opposite sides or corners of the enemy's space, ...
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1 vote
3 answers
26k views

Is there a surprise round?

Our party disguised ourselves as merchants, but when the enemy appeared and we attacked them, the DM just said, "Roll for initiative." Is there a surprise round in D&D 5e like there was in ...
51 votes
5 answers
5k views

What happens if a caster is surprised while casting a spell with a long casting time?

Casting a spell with a long casting time requires the caster to use their action each turn casting the spell: you must spend your action each turn casting the spell However, what would happen if ...
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28 votes
4 answers
5k views

What happens when your group is victim of a surprise attack but you can't be surprised?

My character was unaware of a group of bandits, but my character cannot be surprised (I have a Weapon of warning) but the rest of my group is out of the range of my weapon of warning, do I get to ...
1 vote
1 answer
134 views

How does the oracle's Temporal Celerity revelation work when there otherwise wouldn't be a surprise round?

An oracle with the time mystery can choose the Temporal Celerity revelation: Temporal Celerity (Su): Whenever you roll for initiative, you can roll twice and take either result. At 7th level, you ...
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4 votes
1 answer
495 views

Do surprised enemies take damage from the Flaming Sphere spell?

If one enemy is surprised, and the mage casts flaming sphere next to this surprised enemy, does it have to make the saving throw and take damage for being adjacent to the flaming sphere when the ...
48 votes
9 answers
12k views

What to do when surprise and a high initiative roll conflict with the narrative?

Consider the following situation. Two creatures A and B sneak up on a creature X, successfully remaining unnoticed by it. Without signalling this to B in any way, A then throws a dagger at X from its ...
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12 votes
1 answer
1k views

Can an Eldritch Knight use Action Surge and thus Arcane Charge even when surprised?

The Eldritch Knight fighter's Arcane Charge feature says: At 15th level, you gain the ability to teleport up to 30 feet to an unoccupied space you can see when you use your Action Surge. (PHB, p. ...
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35 votes
2 answers
2k views

Can a surprised creature fall prone voluntarily on their turn?

Suppose someone might want their character to drop prone while they're surprised. The relevant text from Being Prone under "Movement and Position" states: You can drop prone without using any of ...
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26 votes
3 answers
2k views

Does a surprised creature obey the 1st-level spell Command?

The description of the Command spell says: You speak a one-word command to a creature you can see within range. The target must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw or follow the command on its next ...
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8 votes
2 answers
926 views

Does a surprised creature stop being surprised after its first turn, even if nothing happened? [duplicate]

Surprised creatures are no longer surprised after they took their first turn in combat. But it feels counter-intuitive to apply this to a situation like the one below. A group successfully sneaks up ...
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12 votes
2 answers
2k views

Does surprise arrest existing movement?

Do surprised creatures which were already moving prior to being surprised keep moving, or stop moving for a round? Some illustrative situations might be: A carriage drawn by four horses is heading ...
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4 votes
2 answers
437 views

In this scenario, how do I determine whether the enemies are surprised?

Being new to D&D and planning to do some DM'ing in the near future, I found myself struggling with "Surprise" in combat. To educate myself on this topic, I first want to understand the ...
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17 votes
1 answer
2k views

Moving from one room/cave to another within the same dungeon

I am a new GM and new to D&D. Currently, I am running the Lost Mines of Phandelver (LMoP) D&D 5e starter campaign. My group have just finished the Cragmaw Hideout section, but as we ran it we ...
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6 votes
1 answer
2k views

Does the Bugbear’s "Surprise Attack" feature apply on its first round of combat or the players'?

The Bugbear's Surprise Attack feature reads: 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) ...
11 votes
1 answer
784 views

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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10 votes
1 answer
720 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 ...