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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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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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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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False Appearance, Movement, Surprise, and the Unseen Attacker bonus

Related to How should I implement False Appearance? but that does not answer my questions about surprise and movement... A Darkmantle has the "False Appearance" property which allows it to be ...
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Can you be given a disadvantage on a saving throw if you are surprised?

I have an odd inquiry, this happened during a D&D 5e session. We were travelling in a cavern hunting a necromancer, as myself and a party member parted to a path further exploring away from the ...
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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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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 ...
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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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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 ...
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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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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 ...
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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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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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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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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 ...
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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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Can a Fighter use their Action Surge while Surprised to get an Action?

I was reading Rules Answers: November 2015 | Dungeons & Dragons and in the Combat section and someone had asked "Does surprise happen outside the initiative order as a special surprise round?". ...
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At which moment does the 'Surprised' state disappear?

I am trying to figure out if the surprised state ends on a creature after the first attack of a surprise round, or if the surprised state (which I would then see almost as an unofficial condition) ...
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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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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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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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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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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 surprise ...
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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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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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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) ...
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What happens when a character accidentally jumps on top of a creature, but neither is previously aware of the other?

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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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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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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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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Should players get a surprise attack by interrupting a villain's speech?

Just before confrontations with the "boss" of a dungeon or adventure, I often like to ham it up a bit and let the BBEG-of-the-week gloat a bit about how brilliant their plan is, or what a thorn in the ...
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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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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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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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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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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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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 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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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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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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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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Can you pass an entire surprise round?

Looking at this question about sniping, in this situation: Example 3 A wields a loaded crossbow and waits on on a cliff overlooking a valley for B to walk by. A is unobserved and has a low ...
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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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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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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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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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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. ...