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.

Filter by
Sorted by
Tagged with
22
votes
5answers
24k views

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) ...
32
votes
2answers
4k views

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 ...
60
votes
5answers
11k views

What happens when initiative allows a player to act before the player that started the combat?

This example is a somewhat simplified version of what happened during the last game I DMed for a bunch of friends. A party of PCs was trudging through the woods when they happened upon a very small ...
12
votes
3answers
5k views

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 ...
22
votes
4answers
11k views

How to determine surprise when only part of a side is stealthy?

Here’s the basic rule for Surprise (Player’s Basic Rules, p. 69): If neither side tries to be stealthy, they automatically notice each other. Otherwise, the DM compares the Dexterity (Stealth) ...
25
votes
4answers
3k views

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 ...
14
votes
2answers
2k views

How many times can I benefit from Advantage if I attack multiple times while not seen?

A hidden ranger with Extra Attack attacks a surprised creature. Do both attacks benefit from Advantage, or just the first one? If the ranger used Horde Breaker on another creature, would this attack ...
21
votes
3answers
2k views

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 ...
14
votes
1answer
3k views

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 ...
9
votes
1answer
2k views

How often during combat can you be Surprised?

Looking at the rules for Surprise on page 189 of the 5e PHB. It says that a creature is surprised if the enemy's stealth check beats their passive perception. It then goes on to say: Any creature ...
34
votes
2answers
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 ...
25
votes
5answers
4k views

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 ...
8
votes
3answers
1k views

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 ...
15
votes
10answers
2k views

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 ...
14
votes
3answers
2k views

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?". ...
43
votes
5answers
3k 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
2k views

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 ...
19
votes
7answers
3k views

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 ...
16
votes
5answers
4k 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 ...
15
votes
4answers
2k views

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 ...
13
votes
2answers
282 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 ...
12
votes
1answer
7k views

Does a Barbarian's Feral Instinct prevent him from being surprised?

At 7th level, a Barbarian gains Feral Instinct: Feral Instinct ... If you are surprised at the beginning of combat and aren't incapacitated, you can act normally on your first turn, but only ...
10
votes
3answers
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 ...
26
votes
3answers
4k views

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 ...
21
votes
1answer
1k views

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 ...
11
votes
1answer
719 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. ...
9
votes
1answer
4k views

Can being flat-footed actually improve your AC?

When something refers to an ability bonus instead of an ability modifier does that mean that you only add the modifier if the ability score is positive, or are “bonus” and “modifier” to be read as ...
7
votes
3answers
1k views

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 ...
7
votes
2answers
3k views

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 ...
6
votes
1answer
417 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) ...
5
votes
1answer
3k views

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 ...
4
votes
1answer
318 views

How much can ambushers do before losing the advantage of surprise?

I am unsure of how the surprise round works when only the ambushing party is aware, but will need to actually move to get within melee distance of their ambush victims. For example: a group of orcs ...
3
votes
2answers
1k views

Readying an action for sneak attacks in surprise rounds

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 ...
3
votes
2answers
226 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 ...
1
vote
3answers
359 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 ...