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
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 ...
1
vote
1answer
322 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?
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 ...
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 ...
5
votes
3answers
651 views

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 ...
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 ...
3
votes
4answers
924 views

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 ...
9
votes
3answers
428 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 ...
10
votes
1answer
3k views

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 ...
1
vote
0answers
88 views

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 ...
0
votes
2answers
546 views

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, ...
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 ...
16
votes
3answers
2k views

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 ...
4
votes
2answers
301 views

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 ...
8
votes
1answer
558 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 "...
7
votes
1answer
464 views

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 ...
1
vote
1answer
508 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. ...
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 ...
6
votes
4answers
5k views

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 ...
14
votes
1answer
4k 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
767 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 (...
2
votes
2answers
840 views

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 ...
26
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 ...
2
votes
2answers
349 views

Would changing Surprise to just give Disadvantage on Initiative checks overlap with any existing sources of Disadvantage?

In an effort to make the game more interactive, I'm strongly considering house-ruling the Surprised condition to read "this creature has disadvantage on initiative rolls" instead of outright skipping ...
1
vote
1answer
742 views

What advantages does conceal weapon give?

I'm playing a backstabbing halfling rogue and I keep seeing Deft Palm, conceal weapon, Hide Blade, Underhanded etc. But I can't really see what benefits this gives besides hiding a blade from ...
4
votes
1answer
3k views

What happens with a surprise round in this situation?

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. ...
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 ...
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 ...
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?". ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
31
votes
3answers
6k views

Does rogue's Assassinate + surprise allow critting with Magic Missile?

My 5e group just finished playing through the 5e Starter Set. I am currently a level 4 rogue that has specialized at level 3 as an Assassin. In the starter set I was able to pick up a Wand of Magic ...
23
votes
5answers
25k 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) ...
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) ...
4
votes
1answer
319 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 ...
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 ...