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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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Surprise, long range, and Eldritch Blast

My character is a lvl 6 Bugbear Warlock Assassin Rogue, with the invocation Eldritch Spear and Spells sniper. This makes the range of EB 600 feet. Is it correct to assume that by attacking from that ...
chinoscut's user avatar
  • 139
2 votes
0 answers
61 views

In this scenario are my players surprised? [duplicate]

I'll lay out the scenario as plain as possible. I am running a session tomorrow that I have planned for my 4 players. This encounter has them finding a vault of gold. There are 2 entrances to this ...
Nightwing94's user avatar
9 votes
3 answers
1k views

Does surprise prevent both moving and acting?

Note: I am not a native English speaker. The surprise rules state (emphasis mine): 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 ...
Flynxer's user avatar
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6 votes
1 answer
2k views

Does the Bugbear Surprise Attack require surprise according to current (2023) rules?

I have seen different written rules as well as interpretations regarding whether or not a bugbear's Surprise Attack requires surprise and would like to receive guidance based on the latest rules-as-...
Maadiah's user avatar
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5 votes
2 answers
1k views

How do I handle the Alert feat and surprise?

I have a situation in a game that I am DMing, and would like thoughts. 4 Players in a room, one of them, Player A, decides to investigate the cloak hanging on a hook for keys/treasure. Its a cloaker ...
user1537867's user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
1k views

Does Assasinate actually guarantee a critical hit on an attack that initiates combat from stealth?

From what I understand, the surprised condition works as follows. It is a status effect with a duration of 1 turn that forces a creature to skip their turn. A creature gets the status effect at the ...
Yuval Amir's user avatar
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6 votes
3 answers
2k views

Does the Alert feature allow a character to automatically detect pickpockets?

The Alert feature states the following : Always on the lookout for danger, you gain the following benefits: You can't be surprised while you are conscious. You gain a +5 bonus to initiative. Other ...
Folmhaigh's user avatar
10 votes
6 answers
4k views

Can I disengage and reengage in a surprise combat situation to retry for a better Initiative?

There are lots of questions posted about surprise and initative, but one scenario still seems ambiguous to me. If this has been answered, please link, as I couldn't find it. Scenario: A player is ...
Dfvx990mq321pl's user avatar
7 votes
2 answers
617 views

How to handle prepared actions when you are expecting to see an enemy but you haven't yet?

In my last session my group and I have encountered this situation: We found a trap that would trigger two hostile creatures to enter our room through a portal each. We knew that because there was a ...
Francesco Rogo's user avatar
6 votes
2 answers
377 views

Balancing a combat around the surprised condition

I'm a new DM trying to put encounters together. My players are often either surprised by monsters (eg: mimics) or surprise the monsters (because they stealth into the lair) and I've noticed surpise ...
Jay Lemmon's user avatar
10 votes
3 answers
2k views

How to run an encounter against a sleeping party, utilising a homebrew system

I'm currently working on a personal revision to traveling in the wilderness in Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition, and I've hit a roadblock with encounter design. Let me summarize my system and the ...
ACartonOfEggNogg's user avatar
12 votes
5 answers
2k views

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, ...
GreenHat's user avatar
  • 534
10 votes
4 answers
2k 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 ...
Lisa's user avatar
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18 votes
3 answers
4k 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 ...
Morgan's user avatar
  • 191
9 votes
2 answers
6k 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 ...
SeriousBri's user avatar
35 votes
4 answers
6k 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 ...
cbaer's user avatar
  • 455
2 votes
1 answer
387 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?
Fishy's user avatar
  • 29
4 votes
1 answer
310 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 ...
Christofer Weber's user avatar
-4 votes
1 answer
259 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 ...
Ethan1987's user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
4k 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 ...
Yopi Lapi's user avatar
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5 votes
2 answers
873 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 ...
JustTrynaLive's user avatar
4 votes
6 answers
2k 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 ...
Lexaire's user avatar
  • 1,693
2 votes
1 answer
250 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 ...
Lexaire's user avatar
  • 1,693
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 ...
Poseidaan's user avatar
  • 1,111
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 ...
Pearl's user avatar
  • 231
4 votes
2 answers
4k 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 ...
Ecnerwal's user avatar
3 votes
2 answers
8k 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 ...
Mister_Gaming3's user avatar
8 votes
2 answers
527 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 ...
Jhyarelle Silver's user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
792 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. ...
findusl's user avatar
  • 6,577
2 votes
2 answers
473 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 ...
Maxpire's user avatar
  • 3,193
5 votes
2 answers
470 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 ...
kutsuu's user avatar
  • 331
8 votes
2 answers
534 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 (...
kutsuu's user avatar
  • 331
10 votes
2 answers
917 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 ...
kutsuu's user avatar
  • 331
7 votes
1 answer
2k 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....
Szega's user avatar
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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 ...
K.L.R.'s user avatar
  • 8,533
5 votes
2 answers
137 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): ...
Ohmnibus's user avatar
  • 978
4 votes
1 answer
363 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 ...
Mars Plastic's user avatar
  • 4,967
9 votes
1 answer
897 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 ...
Mars Plastic's user avatar
  • 4,967
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 ...
Dacromir's user avatar
  • 10.3k
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 ...
Himitsu_no_Yami's user avatar
2 votes
0 answers
136 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 ...
SeeDerekEngineer's user avatar
14 votes
1 answer
332 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 ...
Akayami Ryuu's user avatar
7 votes
1 answer
120 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 ...
munk's user avatar
  • 1,153
14 votes
3 answers
3k 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 ...
ConfusedDM's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
688 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, ...
João Grando's user avatar
  • 1,885
2 votes
3 answers
34k 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 ...
Bakuranecro's user avatar
52 votes
5 answers
6k 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 ...
Sdjz's user avatar
  • 36.4k
29 votes
4 answers
6k 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 ...
Pandora's Mox's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
160 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 ...
JoshuaD's user avatar
  • 4,415
4 votes
1 answer
547 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 ...
Albert Cortada's user avatar