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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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 ...
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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 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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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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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 ...
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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 ...
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1answer
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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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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 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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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) ...
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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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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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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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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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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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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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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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 ...
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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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Holding an NPC at knifepoint vs quick draw

Suppose a PC walks into a room to find Evil Guy #1 holding Good Guy #1 with a knife to his throat. EG immediately says, "Don't move at all, or I kill him!" The player of the PC then tells me, the DM, "...
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1answer
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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 ...
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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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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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2answers
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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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2answers
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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. ...
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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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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 ...
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1answer
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Does Dexterity Really Affect the Chance of Being Surprised in Gamma World 2e

In the Basic Rule Book for Gamma World 2e on page 6 it says the following about Dexterity: DEXTERITY: A character's Dexterity Score is a measure of the speed at which he functions, his reaction ...
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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 ...
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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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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 ...
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1answer
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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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1answer
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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 ...
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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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1answer
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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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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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1answer
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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 "...
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1answer
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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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543 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 ...