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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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13
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3answers
6k 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 ...
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5answers
5k views

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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1answer
3k views

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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2answers
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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 ...
6
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1answer
846 views

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 ...
12
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2answers
968 views

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. ...
32
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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 ...
8
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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 ...
14
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4answers
2k views

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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4answers
6k 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 ...
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2answers
1k views

When being Unaware ends after surprise round? [duplicate]

In D&D 5e we have surprise round effective until it is ended. On that first round characters that are not surprised can act as in normal round. Those unaware of them (thus surprised) grant them ...
12
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1answer
239 views

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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2answers
621 views

Can one enemy in a group get a surprise attack before battle?

So my group and i are right at the entrance of a big room where there are a bunch of enemies. We were talking to one of the enemies, everybody's alert getting ready for initiative. While we're talking ...
7
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1answer
2k views

How often does a bugbear's Surprise Attack trait trigger?

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) damage from the attack. Does it deal extra ...
31
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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 ...
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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 ...
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1answer
323 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?
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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 ...
9
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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 ...
5
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3answers
661 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
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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
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4answers
936 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
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3answers
434 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
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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 ...
59
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5answers
12k 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 ...
22
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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) ...
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0answers
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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 ...
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2answers
552 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, ...
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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
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2answers
303 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
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1answer
561 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
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1answer
474 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 ...
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4answers
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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 ...
1
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1answer
519 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. ...
14
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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
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1answer
793 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 (...
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2answers
848 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 ...
2
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2answers
351 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
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1answer
750 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
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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. ...
2
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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 ...
12
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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
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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 ...
4
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1answer
320 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 ...