If the target is truly unaware of the attacker, how can he then get an initiative roll at all before the attacker reveals himself?

9 thoughts on “If the target is truly unaware of the attacker, how can he then get an initiative roll at all before the attacker reveals himself?

  1. John Schmeising says:

    New rules be damned. In my campaign surprise is, well, surprising. I usually make sure to be discussing with the players whatever they’re doing at the time, then hit em with the attack mid-discussion:
    Player: “I make sure to examine carefully all around the throne, looking under cushions, pressing decorations that might be buttons, etc.”
    DM: “Very good. Your persistence pays off, and a stud releases a catch which drops a jewelled rod into your hands. As you turn around to show the party you see a Bugbear who has stepped out from a hidden door in the book case plant his axe in the Cleric’s shouder. At the same time your chest sprouts an arrow that wasn’t there before. Roll Initiative!”

  2. Arkleseizure says:

    The rules in D&D are trying to allow an enormous variety of possible actions in gameplay using a relatively simple framework. There will be times when those rules work differently than they do in real life; sometimes these discrepancies are glaring or frustrating, but I don’t believe this is the case in this instance. The fact that initiative rolls can happen before a creature is aware of their enemies is a relatively minor stretch of reality for the sake of effective rules and gameplay.

    Specifically, when combat begins in 5e everyone rolls initiative, determining the order of combat. *Surprise is not lost if your enemy rolls well, they still lose their turn during the first round of combat.*

    From the PH, pg. 189: “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 member of a group can be surprised even if the other members aren’t.”

  3. Steven Harwood says:

    Simple solution to your issue Elliot would be to have your players role initiatives at the start of the session. That way you can run the numbers behind the screen. It would allow you to uses the rules as intended while still catching plays off guard with an ambush.

  4. Passe Gaming says:

    A DM shouldn’t be calling for initiative until an attack is initiated or a hostile spots you. Plain and simple. This business about calling it beforehand makes absolutely no sense.

  5. DM Dad says:

    I love how the picture for this is a melee non-deadly damage combat between Moses and a bunch of herdsmen at Jethro’s well, defending the water rights of his future wife. Absolutely no surprise in that combat other than one dude in weird duds going solo against a bunch of guys who thought they had numbers. Moses, who is a guy who likely had years of military combat and command experience, based on our understanding of Egyptian royal household education.

  6. Mike Hickman says:

    1. A player or NPC or monster rolls a detection roll, or spot check.

    2. DM calls for a detection check if it is possible for the undetected attacker to be detected by the disadvantaged combatant.

    2. If the check fails, or if attacker is invisible, etc, then the attacker is unseen, undetected.

    3. Unseen, undetected attacker, attacks, makes attack roll, rolls D20.

    4. If attacker is detected,seen, then attacker does not get a free 1st attack first.

    5. If so, initiative is rolled before any attacks.

    6. DM then calls for initiative to be rolled, AFTER the 1st attack by the unseen, undetected attacker, IF the disadvantaged combatant either up against a invisible undetectable unseeable attacker, or failed detection, see, spot check, because A. Attacker is detected, because a attack usually causes the attacker to be detected, seen. B. The attacked then becomes AWARE of attacker, even if attacker unseen, invisible, because a attack usually causes attacker to be detected.

    7. If attacker remains unseen AFTER THE FIRST ATTACK, and AFTER initiative is rolled AFTER the 1st attack by the unseen attacker, then the unseen attacker either gets a + X bonus modifier to hit, or the disadvantaged combatant, gets – X penalty to AC, Armor Class, or Advantaged unseen combatant, gets the 5th Ed ADVANTAGE mechanic that allows the unseen attacker to roll D20 twice, and take the best result out of, of the 2 rolled D20’s. So if 1 D20 came up 9, and the other came up 18, the unseen attacker would keep the 18.

    8. If the detection roll is successful, and the attacker is either seen, detected, an or both, then combat proceeds normally with no circumstancial combat bonuses, penalties, etc

    I have been DM ing, and playing since 1986.

    This is how it has always worked. And I am pretty sure thats how 5th Edition works as well.

    But even if the 5th edition rules were to not say that is how it works, and say something different.

    This either is how it works or should be how it works, and the only way it makes sense.

    And this is how any DM should be doing it.

    And if 5th Ed disagrees, then the DM should ignore that, and do it this way, or his or her way as the DM.

    And this is the way I have seen ALMOST EVERY DM do it.

    And this is the way I do it as a DM.

    And this is the right way to do it

    Unless the DM disagrees, because the DM is always right, so say the rules

    Except when the DM is not right, and if the player doesnt like it, they are free to not play in that DM’s game.

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