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

11 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. Gregory Kirk says:

    The way inattentive and surprise work, the surprised characters do not get to act until those with surprise do something, then actions happen as per usual in the initiative order. So you don;t have t stop and say “roll for initiative. Start something like this:

    DM: “as you are riding down the roadway, a shower of arrows strikes at your party (roll the attacks by the well hidden bandits against the party). An arrow barely misses you, Hinton, another one hits in your horse and it bucks, make a an animal handling check.
    Hinton: :huh? what’s happening. oh oh, 7.
    DM: OK you fall of your horse. You’re prone.
    DM: Alaric, you’re hit by an arrow, make that two. Alaric replies I use my reaction and cast shield, increasing my AC by 5.
    DM: OK only one hits.
    Etc until the bandits exhaust their actions for the turn

    DM: Ok, they have a 14 initiative. Everyone roll for initiative, anyone above a 14 was surprised, so no actions this turn…

    • Jeremy Graten says:

      If you want to break the rules, sure, you can do the situation you described. For those that would follow the rules, that situation wouldn’t play out that way.

      • Marcelo says:

        Gregory’s narrative broke no rules, except for the casting of shield (you can’t use a reaction while surprised). It was a creative way of describing an ambush. The universe won’t implode if you don’t say “roll initiative” before a NPC does anything, if he beats the Stealth vs. Passive Perception check.

        The rules for surprise during the first round of a combat are as follow (SRD):
        “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.”

        It’s that simple. First turn of combat, if you’re surprised, you don’t do jack. The example play Gregory described fits perfectly the rules.

        • Natureguy85 says:

          Except that if the wizard gets a higher initiative than the attackers, he can cast Shield because surprise ends when the turn does. And let’s say an assassin succeeds in sneaking up on a target but loses the initiative, he’ll lose Assassinate because the target is no longer surprised after its turn.

          Yes, you can justify this if you like. Maybe the wizard didn’t notice the bandits getting into place, but just happened to see the Arrow coming. And the target of the Assassin heard her take a deep breath as she was about to stab him. The only problem is that you’re having to use perception to justify the results of an initiative roll. To what are the wizard or the Assassination target reacting?

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