Stealth and Surprise

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bronzemountain
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Stealth and Surprise

Post by bronzemountain » Sat Apr 04, 2020 9:13 pm

The question: Can someone regain the opportunity to surprise opponents by hiding (using Stealthy Stride), moving stealthily for one round, and then jumping out to attack them?

My interpretation: Surprise can only be trigger by combatants entering the fray for the first time. So, you can surprise someone to start a combat. And people joining a combat late (and/or stealthily) can trigger another round of surprise with their entrance.

Otherwise, your stealth only gives you the opportunity to blindside someone, or sneak past them, etc.

Rationale: Surprise is an enormously powerful effect (-3 debuff and all surprised people lose their actions for that round). Monsters with Ambush, in particular, are absolutely deadly during Surprise rounds. It should be infrequent and powerful.

Am I correct?

Bonhumm
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Re: Stealth and Surprise

Post by Bonhumm » Sat Apr 04, 2020 10:26 pm

My opinion on surprise is 'I was not expecting to be in combat right now'.

If I'm caught in an ambush (and fail my PER/Awareness test), I'm surprised for this round and this round only. I will NOT be (mechanically) surprised again for the full duration of the fight.

Yes, if fell in an ambush of cadavermen and, two round later, a Great Dragon pop-up and attack me, I'll be FREAKIN surprised BUT I will not be 'surprised' in game mechanic terms (i.e. I will not suffer the surprise penalties, although I might need a new pair of pants).

Sneaking might allow you to get a blindsided attack but even without stealth, if you attack someone in his back (say, he is already busy fighting 3 guys in front on him) you'd still get the blindsided bonus.

The only real advantage with sneaking, in my opinion, would be with throwing or missile attack (and spells) as in if the target did not notice you, he won't know where the attack is coming from (i.e. will need to do a PER/awareness test to find you before engaging you in combat).

ChrisDDickey
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Re: Stealth and Surprise

Post by ChrisDDickey » Sun Apr 05, 2020 4:56 am

I agree with both of you with several caveats.

Some novice GMs confuse the concepts of "Surprise" and "being able to use Surprise Strike". Being able to use Surprise Strike is actually a much different and easier proposition than "Surprise".

There is also the unfortunate text and president of "Conceal Object" - Which says "... the adept gains the benefit of Surprise when producing it for a fitting purpose, such as drawing a weapon to attack. Adepts may use this talent to regain Surprise when using the Surprise Strike talent."
A literal reading of Conceal Object talent and the "Surprise" section means that every time an Adept produces another hidden dagger, all of his opponents lose their actions again! I have never seen any GM interpret it that way, but that appears to be what the text says, so apparently regaining surprise is a thing.

As for additional opponents surprising you. I feel it would be rare (as in an unexpected dragon rare), for something to surprise you enough impose full surprise a 2nd time. A more common thing might be if you are considered surprised by the new opponents, but not the old. So for example you can't take action against the new opponeents, but can take action against the original opponents. And for one round you have surprise penalties to your defenses against the new opponents only.

As for the specific example of Stealthy Stride and other powers/abilities that allow for concealed movement, They do not explicitly mention that they reestablish Surprise once lost, so I would say that the best they could do is allow an opponent to maneuver into your blind spot without giving you the opportunity to turn to face them (since you did not detect them sneaking up behind you), but I would not say the target was "Surprised" to find them there.

By the by, I would also say that an attacker needs to start the round concealed and remain concealed until the attack is made. No "I am in plain sight, but disappear for half a second behind a tree before attacking you with surprise".

So Stealthy Stride can allow you to get multiple Surprise Strikes, but not multiple Ambushes. In my Opinion.

And Conceal Object, I would house rule nerf that to say it allows you to Surprise Strike, but not regain full surprise. In my Opinion.

Sharkforce
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Re: Stealth and Surprise

Post by Sharkforce » Sun Apr 05, 2020 6:51 am

it would seem that the condition to apply when someone attacks from stealth after combat has begun would more likely be blindsided.

bronzemountain
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Re: Stealth and Surprise

Post by bronzemountain » Sun Apr 05, 2020 2:22 pm

I think we're all in agreement, which is great. Once you are in combat, you can't stealth your way into mid-combat surprise.

One small point to the point about 'once in combat, no more surprise even if dragon joins late', the example of surprise narrated in the rulebook does not support this. In the example, Mica is facing three ghouls (combat has started). His companions have not yet entered combat and are sneaking around. Ghouls fail their perception test, and Mica's friends trigger surprise as they leap out from behind a building.

So it does seem as if people who have not previously engaged in the combat CAN trigger surprise. Which is pretty deadly actually.

Aegharan
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Re: Stealth and Surprise

Post by Aegharan » Mon Apr 06, 2020 11:05 am

Like Chris said: The ghouls are surprised regarding the new guys, but still act normally against Mica.

Making the ghouls lose all actions that round because another character joined combat would be strange. The Thief joining a round later to get a better angle in deserves the surprise benefit. At least that's how I would rule it

ragbasti
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Re: Stealth and Surprise

Post by ragbasti » Mon Apr 06, 2020 10:08 pm

ChrisDDickey wrote:
Sun Apr 05, 2020 4:56 am
So Stealthy Stride can allow you to get multiple Surprise Strikes, but not multiple Ambushes. In my Opinion.

And Conceal Object, I would house rule nerf that to say it allows you to Surprise Strike, but not regain full surprise. In my Opinion.
Spot on. Conceal Object was pretty much designed to regain the ability to use surprise strike, either using multiple weapons or concealing weapons mid-combat.
As for Stealthy stride, it really depends.

Talent description states:
"This talent does not allow the adept to vanish while being observed—once a character is aware of the adept’s presence and watching him the talent will not work."
If you can get yourself completely out of sight during combat, then sure, you can regain the ability to use surprise strike. But I would also not allow full surprise, since combat has already ensued. But sneaking will probably allow you to blindside opponents (which could also be done with proper positioning or the use of Distract by an ally. Spending multiple rounds just to get access to Surprise Strike again seems not worth it when there are so many other way to get it.

bronzemountain
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Re: Stealth and Surprise

Post by bronzemountain » Tue Apr 07, 2020 3:41 am

Aegharan wrote:
Mon Apr 06, 2020 11:05 am
Like Chris said: The ghouls are surprised regarding the new guys, but still act normally against Mica.

Making the ghouls lose all actions that round because another character joined combat would be strange. The Thief joining a round later to get a better angle in deserves the surprise benefit. At least that's how I would rule it
That's how I would rule it as well, but it's worth noting for those who care that this is RAI rather than RAW.

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