1. #1

    D&D Basics [BECMI] - The Surprise

    Hello.

    Im trying to learn the rules of the Basic Rule Set (Red box) from 1983 IIRC, and there is one thing I don't understand about the surprise. In the booklet, it is written :

    There is more to an encounter than just walking into a room and seeing a monster. For example, you might have sneaked up on the creature — or it might have sneaked up on you! You might turn a corner, and be completely surprised to find a monster right there. But if the monster is surprised, too, then you would both stop for a moment and look at each other. The mutual surprise on both sides would cancel out, for no effect except a short delay.

    In group adventures, you roll to see who is surprised, and by how much. A six-sided die (Id6) is rolled for each side, and the results are compared in the following way:
    You are only surprised if you roll a 1 or a 2; the same applies to the monsters.
    So, if Im sneaking with a thief to a monster who is not aware of my presence, I still have to roll a six-sided die and my thief could be surprised himself If I do a 1 or 2, even if I was planing to surprise the monster ? That would be non-sense, It's not really clear. I suppose normally, only the monster should roll for surprise (in order to see if he is surprised or not by my thief). But the rule states that BOTH side have to roll for surprise. Can you explain to me ?

    Regards.

  2. #2
    damned's Avatar
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    I would run it as:

    If your thief has been creeping about the place and he is nicely in shadows or behind cover and he spies across the courtyard 3 Orc Guards they are not going to get the drop on him (provided he passes a stealth check if the GM so requests). The Orcs might have to roll to be surprised - the Orcs could be very vigilant and not easily surprised.

    If your thief has been creeping about the place and he is nicely in shadows or behind cover and he turns a corner and there are 3 Orc Guards at the ready both parties should roll to see if any are surprised.

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  3. #3
    SirGraystone's Avatar
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    My take in this is, surprise are rolls on both side if you see each others at the same time, like if you turn a corner and face an Ogre. If you sneak successfullly and the Ogre don't notice you then you don't need to roll surprise since the Ogre can't react to someone he doesn't know is there.

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    Reading the full text, you only roll if both sides are unaware of each other.

    If your thief is sneaking up on an unaware monster, then your thief obviously is aware, so no roll at all.

    Also note that it specifies for groups one die is rolled per group, not individually; ie. your party and a squad of orcs patrolling in a dungeon, unaware of each other. Walk around a corner and you're both face to face and one die rolled for the party, one die for the orcs.

  5. #5
    Thank you for you answers everyone. So I guess I must only make a surprise check when both sides are seeing each other suddenly.

    My take in this is, surprise are rolls on both side if you see each others at the same time, like if you turn a corner and face an Ogre. If you sneak successfullly and the Ogre don't notice you then you don't need to roll surprise since the Ogre can't react to someone he doesn't know is there.
    1) And what if my Thief is aware about the orc guard presence, he makes a stealth check but unfortunatly, he is seen. The orc will be surprise to see suddenly my Thief near him, and my thief also ? Is there a surprise roll in this case ?
    2) And what if my Thief is surprised but the party is waiting in another room, is there a surprise check for them too or they are not included in the encounter ?

    That's not really clear in the red box booklet, rules are not very detailed.
    Last edited by Falheim; January 1st, 2020 at 18:12.

  6. #6
    damned's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Falheim View Post
    Thank you for you answers everyone. So I guess I must only make a surprise check when both sides are seeing each other suddenly.



    1) And what if my Thief is aware about the orc guard presence, he makes a stealth check but unfortunatly, he is seen. The orc will be surprise to see suddenly my Thief near him, and my thief also ? Is there a surprise roll in this case ?
    2) And what if my Thief is surprised but the party is waiting in another room, is there a surprise check for them too or they are not included in the encounter ?

    That's not really clear in the red box booklet, rules are not very detailed.
    1. Both roll surprise.
    2. The thief and the Orc are in this encounter. They roll for surprise. If the party come running in because they hear a fight going on their is no further surprise rolls.

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  7. #7
    If you read farther on in the books the surprise is used to determine how far away the intial placement of mobs are from the party/PC. Back in the old days it was more tactical based with rules around distances since it orginally came from a wargame history.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by EyeDeeTenTea View Post
    If you read farther on in the books the surprise is used to determine how far away the intial placement of mobs are from the party/PC. Back in the old days it was more tactical based with rules around distances since it orginally came from a wargame history.
    Nope, they don't talk about surprise anymore after that, neither in the player's manual, nor in the dungeon master manual. At least in the first D&D basic rule booklet (red box). Maybe you're talking about the other books (expert, companion, master, immortal or rule cyclopedia).

    Anyway, thanks for all your advices. Sometimes description or not really clear (probably because it's very old), I suppose it's more detailed in the further version like Rule Cyclopedia, etc.

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