Cannot be surprised = never?

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How much is a DM's hands tied if a player has a feat which says "cannot be surprised".

Working within the RAW, does this mean that once a player has this feat, every possible surprise attack is doomed to failure (not be a surprise).   Is this feat the equivalent of an unfailing spidey-sense? (I am not referring to traps, merely foes).    If some hidden enemy with a long ranged attack readies the action to trigger upon seeing the PC's, is it an absolute guarantee that the PC's will know this before the attack occurs?   If so, I think this is a game-breaking feat.
"Cannot be surprised" means "cannot be surprised".

Note that this will not help his teammates; they will still have to make Perception checks against the attacker's Stealth rolls (or the attacker rolls against Passive Perception if they aren't looking for trouble).

From the Compendium, Surprise Round:
Some combat encounters begin with a surprise round, which occurs if any creatures are caught completely off guard at the start of battle. If even one creature is surprised, a surprise round occurs, and all creatures that aren’t surprised act in initiative order during that round. Surprised creatures can’t act at all during the surprise round.

Special Rules Two special rules apply to the surprise round.

Limited Action: If a creature is not surprised, it can take only one of the following actions on its turn during the surprise round: a standard action, a move action, or a minor action. The creature can also take free actions, but it cannot spend an action point. During the surprise round (but not on its turn), the creature can take an immediate action, as well as opportunity actions. See “Action Types” for definitions of these terms.
    After every creature that is not surprised has acted, the surprise round ends, and creatures can act normally in subsequent rounds.

Surprised: If a creature is surprised, it can’t take any actions, not even free actions, during the surprise round. The creature also grants combat advantage. As soon as the surprise round ends, the creature is no longer surprised.
"Suprised" is a condition. Kind of like stunned or unconcious. "Suprised" just means that the character grants combat advantage, cannot take actions, and cannot flank. Usually you're suprised because the enemy got a suprise round. If you have such a feat, it simply means that you can still take actions (oppurtunity or immediate only, since you still don't get a turn IIRC) and don't grant CA in the suprise round. You can fluff it as some sort of vague intuition, sure, but you don't get "spidey-sense".

EDIT: Well, I got ninja'ed there. And apparently you can still take actions in a suprise round if you *would* have been suprised. My bad. 
I'm still unclear on this, I should have been more clear in my question. 

A player in the party has Foresight: "You and allies within 5 cannot be surprised."

I understand what a surprise round is. 

Let me offer a scenario:   some hidden enemies await the party's arrival with readied attack actions.   As soon as the party is within range, their readied actions are triggered.  
1.   With the foresight ability, the attack goes off, but the party members still get their 1 action during that surprise round, and then both sides roll for initiative.
2.   Without the foresight ability, the attack goes off, and the party members get no action.   Then both sides roll for initiative.

Is that about right?



What happens is:

1) the surprise round starts
2) everyone rolls init and acts in order
3a) if you are surprised then you get no action and grant CA until the first round
3b) If you are not surprised then you get 1 standard action

If you have not spotted the enemies/ambush, but are not surprised due to foresight and your init beats the enemies init, then you know there is some threat, but not what/where it is.

edit: even without foresight, there is usually a skill check to see if creatures are surprised (perception or insight, usually).  Perfect ambushes that could not be foreseen may skip this, but that's rare.  Surprising the enemy or not being surprised by enemies is also often a perk of skill-challenges.
If no one is surprised don't bother having a 1-action round for both sides.
Back to Basics - A Guide to Basic Attacks You might be playing DnD wrong if... "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein
Those 'the whole party is not surprised' things can kind of cause issues when triggering the commencement of combat, because if you don't run it right, people can wind up taking their turn before there's anything there to fight - particularly in the event of ambush-type scenarios.  If the first thing to happen is a surprise attack which isn't a surprise, and the PCs literally don't know anyone's there until it happens, normally the surprise round would reveal it.  But with not surprise round, initiative starts before there's anything to fight.

It's a bit of a weird system when people immune to surprise start entering it.
Harrying your Prey, the Easy Way: A Hunter's Handbook - the first of what will hopefully be many CharOp efforts on my part. The Blinker - teleport everywhere. An Eladrin Knight/Eldritch Knight. CB != rules source.
But according to Red_Tanker "If you have not spotted the enemies/ambush, but are not surprised due to foresight and your init beats the enemies init, then you know there is some threat, but not what/where it is."

This seems to be RAW, and I agree with his assessment.   Are you saying you would do it different?  I'm not looking for a debate, but rather the proper way to handle it.

As the DM, I might say something to the players like "Your intuition tells you something is amiss, and you feel threatened.   You do not see what is causing it."   The problem is, as per RAW, I shouldn't say this to them until after initiative is rolled (since there's no surprise round now).    Having them roll initiative kind of makes saying "you feel threatened" pointless.

Sigh, more confusion.
I'm not sure, it's something I've thought long and hard about due to the presence of two Divine Oracles in our high-level LFR play, and not yet really resolved.  I like the 'spidey sense tingling' type explanation, but I've had a storming argument and later slightly less storming discussion with one particular player about how it's terrible and wrong for reasons I don't entirely understand, so YMMV.
Harrying your Prey, the Easy Way: A Hunter's Handbook - the first of what will hopefully be many CharOp efforts on my part. The Blinker - teleport everywhere. An Eladrin Knight/Eldritch Knight. CB != rules source.
I'm not sure, it's something I've thought long and hard about due to the presence of two Divine Oracles in our high-level LFR play, and not yet really resolved.  I like the 'spidey sense tingling' type explanation, but I've had a storming argument and later slightly less storming discussion with one particular player about how it's terrible and wrong for reasons I don't entirely understand, so YMMV.



My mileage doesn't vary much from that, sadly.

My preference would be to remove any "cannot be surprised" powers/feats from the game, or at least from PC selection.  As it stands, it's awkward at best.
A Ranger with the ability to not be surprised can easily allow the entire party to not be surprised.

A good way to handle it would be to allow the "surprise round" to consist of the enemies moving up and becoming visible to the no-longer-surprised PCs.

This eliminates the need for a surprise round and still allows the PCs to act normally on their turn with enemies in-sight.
Alternately, you can do what I did, and remove surprise from the game.  I kept noticing a trend: if players get a surprise round (which is rare), most of the time, all they tend to do is move.

If monsters get a surprise round (which is much more common), they always seem to get a free hit in there.  There are issues with how combats start, often, encounters will begin with the monsters in optimal range to attack on their turn, and the party stuck in a 3 x 3 area.

Which just isn't realistic- initiative should be rolled the minute either side sees a threat, not "you get to the perfect spot in the area for the entire party to get attacked, but nowhere near the monsters".

Which means that a character roll init the instant he comes within line of sight to an enemy.  And vice versa, since the game pretty much assumes you can identify an enemy on sight.

It doesn't help that the actual system to determine surprise, using passive perception, is almost never used in actual games (a lot of published adventures are written as if the author doesn't even know there ARE rules to determine surprise), which is mainly the reason players jump on Alertness or other anti-surprise abilities in the first place.

          
"You can always judge a man by the quality of his enemies." -The Doctor, Remembrance of the Daleks
BTW, you can't ready an action outside of the formal combat turn structure.
BTW, you can't ready an action outside of the formal combat turn structure.



???

DM: "You hear goblin voices on the other side of the door.   They sound like they are getting closer."

Player: "I stand to the side of the door and ready Pinning Strike, which I'll use on the first goblin to walk through the door."

or

Player: "I smash all the barrels, and knock over the shelf, looking for anything valuable."
DM: "The barrels are full of vinegry wine.   The shelf had nothing but cheap pottery, now broken all over the floor."
Player: "I kick open the door to the next room."
DM: "The two goblin archers across the room release their arrows."

Seems pretty legit to me...
In fact, the last season of encounters, the final battle opened with readied actions from the enemies.  Which of course, led to our Ranger dying in the middle of his first turn.  Solos with "make two basic attacks as a standard action" probably shouldn't be allowed to ready said standard action, that's all I'm saying!
"You can always judge a man by the quality of his enemies." -The Doctor, Remembrance of the Daleks
BTW, you can't ready an action outside of the formal combat turn structure.



???

DM: "You hear goblin voices on the other side of the door.   They sound like they are getting closer."

Player: "I stand to the side of the door and ready Pinning Strike, which I'll use on the first goblin to walk through the door."

or

Player: "I smash all the barrels, and knock over the shelf, looking for anything valuable."
DM: "The barrels are full of vinegry wine.   The shelf had nothing but cheap pottery, now broken all over the floor."
Player: "I kick open the door to the next room."
DM: "The two goblin archers across the room release their arrows."

Seems pretty legit to me...



No, that would be the time to call for an initiative check.  They don't get to pre-empt the whole combat sequence.

Initiative checks before combat occurs? 

I don't know what the RAW is on these, but to ready an action after combat is started would rarely be useful.

The above examples I gave are perfectly allowable at my table, even if I were running an official LFR game.   The danger with readying an action is that once combat starts, you lose your turn if the trigger you state never occurs.
Initiative checks before combat occurs? 

I don't know what the RAW is on these, but to ready an action after combat is started would rarely be useful.

The above examples I gave are perfectly allowable at my table, even if I were running an official LFR game.   The danger with readying an action is that once combat starts, you lose your turn if the trigger you state never occurs.

Readying an action in combat definitely has its uses in cases where you don't want to use Delay action (or can't) for one reason or another.  If I remember correctly the one case I had was I used a minor action to activate boots of freedom of movement but still failed the save so I was immobilzed, so I readied an action to attack the first enemy the wizard moved into my melee range.  Another scenario is for my Shaman to ready to use healing spirit after another ally has moved near his spirit companion to maximize the healing given to the party.
My understanding about readying actions was that you cannot use a minor and then ready your standard for later.   You have to commit all your actions to your one readied action.

We have and will continue to allow readied actions outside of combat, but rarely does any of my players make use of that.
Your understanding is incorrect, you are conflating ready with delay.

If you delay, your entire turn happens later in the initiative order.

If you ready, you spend your standard action to do it (regardless of which action type the action you ready is, so it still costs you a standard to ready a minor-action power), and later spend your immediate action in response to a trigger of your choice when you readied, to take an action which you decided upon when you readied.
Harrying your Prey, the Easy Way: A Hunter's Handbook - the first of what will hopefully be many CharOp efforts on my part. The Blinker - teleport everywhere. An Eladrin Knight/Eldritch Knight. CB != rules source.
Your understanding is incorrect, you are conflating ready with delay.

If you delay, your entire turn happens later in the initiative order.

If you ready, you spend your standard action to do it (regardless of which action type the action you ready is, so it still costs you a standard to ready a minor-action power), and later spend your immediate action in response to a trigger of your choice when you readied, to take an action which you decided upon when you readied.



So a player could take a move and a minor, and then ready a standard as an immediate reaction for later in the round?   Sounds a bit OP'd to me. 
Imagine a party of four, one barbarian, one leader, one striker and one paladin.    Each of the latter three could easily have a power that allows an ally to spend a surge.   Using the above, the barbarian could effectively tank and immediately receive a whole bunch of heals upon taking damage.

It is way easier to abuse readying players than it is for players to abuse readied actions.

That and I would like to see the conversation where the barbarian convinces the other striker to lose his Standard to possibly cast a heal.

INSIDE SCOOP, GAMERS: In the new version of D&D, it will no longer be "Edition Wars." It will be "Edition Lair Assault." - dungeonbastard

Imagine a party of four, one barbarian, one leader, one striker and one paladin.    Each of the latter three could easily have a power that allows an ally to spend a surge.   Using the above, the barbarian could effectively tank and immediately receive a whole bunch of heals upon taking damage.

Yes.  At the cost of the whole rest of the party doing nothing but healing the barbarian and risking wasting their standard if the trigger doesn't actually happen.  So if the barbarian thinks he can handle the whole encounter on his own ... hey, great strategy.  Not.

Readying an action CAN actually be "abused" (using it to avoid OAs is an infamous example) but that street goes both ways (monsters can do it too), and even then it's still not exactly a win button. 

OD&D, 1E and 2E challenged the player. 3E challenged the character, not the player. Now 4E takes it a step further by challenging a GROUP OF PLAYERS to work together as a TEAM. That's why I love 4E.

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Your understanding is incorrect, you are conflating ready with delay.

If you delay, your entire turn happens later in the initiative order.

If you ready, you spend your standard action to do it (regardless of which action type the action you ready is, so it still costs you a standard to ready a minor-action power), and later spend your immediate action in response to a trigger of your choice when you readied, to take an action which you decided upon when you readied.



So a player could take a move and a minor, and then ready a standard as an immediate reaction for later in the round?   Sounds a bit OP'd to me. 
Imagine a party of four, one barbarian, one leader, one striker and one paladin.    Each of the latter three could easily have a power that allows an ally to spend a surge.   Using the above, the barbarian could effectively tank and immediately receive a whole bunch of heals upon taking damage.



They could.  Buit that would mean instead of a standard and an immediate action each round, they would get only one of the two, effective - and that Barbarian then loses the ability to use, say, the Battle Awareness interrupt, or one of the Barb's singularly best powers, Curtain of Steel, if he doesn't want to lose his standard.

This is a game in which action economy is vital, you don't use standards for anything other than attacks if you can possibly avoid it.
Harrying your Prey, the Easy Way: A Hunter's Handbook - the first of what will hopefully be many CharOp efforts on my part. The Blinker - teleport everywhere. An Eladrin Knight/Eldritch Knight. CB != rules source.
Also note that if your readied action triggers, not only does it use up your immediate action for the round, but it also moves your turn in the initiative order to be immediately before the turn of the creature during whose turn your readied action was triggered, so you then have to wait longer for your next turn and for your immediate action to recharge.
BTW, you can't ready an action outside of the formal combat turn structure.

???

This was clarified in 3.5e, and the consensus is that the writers did not change paradigms (as the associated rules did not change). From the Rules of the Game: All About Initiative (Part Two), if desired:"you cannot delay or ready until after you've made an initiative check."

An easy way to look at it though is: those that would've readied an action (were it allowed) get to act on the surprise round... which is even better (and easier to adjudicate). And of course: if everyone could act on the surprise round, the surprise round can be skipped.
My preference would be to remove any "cannot be surprised" powers/feats from the game, or at least from PC selection.  As it stands, it's awkward at best.

They've actually made initiating encounters less awkward for me, allowing me to skip the surprise round and go straight to regular initiative.

Granted, some PC's might start their first round without seeing any enemies to target... but they can just delay or ready an action.

BTW, you can't ready an action outside of the formal combat turn structure.

???

This was clarified in 3.5e, and the consensus is that the writers did not change paradigms (as the associated rules did not change). From the Rules of the Game: All About Initiative (Part Two), if desired:"you cannot delay or ready until after you've made an initiative check."



Uh, D20 rules do NOT apply to D&D, not even "because it doesn't say otherwise".
Confused about Stealth? Think "invisibility" means "take the mini off the board to make people guess?" You need to check out The Rules Of Hidden Club.
Damage types and resistances: A working house rule.
This was clarified in 3.5e, and the consensus is that the writers did not change paradigms

Uh, D20 rules do NOT apply to D&D

Are you trying to say "D&D 3.5e rules do not apply to D&D 4e"? If so, did you possibly misunderstand what I wrote? 

Besides, the RotG quote was not even a 3.5e rule  (it was merely a clarification).

This was clarified in 3.5e, and the consensus is that the writers did not change paradigms

Uh, D20 rules do NOT apply to D&D

Are you trying to say "D&D 3.5e rules do not apply to D&D 4e"? If so, did you possibly misunderstand what I wrote? 

Besides, the RotG quote was not even a 3.5e rule  (it was merely a clarification).




I meant exactly what I said, including the unsubtle suggestion that D20 is not D&D while 4th edition is.

The fact that something was set or "clarified" in 3.5 does not make it relevant, for or against, in 4, because the games are not the same.  Rules from other games do not apply in 4, not even "unless 4 doesn't explicitly contradict them".
Confused about Stealth? Think "invisibility" means "take the mini off the board to make people guess?" You need to check out The Rules Of Hidden Club.
Damage types and resistances: A working house rule.
This was clarified in 3.5e, and the consensus is that the writers did not change paradigms (as the associated rules did not change).


This is not valid 4e rules logic.

We cannot assume that just because they didn't say anything new in the 4e material that rules from prior systems apply.

If they say nothing in 4e, then they said nothing in 4e.  3.5 is irrelevant, always, as is Spyro the Dragon.


Regarding readied actions, yes, they can seem cheesy.  But the cheesy factor only comes about if you ignore the downsides, which are considerable.  It's a dramatic loss in throughput to habitually ready.  There's a chance your trigger won't happen.  And, most importantly, if you did start to cheese, you are starting an arms race you will most certainly lose.  The DM can cheese readied actions better than the players can, period.  It's cheesy in theory, but it rapidly becomes a bad idea once you hit an actual table.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
We cannot assume that just because they didn't say anything new in the 4e material that rules from prior systems apply.

Again: it was never actually a stated rule 3.5e. It was simply a concensual understanding based on the stated rules. The D&D community discussed the matter at some length (several times)... both in 3.5e and 4e. And the writer's themselves have previously weighed in.

I plainly acknowledge that a 3.5e clarification doesn't neccesarily mean anything in 4e... it would just be surprising if the writer's intended to change the general paradigm on this one (since this area of the rules is otherwise so similar).

My own general guideline is: anyone that would've had a readied action (were it allowed) before combat begins instead gets to go on the surprise round... which is technically even better than readying an action.

Instead of starting each fight with a bunch of people with readied actions, you just have a surprise round... which is effectively similar (since simultaneous readied actions are usually resolved in initiative order) but much simpler to adjudicate. And if everyone would've readied an action (and who wouldn't given the opportunity), you can just start regular initiative.
That makes it a rule...how?
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
That makes it a rule...how?

I've stated thrice that it is not a rule. Merely a clarification. The rules have always been subject to interpretation on whether you can ready an action outside of the initiative structure. Both methods have merit, and a DM could use either method without breaking strict RAW. Some players might like information on possible RAI (and prior consensus, examples here, here etc.), is all. I even preceded the quote with "if desired", so that those that didn't desire such information wouldn't whine.

From the forum's Readying an Action FAQ (i.e. not the one I maintain), if desired:
"Can I ready an action outside of combat?
The rules do not specifically forbid this, but the ready an action mechanic is very heavily dependent on other mechanics that only have meaning when combat is actually happening, such as actions and initiative order, so the intent seems to be that it should be used inside of combat only."