Ranger's Wary

The level 4 Wary ability states: "You gain advantage on Wisdom checks to avoid being surprised."

I like the concept, but the rules don't work this way. The Surprise rules (p.12, "How to Play") state "the DM determines who might be surprised." No check involved. The Exploration rules (which I like, but they need some work, especially in this area) state that a person Keeping Watch makes a single Wisdom check to detect hidden creatures (pg.18). Not quite the same. Later (p.20), it states that monsters and characters that aren't hidden make a Wisdom Saving Throw. It doesn't explicitly say, but it's easy to infer this is a Surprise Check and those that fail are surprised.

If this is the case, here's a couple points:
1) It should be a Wisdom Check, not a Wisdom Saving Throw (p.20) and it should explictly state that this is to determine surprise and the consequences of success or failure.
2) These rules need to be included in the Surprise rules on p.12.

If this isn't the case, Wary is useless and the Surprise rules need to be tightened up all around.

It is fairly normal for a DM to give the party a chance to avoid being ambushed by say... "roll a wisdom check with spot or listen if you have it." Set the DC to something difficult if the enemies are stealthy, perhaps 18... and if a party member succeeds, they notice the attackers in time so that they themselves are not surprised. The DM could potentially rule that the whole party is not surprised, if there is enough time to shout a warning. 


A DM may decide that there is no way that you could have spotted the ambush, say because the opponents are invisible, in which case surprise happens with no chance to avoid it. I don't really think this needs to be explicitly stated in the DM guide... it is fairly intuitive based on how ability checks work.


The rules are not meant to be rigid, and if there is a situational ability that a player has the DM should make an effort to incorporate it into the adventure.

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