Surprise and ambush

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At the begining sorry for my English because I m French ^^

I have some questions about the 4E Edition of D&D and principaly about the ambush and surprising ennemys or players.

In the 3 and 3.5E of D&D if you play and respect the rules, you cannot use the ambush or surprising to capture players because there are no rules for that.

I explain what i mean with an exemple :

A player, a warriors, Alone in a corridor fail the listen check to listen the guard approching with furtivity. The guard is in surprising position and profit to put this sword on a vital point of the warrior and say :

"Surrender or die bastard !!"

The warrior's player look this character sheet and say to the DM :

" Ok I m surprise by this guard but he has use his surprising round to menace me so it's time to the initiave !
My warrior is 15th level he have 150pv and if I fail my initiative, the sword's guard does 1d8 damages !! So ridiculus... I fight !!!"

With this exemple we can see that there are no rules for this situation. Some people say :

"The guard is a rogue so he have sneak attack !!"

But for me is not a solution because a guard is not thief it's a man arm or a warrior. So if there are a great level different between 2 characters the effect of an ambush is null. It's the same this and ambush this archers.

Another exemple:

I m a young and not strongly women's warrior because my strengh is my dexterity. I m in dark corridor and I have see a guard, but not him. I approach behind him silently and I attack him with surprise. But I m not a rogue so no bonus to damage. I have no strengh bonus because I m a young women this no strengh. So i do 1d8 damage with my sword or 1d4 damage with my hand to try to disable the guard. No chance to succes the action !!!

What can i do ? Tell the guard say him :
" I m a warrior !!! come hier and fight with me for honor !! "

I don't know but the guard call this friends and kill the warrior.


So my question is what can do D&D 4 for that ? What is the solution for this situation ?
So my question is what can do D&D 4 for that ? What is the solution for this situation ?

I would say that sounds remarkably like a readied Coup de Grace action, with CdG houseruled so that it can affect flatfooted opponents during a surprise round.

Well, something along those lines. Doesn't sound too difficult to implement...
Yes, I am a defender apologist. A Rock and a Hard Place: A Warden Handbook
I would say that sounds remarkably like a readied Coup de Grace action, with CdG houseruled so that it can affect flatfooted opponents during a surprise round.

Well, something along those lines. Doesn't sound too difficult to implement...

Except that CdG is a full-round action, so you cannot ready it.

Two things:

1. In D&D, 15th level fighters never need to surrender just because a lone guard is threatening him with a sword. That's just the thing about D&D and 15th level fighters. They almost never get killed by a lone low-level guard.

2. None of us here has any idea how this situation will play about in 4e, because we don't know how surprise is handled or what kind of actions the guard of the example can take in 4e.

Regarding Micka's other example:

No, your young (inexperienced?) female warrior might not be able to kill the guard swiftly and silently - because that's not what she's good at. She's not a trained commando - she's just a nimble swordfighter. If she attacks the guard and he has time to call for help, she might be overpowered and lose the fight. Sounds reasonable to me.
No, your young (inexperienced?) female warrior might not be able to kill the guard swiftly and silently - because that's not what she's good at. She's not a trained commando - she's just a nimble swordfighter. If she attacks the guard and he has time to call for help, she might be overpowered and lose the fight. Sounds reasonable to me.

Well honestly, finesse fighters in general need a boost.
The whole idea of sneak attacks being limited to single class is absurd. Anyone who ambushes you and knows how to use his or her weapon should be a huge threat. If you aren't armored, a skilled warrior should hardly be able to fail to disable you with a single stroke.
2. None of us here has any idea how this situation will play about in 4e, because we don't know how surprise is handled or what kind of actions the guard of the example can take in 4e.

I am under the impression that I've read somewhere that flanking will probably grant extra damage. So, maybe so will surprising your opponents.

I'll try to find it.
Somebody had a topic called "are all weapons lethal?", I posted a response to this problem in there....basically, it was the same as AlphaAnt's....but the problem I saw with it is that it gives ANY class with stealth abilities (including the monk) the equivalent of the Assassin's primary class ability: death attack, which takes three rounds of observation to trigger. So in effect, you're neutering a prestige class while simultaneously giving every class with access to hide and move silently a MASSIVE power boost. Also, a mid-level spellcaster with access to invisibility and silence could have a flawless shot at killing any guard without magical precaution. Although this makes sense realistically, it does create a serious problem from a balance point of view. If you don't mind the rogues/monks/scouts/rangers/ninjas/cross-class-ranks-in-hiding-fighters stealing the spotlight, it's a great solution. A less drastic measure was suggested by someone else in the thread: just give an automatic crit to the aggressor in this situation, but not a coup de grace. I reckon that works out okay...not a completely satisfactory advantage, but not inconsequential....
No I don't think that A killing blow is the solution, but significative extra damage with condition like Star wars SAGA... why not.

The killing blow must be reserved to the assassin. It's his job. ^^
My feelings exactly! ^.^ Go assassins!
The whole idea of sneak attacks being limited to single class is absurd. Anyone who ambushes you and knows how to use his or her weapon should be a huge threat. If you aren't armored, a skilled warrior should hardly be able to fail to disable you with a single stroke.

This, however, sucks from a game balance perspective, and game balance is more important.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
I would say that (in 3.5) the resolution called for in the OP's situation is an intimidate check.
This, however, sucks from a game balance perspective, and game balance is more important.

Not necessary, if other classes can only do it in limited circumstance, like the surprise round.
This, however, sucks from a game balance perspective, and game balance is more important.

Yeah, making fighters better would clearly unbalance D&D.

It would change gameplay, but you could balance it. Personally, I can more about things making sense than balance. But that's at my table. I understand why D&D rules should be balanced.
I think this kind of situation falls under "role-play" versus "roll-play." If you like theatrics, then it works. If you like the rules, it doesn't.

The same problem is present with Time-stop. A wizard casts time-stop. Goes up to someone and says "I place my dagger on their eye and lean forward with all my body weight." Do you allow that or not? I allow it just because creative solutions are hard to find. However, if it becomes horribly abused, I start giving Reflex checks or the similar.
"A helpless character is paralyzed, held, bound, sleeping, unconscious, or otherwise completely at an opponent’s mercy* ... an attacker can use a coup de grace against a helpless target." p. 309 PHB.

*emphasis mine.

That's basically how I would treat it in terms of game mechanics. A guard who is totally unaware of your presence could probably be classed as completely at your mercy. Plenty of time (6 seconds for that full-round action) to line up a coup de grace.

Also, while I don't want to get into a roll vs. role playing debate, I would certainly imagine that a guard with a knife to his throat will cooperate. That puts him at your mercy too, which covers the mechanical side nicely!
"A helpless character is paralyzed, held, bound, sleeping, unconscious, or otherwise completely at an opponent’s mercy* ... an attacker can use a coup de grace against a helpless target." p. 309 PHB.

*emphasis mine.

That's basically how I would treat it in terms of game mechanics. A guard who is totally unaware of your presence could probably be classed as completely at your mercy. Plenty of time (6 seconds for that full-round action) to line up a coup de grace.

Coup de grace on unaware foe? Really bad idea.

Mechanically, he's not "completely at your mercy". You get a free swing, but that's a long way from tilting the guy's head back so you get a clean cut or bracing yourself to carefully drive a weapon into his heart or skull. Note that under 3.5 rules a CDG provokes attacks of opportunity, which generally means that you're actually stopping fighting in order to deliver this blow.

As for gameplay, failing a listen check should not be a direct line to instant death. I do think the game should reward "completely unaware" more than simply "flat-footed", but allowing any character to reliably achieve instant death from ambush really waters down the rogue's signature combat ability. Perhaps double the threat range on any attack made against a foe who is both unaware and not expecting combat?
but allowing any character to reliably achieve instant death from ambush really waters down the rogue's signature combat ability.

Agreed. Personally, I have no problem with this. I have little use for rogues. They can be warriors with more skills and a little less prowess, perhaps. Yeah, I know rogues are too iconic for this to happen in D&D.
I Remember about a rules into the Advanced Dungeon ang dragon the D&D 2nd edition, with combat and tactique book.

A character surprise or menacing with a weapon on a vital point it's more easely to do a critical strike.

In the 2nd edition the critical strike may be possible with 18-19-20 on a D20. But if the victim is surprise or "tenu en joug" with a weapon the critical range are increase by 2. So a critical strike may be possible on a 16-17-18-19-20 on a D20 and a critical strike have an effect on a body part. So the victim can respect this agressor and not say : "I have 200pv no soucy !!!"

For me the D&D 3 and 3.5 has forgot this important rule to stop the big super player with a lot of pv and lot of power.


PS : sorry for my english I m very tired today
I Remember about a rules into the Advanced Dungeon ang dragon the D&D 2nd edition, with combat and tactique book.

A character surprise or menacing with a weapon on a vital point it's more easely to do a critical strike.

In the 2nd edition the critical strike may be possible with 18-19-20 on a D20. But if the victim is surprise or "tenu en joug" with a weapon the critical range are increase by 2. So a critical strike may be possible on a 16-17-18-19-20 on a D20 and a critical strike have an effect on a body part. So the victim can respect this agressor and not say : "I have 200pv no soucy !!!"

For me the D&D 3 and 3.5 has forgot this important rule to stop the big super player with a lot of pv and lot of power.


PS : sorry for my english I m very tired today

I could even let the weapon auto crit in such a situation, but that still wont stop the 15th level fighter with 150 hit points - nor should it. You don't see Conan (in the mid-late part of his career) stop dead just because a common guardsman holds a sword to his throat? Naw, he'll "move with the speed of a wild ", knock the sword out of the opponent's hand, draw his own weapon, and proceed to give him a very short haircut.

That's how a 15th level fighter reacts.
I don't speak about an instant death, but more probability to infict more damage and conditions.

Increase chance to give an handicap.
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