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SURPRISE round


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#1 hencook

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 02:50 PM

Easy answer: There is no surprise round.

 

PCs were hiding out in an enclosed area in the forest for a few days. They set traps. The enemy NPCs close in, and one of them gets his foot ensnared, which lifts him upside down. The NPCs are a little smart, so instead of helping their dangling friend, they run for cover. I ask for initiative.

 

Player says "I want to make a stealth check, and then I want a surprise round".

 

Me: "No. This ain't 3.5. The rules don't have any sort of surprise round. Combat starts as soon as anybody needs to turn into a combatant. The very moment they see their buddy ensnared, imagine as if the NPCs asked me "Can we roll for initiative to run away?" and then I say "yes" to them."

 

Player: "That's BS. We should get a surprise round".

 

Me: "I might consider it if you guys were somehow continuously all aiming your weapons at the same trap for the past three days, and ready an action to shoot the next NPC that wasn't ensnared. Consider that the snare IS the surprise round, and the surprise round is finished. You can do additional things to catch them off guard, like having a silent alarm where only the PCs are alerted, but instead of granting you a surprise round, it would grant you boost dice to your cool check"

 

Player: "BS! We should get a surprise round!"

 

Me: "Okay, we're not argue about it, so I'm going to use my power as the gm (it was a heated debate), and declare that I'm right, but I will consult the overlords on the FFG forums to see how they feel about it."

 

How do you guys feel about this?


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#2 ZachAttack

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 02:54 PM

Just give them the boost to initiative. Maybe even 2 boost die. They're probably going to go first anyway.


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#3 ddbrown30

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 03:00 PM

Agreed. Definitely no surprise round, but boosts to their initiative rolls seems like a good move.


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#4 shadeleader

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 03:00 PM

In situations where it's warranted, I have given boost dice on the initiative roll but also granted the PCs a free maneuver before structured time begins (which everybody basically uses to Aim).  They have a better opportunity to control the flow of the battle, and a better chance to get a positive outcome due to preparation without giving them a full 'surprise round' for free.


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#5 2P51

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 03:01 PM

Easy answer: There is no surprise round.

 

PCs were hiding out in an enclosed area in the forest for a few days. They set traps. The enemy NPCs close in, and one of them gets his foot ensnared, which lifts him upside down. The NPCs are a little smart, so instead of helping their dangling friend, they run for cover. I ask for initiative.

 

Player says "I want to make a stealth check, and then I want a surprise round".

 

Me: "No. This ain't 3.5. The rules don't have any sort of surprise round. Combat starts as soon as anybody needs to turn into a combatant. The very moment they see their buddy ensnared, imagine as if the NPCs asked me "Can we roll for initiative to run away?" and then I say "yes" to them."

 

Player: "That's BS. We should get a surprise round".

 

Me: "I might consider it if you guys were somehow continuously all aiming your weapons at the same trap for the past three days, and ready an action to shoot the next NPC that wasn't ensnared. Consider that the snare IS the surprise round, and the surprise round is finished. You can do additional things to catch them off guard, like having a silent alarm where only the PCs are alerted, but instead of granting you a surprise round, it would grant you boost dice to your cool check"

 

Player: "BS! We should get a surprise round!"

 

Me: "Okay, we're not argue about it, so I'm going to use my power as the gm (it was a heated debate), and declare that I'm right, but I will consult the overlords on the FFG forums to see how they feel about it."

 

How do you guys feel about this?

The most I would do is skip initiative the first round and say they win and go first but the opponents still get to return fire.


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#6 bradknowles

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 03:02 PM

No "surprise round".  'Nuff said.

 

If they refuse to take the word of the GM, then let them discover the traps that had been set there by someone else, before the PCs got there.  Oh?  They didn't see those traps?  Hmm.  They must have failed their Vigilance checks, and now the NPCs who got there the day before now get their Surprise Round on the PCs.  Oops.

 

 

Everything in this game cuts both ways.  They may want their Surprise Round on NPCs, but they would be really, really unhappy if the NPCs ever got a Surprise Round on them.  So, there is no "Surprise Round".

 

The PCs already got to use their Cool to determine their initiative for combat, as opposed to having to depend on their Vigilance, as the NPCs did.

 

IMO, that's part of what Cool is there for.  Generally speaking, you know what's coming.  So, instead of just reacting to something that hits you out-of-the-blue, how good are you at holding it ... and holding it ... and holding it ... and holding it ... and holding it... and holding it ... and holding it... and holding it ... and holding it... and waiting for the best moment to strike?

 

 

[ Edit for clarification ]


Edited by bradknowles, 04 June 2014 - 03:11 PM.

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#7 Grimmshade

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 03:07 PM

Just agreeing with everyone else here. No surprise rounds. Boost dice for things like being hidden. Otherwise, that's what Cool is for in Initiative, it means you sit there and hold your fire till the perfect moment in the ambush, etc., and then you get to go first because you rolled well.



#8 awayputurwpn

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 03:28 PM

Yeah, in 3.5 a round is 6 seconds. Totally makes sense to have a "surprise round." I love the surprise rounds in d20 systems. 

 

In this system, where a round can be anywhere up to a minute long, surprise rounds don't make sense. The surprise is all tied up in the Initiative system: if the players all roll really well on their Cool checks, they succeeded in pulling off a surprise attack!! If one enemy NPC gets a high Vigilance roll, he sensed the trap before it was closed and "avoids" being surprised. He's ready for this encounter, while his buddies are still fumbling for their weapons. 

 

That is surprise in this system. High success Cool roll for initiative. 

 

EDIT: I also like 2P51's suggestion, which is exactly what the Beginner Games do: if the PCs succeed on their checks to hide/surprise the enemy, they enter combat in a predetermined order: PC, PC, PC, NPC, PC


Edited by awayputurwpn, 04 June 2014 - 03:29 PM.

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#9 2P51

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 03:30 PM

Yeah, in 3.5 a round is 6 seconds. Totally makes sense to have a "surprise round." I love the surprise rounds in d20 systems. 

 

In this system, where a round can be anywhere up to a minute long, surprise rounds don't make sense. The surprise is all tied up in the Initiative system: if the players all roll really well on their Cool checks, they succeeded in pulling off a surprise attack!! If one enemy NPC gets a high Vigilance roll, he sensed the trap before it was closed and "avoids" being surprised. He's ready for this encounter, while his buddies are still fumbling for their weapons. 

 

That is surprise in this system. High success Cool roll for initiative. 

Right, there's your surprise round, win the roll.....


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#10 Desslok

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 03:47 PM

How do you guys feel about this?

 

Well, if the trap is well laid, the bad guys will have no black dice for cover and will have to spend their maneuvers drawing weapons or getting behind things or otherwise get ready for fighting. Meanwhile the good guys will be able to get extra blues for aiming and whatnot, have all their defenses in place and generally be ready for ass kicking.

 

So no, by the strict letter of the engine, I'd say no. This game is a storytelling first engine and not a hard, fast by the numbers simulation, so I'd probably had said "Just shut up and roll with it. Now tell me how awesome you are in trumping these guys."



#11 Ghostofman

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 03:52 PM

I had my players walk into an ambush last weekend. Decided to try giving the NPCs a pair of boost dice to their first roll.

 

Worked well, though I think I'll upgrade next time as increased odds of a Triumph would better represent a successful "surprise."


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#12 Midnight_X2

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 04:08 PM


Player: "That's BS. We should get a surprise round".

 

Me: "I might consider it if you guys were somehow continuously all aiming your weapons at the same trap for the past three days, and ready an action to shoot the next NPC that wasn't ensnared. Consider that the snare IS the surprise round, and the surprise round is finished. You can do additional things to catch them off guard, like having a silent alarm where only the PCs are alerted, but instead of granting you a surprise round, it would grant you boost dice to your cool check"

 

My position is if the heroes are laying in wait they receive boos dice to represent their surprise. Depending on if the enemies being trapped they would receive setback dice.


Edited by Midnight_X2, 04 June 2014 - 04:09 PM.


#13 Midnight_X2

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 04:10 PM

 

 

Player: "That's BS. We should get a surprise round".

 

Me: "I might consider it if you guys were somehow continuously all aiming your weapons at the same trap for the past three days, and ready an action to shoot the next NPC that wasn't ensnared. Consider that the snare IS the surprise round, and the surprise round is finished. You can do additional things to catch them off guard, like having a silent alarm where only the PCs are alerted, but instead of granting you a surprise round, it would grant you boost dice to your cool check"

 

 

 

 

My position is if the heroes are laying in wait they receive boos dice to represent their surprise. Depending on if the enemies being trapped they would receive setback dice.



#14 artteach

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 04:38 PM

Give them a surprise round and then TPK the whole group for questioning the GM.

Okay! That was little 2e of me.

Away.... has it right.  The cool and vigilance reflect surprise in your slot in the initiative order.  There is no need for a surprise round.  

Still killing the party is the only way to resolve this issue and deter future problems. 


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#15 yeti1069

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 05:30 PM

I'd say that if a trap is set, you could give the "surprised" group a difficulty that they are rolling their Vigilance/Cool against. After all, it's implied that there could be a difficulty for Vigilance checks, and negative results for initiative.

 

Could perhaps tie it to range bands? Trying to surprise someone while engaged or close: 1 purple. Medium: PP, Long: PPP; Extreme: PPPP. Could add setbacks or boosts depending on other circumstances. This also allows for the use of Destiny points to upgrade a die as appropriate.



#16 Hedgehobbit

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 05:37 PM

I'm gonna side with the players on this one.

 

PCs were hiding out in an enclosed area in the forest for a few days. They set traps. The enemy NPCs close in, and one of them gets his foot ensnared, which lifts him upside down. The NPCs are a little smart, so instead of helping their dangling friend, they run for cover. I ask for initiative.

 

First off, the GM never, ever, ever, ever calls for initiative. Initiative is only used when the character decide to act (or react in this case) and go to combat. By calling for initiative, you are forcing the player to start fighting. 

 

I would have handled it as follows:

 

As soon as the enemy hits the trap, I'd say something like "You hear a snap and some screaming. Looking in that direction, you seen a Stormtrooper dangling in your trap. What do you do?"

 

At this point, the players can do anything; they can start shooting, hide and wait to see what happens, run for their starship, or even send a droid to negotiate. Only in the instance that they decide to start shooting is initiative rolled and it is done so while the enemy are still in the area of the trap, so, in this example, winning the initiative will allow the PCs to start firing before the enemy has rushed back to cover (the surprise round), losing it will result in the enemy getting to cover first. 

 

One important thing is that the players should always describe their action in real terms, not game terms. Don't let them say "I make a Stealth Check" instead of "I crawl towards the clearing to see what is happening."

 

 

Everything in this game cuts both ways.  They may want their Surprise Round on NPCs, but they would be really, really unhappy if the NPCs ever got a Surprise Round on them.

 

This isn't true. Just because players get a surprise round in no way means that NPCs have to get them also. You might want them to but that's a separate decision entirely. This is true for any rule. The rules are there to serve the PCs only. Fairness for NPCs isn't a consideration. 


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#17 ddbrown30

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 06:48 PM

First off, the GM never, ever, ever, ever calls for initiative. Initiative is only used when the character decide to act (or react in this case) and go to combat. By calling for initiative, you are forcing the player to start fighting. 

Ho-ly ****, is that ever the weirdest thing I've seen someone post as an absolute rule. That's not in the RAW of this game or any game I have ever played.

 

First, sometimes the players don't get to choose when combat starts. Second, initiative doesn't necessarily mean combat; it only implies that order and/or time are important.


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#18 FuriousGreg

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 07:07 PM

Okay this is how I've explained and run it, exactly following the RAW as I understand it:

 

There is no surprise round because Combat Rounds are around a minute and your Initiative Roll isn't just about being the quickest but about everything that happens in the scene up to the beginning of combat. So if you roll well you successfully out maneuvered, got lucky, didn't mess up, or whatever and get to act first. If you roll poorly then something bad happened and you don't act first.

 

However if you want to sneak up on them you can roll Stealth vs their Vigilance or Perception and then use any Advantages you generate to add a Boost to your Initiative roll (assuming you generate enough). You run the risk of screwing up though and any Setback dice you generate you have to add to your Initiative roll...

 

BTW you can do this with nearly any Skill and make a roll to get bonuses. Familiar with how these underworld thugs operate? Roll Streetwise or Underworld and apply any bonuses to your Initiative roll, roll poorly and maybe you only think you know whats up. Planning an Ambush? Roll Survival to find the best spot, if you roll well you found a really good spot (Boost Die), or maybe you only thought you found a good spot and really you just planted a neon sign right on yur butt (Setback). It's all there in the RAW...

 

 

PS. Ummm one other thing: a Success doesn't always translate into an advantage or bonus, in fact it shouldn't because then it would become too easy to gain them. You just explain that the it's not easy to get a Boost die so a Success by itself doesn't generate one, on the flip side a Failure without Threats or Despair doesn't generate a Setback either.


Edited by FuriousGreg, 04 June 2014 - 07:28 PM.

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#19 yeti1069

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 08:04 PM



I'm gonna side with the players on this one.

 



PCs were hiding out in an enclosed area in the forest for a few days. They set traps. The enemy NPCs close in, and one of them gets his foot ensnared, which lifts him upside down. The NPCs are a little smart, so instead of helping their dangling friend, they run for cover. I ask for initiative.

 

First off, the GM never, ever, ever, ever calls for initiative. Initiative is only used when the character decide to act (or react in this case) and go to combat. By calling for initiative, you are forcing the player to start fighting. 

Uh, what? No. Sure, in some situations, such as with the trap going off, you can describe that and let the players decide what to do, but there are also times where it's appropriate to call for initiative. Just because you're in initiative order doesn't mean you've forced to players to fight--it merely means that you have placed them in a time-framed scenario, where their actions are occurring concurrently with those of their fellow party members and those of their foes. They can still do whatever they would have before--run away, try for a diplomatic solution, whatever.

 


Everything in this game cuts both ways.  They may want their Surprise Round on NPCs, but they would be really, really unhappy if the NPCs ever got a Surprise Round on them.

 

This isn't true. Just because players get a surprise round in no way means that NPCs have to get them also. You might want them to but that's a separate decision entirely. This is true for any rule. The rules are there to serve the PCs only. Fairness for NPCs isn't a consideration.

It depends entirely upon what sort of game you're running, but for many GMs, in trying to convey a semi-realistic experience of the world, with rounded NPCs and a sense of consistency to the world, tactics the players employ are fair game for those of the NPCs. It would make little sense for players to be able to get the drop on their enemies but never have their enemies get the drop on them. Plus, that's not what we see in the movies, where the heroes are constantly getting ambushed.

 

Either allow Surprise Round or don't, but if you do, it should be available to both sides of the equation.



#20 artteach

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 08:51 PM

I've use initiative many times without combat being involved.  It just gives an orderly way to describe what happens in a situation where exact order and actions matter. 

 

The poster is right that the action could have been handled through narration and didn't need a move by move description that starting initiative causes. With initiative order, the game does shift naturally away from story (role) and in the direction of gameplay (roll). Nothing wrong with that a good balance of roll and role makes the world go round.


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