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Surprise rounds and Hunter's Quarry

mpattee

First Post
I'm starting a new game and haven't DM'd in quite a few years. A question has come up from a ranger player that I'm trying to sort out. I'm going to start out with some things as I understand them from reading the books please correct me if I'm getting something wrong.

When starting a combat if the players have surprise on a group of goblins(just used for example) you would roll initiative and then resolve the surprise round based on those rolls. During this surprise round the players get one action of any type (standard, move or minor) and then normal combat starts.

If the players didn't have their weapons out would they have to use a minor action during the surprise round to pull them out?

If the ranger for instance did have his bow out would he have to choose between shooting at the goblin (a standard action) or marking it as his quarry (a minor action) during the surprise round.

Another side of this is if the ranger snuck up on the group of goblins and the goblins were unaware of him being there. Would he be able to designate his quarry and then attack?

I'm thinking this would work in one of two ways, either he would be able to designate out of combat and then start attacking which would trigger initiative and a surprise round where he could shoot at the goblins, or does combat immediately start when he makes a hostile action such as designating a target and you would roll initiative and then the designation of his quarry would be his surprise round.

How many actions can you perform outside of combat if you are watching a group that you've snuck up on.

I'm guessing that he would be able to designate and then start combat and perform his surprise round. But I'm not sure what it means to designate the quarry. Does he point at them. yell at them, or is it just a mental thing in the rangers head?

Sorry for the long-winded post just trying to make sure I'm being clear.
 

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CapnZapp

Legend
Clear enough! :)

If they didn't have their weapons out, drawing them would use up their surprise round.
If they used their action to Quarry a foe, that would be it for the surprise round.

Generally, in 4E surprise is heavily nerfed. You're not supposed to gain any big benefit out of it. Unless you start out next to the enemy, any melee combatants will have to make a charge. Only archers and spellcasters will be able to fire off an attack power.

Of course you could house rule you can mark enemies outside of combat, but that would decidedly be a houserule. Remember that enemies become aware of any condition or effect that is laid upon them. Thus marking a creature is a hostile action, that starts off the encounter (and uses up your surprise round).

Frankly, if I were going with any house rule on this, I'd simply go for the "normal" way of running surprise rounds instead. That is, you get your full round's worth of actions, just as in any other round.
 

mpattee

First Post
Thanks that clears it up for me. I remember reading that part about creatures knowing what is being done to them but I can't remember if it was in the PHB or DMG.
 

SadisticFishing

First Post
Errr.. this is exactly the same as 3.5. One action per surprise round. Only exception was that you could Charge as a standard action instead of a full round one.

Mostly, if you Quarry/Curse/draw your weapons/use a minor action any other way, that is your surprise round/
 

Nikosandros

Golden Procrastinator
Frankly, if I were going with any house rule on this, I'd simply go for the "normal" way of running surprise rounds instead. That is, you get your full round's worth of actions, just as in any other round.
I guess that this house rule might be more intuitive, but it would make it much more dangerous to be surprised by opponents. The way of handling surprise has certainly changed a bit over the editions.

In 3rd edition it's more or less the same as in 4e. You only have a standard action during a surprise round.

In AD&D 2nd edition and in Classic D&D you get a full round worth of actions. In AD&D 1st edition you get one or more segments which count as rounds for melee and missile fire* but not for spells and movement.

* Technically you might get triple ROF for missile fire, but that's almost universally considered ridiculous.
 


Saeviomagy

Adventurer
Errr.. this is exactly the same as 3.5. One action per surprise round. Only exception was that you could Charge as a standard action instead of a full round one.
Note that under 4e rules, a charge is already the equivalent of a standard action, so charging is possible during the surprise round.
Mostly, if you Quarry/Curse/draw your weapons/use a minor action any other way, that is your surprise round/

People keep referring to "draw your weapons" as using up the surprise round. This is not necessarily true: often you'll be able to draw weapons without actually starting the fight. If you're getting surprise because your foe cannot detect you for instance, then drawing your weapon (possibly at the cost of an extra stealth roll) can be done before combat begins, as can most other things that don't directly affect your foe or compromise your advantage.
 

mpattee

First Post
People keep referring to "draw your weapons" as using up the surprise round. This is not necessarily true: often you'll be able to draw weapons without actually starting the fight. If you're getting surprise because your foe cannot detect you for instance, then drawing your weapon (possibly at the cost of an extra stealth roll) can be done before combat begins, as can most other things that don't directly affect your foe or compromise your advantage.

Because if you didn't have your weapon out and combat started you'd use the surprise round to draw it as a minor action. Based on the way I asked the original question it was mainly what happens when you try to designate your hunters quarry, the answer was that it would make the enemy aware of you and would start normal combat. Drawing your weapon might incur a check to see if they heard you and if they did then you're in combat or if they didn't then you can start combat with a surprise round still.
 

Nebten

First Post
Another side of this is if the ranger snuck up on the group of goblins and the goblins were unaware of him being there. Would he be able to designate his quarry and then attack?

I'm guessing that he would be able to designate and then start combat and perform his surprise round. But I'm not sure what it means to designate the quarry. Does he point at them. yell at them, or is it just a mental thing in the rangers head?

No you cannot designate a quarry then fire in a surprise round. Hunter's Quarry is a minor action and the creature it is going on is aware that it has a Quarry on it (via PHB). The thematics for that can be whatever you want it to be, its the mechanics of the action that sets off the encounter.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
The reason (if anyone's still interested :)) why I say surprise in 4E is nerfed is because while being allowed a full round's worth of actions could be said to be more dangerous, in practice it is less so than in 3E, for instance.

Everybody has lots more hit points (and there are few save-or-die effects).

Basically, what harm would it be to allow a full round's worth of actions? And what balancing reasons lie behind the decision to deprive melee PCs of power-powered attacks, while allowing this significant advantage to ranged PCs (especially spellcasters, who have an easier time than archers persuading their DMs they walk around town staff or rod in hand)?

How would the game's balance collapse if not only spellcasters could fire off their Daily during the surprise round, but melee PCs too...? And why are Rangers and Warlocks deprived of bonus damage, when a dagger-throwing quckdrawing Rogue isn't?!?


(You really don't need to reply. As this isn't the house rule forum, my questions are mostly rhetorical...)
 

infocynic

First Post
There are certain advantages to quick draw, and the surprise round certainly makes it worth its while. If you want a house rule on the quarry, you might have it require a stealth check or something to be able to do it and not have them notice. Or you could do something like give the ranger a bonus to initiative instead of a surprise round if he's hidden... often going at the start of the first turn is as good as a surprise round.
 

WalterKovacs

First Post
On suprise as a single round:

The quickdraw feat is much more useful, especially when the party is suprised, but you are not. Also, it makes stealth a bit more important, since you need to get into position to have a suprise round that the melee guys can take advantage of it. There are a number of charge based encounter and daily powers that melee characters can take to get more options during suprise rounds.

On the subject of suprise rounds ... I've had a couple situations where the players have been able to suprise the monsters. A couple of monsters have been slain outright before having a chance to act thanks to back to back rogue attacks, both of which were merely at-will powers (deft strike during suprise round and sly flourish the first round of combat). On the other side, I've seen a fighter drop before he had a single action because of back to back volleys from the monsters who got the drop on him. A suprise round, even in 4e, still has a chance at having a big effect on the encounter, and making it a full round would only make it an even bigger deal.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
I hear what you're saying, but I can't understand it.

Most attacks with a punch are standard actions. You wouldn't get any more of those with the "full surprise round" suggestion.

What you would get however, is an end to the (in my eyes completely arbitrary) nerfing of melee combatants and people without quickdraw.

(Quickdraw is more important if you only have a single action than if you get a full round's worth of actions, right, Walter?)

It would be interesting to see if any of you who have replied so far would like to take a shot at explaining what's so valuable about retaining the "on action surprise round" rule from another angle than the "it's too lethal" one. :)
 

Pbartender

First Post
When starting a combat if the players have surprise on a group of goblins(just used for example) you would roll initiative and then resolve the surprise round based on those rolls. During this surprise round the players get one action of any type (standard, move or minor) and then normal combat starts.

If the players didn't have their weapons out would they have to use a minor action during the surprise round to pull them out?

If the ranger for instance did have his bow out would he have to choose between shooting at the goblin (a standard action) or marking it as his quarry (a minor action) during the surprise round.

Another side of this is if the ranger snuck up on the group of goblins and the goblins were unaware of him being there. Would he be able to designate his quarry and then attack?

Two words...

Action. Point.
 

Danceofmasks

First Post
Well, if you're being surprised, your first actions in combat will be a full round's worth.
However, if you're doing the surprising, wouldn't you already have your weapon drawn?
 



Oni

First Post
A ranger or warlock should be able to designate their quarry or curse before initiating the surprise round of combat, the rules do not actually disallow this as some here are claiming.

Whenever you affect a creature with a power, that creature knows exactly what you’ve done to it and what conditions you’ve imposed. For example, when a paladin uses divine challenge against an enemy, the enemy knows that it has been marked and that it will therefore take a penalty to attack rolls and some damage if it attacks anyone aside from the paladin.

It doesn't actually say that a creature is aware of any condition it is under, it says it is aware of any condition that is inflicted by a power.

Both curse and quarry are not powers, they are class features.

Some class features are treated as powers, however all class features that are treated as such are specifically pointed out as being treated as powers and given power style write ups, curse and quarry has neither of these.

And to cover all the bases. The mark from Combat Challenge needs be applied via a power, thus its effects are known as per a creature knowing the conditions resultant from a power, alleviating any concerns of diminished effectiveness.



Let me ask you this. Joe the guard is just standing around as a ranger is sneaking up on him. Does he suddenly have the epiphany "OMG I'm gonna extra damage" and raise the alarm when a hunter's quarry gets used on him?

No that's dumb, and I imagine why the rules have been written as they are, in that curse and quarry are very specifically not powers.
 

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