Effects of Surprise
Characters and monsters that are surprised all suffer the same penalty. They
are caught off guard and thus cannot react quickly. The surprising group
receives one round of attacks with melee, missile, or magical items. They cannot use
these moments of surprise to cast spells.
A ranger on the unsurprised side could fire his long bow twice (two attacks
per round) before his opponents could even hope to react. A fighter able to
attack twice per round could attempt both hits before any initiative dice are
rolled. A wizard could unleash a bolt from his wand of lightning before the enemy knew he was there. Of course, what applies to player
characters also applies to monsters, so that the leopard in the earlier example could
claw and bite before the characters even knew what was happening.
The second effect of surprise is that the surprised characters lose all AC
bonuses for high Dexterity during that instant of surprise. The surprised
characters are dumbfounded by the attack. Instead of ducking and countering, they're
just standing there rather flat-footed (maybe even with dumb expressions on their
faces). Since they don't grasp the situation, they cannot avoid the hazards
and dangers very well.
Surprise can also be used to avoid an encounter. Unsurprised characters can
attempt to flee from a surprised group before the other group reacts. Of course,
this is not always successful, since escape is greatly dependent upon the
movement rates of the different creatures.
If both groups manage to surprise each other, the effects of surprise are
cancelled. For example, Rath runs around the corner straight into some lounging
guardsmen. Taken by surprise, he stops suddenly and frantically looks for
someplace else to run. The guardsmen in turn look up rather stupidly, trying to figure
out why this dwarf just raced around the corner. The surprise passes. Rath
spots another alley and the guards decide that since he's running, Rath must be a
criminal. Initiative rolls are now made to see who acts first.
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