5e Surprise Round


5th Edition D&D doesn’t have a surprise round.

Nor does 5e have a surprised condition:

Principal Rules Designer Jeremy Crawford confirms that if it’s not in Appendix A, it’s not a condition.

But, that doesn’t mean we can’t pretend it does. After all, pretending is what we’re good at.

To be clear, we’re not doing this to change mechanics. We’re making up terms to understand rules easier.

New Terms

Understanding how surprise works in 5e is a lot easier if we relate how it works to the existing game mechanics. Namely, rounds of combat and character conditions. So, let’s define new terms that work in these spaces.

Surprise Round. If any creatures are surprised, the first round of combat is called the “surprise round.”

Note: Alternatively, you could say that the 1st round is always the surprise round, and skip it if no creatures are surprised. It works out the…

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