What happens when initiative allows a player to act before the player that started the combat?

This example is a somewhat simplified version of what happened during the last game I DMed for a bunch of friends. A party of PCs was trudging through the woods when they happened upon a very small outpost in a clearing containing hostile elves. The rogue goes and checks it out, and sees two hostiles patrolling, one near the northern edge of woods (Elf1), one on a stone platform about 15 ft from the southern edge of the forest (Elf2).

The rogue goes back and relays the information. If the warrior of the party would simply trudge into the middle of the clearing, all enemies would be aware of a threat and the enemy wouldn’t be surprised. They want to start combat with an edge, so they formulate a plan that would cause the enemies to be surprised: the rogue will go stealth up to the northern edge of the clearing, wait for Elf1 to get close, and sneak attack him. When that happens (it’s a small clearing, so it’s within his vision) the warrior in the party, who will attempt to sneak up to the southern edge of the forest, will run for Elf2 and beat him up. They both roll great stealth checks and head to their positions. So far so good.

The rogue waits for Elf1 to get close and attacks with his short sword. Time for combat, and this is where things got confusing, and where a discussion broke out between players:

According to page 189 of the PHB:

  1. Determine surprise — Both Elf1 and Elf2 are surprised, because they didn’t notice any threat.
  2. Establish positions — Should be clear from the description of the situation above.
  3. Roll Initiative — The warrior gets a 20, Elf2 a 15, the rogue a 5, and Elf1 a 1.
  4. Take Turns — The warrior can go first. However, as the party discussed before, he was supposed wait until he sees the rogue hit Elf1. The rogue’s attack is what started the combat encounter, yet the attack hasn’t been resolved yet due to his poor initiative roll. And you can’t delay your turn in 5th edition.

Option 1: Some people at the table argue that he can’t yet run into the clearing because that would pose a clear and noticeable threat and the elves would not be surprised. He should wait for the rogue to hit Elf1 and use the Ready action on his first turn. This option seems to punish the warrior for rolling well on his initiative.

Option 2: As determining surprise occurs before the initiative roll according to page 189 of the PHB, I would argue that the rules support that the warrior should be able to run up to Elf2 and hit him, without breaking surprise. The fact that the attack that caused the surprise hasn’t yet been resolved and that this goes somewhat counter against their agreed plan of waiting for the rogue to hit Elf1, makes this option incredibly unintuitive though.

Which of these options is the correct one? Or is there a hidden option 3?

When exactly does combat start and surprise take effect?

So say I’m going to ambush an orc. I successfully sneak up on him and I attack. The DM determines that the orc is surprised. The orc happens to get an initiative roll of 19, while I get a 10. How would this work? I can only think of two reasonable resolutions to this.

  1. The orc, having a higher initiative, goes first. Since he’s surprised, he does nothing. Then it’s my turn. If the orc survives my attack, it is now his turn, and being that the orc has already gone through his round of surprise, he can now attack me or whatever, and combat proceeds as normal.
  2. I, having started the combat, go first. If the orc survives my attack, but he is surprised, so he does nothing. It is now my turn again, I attack again. If the orc survives my second attack, it is now his turn, and being that the orc has already gone through his round of surprise, he can now attack me or whatever, and combat proceeds as normal.

Which one of these is correct? neither? Does starting combat secure me a turn/action at the start of initiative order like in option 2? If option 1 is correct, could I ready an action to shoot the orc, effectively granting me a similar first attack as in option 2?

Sorry if this makes no sense.

Freeing Others from Webs During Combat

My players found themselves in a situation where they were mostly webbed by giant spiders. One person was free and asked to cut out one of the restrained players.

Looking up the rules, I don’t see anything about freeing restrained party members. When they went to free their comrade, they asked if they should roll for it. I said no. They were cutting out their party member which expended their action versus using an ability. I thought the action expenditure was enough.

We went with it during the session, but after the fact, I can’t find any rules for freeing trapped party members. Does anyone have clarification on this?

Are there any rules for adjudicating a ranged attack fired at a target engaged in melee combat with an ally?

While running a session recently, one of the players chose to “assist” his companion who was in melee with a goblin, by firing an arrow at the pair of them. I couldn’t find any particular rules for this scenario so just had him roll at a disadvantage, counting a miss as a hit on his companion (damage to be ascertained by a second roll).

This seemed to work okay, and became a running joke for the night as the arrow bounced off the companions back, but are there specific rules for this scenario?

DnD 5e stealth check, meta game and overpowered stealth hide out of combat

Recently I’ve faced with the following situation and was really surprised with the rules:

Let’s consider the following situation: A party is located in a quite deep forest. They know that there is an enemy camp within 1 mile away also located in deep forest. One player says: “I’m trying to hide”.

In PHB DnD 5e it is explicitly stated (PHB p.177)

When you try to hide, make a Dexterity (Stealth) check. Until you are discovered or you stop hiding …

So he makes a roll and let’s assume the final result is 4. Because player can see the result, he can now decide what he is going to do based on this check. Obviously this check is low, and player says: “I stop hiding”. It is allowed based on the cite above. After that he can try to hide again and re-roll.

In this case DM can notice that this is a meta game and it is not allowed, because character can’t know the roll. In this case, even if this will prevent character from re-rolling directly, it can certainly change his initial plan. Or player can do the following:

Character can make an agreement with his party that he will go behind a tree, hide and then they will try to seek him. In this case it is explicitly mentioned in PHB p. 177 that

Until you are discovered or you stop hiding, that check’s total is contested by the Wisdom (Perception) check of any creature that actively searches for signs of your presence. … When you hide, there’s a chance someone will notice you even if they aren’t searching. To determine whether such a creature notices you, the DM compares your Dexterity (Stealth) check with that creature’s passive Wisdom (Perception) score

So even if character doesn’t know the roll, he can find “how well he hides” with this “test”. This “test” can be made using both passive and active checks. In this case he can definitely find “how good he hides”. If somebody in his party could spot him, character is no longer hidden, because that rule above, if not, character is very likely hidden very well (especially if there was a wisdom guy in a party that was by accident unaware of this activity and the check was passive e. g. with fixed known high value). So if character was spotted he just reties to hide until he rolls high enough to hide from his party checks.

So at this moment our hero is hiding and has a really high roll. So he says that he is travelling towards enemies camp in hiding.

Here are rules from PHB p. 182

While traveling at a slow pace. the characters can move stealthily. As long as they’re not in the open, they can try to surprise or sneak by other creatures they encounter. See the rules for hiding in chapter 7.

The “chapter 7” rule are the one I mentioned above.

Well, since our hero is hiding and he travels in slow pace, he comes to enemy camp and he is still hidden because he “was not yet discovered” (see cite 2 above).

After that hero says “I try to sneak by those creatures remaining hidden”. So since they are not expecting him, they use passive check. Since player already rolled high and that roll value is used against perception checks there is no chance they can spot him, so he automatically (or with very high chance) succeed. In this way he can bypass any guards almost guaranteed.

The same trick can be made with whole party by searching each other and repeating until all are hidden and thus it can be made that surprise is be also guaranteed in first round.

For me it looks like it is 100% correct according to the rules from PHB and it also it looks like extremely broken mechanics. No other check value is known to player before he decides what is he going to do with this ability.

So, eventually:

Is there any fix for this rules published somewhere?

P. S. I think any check should be made at the moment the check is really needed and each moment it should be checked independently.

So in this case you don’t roll when you trying to hide. You roll each time you can be spotted, also you roll on each action you perform, e. g. sneak by e. t. c. because all other checks are performed in the same way. Again even if you somehow block a party from doing that, player won’t try to sneak by a group of goblins when he knows ahead that his roll value is low and already determined.

P. P. S. I’ve also checked several forums and videos and everywhere it is explicitly stated that you make check when you hide and you use this single value to compete perception checks and you remain hidden until you found or you stop hiding. Also everywhere it stated that you can move and sneak while hidden and use that roll value against perception checks. So I am really confused.

What can you do in combat if you don’t have initiative?

Losing initiative is described as:

When your foe has initiative against you, they are forcing you to react. … Some moves are inherently proactive or offensive and can only be made when you have initiative. Others are reactive or defensive and are made when your foe has initiative.

Reading the rules, I only see two moves are specifically described as reactive: Face Danger and Clash. The rules, however, also list other moves in other category than combat, but I’m having difficulty in deciding which can be used when my character doesn’t have initiative.

Other than Face Danger and Clash, what other moves can be triggered when I don’t have initiative?

Is it reasonable to let Inquisitive Rogues get advantage on Perception and Investigation outside combat?

I am DM in a campaign and recently my players reached level 3. The Rogue chose to take the Inquisitive archetype.

I am looking at the Eye for Detail feature, which allows the rogue to make a Perception check to look for hidden things or an Investigation check to uncover or decipher clues as a bonus action. At first glance I interpret this as an extension of the Cunning Action feature (similar to the Thief’s Fast Hands or Mastermind’s Master of Tactics), by giving the rogue more things to do with their bonus action.

The Eye for Detail feature definitely has uses in combat. Bonus action Perception checks are an excellent counter against foes which like to hide (which my players face semi-regularly). Investigation is more situational, but not useless.

However, outside combat the action economy is not so important. If you are acting on the timescale of minutes rather than seconds it is not practical to track individual actions. But on the same timescale of minutes (rather than hours) you can, in principle, track things by individual actions.

By this reasoning, an Inquisitive Rogue can make twice as many Perception or Investigation checks in a given time-frame as any other character (assuming that is the only activity they are doing, and that the checks fall under the specifications for the Eye for Detail feature). They are able to search faster so, given a fixed time-frame, can search more thoroughly, or search a wider area.

Of course, I don’t actually want to track actions round by round for a search which would take a few minutes. That would involve a stupid amount of die rolling and completely skews the statistics. But I was wondering whether the Inquisitive’s Eye for Detail should still provide some benefit.

Would it be reasonable, under appropriate circumstances, to grant an Inquisitive Rogue advantage on Perception and Investigation checks outside combat? Or would this be unbalanced?

‘Appropriate circumstances’ being cases where simply searching more would plausibly improve chances of success (e.g. hide and seek), the timescale of the activity is short enough to make an intensive effort practical (but long enough to not be measured in rounds), the check pertains to the activities described in Eye for Detail, and the rogue is not dividing their attention between other actions.

My rationale behind this is that, in combat, a rogue can roll twice as many checks as someone else, so rolling advantage is essentially equivalent to that. I figure that a small circumstantial non-combat buff which emphasises the archetype’s strengths is acceptable.

My concern is that this might be too advantageous. This greatly extends the usefulness of the feature by allowing it to be useful outside combat, and advantage is a large bonus. If this makes the archetype far more powerful than it should be, or has unintended interactions, then I should be wary about granting such regular advantage. I have not had much experience with Inquisitive Rogues; if they are a powerful archetype then such a buff would be unneeded, although if they are a weak archetype then this buff might be beneficial.

Note that I am not planning to explicitly modify the Eye for Detail feature. Rather, I will use my latitude as DM to grant advantage based solely on the implied usefulness of the Eye for Detail feature. But I wish to discern whether such a ruling is wise or unbalanced before setting a precedent.

Mounted combat, movement, free actions, dismounting, then free attack. Am I doing it right?

I have lvl 6 Half Orc Paladin with the shield master feat riding a worg. The paladin is Spd 30 the Worg is speed 50. I move forward speed x and spear a human with the lance 1d12+str+smite. I move forward 5 feet(reach) then as a bonus action I use shield master to knock the human prone. After that I dismount, and use my extra attack to stab my long sword 1d8+str+smite into a the prone human. Can I do this?

If so how far away from the human can I start and complete the action?
2(dash)*30(Ork speed)=x-5(closing 5 feet)- 1/2*30(ork speed used for dismount) 60=x-5-1/2*30 60=x-20=40 X=40 feet? Or am I doing it all wrong?