Can “partial” surprise happen? Would it be an acceptable rule?

I’m thinking the "surprise round" rule just isn’t fair. Say there’s a 2 vs 2 encounter (teams PC and Creatures (Cs)), then PC1 could notice the 2 Cs and PC2 just one of them. Also for the sake of discussion PC1 is mute for whatever reason, so he can’t quickly communicate with PC2 and he also plays last according to iniciative order. Then PC2 loosing an entire round seems unfair to me, because he could perfectly be taking actions against the C he found. Also if PC2 gets attacked by the Cs it would be doubly unfair, even if one has advantage and the other don’t, it’s 2 actions against none. So I figured you could ask PC2 to just turn around when it isn’t his turn during the surprise round, so as not to reveal the concealed C position to him and then, when he plays his turn remove the hidden C and let PC2 play as always…or if he gets attacked by hidden C before his turn he now sees it. What do you think?

When should initiative be rolled during a surprise attack?

This question does a good job explaining how surprise attacks work for the most part, but I’m not sure how such an attack would actually play out, here is what happened in my last game:

There was a group of enemy creatures, and the heroes were successfully avoiding notice nearby (I guess they were effectively hiding), watching the creatures and planning what to do while unnoticed.

After agreeing upon a plan, one of the PCs made a ranged attack against an enemy. This catched the enemy flat-footed against the attack, but the PC became observed by everyone after resolving it.

I decided to roll initiative and start the encounter at this point since it made the most sense at the time, but after reading the rules I’m not sure if this played out correctly.

Should initiative have been rolled just before the attack? This seems unfair to the heroes, since according to Avoid Notice it would force another Stealth check to see if the enemies notice them, but the heroes have not done anything yet to break their hiding. And then, if they succeed on the check, what is the point of the enemy turns?, since the heroes are still unnoticed, the enemies would do nothing until the heroes act.

This leads me to believe that the encounter should have started at the moment the heroes spotted the enemy: initiative is rolled according to Avoid Notice and if the heroes succeed on the Stealth check against the Perception DC of the enemies, they remain unnoticed. And all the watching and planning would have ocurred in Encounter Mode (a very long and pointless encounter for the most part).

If this is the correct approach, the heroes could decide to coordinate and attack all at the same time, by delaying to set their turns one after the other, and readying an attack just before the start of the turn of the first hero, so everyone would use their readied attack and then have their full turn before any enemy gets to act. Is this right?

Sneak attack on 5e with surprise?

The story is that our DM had an NPC who essentially "joined our party" but was actually an enemy rogue. In the middle of combat, the NPC ran up and attacked a party member, which the DM deemed as a surprise attack and allowed him to get sneak attack. The goal was basically to one shot a low-level character while the rest of the party was unaware.

The question is: is it normal to allow a rogue to get sneak attack in a situation like this, where the attacker isn’t hidden and otherwise doesn’t have advantage?

I know in the end it’s pretty much up to the DM’s discretion, but I can’t find where that fits in the rules, and it almost resulted in a one-hit KO.

Can Alert prevent Surprise if you don’t know the enemy exists?

In a large dark temple, a player with the Alert feat and Darkvision can only see out to 60 ft, but at 100 ft there is an enemy with 120 ft Truesight sitting in a Silence spell and firing a crossbow. If the player rolls 20 for initiative and the enemy rolls 10, does the player get to attack first? Or should the enemy get to fire the shot before initiative is rolled? Or should the enemy roll initiative for itself, fire a shot, and then have the player roll into the initiative?

Can Alert prevent Surprise if you don’t know combat is occurring yet? [duplicate]

If part of the party enters combat with enemies but the rest of the party is not aware of the threat or aware there is combat happening yet, does a player with the Alert feat who rolls highest on initiative act before even the enemies?

In this example, the Archer has the Alert feat but is hanging back behind a corner waiting for the Paladin to see if things are safe. The group rolls Initiative and the Archer rolls 21, the Spiders roll 15, and the Paladin rolls 8. The Spiders roll 24 for Stealth and Surprise the Paladin.

Who acts first? The only answers I come up with seem to unfairly negate the Archer’s choice to take the Alert feat.

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The relevant part of the Alert feat:

You can’t be surprised while you are conscious.

Can I avoid surprise through my familiar?

You might have seen a more complicated variant of this question going on about different types of speed but a comment by Szega made me realize that a much simpler question would probably suffice and that if ever another situation came up where I needed that more complicated answer I could simply ask a new question.

If a familiar spots a hidden enemy, but the corresponding wizard does not, how much time does a familiar need to communicate that danger to the wizard?

RulesI predict to be relevant:

While your familiar is within 100 feet of you, you can communicate with it telepathically.

A member of a group can be surprised even if the other members aren’t.

How does the Gloom Stalker ranger’s Dread Ambusher feature interact with Surprise?

In D&D 5e, if a Gloom Stalker Ranger uses their Dread Ambusher feature’s secondary attack on a creature during a surprise round (whether on the same target or a different one), is that creature still considered surprised?

This is important if the character is multiclassed with Assassin rogue, because Assassins auto-crit when hitting a surprised creature.

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.

Can Nerveskitter be cast during a surprise round, let’s say directly when you are aware that you are being ambushed?

  • Let’s say my group is ambushed and no one is aware, the ennemies then have a surprise round against us.
  • As soon as I am aware of the attack (they could jump/charge in front of us, shoot an arrow AND hit someone (could be me), cast a spell and I could hear it with a very good listen roll etc.) can I cast Nerveskitter or is no action allowed at all?
  • Take note that in 3.5 Nerveskitter states:

    (…)Unlike other immediate actions, you can cast this spell while flat-footed(…)

So with all this info, if I was to have a contingency spell (Celerity) with the condition: Whenever I cast Nerveskitter: Activate.

What would happen? I would be able to act right away, then the rest of the surprise round would happen (let’s say I’m immune to daze or I resisted with the Quick Recovery feat) then what?:

  • Do I start first and I do not need to roll initiative?
  • I still need to roll for initiative?

RAW answers if possible (FAQ, 3.X, I would normally allow pathfinder as well but nerveskitter was nerfed in pathfinder)