Surprise As A Condition In D&D 5th Edition

Yum DM Surprise as a Condition

Surprise in Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition, as a rule, is okay.

Probably not as good as it was in 3rd edition, but it’s workable (I kind of dig the ‘surprise round’ concept or 3rd edition).

However, I think it would work easier if you simply made it a condition.

So, here it is:

Surprised (Condition)

  • Your speed becomes 0, and you can’t benefit from any bonus to your speed
  • You cannot take actions or reactions 
  • You can’t use your Dexterity bonus to AC (if any)

This is how I play surprise and it works a treat.

The effects are mostly the same, with the exception of not having your Dexterity bonus to your AC, which I think makes sense if you are surprised and cannot move or use reactions.

I also just think it works better as a condition.

You can simply apply it whenever necessary.

Being Surprised

How you get surprised remains the same.

That is, use passive perception to notice anything that may surprise you, like an ambush.

Surprise Additions

There is an argument to also say that any attack or save or ability check made by someone with the surprise condition is at Disadvantage.

But I am not sure I would go that far with it. Maybe in a more dark grim campaign.

Over To You

Let me know what you think below and I will answer every single comment. May a Warlock Hex me if I don’t.

While You’re Here…

Since 2021 I have been publishing a monthly zine, which has a ton of articles for any edition of Dungeons & Dragons.

They are also available on DriveThruRPG and printed copies are available via my Patreon.

I also have a growing Discord, where you can join in on my regular West Marches campaign.

I will also be releasing some more products in the near future, like several monster manuals and a series of soloRPG publications.

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