Ambush, surprise and Alertness

Thorgarth
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Ambush, surprise and Alertness

Postby Thorgarth » Sun Jun 19, 2016 3:07 pm

Surprise is one of the mechanics I so often see underdeveloped and relegated to secondary importance in so many RPG´s who actually then take some care with the rest of the combat rules. I find that not only weird but also a major mistake.

In this case, and taking into consideration the light approach of TDE in termos of rules, I´m not going to dig hard into this BUT there is something that seems to be a bit ambiguous (and I´m finding a lot of this ambiguities all along the rules) concerning how the rules approach Ambush and surprise (which is treated as a status, though in reality does´t seem to have any real efective duration, but more on that later) and then how the Alertness combat special ability is phased AND the bonus it gives. The fact is that in the core book, at least to my knowledge, the only check one does is to see IF you notice the ambush, which pits Stealth (hide) vs Perception (Detect Ambush). There ain´t no check to see if you are actually surprised, meaning to see how the characters react once the ambush is sprung. You either notice the ambush or you don´t, and if you don´t they can act in a manner as to make a "jump" on the characters (or the characters on NPC´s). Most of the times this will mean a ranged attack or a close combat attack (when the ambush does allow it, as in a dark alley or on the dark corridors of a dungeon). Once this action the makes the ambushers known to the ambushed the rules don´t seem to allow any advantage to them in the first round(s) of combat (hence for me the wrong terminology of surprised as a status). Normal combat just starts as usual.

The problem is that the Alertness special ability, on p. 246, clearly states that "Receive a bonus of 2 to checks using Perception (Detect Ambush) to notice enemies prior to an ambush or when checking for surprise. What does this last part mean? Where in the rules is there any reference or a mechanic for checking for surprise other than the Ambush detection test (which is prior just like the text acknowledges).

P. 36 is the only mechanical reference to Surprise, which in itself has next to 0 mechanics in them. It states that "Surprise means a hero is startled by an ambush or the sudden appearance of enemies. Surprised characters cannot defend against the first action taken against them. Once this surprise action (most likely an attack) is resolved, regular combat rounds begin." Again, no reference to any check the party can make to obviate the effects of surprise, and this happens because:

a) Surprise has effect only because the party failed to identify the ambushers, which allows them an action which then signals the beginning of the formal combat rounds, thus prior to the party actually being able to react;

b) there is no advantage given to the surprisers over the surprised when formal combat begins, hence there is nothing to obviate to, so why would we need to check for surprise, which begs the question what +2 bonus does Alertness refer to other then the in the Ambush detection check?

On a personal note I will implement a very fast and simple rules that imposes a penalty (-10 to -15 depending on the case and severity of the conditions) to the surprised party if they fail an Initiative test (1d20 vs Ini. I will use the initiative stat as a measure for the test since it incorporates two basic atributes that seem logical. I would also like to use Intuition but that would mean creating another Stat. As such, as we already have this one, I will use it). If this drops the Init stat to 0 or less the surprised target will not be able to act on the first round after surprise, otherwise they will act on that modified count for the 1st round.

Thorgarth
Posts: 113
Joined: Fri May 27, 2016 1:58 pm

Re: Ambush, surprise and Alertness

Postby Thorgarth » Mon Jun 20, 2016 2:01 pm

Can we actually expect some kind of Official response or interpretation concerning doubts arising from ambiguous rules here in this forum? So far I´m not seeing any kind of official support which is rather odd given all kinds of errors, mistakes and ambiguity are being identified in this version of the TDE Edition, which besides representing some ineptitude from the editorial perspective it also shows, from my vantage point, a certain disinterest and even disrespect towards the backers who actually been doing kind of a debugging work, or even just trying to understand the rules as they were presented to them.

Any help would be appreciated.

Thx

GTStar
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Re: Ambush, surprise and Alertness

Postby GTStar » Mon Jun 20, 2016 2:43 pm

I think they enough stress to update and finalize the book till today. So you should wait a bit ;)

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Lambert
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Location: Glasgow, Scotland

Re: Ambush, surprise and Alertness

Postby Lambert » Mon Jun 20, 2016 2:48 pm

I love we could up-vote or like posts like the previous one from GTStar.
There are always posts I would love to down-vote elsewhere on this forum :)

Thorgarth
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Re: Ambush, surprise and Alertness

Postby Thorgarth » Mon Jun 20, 2016 4:19 pm

Thank you for your input GTStar but that does not explain, at least from my point of view, the almost total absence of feedback here in the forum when it comes to rules, and their many issues.

On the other hand Lambert, you could always help with your personal knowledge of the rules, which would be much more appreciated than you taking the time to write a post that adds next to 0 concerning the issue at hand. Unless you can´t answer the question because you actually think there is something lacking and somehow ambiguous in this mechanic.

Teekayy
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Re: Ambush, surprise and Alertness

Postby Teekayy » Mon Jun 20, 2016 4:36 pm

If an ambush is successfull, the party who made an ambush gets one free round of action each, in which the "surprised" party can not defend. After everyone of the ambush made an action (cast spell, attack, or whatever), the normal fighting rules apply. So getting ambushed means the other party has one free round, where u cant react to.
There is no need for further penalties, because after the "first shock" the ambushed party can fight and react normally again.

Also on how to determine if the party is surprised. Most of the time it is written within an adventure, that there will be an ambush. So the GM can make a hidden roll (since he knows the parties character stats) for wether the ambush is successfull or not.
You can play it like:

GM: Hero A notices, that something is quite odd here. The area looks very suspicious maybe there is an ambush ahead.

So the party can decide what to do next (draw weapons etc.)

Or if the roll failed, he just says that suddenly 3 orcs jump out of the bushes and attack the party without a warning. Then just make all the orcs attack once (which cant be defended by the heroes) and then start the normal combat.

Thorgarth
Posts: 113
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Re: Ambush, surprise and Alertness

Postby Thorgarth » Mon Jun 20, 2016 5:18 pm

Thx Teekkay. The problem is that it´s the rules themselves that speak, on p. 246, of a surprise check other than the already mentioned Ambush detection check. But there is no mention to said check anywhere else, neither is there a mechanic to implement it.

As to the rest just a slight precision. The ambushed party gets surprised the moment the ambushers act upon the ambush and make themselves noticed. Since they are not aware of such ambushers (because they fail to notice them) logically that cannot act upon it or react to it. The action the ambushers take is prior to the surprise inflicted upon the ambushed. In effect is what creates the surprise. Hence many systems (though not as many as I think should) adopt a penalty for the round(s) subsequent to the surprising attack, during which the surprised party tries to react, pull themselves together and overcome the surprise effect of the ambush. When you refer to the first shock you actually refer to a moment prior to the chance when the surprised party has a chance to act. The shock comes with the action of the ambushers, and should be felt after said moment... But that is a precision. My doubt here refers just to exactly what does the Alertness special ability refer to when it states that it gives a +2 bonus to surprise checks when no such thing seems to exist.

Teekayy
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Re: Ambush, surprise and Alertness

Postby Teekayy » Mon Jun 20, 2016 5:43 pm

If you look for example at the skill pickpocket in the rulebook, there u can get the surprised status if u fail it with a rolled 20. So in that case mayb u got caught redhanded and are now surprised by the one who caught u pickpocket. He can now grab you for example, and u cant defend against that. I would take the surprised status literally, where u get into a situation you havnt expected. Or just use it to detect an avalanche for example and react faster to it.

Thorgarth
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Re: Ambush, surprise and Alertness

Postby Thorgarth » Mon Jun 20, 2016 7:08 pm

Teekayy wrote:If you look for example at the skill pickpocket in the rulebook, there u can get the surprised status if u fail it with a rolled 20. So in that case mayb u got caught redhanded and are now surprised by the one who caught u pickpocket. He can now grab you for example, and u cant defend against that. I would take the surprised status literally, where u get into a situation you havnt expected. Or just use it to detect an avalanche for example and react faster to it.


The example you give of the pickpocket results in the redhanded poor bastard incurring in the surprise status as a result of a botched skill check. It´s a direct result to which he does not check against, meaning he doesn´t do an autonomous surprise check, he is automatically surprised because he botched the (skill) roll. As such the bonus referred to by the Alertness special ability does not apply here, because it states clearly that it applies to a surprise check.

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Bosper
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Re: Ambush, surprise and Alertness

Postby Bosper » Tue Jun 21, 2016 9:29 am

Its all about the perception check.you fail you are surprised.but not every surprise is an ambush.so it would be false to only talk about those. Someone slamming a door in your face is also a surprise
Bad example following (i just donated some blood and cant concentrate to think creativly)
Player 1 is in his room upstairs. Player 2 is downstairs. They both are very perceptive so they glance out of the window and see some Orks (cliche yay) coming. They want to warn each other and P1 runs downstairs and P2 runs upstairs, they meet at the door, P1 is quicker so P2 can be surprised and hit by the door. Thats not an ambush (its just a very constructed example) but if P2 is surprised, he gets hit by the door and his own dark eye can get him a photoshoot for the next Cover of TDE. If he passes the check nothing happens.


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