Gargoyle wrote:Might be a while before Deanna gets back from vacation, so here's my two cents:
Player characters are always expecting danger, they are always "on their guard", so to speak. Sometimes I do narrate that they weren't ready for trouble when surprise happens, in particular when I start something in medias res or in a peaceful setting. But when they're adventuring, they're always looking for danger. Assuming otherwise has a negative impact on the flow of the game...they will constantly be telling the GM how they are prepared for danger, etc and therefore CAN'T be surprised. So it's best to assume that when they are surprised, it's not going to be because they weren't expecting trouble. It's going to be because the villains just did a better job ambushing them. And that's what's happening here with what I presume is the villains doing well with Stealth.
So in my opinion the way to handle this is to just rule that they are surprised because they failed to detect the hidden enemies.
This is essentially it.