I need some elaboration on what is covered by "surprised". The Assassin Rogue’s special feature “Assassinate” states:
…In addition, if you (…) hit a creature that is surprised, you score a critical
The book says this about Surprise (pg 15 in “How to Play”), emphasis mine:
Creatures that were unaware of their opponents’ approach or presence are surprised.
The book says this about Stealth (pg 10-11 in “How to Play”):
Benefit of Being Hidden
You have advantage on the attack roll when you attack a creature from which you are hidden. Making an attack reveals your position, however.
My question is:
In relation to the Rogue's Assassinate special ability, is "surprised" ONLY referencing the original initiative order, or are there times when he may be granted this ability multiple times in a single combat encounter?
This may come into question in a number of scenarios:
Scenario 1 (Stealth): Combat is initiated, rogue goes first,
benefits from “Assassin ability” then moves/hides (he gets a 3rd
action remember) from everyone (for simplicity sake let’s say his
stealth beats everyone’s perception esp since most rolls are +10(+Dex
+Expertise +Proficiency)). Now the rest of the party & enemies go through their turns. Top of the initiative for 2nd round; Rogue
attacks out of his hiding spot where nobody could see him, are they
“surprised” by this attack?
Scenario 1a (Stealth): As a slight twist to the above (assuming the
answer above is “not surprised”) would the following change this
“condition”? After the rogue hid from everyone and before his next
attack he continues sneaking to a completely different position and
actually attacks from a spot 10’ away from where everyone last saw
him go (ie, he dove into the brush and attacked from behind a tree
10’ away). Top of the 2nd round of Initiative, would the enemies now
be surprised by the rogue’s attack that they didn’t see coming to
begin with but is now originating from a different direction
Scenario 2 (3rd party entering combat in later rounds): PCs are
engaged in combat with another group. A 3rd party exits an
underground cellar & seeing only the dwarf fighter & ½ orc barbarian
enters combat immediately adjacent to his location. He has now
officially entered into the initiative counter, however, he is still
completely unaware of the rogue as he is behind another wall having
just killed some other lackey before his arrival and is preparing to
join his companions. Since, even though he is in combat, the new
combatant is completely unaware of the rogues existence wouldn’t that
make him “surprised” when the rogue “rounds the bend” and throws a
dart in his neck/sticks him with rapier etc?
My DM & I are discussing what the writer's intent behind this special ability was. Like so many things, this seems to be ambiguous. It also isn't covered by the “specific overrules the generic” guideline, since it’s not specifically spelled out in the special ability but leaves it up to the reader/DM to determine. The DM is temporarily ruling that this only applies to opponents who have not yet acted in initiative until we can get a better idea of how we think the rule is supposed to be played out.
(Feel free to format for clarity, I've written this several times and I can't seem to get it right)