From time to time, characters and creatures appear in unexpected places. This may be an intentional tactic, as when a group plans an ambush, or an accidental encounter, as when a creature suddenly appears from behind a tree in the forest. In either case, those caught off guard by such a situation are Surprised.

Surprised characters cannot take any Actions, not even Free Actions, during the combat round in which they are Surprised. They also subtract –3 from their Physical and Spell Defense during the same round (in certain situations the gamemaster may also apply this penalty to the character’s Social Defense). A character who is Surprised is also effectively Blindsided, but only the greater Surprised penalty is applied; don’t use both penalties. The effect of surprise ends as soon as the combat round ends.

To determine whether a character is Surprised, he makes a Perception Test against a Difficulty Number based on the situation. This is usually equal to the lowest Dexterity Step among the characters or creatures encountered, but is otherwise determined by the gamemaster. If the test succeeds, the character can act or react as normal. If the test fails, the character is Surprised.

Kricklen is in serious trouble. He is facing three ork scorchers, one of whom has proved to be a Sky Raider, and has Stunned the Swordmaster. However, unknown to the orks, Kricklen’s comrades have returned, sneaking up to within striking distance of the orks. The gamemaster makes a Perception Test for the orks to see if they notice the t’skrang’s comrades approaching — none of them do. The orks are Surprised as the Swordmaster’s fellow adventurers leap out from the nearby undergrowth. The surprise is total—even Kricklen, in his dazed and injured state, is Surprised.


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