Diviner asleep during ambush... now what?


Rules Questions


One of my players is playing a diviner. The party was ambushed while resting at night by some wolves who succeeded on their Stealth checks. The diviner was asleep when the attack began. The player insisted that his Forewarned special ability would wake him up so he could take an action during the surprise round.

Here's the relevant text:
Forewarned (Su) You can always act in the surprise round even if you fail to make a Perception roll to notice a foe, but you are still considered flat-footed until you take an action.

It's clear that if he's awake, he gets to act in the surprise round. That's nice and easy (and really powerful!). However, I don't think that it wakes him up from sleep during an ambush. Here's my reasoning: if he was stunned or dazed when a surprise round started, he wouldn't be able to act because those status conditions preclude him taking any actions. While asleep, he has the unconscious condition, which prevents taking actions.

So my spot ruling was that forewarning gives him a turn in the surprise round, but unconsciousness prevents him from taking any actions until he succeeds at a perception check to hear the fight.

Did I rule that reasonably, or should forewarning cure unconsciousness?
-blarg

Sovereign Court

I think you are being rather punitive in a situation that could be very cool from an RP standpoint. Just imagine the cool ways he could be warned in a dream of the coming attack. Were I in your situation, I would have given him consciousness if he could explain a cool way in which he foresaw the attack.

As for the actual benefits, maybe he's awake, but he's still prone and doesn't know where the wolves are until they attack. The best he can do is stand up or cast mage armor. Neither would break your encounter.

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber

I don't recall anywhere that says a sleeping character has the Unconscious condition. Being asleep penalizes your perception checks, but the Unconscious condition is pretty specific in its wording.

SRD:
Unconscious creatures are knocked out and helpless. Unconsciousness can result from having negative hit points (but not more than the creature's Constitution score), or from nonlethal damage in excess of current hit points.

A sleeping creature is not knocked out. They are helpless, but nothing says their abilities all cease working.

I'd rule that his ability works. It's a Supernatural Spidey Sense sort of thing, and a Supernatural effect like that should trump normal, natural sleep. Magical sleep? Heck no - dude's out like a light. Taking a nap? Yup, Spidey Sense pings when trouble comes knocking.


Sleep isn't clearly defined, nor is it defined what would or wouldn't wake someone up. That's strictly a GM call.

Though, one should not confuse sleep with unconsciousness. According to most medical definitions sleep is a state of consciousness, albeit an altered one.


IVe seen it mentioned in places where say a dragon was asleep, but his bonus to perception was so high he could hear a fight break out down the hallway anyway. I think the reference is to the umbral dragon in Scarwall.

But clearly sleeping as referenced more than just that (sleeping guards, sleeping giants) in several adventures is merely a negative to perception. So it depends on how loud something is.

Btw wolves don't really attack from stealth in a pack. They growl and snarl in hopes to get weak members of a herd or group to run and scatter in fear (intimidate) so they can gang up on a separated weak one.

Unless the wolves were intelligent, or controlled, or worgs, there would be no reason (or sense) for wolves to sneak up and attack like that.

OH wait, do the wolves have levels of ninja? Maybe then. :>


Plenty of instances in fiction where the hero whether a diviner or not was wakened by strange dreams. You could also rule that the diviner has strange alarming dreams that give him a bonus to wake up as he hears noises from the ensuing combat. You could also rule that his divinations are most powerful when his own well-being is threatened so if one of the wolves is about to rip his throat out in his sleep ... BAM he wakes up and is looking frantically around for the cause of his anguish. If a wolf is threatening close kin, a wife, girl-friend, or a friend closer than a brother, you could wake him in that situation also. However you're the gm, your game your call. I would add this caveat, the players are supposed to be the heroes and your game is supposed to be about them. Hopefully, you're not trying to recreate that awful Liam Neeson movie that pitted him against some wolves.


Not really relevant but unless my character was being murdered by the GM in his sleep I've never met a normal wolf or pack of wolves or even dire wolf in-game that would scare my character (course I'm not talking about a character with 6 hp either). I have been accused of being a min-max power gamer though.


I think the OP ruled it pretty much spot-on in the end result.
The character in-game-world can only respond to events he has perceived.
If he hasn't perceived anything besides his own thoughts and dream,
he isn't going to do anything he otherwise wouldn't have done.
That really isn't even relying on the Unconscious condition, as much as just preventing metagaming.
So sure, technically, people can and do sleep-walk, etc, but going from there (actions per se aren't denied) to the character taking actions he normally would take if he wasn't asleep just doesn't hold up.
I do think that there could easily be a pretty good chances of his character passing a Perception check at some point during this Surprise Round though.
You can apply the basic +10 DC modifier for being asleep (and maybe further modifiers if he's bundled up under alot of blankets, inside a tent because of the weather, etc), but unless he is located some distance away from his allies/the battle, he should probably hear something going on at some point.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Quandary wrote:
The character in-game-world can only respond to events he has perceived.
The ability in question wrote:
You can always act in the surprise round even if you fail to make a Perception roll to notice a foe

You're directly contradicting the ability, Quandary.

Anyway, how to handle this ability's interaction with sleep is not clearly defined anywhere. It requires the GM to make a call.

Personally, I'd have let him wake up. Remember, this ability doesn't let him know what is happening, so even in a traditional thieves-on-the-road ambush, the diviner doesn't get to do much besides maybe cast a buff spell or something (which could end up wasted if it turns out not to be needed). Letting him wake up from sleep isn't going to break anything.

Remember: the results of this ability, even when waking him from sleep, are always weaker than having made the perception check. Those who spotted the enemies get to act AND know what to do, while this guy merely gets to act blindly. Keep that in mind when assessing the power level/balance of the situation.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Maps Subscriber
blargney the second wrote:
One of my players is playing a diviner. The party was ambushed while resting at night by some wolves who succeeded on their Stealth checks. The diviner was asleep when the attack began. The player insisted that his Forewarned special ability would wake him up so he could take an action during the surprise round.

Okay, so was one of the PCs standing guard? If so did you allow that PC a Perception check to notice the wolves and thus not be surprised?

If you did, did you allow sleeping PCs (including the Diviner) to make the same Perception check albeit with the "Creature making the check is asleep" +10 Difficulty Class? I.e. was at least some of the potential to spot the ambush and not be surprised based upon perceiving the sound of the wolves growling or cracking twigs etc as they approached the camp?

If you did allow PCs who were asleep to make a Perception check to hear the wolves' approach, if a PC had made the Perception check would you have allowed them to have awoken in time not to be surprised (in the game mechanic sense)?

If so, then the Diviner's ability theoretically should have allowed him to awaken and not be surprised too.

However, if you deigned that the only way to perceive the wolves in time to not be surprised was to see them, then you probably wouldn't have allowed sleeping PCs a Perception roll at all (which is different from failing a Perception check) and so the Diviner would not have awoken.

That would be my take on it at least.

TL;DR - did sleeping PCs get a Perception check at +10 DC to spot the ambush and not be surprised? If so the Diviner should have awoken and acted in the surprise round.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

@DigitalMage - That makes a lot of sense. Well said.


I wouldn't of let him wake up in the surprise round either, because than he'll think he gets to wake up every time they are jumped while the party is asleep. Also the party will stop taking watches since they have a diviner in the party.


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8 Red Wizards wrote:
I wouldn't of let him wake up in the surprise round either, because than he'll think he gets to wake up every time they are jumped while the party is asleep. Also the party will stop taking watches since they have a diviner in the party.

But isn't that the point of divination, a diviner can never be surprised because he always see's it coming.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

8 Red Wizards wrote:
I wouldn't of let him wake up in the surprise round either, because than he'll think he gets to wake up every time they are jumped while the party is asleep. Also the party will stop taking watches since they have a diviner in the party.

Except relying on the diviner instead of taking watches means no one will ever know WHAT is going to happen. They will ALWAYS be caught unprepared, just with one person awake.

I've been the party diviner before, and trust me, people still want watches.


I'm not familiar with the forewarned ability, and I'm too lazy to look it up.

How FAR in advance does it tell you.

I was watching Hatfields and McCoys the other night.... several days before the hatfield attack. Mrs. McCoy was like, the Hatfield's will come from that direction (And they did) we need that chick as an army ranger!

She didn't know WHEN they were coming, just that they would and from that way.

Having been a former member of the military, and having been a guy who sleeps with his rifle (like every one of us do in the bush) and having woken up to a serious fire fight moments before it broke out, I can say it's not unreasonable to wake up to "huh? whats that" and then start blasting.

I think I would have let his ability work, I think I would have just ruled he got to act last, but still got to act in the surprise round. If you think about it, he is prone, un armed and un armored, so... what would he do? Use a move action to stand, and another one to pick up a weapon?
Possibly cast a spell from prone?

I mean either way he's at a disadvantage.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Pendagast wrote:

I'm not familiar with the forewarned ability, and I'm too lazy to look it up.

How FAR in advance does it tell you.

Forewarned wrote:
Forewarned (Su) You can always act in the surprise round even if you fail to make a Perception roll to notice a foe, but you are still considered flat-footed until you take an action.

It doesn't tell you anything about what's happening, it just lets you act in the surprise round. In a sense, it's actually kind of a "metagamey" ability, in that the only thing your character knows is that you just rolled initiative. He doesn't know what sort of threat is coming, where it(they) is(are), or how best to deal with it. You have no information whatsoever except that the surprise round has started. Also note that if there was no surprise round or if you made your perception check, this ability does nothing at all.

I have a diviner Eldritch Knight in PFS. He has +13 initiative, so he typically goes before his ambushers. As such, he often gets to his turn in the surprise round without having any idea what he's facing or what to do about it. Therefore, he has a standard operating procedure: if he's acting first in the surprise round and doesn't know what's going on, he pops a wand of shield out of a spring-loaded wrist sheath and activates it.

Quite often, I waste the charge on that wand because it turns out the threat isn't going to be attacking my AC very much. All in all, the ability is not nearly as strong as it sounds on paper.

...I think I was originally going somewhere with that, but I can't remember. Oh well. :P


EVEN IF RAW the diviner will get to act, nothing is keeping him from still being helpless until his action in the surprise round occurs.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Maps Subscriber
8 Red Wizards wrote:
I wouldn't of let him wake up in the surprise round either, because than he'll think he gets to wake up every time they are jumped while the party is asleep. Also the party will stop taking watches since they have a diviner in the party.

As Pendagast has pointed out (see quote below), even if you allow the diviner to act in the surprise round there is not much he can do. You would still want a sentry, someone armoured up and possibly on his feet (or at least sitting rather than prone and under a blanket) with a weapon easily to hand.

And that is assuming the intruders approach in a way that makes sound that could be heard whilst asleep (and thus the Diviner could get a Perception test). A sentry with eyes are open would still be wanting so he could possibly see that blowpipe being aimed from the long grass on the edge of the camp.

Pendagast wrote:

If you think about it, he is prone, un armed and un armored, so... what would he do? Use a move action to stand, and another one to pick up a weapon?

Possibly cast a spell from prone?


No actually that is pretty good. I like that.

However, Initiative rules don't require you to go first just because you can.

You can hold an action, waiting for others to go first.

So in that case it would be like a "wha? huh? where where?" reaction.

Essentially all the ability lets you do is get an extra action, that others would not get.

Of course, in the above example, if you waited, the shield being cast later on wouldn't help much IF they were attacking your AC, because you waited. so there is a draw back to holding your action.

At some tables, the person with the lowest initiative declares his intention for action first, and up to the person with the highest deciding what he is doing after he knows what everyone else is doing. Then let the action play out.

This might seem like it makes the high initiative too powerful, but in reality, it prevents low initiative from metagaming, because that way they can;t take an action IN a round where something happened, that they are reacting to from a previous action taken that very round.

It also gives the high init person the cool opportunity to head people off at the pass.

Hey the evil cleric is going to cast? I'll hit him with an arrow to disrupt his spell!

In that case, forewarned with a high initiative would be very surreal, because you would know what all the secret attackers declared actions would be, without know who or what your secret attackers were.

Kinda cool.


Well, the other thing you can do is delay until you actually see something. (Maybe ready if you suspect a particular attack) Lowers your initiative for later, but you get the extra action. You could also dump a mass buff on the party, if you've got something available.

Dark Archive

Since the diviner is still considered flat footed until they act, is delaying an action?


DM call.


I'm confused. The sleep spell should cover sleeping no? If in doubt? And the sleep spell clearly labels a sleeping character as helpless.

I'd rule that the character is helpless until something breaks him out of sleep (perception) or he becomes in immediate danger.


Jiggy wrote:
Quandary wrote:
The character in-game-world can only respond to events he has perceived.
The ability in question wrote:
You can always act in the surprise round even if you fail to make a Perception roll to notice a foe
You're directly contradicting the ability, Quandary.

All I was saying was just reiterating a general guideline of role-playing, by which characters are responding to the information their character knows, not information that the player or other characters may know. Your later post pretty much summarizes what I was trying to convey, that Forewarned doesn't give you any information as you would gain from a Perception check... You don't know any information about the attacker or their location.

It may seem reasonable to think that the character somehow knows that 'combat has begun', but I don't think that is actually justifiable by the rules, knowledge that combat has begun is completely meta-game knowledge and thus should be excluded by anybody truly role-playing their character. 'Being on Init' is not anything concrete that your character could truly be aware of, the character is only aware of things and events in the world. ...Thus, one may end up acting in a Surprise Round without Perceiving the attackers, and being first in Init while not having Perceived anything to act against... In that case, I would just rule that the character delays.

Saying that Forewarned somehow gives you a sense that combat has begun is just beyond the scope of what it actually says. Sure, you CAN spontaneously decide to cast a generic defensive spell or whatever, but WHY did your character decide to do that in just that moment, and not the previous moment or a moment later? There isn't any such reason beyond meta-gaming.

I think the only reason to believe that there IS some function of 'knowing combat has commenced' is from the NAME of the ability itself ('Forewarned', warning of danger/combat) but I don't really think that's convincing enough to justify the character meta-gaming like this, at least by a conservative reading of the rules. If one wants to read that into the ability, that's fine, although you of course still don't know any information about the attackers/etc.


sleep spell is magical sleep, like snow whites apple thingie. She can't be woken from that. It's not normal sleep, or the prince would have just slapped her.


KHShadowrunner wrote:
I'm confused. The sleep spell should cover sleeping no? If in doubt? And the sleep spell clearly labels a sleeping character as helpless.

You don't need to rely on the Sleep spell to know that all sleeping characters are Helpless, that is in the definition of Helpless. But Helpless is not identical to Unconscious and neither is Sleeping (they are separately mentioned in Helpless). This was already discussed up-thread.


Aw heck. I almost certainly would have ruled the diviner was asleep and couldn't act.

But reading through this I think that's missing an opportunity for some coolness, and coolness is what the game is all about.

Yeah, let the diviner be warned in his sleep to wake up just in the nick of time. That's his thing. Let him do it.


That is kind of the thing though, Forewarned doesn't say it will 'warn you in your sleep to wake up'. It just lets you act on the surprise round. Of course, most offensive actions (besides Silenced Enchantment spells) are going to have some effect that you would have a good chance of Perceiving, and then you could still act in the remainder of the Surprise Round.


Quandary wrote:
That is kind of the thing though, Forewarned doesn't say it will 'warn you in your sleep to wake up'. It just lets you act on the surprise round. Of course, most offensive actions (besides Silenced Enchantment spells) are going to have some effect that you would have a good chance of Perceiving, and then you could still act in the remainder of the Surprise Round.

Yeah, I know, but it doesn't say it doesn't either.

Seriously, had I not read this thread I almost certainly would have ruled the same way as the OP. But now I'm not so sure. I think there is room for some GM fiat for coolness too.

Dark Archive

Quick note Jiggy its not actually legal to pop a wand from a spring loaded wrist sheath during the surprise round. You only get a move or standard + any number of frees, but you do not get a swift action during the surprise round.

"This item works like a standard wrist sheath, but releasing an item from it is an swift action. Preparing the sheath for this use requires cranking the sheath’s tiny gears and springs into place (a full-round action that provokes an attack of opportunity)."

"The Surprise Round: If some but not all of the combatants are aware of their opponents, a surprise round happens before regular rounds begin. In initiative order (highest to lowest), combatants who started the battle aware of their opponents each take a standard or move action during the surprise round. You can also take free actions during the surprise round. If no one or everyone is surprised, no surprise round occurs."


its a good question.

I think that in the moment I would have ruled as you did. I would have said...

Your asleep, surprise round starts. your action is to wake up.

of course you would have to hit all of the other players with a "wake up" as a move action during their turn.

Having said that... now that you have time to figure it out, that situation is done, how would you rule it in the future.

I think the, "move action to wake up is valid."

but if the player feels overly disgruntled by this I would rule that the player wakes up and gets a standard action but this surprise round action comes BEFORE they know whats happening in other words he gets his surprise round action first in the initiative moment before actually recognizing the full extent of the danger.

you can say "your sleeping in camp and have a sudden strong premonition that wakes you from your sleep do you do anything"

The player can take an action which will leave him not flat footed (though he may still be prone if he did not get up)

NOTE on delay: I dont think its covered in rules well, but in my ruling a player cant delay in the surprise round,
A) its a surprise round no time for cautious thinking,
B) a DELAY, delays a full round action, a surprise round only allows a standard action.

NOTE on ready: "I ready an action to do X if anything attacks" is not a valid choice in this situation as it is too general. they can say something like "I ready to shoot magic missile at the first thing I see coming from this 90 degree arch" or something very specific like that but make sure its a specific and limited action.

thats my take.


Quandary wrote:
KHShadowrunner wrote:
I'm confused. The sleep spell should cover sleeping no? If in doubt? And the sleep spell clearly labels a sleeping character as helpless.
You don't need to rely on the Sleep spell to know that all sleeping characters are Helpless, that is in the definition of Helpless. But Helpless is not identical to Unconscious and neither is Sleeping (they are separately mentioned in Helpless). This was already discussed up-thread.

Sorry, for some reason I thought Helpless stated that you were unable to act. In which case it would be an argument of what happens when someone who cannot act always acts, much like how if you ask someone who can only say yes and cannot lie if he can say no.

But it doesn't! So... I really can't go further without finding the quotation that states that helpless state means unable to act.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Quandary wrote:
Saying that Forewarned somehow gives you a sense that combat has begun is just beyond the scope of what it actually says. Sure, you CAN spontaneously decide to cast a generic defensive spell or whatever, but WHY did your character decide to do that in just that moment, and not the previous moment or a moment later? There isn't any such reason beyond meta-gaming.

Let's start with the assumption that Forewarned is supposed to do something beneficial. It's supposed to actually function. There should be a practical difference between someone who has the ability and someone who doesn't.

If you rule that the Forewarned PC can't take any combat-related action because it would be metagaming to do so, then what's the difference between the guy who doesn't get to act, and the guy who technically has a turn but doesn't get to spend it doing anything combat-related?

A GM who reduces an ability to nothing more than a word on a character sheet is doing something wrong.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Caderyn wrote:
Quick note Jiggy its not actually legal to pop a wand from a spring loaded wrist sheath during the surprise round. You only get a move or standard + any number of frees, but you do not get a swift action during the surprise round.
CRB: Combat: Swift Actions wrote:
You can take a swift action anytime you would normally be allowed to take a free action.


Jiggy wrote:
Quandary wrote:
Saying that Forewarned somehow gives you a sense that combat has begun is just beyond the scope of what it actually says. Sure, you CAN spontaneously decide to cast a generic defensive spell or whatever, but WHY did your character decide to do that in just that moment, and not the previous moment or a moment later? There isn't any such reason beyond meta-gaming.

Let's start with the assumption that Forewarned is supposed to do something beneficial. It's supposed to actually function. There should be a practical difference between someone who has the ability and someone who doesn't.

If you rule that the Forewarned PC can't take any combat-related action because it would be metagaming to do so, then what's the difference between the guy who doesn't get to act, and the guy who technically has a turn but doesn't get to spend it doing anything combat-related?

A GM who reduces an ability to nothing more than a word on a character sheet is doing something wrong.

From a role play perspective, the absolute fear, yet endearing satisfaction that the wolf didn't coup-de-gras you because you were helpless.

But I actually side with it playing out some crazy awesome dream and them waking up in time to sense danger and act on it.


Gonna throw in my two cents:

On an ambush you get a perception check to wake the heck up. This is at a huge negative, but you still get one. If you make it then you can act in the surprise round. If you fail you get another perception check on the first round to once again try to wake up. Continue this until all are awake / dead.

Since forewarned lets you act in the surprise round whether that character made the perception check or not, I would say that that particular character wakes up and may act in the surprise round.

So in an ambush the forsight wizard can wake up, stand up in the surprise round, and make him/herself a huge target for ganking.....might want to play dead until the meat shields are up.


Waking up is/should be a free action. It requires no conscious effort and is a reaction to stimuli. Sure, it may take you or me three snoozes and an alarm reset to wake up in the morning, but when you have proper motivation, you would be surprised how fast a man can be up and attentive.

If there is a perception check to perceive the threat of combat, regardless of sleep, the diviner's ability triggers. The diviner is still prone and has to take the surprise round to stand up.

Dark Archive

Foghammer wrote:

Waking up is/should be a free action. It requires no conscious effort and is a reaction to stimuli. Sure, it may take you or me three snoozes and an alarm reset to wake up in the morning, but when you have proper motivation, you would be surprised how fast a man can be up and attentive.

If there is a perception check to perceive the threat of combat, regardless of sleep, the diviner's ability triggers. The diviner is still prone and has to take the surprise round to stand up.

Or cast from prone, or poke the nearest sleeping character, or shout, or etc..

Liberty's Edge

Happler wrote:
Since the diviner is still considered flat footed until they act, is delaying an action?

Yes : it is one of the "Special Initiative Actions" in the CRB together with readying (which is further described as a standard action).

Hence, once your original turn in initiative happens, you are not flat-footed anymore, no matter your decision (act, delay, ready).

As a diviner, my PFS Halfling of Many Classes once got trapped in delaying. Next time my GM asks me what I do in such a case, I will ready an action to shoot/cast at whatever hostile tries to attack my party. This way you can still disrupt the caster even if he succeeded on his Stealth vs your Perception check.


Jiggy wrote:
It doesn't tell you anything about what's happening, it just lets you act in the surprise round. In a sense, it's actually kind of a "metagamey" ability, in that the only thing your character knows is that you just rolled initiative. He doesn't know what sort of threat is coming, where it(they) is(are), or how best to deal with it. You have no information whatsoever except that the surprise round has started. Also note that if there was no surprise round or if you made your perception check, this ability does nothing at all.

This sounds most fitting, in my opinion. I could totally understand a diviner waking up in the middle of the night, knowing there was an imminent threat but not knowing what it was. In this case, the most likely course of action in the surprise round would probably be to stand up and maybe call a quick warning to everyone. Even if you don't know what's going on, there's some kind of danger, and I expect being on your feet will only help.

Jiggy wrote:
*awesome Eldritch Knight procedure when forewarned*

That is absolutely amazing.


Thanks for the feedback, everybody! Based on your advice, here's what I'm going with:

1) If the diviner is ever directly threatened, he will wake up automatically.
2) If someone else in his group is attacked instead, he will be more likely to wake up the more he cares about them.

In the case of last week's wolf blitz, they only attacked the party's horses. This player haaaaaaates horses (like a goblin!), and more importantly so does his PC, so it fits that his character didn't care enough to wake up. The player is totally satisfied with this ruling.
-blarg

Dark Archive

blargney the second wrote:

Thanks for the feedback, everybody! Based on your advice, here's what I'm going with:

1) If the diviner is ever directly threatened, he will wake up automatically.
2) If someone else in his group is attacked instead, he will be more likely to wake up the more he cares about them.

In the case of last week's wolf blitz, they only attacked the party's horses. This player haaaaaaates horses (like a goblin!), and more importantly so does his PC, so it fits that his character didn't care enough to wake up. The player is totally satisfied with this ruling.
-blarg

Nice. Hope you do not mind if I steal this for future use.

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