Newb questions

Beginner Box

Hello everyone! I have recently picked up the Beginner Box and I am learning the rules and will be running this for some newbs as well. I certainly don't want to get stuck on some of the rules. With that being said, I have the following questions if someone could help!

1. When the party goes into a room and there are monsters in the room and one side doesn't know the other is there, you are supposed to roll a perception/stealth check. How does this work when there are more than one monster in the room? Do you roll once for all monsters or groups of monsters?

2. Can the wizard cast Ray of Frost from the second row without it hitting any of the party members in the front row? How do spells work with the wizard being the second row? Say he has Burning Hands, would he only be able to cast it when there is no party member in the way so he wouldn't harm them?

3. Can you use more than one feat in the same round? For example, use cleave and power attack at the same time. Is there a limit?

4. Can you charge and use power attack at the same time?

I apologize if the answers are apparent and I am missing them. Thanks for any help, much appreciated!

welcome to the hobby! *edited. I mixed up some paragraphs*

1) GM discretion. There needs to be a judgment call as to WHY the players and monsters don't notice each other. If the monsters/enemies are engaged in something, with their backs turned to the entry-- that makes sense that they wouldn't notice the party.
If the monsters/enemies are standing guard, in a small 20'x40'room with nothing to take their attention away from the door, then they will of course notice the entrance of the party.

In either case, there are variables. Here is an example. Is the party trying to be stealthy? (the players would have to roll Stealth checks, and the enemy would make an opposed Perception check to match whatever the party rolled on their stealth check in order to notice them)

2) Rays are targeted spells that require an attack roll to confirm a hit. If your buddy is between you and your target, that target will get a +4 bonus to his Armor Class for having cover. Whoever is in the 1st row has no danger of being hit by the ray attack.
*Disclaimer* I don't recall if there are rules for cover in the Beginners Box. This rule may not apply. If you cannot find any rules about cover, then the enemy wouldn't receive any AC bonus, and YES the wizard can certainly target an enemy from the 2nd row.

Burning hands covers a 15' cone-shaped area of effect that automatically hits all targets in the cone. If a wizard casts Burning hands from the 2nd row, he's going to have some toasty friends in front of him! (remember, all who take the damage from this spell receive a Reflex Saving Throw for a chance to take half damage)

3) Yes, you can use those feats together in the same round. There is not specific limitation on feats, but you would be limited based on how many actions you could take. (for example, you couldn't use Cleave AND Point-Blank Shot in the same round because Cleave is a full-round melee action and Point-blank Shot is a ranged attack. You would need 2 rounds to use both feats.)
If in doubt, use your best judgment. Many combat feats can be used in conjunction with one-another.

4) Yes you can Charge and Power Attack at the same time.

Thanks for the answers Zedth!

The whole perception/stealth thing is still a bit confusing to me.

A creature makes a stealth check if it is actively trying not to be seen. Each creature rolls separately. Then everyone who might be able to see the creature (no obvious issues like 3 foot thick solid stone walls, heh) makes a perception check. In strict accordance with the rules, you make a perception per stealth check, but it makes sense to just do one perception check for each person indicating how well they can hear/see things around them. Then each thing trying to stay hidden rolls stealth and that sets various levels of required perception to notice them.

For example:

Two goblin fighters, a goblin sorcerer, and two goblin rogues are in a cavern. They know the players are coming and want to ambush them, so they duck behind various rock formations and supply boxes and roll stealth:
Fighter 1 - 14
Fighter 2 - 10
Sorcerer - 19
Rogue 1 - 22
Rogue 2 - 25

The three players walk into the room and they pause to survey the dark room. They each make a perception check:
Ranger - 20
Cleric - 8
Wizard - 15

So once the players roll their checks, we have the following facts:
Ranger can see the two fighter's hanging out behind the ridge to the right and the sorcerer in the back area. The Cleric doesn't notice anything. The wizard only sees the fighter. So as far as the players know, there are only 3 goblins in the room. In fact, you wouldn't even put the rogue characters on the map until they come out of hiding to attack. This may be several turns into the fight if they are waiting for the wizard to be left behind or for the cleric to wander closer to them.

I don't think the game has a surprise round in the beginner's box, but it is a round before normal combat in which those who were planning the ambush and anyone who saw it coming can get a half round of action (one standard or one move action; so shooting a bow or running for cover or doing a 'half charge' which is a charge that only goes one movement's worth of distance). Initiative is rolled as normal and everyone acts in the appropriate order based on what they know at the time.

For example, if the Ranger wins surprise round initiative, he can attack the fighters or the sorcerer but he has no idea that there are rogues. It is best for the players to have their characters act only on what they knew at the start of the surprise round. That means even if the rogues shoot the wizard with crossbow bolts on their surprise round action, the wizard (who didn't roll high enough to see them) shouldn't target the rogues.

Without using the rules for a surprise round, you can still run a round where players should only act on what their characters know. It is part of the fun of putting yourself in the PC's shoes and thinking "what does he see? Who should he fireball?". If he didn't roll high enough to see the goblin sorcerer, he shouldn't shoot it with magic missiles in round one.

cardshold8 wrote:

3. Can you use more than one feat in the same round? For example, use cleave and power attack at the same time. Is there a limit?

4. Can you charge and use power attack at the same time?

I apologize if the answers are apparent and I am missing them. Thanks for any help, much appreciated!

Welcome to the hobby.

The key to understanding these questions is understanding what is, and isn't, an action. Charge is an action (a full-round action). Cleave is an action, as described in the feat. Power Attack, despite the name, is not an action, but a modifier that might apply any time you roll an attack and damage roll. In that, Power Attack is similar to Weapon Focus.

I've handled the stealth/perception thing as a judgment call. Normally, I'll roll a single check for all monsters and use the modifiers from whichever has the best Perception bonus. This represents the entire group's perception roll. So for 4 goblins and a dire rat, I use the +4 perception of the dire rat, so rolling 1d20 + 4 for the group.

I can now have each player make an individual check, choose one player to make a check, or some combination of the two depending on the circumstances. For example, let's say that Xan has a Stealth modifier of +2 and he's checking the room up ahead for any monsters. Then I use his roll only (1d20 + 2). If everyone is entering at the same time, however, I might use the player with the lowest stealth modifier (maybe -1). I compare the results to the perception roll of the dire rat.

So for this example:

Xan approaches the door and cracks it open to view inside.

Monsters roll 15, Xan rolls 18

Xan is able to spot 4 goblins playing a dice game and a dire rat chewing on a bone.

Then Paul, the group fighter, tries to have a look over Xan's head....
He rolls a 12 (I don't bother to reroll for the dire rat to keep things moving)...The rat suddenly looks up, sniffs the air, and snarles towards the door....Everybody roll initiative!

I'll also add that if no one is trying to be sneaky, there's no stealth check. You can still roll perception since things like distance, dim light (for seeing), closed doors (for hearing) can all apply penalties.

Here's a page that lists all the DCs and bonus/penalties associated with the check.

For example, if you're listening at a door to see if anyone inside is talking (normal volume), it is a perception DC 0 + 5 for hearing through a door (total DC 5). To hear a whispered conversation through a foot thick wall, it is perception DC 15 + 10 for hearing through a foot thick wall (total DC 25). If you're trying to do the above in a crowded tavern, there is a +5 difficulty increase. If it is just murmured talk around, maybe it is just +2 difficulty.

So to hear someone turn a key in the door to your inn room two floors above you while you are leading a rowdy group of drunks in a loud drinking song would be a 20 (key turning) + 5 (fifty feet away) + 20 (2 one-foot thick floors in the way) + 5 (terrible conditions) + 10 (distracted) = DC 60 check. But, hey, it isn't exactly impossible for the right kind of character (at level 20 who has specialized in boosting his perception checks, heh).

Thanks so much for all of your answers! I think I understand now.

cardshold8 wrote:

Thanks for the answers Zedth!

The whole perception/stealth thing is still a bit confusing to me.

The Perception/Stealth paradigm can be confusing, but it will make more sense as you watch different scenarios come to life in your game.

-if you want to give the players a chance to notice something, tell them to roll a perception check. (that "something" could be goblins chatting the next room, or maybe a small glimmer in the mud that is actually a discarded key, etc.) The DC (difficulty check/difficulty class) that the players will need to roll will be equal to the Stealth check of whoever is hiding, or simply an arbitrary number that you came up with. (example, you know the goblins in the next room are playing dice, and they might be a little noisy. Since they're behind a closed door, it will take a Perception check of DC 18 for the players to notice the goblins.)

If the players and the enemies are in the same area or room, you can assume that if no one is actively attempting hide their presence by using Stealth, then there will be no need for a perception check. You can assume that they are seen.

-this goes both ways, for players and bad guys-

As the Game Master it is always your prerogative to apply any circumstances you think seem appropriate. If the players are being raucous and loud, you might choose to roll a secret Perception check for the bad guys in the next room! Those bad guys might have overheard the heroes' talking or clanking armor before the players even opened the door, and now the players are in for a surprise when the enemy's magic missile comes flying toward them unannounced!

Do those examples help clear anything up?

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