Starting a surprise round with a bluff?


Rules Questions


Imagine that two people are aware of each other, and one of them decides to attack, but doesn't want the other to know the attack is coming.

My group has always handled this with an opposed Bluff/Sense Motive. If the bluff is successful, it begins combat as per the usual surprise round rules.

Today I learned that this is (apparently) a house rule. I can't find rules for initiating surprise combat with bluff instead of stealth anywhere.

Are there rules for this?


Awareness of your opponent is the determining factor of surprise.

I've always taken it as the surprise is the time necessary to determine if it's a threat, where the threat is coming from, and thinking of what to do in the confusion that is the surprise round.

So if two people are aware of each other, they cannot be surprised. HOWEVER....this does not mean they cannot be suddenly attacked from a flank, or that they can't lose track of someone and have them sneak up on them unawares.


However there apparently is a feat:

http://www.d20pfsrd.com/feats/combat-feats/surprising-combatant-combat

You can get the drop on foes by tricking your opponents into overlooking you as a combatant.

Prerequisite: Improved Initiative, Bluff 3 ranks.

Benefit*: At the beginning of a combat in which you would normally be able to act in a surprise round, after initiative is rolled but before the surprise round begins, you can attempt a Bluff check as a free action. The DC of this Bluff check is equal to 15 + the CR of the encounter. If you succeed at this Bluff check, you may treat the result of your Bluff check as your initiative result for the surprise round. If your Bluff check fails, you cannot act during the surprise round. Regardless, you use your normal initiative result to determine initiative for the remainder of the encounter.

Special: This feat is available to weretigers, weretiger-kin and those who associate with these creatures.

Dark Archive

This was also brought up in Ultimate Intrigue. It's settled pretty much exactly as your house-rule.
I don't have my book at work with me, but if nobody has followed up on this post before I get home, I'll post the exact wording then.


No, what your group has been doing is right. Don't worry about it, that's a very common use of bluff.


Agreed, it's pretty much the right thing to do.

If you want to get hung up on the "awareness" language, think of it this way: the bluff check is to prevent the target from being aware of you as an enemy, rather than a neutral or friendly party.


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Ultimate Intrigue, page 184:

Quote:
Surprise: Not every surprise round begins with an ambush from unseen assailants. If a character or several characters unexpectedly attack in the midst of a conversation or other normal activity, their victims might be surprised. To determine if a victim is surprised, he should attempt a Sense Motive check opposed by the assailant’s Bluff check rather than a Perception opposed by the assailant’s Stealth check. This is also a good way to adjudicate several abilities, including several vigilante talents that trigger when the target thinks the vigilante is an ally.

Shadow Lodge

Or to set up the "What's that over there?" prelude to a sucker-punch. There's also a trait available in Champions of Balance, I believe, that allows you to do this to get a surprise round for your entire team, but you get -2 on your Bluff check for each ally you include.


Kaliel Windstorm wrote:

Awareness of your opponent is the determining factor of surprise.

I've always taken it as the surprise is the time necessary to determine if it's a threat, where the threat is coming from, and thinking of what to do in the confusion that is the surprise round.

So if two people are aware of each other, they cannot be surprised. HOWEVER....this does not mean they cannot be suddenly attacked from a flank, or that they can't lose track of someone and have them sneak up on them unawares.

I don't think that the surprise round has enough time to do a social bluff.

What you essentially want to do is attack from concealment, assuming they fail their Perception checks, you get your free shot, maybe two if you win initiative on the first round.


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Plausible Pseudonym wrote:
Ultimate Intrigue, page 184:
Quote:
Surprise: Not every surprise round begins with an ambush from unseen assailants. If a character or several characters unexpectedly attack in the midst of a conversation or other normal activity, their victims might be surprised. To determine if a victim is surprised, he should attempt a Sense Motive check opposed by the assailant’s Bluff check rather than a Perception opposed by the assailant’s Stealth check. This is also a good way to adjudicate several abilities, including several vigilante talents that trigger when the target thinks the vigilante is an ally.

This is exactly what I was looking for. Thank you.

Thanks everyone!

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