D&D Glossary

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A special situation that occurs at the beginning of a battle if some (but not all) combatants are unaware of their opponents' presence. In this case, a surprise round happens before regular rounds begin. In initiative order (highest to lowest), those combatants who started the battle aware of their opponents each take a standard action during the surprise round. Creatures unaware of opponents are flat-footed through the entire surprise round and do not enter the initiative cycle until the first regular combat round.

Source: PHB

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