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Can someone please clearly and simply explain how the suprise rules integrate to actions throughout a combat round.

Here's how I run it: Reaction tests all around, -2 to TN for the surprisiers. List who gets what result. The person on the high end can go and act against all, and so on. Basically, as I read it, you get 1 action on the beginning before the initiative roll. The highest can 1) act 1st, 2) act against all persons. Basically, you can only act against someone who was slower than you. This is where enhanced iniative also really shines.

Yup, that sounds about right.
Surprise is rolled only when someone or something appears suddenly. You don't roll it for things like the sam quickdrawing and shooting the guy he was talking to (that's just pure initiative). When you've got an ambush (where one side can't see the other) or the like, you roll surprise. (You probably already knew all of that, but I'm just being thorough).

You roll reaction against TN 4. If you have delayed actions relevant to the situation (ie, I'm going to shoot the first person to come through that door) then you roll against TN 2. The GM can modify this based on terrain, etc.

Everyone then has a number of successes from the surprise test which you'll use in the first round of combat. Roll initiative normally and proceed with the first pass of the round thusly.

If someone has more successes than you on the surprise test, you cannot take actions against that person or use combat pool to defend against them. If you have equal or more successes than someone, you can act against them and use combat pool normally. This is in effect until the end of your next action phase.

[edit] If all members of the opposition roll better than you do on the surprise test, you can't take any actions at all (even free actions) on your first action. [/edit]

So, let's take Bob (reaction 4 initative 2d6), Karl (reaction 6, initiative 2d6), GoonA (reaction 4, initiative 1d6) and GoonB (reaction 4, initiative 1d6). GoonA & GoonB have set an ambush for Bob and Karl.

First we roll reaction tests (TN 4 for Bob and Karl, TN 2 for the goons). The results are:

Bob 2 successes
Karl 2 successes
GoonA 3 successes
GoonB 4 successes

Okay. Now we roll initiative. The numbers are:

Bob 9
Karl 14
GoonA 7
GoonB 10

Okay, so what happens? Well, Karl goes first and he [edit] can't take any actions because both goons have surprised him (both of which got more successes on the surprise roll). [/edit] Once Karl has acted, he is no longer surprised and can use his combat pool normally to avoid the attacks of the goons.

GoonB goes next, and decides to shoot Bob since Karl's just too fast. He does so and Bob can't use combat pool against the attack. Sucks to be Bob, though he somehow manages not to get hurt (the goon is a sucky shot). Bob is no longer surprised.

Next goes Bob. He can't take actions against either goon this round because he is still surprised, so let's move on to GoonA.

GoonA decides to shoot at Bob, but this time, Bob can use combat pool to resist the attack since Bob has acted this pass.

In Pass 2, Karl is able to take actions against either or both goons since his surprise has worn off.
The one thing I never liked about surprise in SR shows up in oyur example TinkerGnome. Karl goes first since he has the highest iniative, which I usually understand as having the best reaction time to whatever stimuli set him off. Yet he can't take any actions against either Goon A or B because they got more successes on the reaction test.
Can anyone explain to me why the system works this way?
It's balance. Yes, Sammy has high wires and can usually get a decent reaction, but what even he gets surprised. It saves goons who surprise a sammy but can't beat his initiative and just get mowed down for their troubles. Surprise is a hard thing to do; I've seen they're the equivalent of holding an action and all kinds of possibilities.

I like the system in this respect.

There is a huge advantage to Karl's highest initiative, though. Even though he can't actually do anything, he has full use of his combat pool for defending himself against his foes. He can draw a weapon, and generally get ready to unleash hell on them next round and he's not a sitting duck when they start shooting.
Grab a grenade and get ready to chuck it at someone. wink.gif

This looks like a prime example of the chunky salsa effect just waiting to happen. Goon soup anyone?
Woo, I missed something. If all opponents rolled better than you did on the surprise test, you can't take any actions on that first turn. I changed the example around to reflect this.
Well since you can't take direct action againstthem....

I just shot at the wall directly behind them. They just happen to be in the way.
Cheesy. smile.gif Of course you could grab the aforementioned 'nade and throw it.

"What? I thought I was being attacked by a bee. You ever been attacked by a bee? Its certainly not pleasant. I think a hand grenade is a perfectly reasonable response."
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