PC said "I stab the shopkeep" but came last in initiative. Whats wrong?

Okay so here's exactly where you're going wrong:

Since everyone is openly aware of each other's presence and no one is making stealth checks, no one gets the surprise condition. Roll initiative.

This is NOT how it works.

Surprise has no direct correlation to stealth. You do not need to be stealthy to surprise, it just helps.

Anyone who would say "I don't know what's going on and did not expect combat" is SURPRISED and doesn't do anything. If the shopkeeper was not expecting combat, they can still be surprised even if they see the aggressor. Unless the shopkeeper was expecting something to happen, they should be surprised that it is. Imagine trying to punch someone in the face. You can do it in broad daylight, while visible to someone, and still surprise them by punching them in the face. Unless you were already being aggressive, then they might be ready for it and duck/dodge/hit you first.

What should have happened:

You want to make an attack, so everyone rolls initiative, then determine surprise, anyone who was not expecting to be in combat this turn is surprised, pretty much everyone but your murder-hobo.

So initiative should be rolled, everyone is surprised but your murder-hobo, which casts cone of cold on their initiative. Then next round everyone is acting normal.

/r/DMAcademy Thread