When Combat begins, each combatant involved makes an initiative check using either their Dexterity, or an appropriate skill depending on the situation. For example if a Tiger is stalking a player, it could roll a Stealth Skill check instead of Dexterity, which could in turn be opposed by the players Notice Skill check. For social settings Persuasion, Insight, and Intimidate might all be used. Once all players have made their roll initiative begins with the player that rolled the highest and counts down to the lowest, every subsequent round of the same combat follows the same turn order unless an action is taken by a character to change their initiative. In the case of a tie the combatant with the highest dexterity modifier goes first, if they are still tied you each make a new roll between the tying characters to see who goes first.
At the start of a combat and before you have had a chance to act you are Surprised. You are denied your dexterity bonus to any defense roll until you have taken a turn, even if you took no actions during that turn.
Surprised Characters cannot take reactions.
Even if you can’t take actions, or choose not to, your initiative score does not change for the duration of the combat.
When a combat starts, if you are not aware of your opponents and they are aware of you, you’re surprised.
When a combat occurs both sides may be aware of their opponents, sometimes neither is, and sometimes only a few are aware. Determining surprise may use many different skill checks depending on the situation. Perception to counter an opponent's stealth, insight to counter a bluff or persuasion etc. If you are attempting to determine the level of surprise, if you attempt to surprise an opponent with stealth and beat their perception score, you gain Surprise 1, giving you 1 action to use during the surprise round. For every 4 you beat your opponent by you gain an additional action, up to 3.
The Surprise Round
If some but not all of the combatants are aware of their opponents, a surprise round happens before regular rounds begin. Any who are aware may roll initiative and the number of actions each combatant can use is determined. Combatants then act in initiative order (highest to lowest). You can also take free actions during the surprise round. If no one or everyone is surprised, no surprise round occurs.
Combatants who are unaware at the start of battle don’t get to act in the surprise round. Unaware combatants are Surprised until they take their turn in the initiative order.