Zem is about to step onto the ramp. Leudigar, Zax, and Akbar are huddled in the shadowy corner at the ramp's base. Zax, nose in the air, is noting a tangible increase in an ominous pong that he can only think to describe as "snake-breath"...
"Your sscent may be sstrong," woos a lullaby voice, "but not wholly unpleassant, me thinkss..."
Fried and Karl are on the mezzanine among the statues, overlooking the scene from the secret tunnel... from where they observe a thick, dark serpent---fronted by the upper-torso of a green woman---emerge from the darkness to slide into the archway, immediately grasping the stone work with one hand so as to peer around the corner...
The snake-woman peers around the corner.
The referee checks for surprise.
Have the players surprised the snake-woman? 1d6=2, so no.
Has the snake-woman surprised the players? 1d6=3, so no.
Neither party is surprised, so both parties are aware the other is there before anything "happens"... the ref decides she has some words to say; why not?
There is no need to dice for encounter distance, because the scenario dictates positions. Leudigar, Zax, and Akbar are all 20--30ft away. Zem is 60ft away; Fried and Karl are about 60ft away as the crow flies, but perhaps double that on foot.
What orders say you for the forthcoming turn?
the Elf Medium (MV 12", AC 9, HD 1, hp 1/1, AL N) great cloak, lantern
; spells: color spray; scrolls: sleep, sleep, charm person
Hirelings: Georges; torch