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Here’s How Readying An Action Actually Works In D&D 5e

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Yes, I thought that I understood how it worked.

It sounds easy to prepare for combat. Instead of performing something on yourturn you do something later in the round.

It’s really just waiting for a brief moment before you do what you intended, isn’t that it?

But not really.

This confusion stems from the difference between delaying and readying for action.

Both are allowed with some caveats. The latter is not, with the exception of homebrew rules.

Here’s what the Player’s Handbook says about preparing an action for D&D 5e.

Sometimes, you need to jump on a foe before you act. You can use the Ready action to get the jump on a foe or wait for a particular circumstance before you act.

You first decide what triggers your reaction. You then choose the response you will take to that trigger. Or you can choose to go at your own speed. You can choose to respond to the triggers by saying, “If the cultist steps upon the trapdoor, then I’ll pull it open.” “If the goblin steps beside me, I move away.”

You have two options when the trigger happens. You can take your reaction immediately after the trigger ends or ignore it. You can only take one reaction per round.

You prepare a spell by casting it as normal, but holding its energy. When the trigger is triggered, you release that energy with your reaction. A spell must be ready for use within 1 action. Concentration is required to hold onto the spell’s magic. The spell will not take effect if your concentration is disrupted. If you concentrate on the web spell while releasing magic missile to your reaction, it will end.

In simpler terms, you will need to:

A) Describe the action you are preparing (attack, dodge or dash, etc.).

B) Specify the trigger that will make you do this

C) If that trigger fails, accept the fact that absolutely you will make this round.

You will also be penalized for not following through on the readied action.

In May 2015, Jeremy Crawford, D&D’s principal rules developer, clarified that you can only make one attack when you have an attack action ready. This is even though your character can often use the additional attack feature.

Crawford explained why was not allowed to delay a complete turn in initiative order in in an August 2015 article .

He stated that delay in a turn could slow down game decision-making and potentially slow down combat. He said that being able delay the initiative order could make it “unwelcome chore” for DMs, who would need to update the turn order constantly.

But, the most important thing is its effect on certain spells.

Crawford wrote that being able to delay your turn could cause you to wreak havoc with the durations spells and other effects, especially those that last until your next round.

You can change the time of your turn to alter the duration of some spells. To prevent such abuse, you can create additional rules that limit your ability to alter durations. What would the net result be? The net effect? More complexity to the game. With more complexity comes greater potential for slower play.

The decision was made in order to allow for quicker combat and more initiative to matter.

“We didn’t want to begin every combat with rolling initiative, then weaken turn order by using a delay option. We felt that the battle should not be about toying with initiative. The focus should be on the dramatic actions of the combatants, with quick turns. You can take your next turn faster if your turn is over sooner.

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