How does the Ready action work?

  • So from reading the Player's Handbook, it seems that the Ready action is taken instead of any other action as it is an action in its own right. However, can you move on the same turn that you ready an action? For instance, (taking the example from the Player's Handbook):

    If the cultist steps on the trapdoor, I’ll pull the lever that opens it

    Presumably, when you ready this action, you would want to move near to the lever so you can pull it when the time is right. Likewise, with readying a spell, you would obviously want to move away from combat so you could concentrate on the spell.

    Secondly, when the trigger goes off do you have to wait for your turn, or do you in effect get a bonus turn? For instance, the cultist starts running towards you, but on his way he steps on the trap door - so you immediately pull the lever, even though it wasn't your turn. I assume you then act as normal when your actual turn comes around?

  • Christopher

    Christopher Correct answer

    5 years ago

    Your Turn

    On your turn, you can move and perform an action. The ready action is, as you point out, an action like any other. This means that on your turn you can move and take the ready action.

    The Ready Action

    The ready action allows you to react to a specific, "perceivable circumstance."

    To do so, you can take the Ready action on your turn so that you can act later in the round using your reaction.

    When the trigger occurs, you can either take your reaction right after the trigger finishes or ignore the trigger.

    Remember that "[a] reaction is an instant response to a trigger of some kind, which can occur on your turn or on someone else's," (Reactions), meaning it happens immediately after the trigger occurs.

    Your Questions

    However can you move on the same turn that you ready an action?

    Yes, you can. It is an action just like any other, and is taken on your turn.

    Secondly when the trigger goes off do you have to wait for your turn or do you in effect get a bonus turn?

    It's a reaction, and happens immediately. It's not another turn, nor do you have to wait. It happens when the trigger, well, triggers it. Reactions can—and almost always do—occur on someone else's turn.


    A few notes on the ready action.

    • It takes up your reaction, so you can't perform the readied action and an opportunity attack in the same combat round
    • The readied action happens when the trigger occurs, but any movement has to be done on your turn—unless your reaction is to move. It does not move your turn in the initiative order
    • Spells used for a readied action gives that spell a concentration requirement, and thus doesn't work if you already are concentrating on a spell (or you could choose to stop concentrating on it)

    Can you clarify if the readied action happens after the circumstance has resolved or immediately before. ie "I ready an attack for when he attacks me". Do you get the attack as he declares the attack or after he finishes the attack and damage is done?

    Per the readied action, it occurs right *after* the trigger.

    Just curious about the page number for readied spells requiring concentration; I'm sure it's there but can't find it.

    Page 193, in the ready action section.

    Further clarification: Although it takes place after the trigger, a clever player often declares the trigger to be an action *imminent* to the event: I.e. "I will act when my opponent raises his arm to attack". or "I will strike if my opponent begins to cast a spell."

    *any movement has to be done on your turn* PHB example: **“If the Goblin steps next to me, I move away.”**

    @Wyrmwood yeah, forgot that your reaction can be to move. Updated the caveats section

    I think it'd be clearer just to reiterate that you can ready an action or a move - not both.

    I also don't think ready *is an action like any other* - it's a fairly specific usage of your reaction, and you can ready an action or a move, but not both. You are correct to point out it consumes your reaction, but you also might point out that other activities that specify "on your turn" like bonus actions and extra attacks aren't available if the trigger occurs during someone else's turn.

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