There are many ways for the players to stop a monster from taking actions on their turn. Often times, that condition can be removed on that monster's initiative order. Should they then be allowed to act on their initiative order as if they were not shut down earlier that turn? For clarification, here's a specific example.

A group of barbarians all share initiative at the beginning of combat. Call them group B. Later a subset of that larger group is stunlocked by a bard casting Hypnotic Pattern. Call them group BsubB. Their un-stunlocked buddies arrow the heck out of the bard, who fails (a few of) his concentration roll(s). Call them group BsubA.

Since it is still their initiative can group BsubB now do anything this round as a result of the actions of group BsubA?

It really only matters for monsters, since they roll initiative as a group.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ As a DM, how do you choose the turn order for NPCs sharing the same initiative? \$\endgroup\$
    – enkryptor
    Jul 19, 2017 at 19:59

2 Answers 2



The rules are silent on how you declare and take actions within a single turn using group initiative. The other relevant effects are covered in various places:

  • Hypnotic Pattern is a concentration spell that causes incapacitation
  • Incapacitation prevents actions and reactions.
  • Concentration spells end if the caster loses consciousness.

None of these facts are in dispute. The question is how you stitch them together via Initiative.


Other than things that explicitly say they allow for an interruption in the turn order (i.e. reactions), I find combat works better if each member of the group checks states and things at the same time.

  1. When the barbarians' turn begins, some are able to take actions, some are not.
  2. Determine actions they're taking. Some are forced to choose "take no action".
  3. Resolve the actions they're taking.

Once you've moved from one step to the next, you can't go back for that turn. From a combat abstraction angle, they all act together. If one part of the group was unable to act when their turn came up, then don't get to go at all that turn.

This has the benefit of not swinging the action economy too far back in the opposition's favor. The character spent resources to slow the enemies down. It already only partially worked, why add insult to injury?

  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 for the comment on the player spending resources. Additionally, having a clear transparent system like this both prevents the GM from gaming the system, or from the players having the perception the GM is. \$\endgroup\$
    – Randomorph
    Jul 19, 2017 at 18:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ @T.J.L. That's kinda how I feel about it. Seems reasonable to me. I thought maybe about carving out an exception if their buddies took an action to awaken their friends, but why complicate things. \$\endgroup\$
    – JWT
    Jul 19, 2017 at 18:55

Up to the Table

As T.J.L. states in this answer, there is no RAW direction here and both that answer, mine, and others will be coming from an opinion/experience viewpoint.

The advice in that answer is excellent, but I'd like to offer a different option that is less friendly to the PCs (unfortunately.)

Ultimately, the DM determines Monster order. Whether the Barbarians under Hypnotic Pattern act first, last or somewhere in between is up to the DM. At the start of the Monster's turn, the DM should announce what the plan is. Undestanding how you normally determine order will help maintain consistency and player expectation

They can:

  1. Allow the unaffected Barbarians to go first and give them an opportunity to break the spell (either by hurting the Bard, or waking up their friends if the DM feels that is what they would do.)
  2. State that the affected Barbarians are out for the turn and only direct the unaffected Barbarians.
  3. Randomly roll for either of the above or something in between (roll an initiative order for each of the Barbarians.)

Rounds and Turns

From the standpoint of the spell, it may also be helpful to understand in what round the Barbarians are going.

If they are up after the Bard in the same round, I think it's reasonable to say that the unaffected have a chance to "free" the affected and give them their turn.

If they were before the Bard and their next turn isn't until the following Round, it is reasonable to say that those affected do not get their turn.


In my opinion, the breaking of the spell should generally free any remaining creatures affected by it. The players would want their teammates to free them and still get an action, so the monsters should be given the same rights and option as well. Expecting the monsters to have a different order simply because they share their turn isn't logical or equal.


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