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When a Battle Master uses their Maneuvering Strike maneuver, does the creature they're affecting have to take the reaction immediately after the attack?

(PHB pg 74)

Maneuvering Attack. When you hit a creature with a weapon attack, you can expend one superiority die to maneuver one of your comrades into a more advantageous position. You add the superiority die to the attack’s damage roll, and you choose a friendly creature who can see or hear you. That creature can use its reaction to move up to half its speed without provoking opportunity attacks from the target of your attack.

Here's an example:

You have a Battle Master fighter named Dave and he is riding a warhorse and wielding a lance.

Dave holds his action to attack with his lance as soon as there is an enemy within ten feet.

On the horse's turn, it runs toward an enemy, and Dave hits the enemy with an attack and makes it a maneuvering attack, which he gives to his horse.

Does the horse then have to use its reaction to gain the benefits of the maneuvering attack?

Instead, can it wait until it has gotten into melee with this creature, take its attack, and now use its reaction to get out without provoking an attack of opportunity? (I'm aware Dave will still provoke AoO).

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    \$\begingroup\$ This doesn't impact the spirit of the question, but warhorses are usually Controlled Mounts, as opposed to Independent. Thus, with a normal warhorse, this scenario would likely not happen. The point still stands with some other Independent mount! \$\endgroup\$ – Lost_in_Hyrule Dec 4 '17 at 15:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm asking because in a game, I'm a battle master and we also have a druid who likes to turn into a warhorse, thus making the mount independent. \$\endgroup\$ – Philimon Dec 4 '17 at 16:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ If Dave used a shorter weapon then Dave could instead ready his action to attack whatever the horse attacks instead of when he gets in range. (This would work with a lance but the attack would be with disadvantage.) \$\endgroup\$ – Ian Miller Dec 5 '17 at 2:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ Is this all happening during the horse's turn? Would the horse even have reaction during their own turn? \$\endgroup\$ – João Mendes Dec 5 '17 at 9:50
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A reaction is an instant response to a trigger of some kind (PHB 190)

You cannot choose to take a reaction just anytime, it has to be triggered. The ability does not state another possible trigger besides the attack itself, so that has to be it. Thus you cannot delay it and must take it immediately.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ That being said, can you then break up that reaction movement like you can normal movement? Thus, can the warhorse move 5 feet closer to the target, attack it, and use the rest of its reaction half movement equalling 25 feet to retreat? \$\endgroup\$ – Philimon Dec 4 '17 at 16:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Philimon You cannot. As you only have one reaction, you have nothing else to break it up with. Your GM might allow you to eg. drop something, but it is up to them. \$\endgroup\$ – Szega Dec 4 '17 at 16:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ To clarify, the warhorse (a druid thus making it independent) would be taking this maneuvering reaction on its own turn due to Dave's reaction being used as part of a held action to attack that activated during the warhorse's turn. Would that at all affect the outcome? By taking this reaction, is the warhorse forgoing the rest of its movement, action, and potential bonus action? \$\endgroup\$ – Philimon Dec 4 '17 at 17:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Philimon I would say no. It does not get additional movement, it can move as a reaction and you cannot break those up. \$\endgroup\$ – Szega Dec 4 '17 at 17:09
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A creature must move immediately as a part of Maneuvering Strike

You may note that there is no duration specified for the creature to take the reaction. If any delay were possible, then the ally could take the reaction turns, hours, or days later, since there is no expiration. Since this is clearly not intended, the only explanation is that the reaction must be made immediately, as a part of the Maneuvering Strike.

Thematically, this is fitting as well. The Battle Master helps his ally move, striking to create a split-second opening his ally can exploit.

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