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Let's say I'm holding a spear (or halberd, or urgrosh, or any other weapon that can be braced) and ready an action to attack the next enemy that comes within reach. If someone charges me, triggering my readied action, will I deal double damage on a hit? Or must I specifically ready to attack the next charging foe, wasting my readied action if they decide to move into reach without charging?

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Readying a Weapon against a Charge

You can ready certain piercing weapons, setting them to receive charges. A readied weapon of this type deals double damage if you score a hit with it against a charging character.

(emphasis mine)

Notice how this does not describe any particular readying process: no special triggers or requirements, simply a conditional damage bonus. It refers to “a readied weapon of this type,” without saying it needs some kind of special readying. In short, what this rule is saying is if you ready an attack, and score a hit with that readied attack using one of these weapons against a charging creature, you deal double damage.

However, please note that readied actions are an extremely niche option; they are almost never the best course of action. Going before your opponent (read: going more than your opponent) is just about the largest combat advantage available in the game. Giving that up for a single attack, even a double-damage attack, is almost never a good choice.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ FWIW: "They are outside my range, if I moved, they would still be outside my range, they can move and be in range to hit me without my having to do anything" is a valid calculation that has the best-possible outcome as "ready my weapon to attack." \$\endgroup\$ – Draco18s Dec 21 '17 at 23:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Draco18s Not necessarily. Positioning is often important even if you can't quite get in range, really every character should have something more useful to do if given a round to prep, and even when neither of those is the case, giving up your earlier initiative is still almost-always the wrong choice. Seriously, initiative is absurdly critical; voluntarily reducing yours below your enemy is almost unthinkable. I have seen someone choose to do it maybe a handful of times in years of play, and I’m not convinced it was the right choice when they did. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Dec 21 '17 at 23:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'll grant you that. Certainly I'll agree that in the large majority of actual situations Ready is less ideal than "something else." \$\endgroup\$ – Draco18s Dec 21 '17 at 23:41

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