The Ready Action is described as:

First, you decide what perceivable circumstance will trigger your reaction. Then, you choose the action you will take in response to that trigger, or you choose to move up to your speed in response to it. Examples include “If the Cultist steps on the trapdoor, I’ll pull the lever that opens it,” and “If the Goblin steps next to me, I move away.”

When the trigger occurs, you can either take your reaction right after the trigger finishes or ignore the trigger. Remember that you can take only one reaction per round.

Is there any evidence that the action in a Ready Action can be conditional? For example, "if the goblin attacks the wizard I will attack it, but if it doesn't, I will drink a potion."


2 Answers 2


Single trigger, single action

The Ready action requires a single trigger for a single action (because characters only get 1 action barring some conditional abilities/spells) - otherwise the risks involved in the ready are removed.

As an example, when readying a spell, if the trigger doesn't occur, you lose your spell slot as if you'd cast it.

Allowing Conditions

Your table may allow this, though. The danger for doing so is that you are removing some of the risk of the ready action. If you can limit the risk by allowing multiple triggers/responses, then the Ready action becomes more powerful.

  • \$\begingroup\$ This makes sense to me from a realistic point of view. The basic idea of readying an action is to get into a state where you are prepared to make a very rapid action, without additional thought. \$\endgroup\$
    – Cort Ammon
    Dec 30, 2017 at 4:35

By the rules, no

There is no RAW limit to the mechanical complexity of the trigger. One can have a trigger that outlines virtually any set of possible events to happen before your next turn: "if both knights are on the bridge and none of my allies are on the bridge, and the knight closer to me falls prone" is a perfectly valid trigger.

However, the rule states that as a response to the trigger, the player chooses an action - not a set of actions. This means one can't choose to pick of several actions based on any circumstance - either the trigger is fulfilled and the action can be performed as a reaction, or the trigger is not fulfilled and the action can't be performed.

It's not an unreasonable rule change

As long as the complexity of the conditional structure is kept reasonably simple (eg. single action when the trigger is fulfilled, another action if it isn't), I doubt allowing conditional reactions will unbalance the game. Using Ready can result to one's action being wasted if the trigger doesn't get fulfilled, which is understandably a letdown for many players. Allowing a fallback use for the reaction before one's next turn begins can alleviate this problem.

However, if the group has heavy min-maxers, this change can reward being a bit overenthusiastic with Readying to prepare for unlikely circumstances. For example, the party Paladin can declare all their actions as "I Ready to heal Brian the Barbarian with Lay on Hands if he falls unconscious, and attack if he doesn't". This gives the Paladin a lot more tactical versatility than they would have otherwise, as they can instantly revive an unconscious target at only the cost of a lag of one round when making their attacks. As usual, discuss the rule change with your group before trying it out and when trying it out, revise it as necessary.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ For any down voters - please explain your down vote in the comments \$\endgroup\$
    – Praxiteles
    Dec 29, 2017 at 21:47

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