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This is a follow-up to this question, specifically to that answer.

I understand the concern of wreaking havoc on the duration of spells and other effects by delaying your turn at will in the initiative order, hence why it's not possible to "change your place" once you are engaged in an encounter.

However, in a game I played yesterday, something happened that made me think: my character was sleeping at the start of an encounter (a night ambush), and so the DM only made me roll initiative when another character woke mine up.

What I'm wondering is whether it's possible for a creature to willingly delay entering an encounter that they can see, in order to roll initiative later than the other involved creatures, thus not changing its initiative position, just being added later. Is such a thing possible per RAW?

Technically speaking, it's not that different from seeing a fight between two distant NPCs and choosing not to get involved right away, but instead picking the right moment to do so (and rolling initiative at that point). But contrary to this question (where the character just arrives later and rolls initiative right when he sees the encounter), I specifically want to know whether you can see an encounter but choose not to roll initiative just yet, essentially delaying your participation in the encounter until a later time.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Would this be a different question - "Can you take a zero on initiative"? My character likes to see how everything is unfolding because he's a cleric and needs to respond to whoever is hurt more. \$\endgroup\$ – Voromir Kadien Dec 29 '17 at 20:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'd say it's a different question, as in my case, you still roll - just later. \$\endgroup\$ – Gael L Dec 29 '17 at 20:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ The sleep example, does the moment of the roll really matter? You could roll for initiative but stay asleep for a few rounds or make the same roll after being awoken. What was the difference? \$\endgroup\$ – enkryptor Dec 29 '17 at 21:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ "choosing not to get involved right away, but instead picking the right moment to do so" - sounds fine, why do you think you shouldn't roll for initiative in order to do that? What is the profit (or necessity) of not making the roll? \$\endgroup\$ – enkryptor Dec 29 '17 at 21:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ Some features give you benefits the moment when you roll initiative and/or on your first turn, like the Level 15 Relentless feature from the Battle Master Fighter archetype, for instance. Or, as a better example, the Gloom Stalker's Level 3 feature. \$\endgroup\$ – Gael L Dec 29 '17 at 21:46
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It is possible, but up to the DM how to adjudicate

There could be many reasons why you might be joining an encounter later than others. How the DM deals with it is up to them.

The general initiative rules assume that all players are present, but present may have various degrees as shown in your sleeping example. Whether or not someone can purposefully delay rolling in will be entirely up to the DM.

In that specific case, the DM could rule that you roll initiative at disadvantage with everyone else, you could roll it after you wake, or you roll as normal with everyone else (since you're in the encounter...just not awake yet.)

For the case of a latecomer to the table, the choices remain for the DM to slot them at the end, the beginning, or have them roll for their place. But without guidance for this in the rules, it'll be up to the DM.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'd agree with your answer. Technically speaking, it's not that different from seeing a fight between two distant NPCs and choosing not to get involved right away, but instead choosing the right moment to do so (and rolling initiative at that point). \$\endgroup\$ – Gael L Dec 29 '17 at 18:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ @GaelL Exactly. I think it makes more sense for someone not physically there. In my games, the sleeping characters have rolled at disadvantage (if whomever was on watch was surprised or did not wake up their companions.) \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Dec 29 '17 at 18:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ Question has been clarified. In this case, the character (who wants to willingly delay his initiative roll to enter the encounter later) probably qualifies as being present. Does that impact your answer ? \$\endgroup\$ – Gael L Dec 29 '17 at 20:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ @GaelL It doesn't. It's going to be up to the DM whether or not to allow and how they want to introduce the character if allowed. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Dec 29 '17 at 20:44

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