After reading over similar questions about 5e, I realized I don't really know how duration and resource cost is affected by Delaying Initiative.


Could Conditions be removed quickly by "Delaying" until after the next creature's turn, effectively having a 'turn' using the Delay action every other Initiative slot? Or would Delaying (instead of acting) prolong effects or prevent the cost of maintaining you Performance?

I'm not really wondering if durations can be extended or shortened using delays. I would guess there would exist rules to prevent that kind of shenanigan. I'm not trying to get a specific benefit per se, just to play it correctly. I was hoping there are rules about this that I haven't seen.

  • \$\begingroup\$ It sounds like you're wondering if durations can be extended or shortened using the metagame. That is, if a wizard can turn an effect's 1-round duration (or 1 min. duration) into 1 and 9/10 rounds (or 10 9/10 rounds) by delaying (9/10 being an approximation, obviously). Is that accurate? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 30, 2017 at 1:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan Kind of. I was hoping there are rules about it that I haven't seen. I would guess they would exist to prevent that kind of shenanigan. I'm not trying to get a specific benefit per se, just to play it correctly. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 30, 2017 at 3:50

2 Answers 2


Only sort of

First of all, delaying doesn't let you skip your turn. It lets you pick any later initiative in the round and has your turn happen then, or lets you wait till any time later that round and act then. Since even count $\infty$ in round 3 is still in round 3 not round 4, and since it only lets you wait till later that round, you still have to take your turn at some point, even if that point can be an arbitrarily large count. It also doesn't need to be part of your turn and doesn't usually happen on your turn; it's a not-an-action action that's also a special initiative action, and not-an-action actions can be taken whenever. That said, this doesn't completely eliminate the problem.

There are very few effects that tick down based on turns. There are a lot that tick based on rounds, and the interaction between rounds and turns means that things that require an action each round can have that action paid on any initiative count that round you're able to pay it.

For stuff like Bardic Performances this doesn't actually change how long the effect lasts because the effect ends immediately at the end of the round you didn't pay the cost, not just before your next turn. It does mean, however, that if your bard is surprised (and thus unable to take actions for a round) while maintaining a performance, it is worth taking the delay action (which you can take since it's a not-an-action action) in case a party member or something else renders you able to act somehow (so that you could then spend the free action needed to maintain the performance, which you can only do during your turn). Similarly for conditions, it might be worth delaying your turn so allies can help you if you're worried that e.g. bleed damage is going to kill you.

Buffs typically last a number of rounds or minutes, and I can't find any that only last a number of turns. 1 round in this context is the time from an initiative count in one round to the same count in the next, so this should not have any problems nor be affected by delaying.

Spellcasting, though, is affected, since spells with long casting times (1 round or more) come into effect just before your turn in the round when they go off. This means you can use delaying to have them go off any time you like after your 'normal' initiative count in the turn they happen, if you're willing to delay. You can't take them with you to the next round, though; delaying doesn't let you get out of the round without a turn.

The biggest effect is on conditions measured in turns, positive effects that happen on the start of people's turns, and other things like that. While you don't need to take delay actions on your turn, you can do it after your turn starts, and in so doing start any number of turns you like within a single round (so long as you take no actions, not even free actions, on the turns you delay). This rarely comes up, but it does trivialize the clear intention of some abilities. If you are looking to avoid 'shenanigans', as you call them, it's worth houseruling delay to only be usable outside of your turn, so you can use it just before your turn but not after it starts. When you do this you need to decide if the just before your turn can be voluntarily before or after other stuff that happens just before your turn (like summon monster spells), or if you wanna do something different with it.

  • \$\begingroup\$ "I delay until initiative 130971790817405987." \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 4, 2018 at 13:31

No, you can't extend spells this way.

Duration - "Concentration: The spell lasts as long as you concentrate on it. Concentrating to maintain a spell is a standard action that does not provoke attacks of opportunity. Anything that could break your concentration when casting a spell can also break your concentration while you're maintaining one, causing the spell to end."

Delay: "By choosing to delay, you take no action and then act normally on whatever initiative count you decide to act. When you delay, you voluntarily reduce your own initiative result for the rest of the combat. When your new, lower initiative count comes up later in the same round, you can act normally.

From this Paizo thread, with the following example:

Scenario 3:
Round 2, Init 20: People do stuff
Round 2, Init 15: Caster delays.
Round 2, Init 10: People do stuff
Round 3, Init 21: Caster un-delays, and concentrates

The spell continues, since he used his turn to concentrate. However, he doesn't get to act normally in round 3, so the spell will cease at the start of his next turn (Init 21 in Round 4).

Extrapolating this to timed spells ("lasts N rounds, no concentration") would work similarly.

Although it might be easier to just treat the spell as having an initiative equal to the caster's when cast and track it then. Both for sanity and to avoid players cheesing the rules via game mechanics.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This would be more compelling if the rest of the forum wasn't about how this doesn't apply to duration, specifically concentration. Wish the last poster made a reference or elaborated... \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 1, 2018 at 19:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Ifusaso Yes, and I did the best I could finding some sort of rules to apply. Taken to the other extreme (spell durations last until the caster gets a turn), then we can make round/level spells last "as long as we want" (or at the very least, double) by the caster delaying and never acting which I think we can all agree is absurd. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 1, 2018 at 19:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ Correct, that's the premise of the question. My previous comment is mostly an explanation of why I'm not selecting your answer, at least for the time being. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 1, 2018 at 23:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Ifusaso There's nothing wrong with waiting for more answers. :) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 2, 2018 at 0:00

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