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Some spells that are cast with a reaction, such as Feather Fall, require material components. Suppose I am using a component pouch instead of a focus, but I'm not currently holding a small feather. If a trap door opens under the party, am I able to quickly reach for the feather in my pouch as part of the reaction to cast Feather Fall, or am I out of luck?

Obviously this is mostly a non-issue for a caster who uses a spellcasting focus instead of a component pouch, since they are pretty much always holding their focus, and I don't think there are many (any?) reaction spells with costly or consumed material components.

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You do not need them already in hand.

You must access and manipulate the material components with a free hand but this is included in the casting time.

PHB 203 (Emphasis Mine)

A spellcaster must have a hand free to access these components, but it can be the same hand that he or she uses to perform somatic components.

This implies that you must not only have the components "within reach" but must have them in hand to cast the spell, albeit the somatic and material components can be satisfied with a single hand.

This simply means that in the act of casting the spell it is assumed that the caster retrieves necessary material components from his pouch. The DM should generally not make a character carry around the component in his hand in the off chance he needs to use it as part of his reaction. Casting times include the retrieval of the material components and their manipulation.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This is the detail I was missing: the fact that accessing the material components happens as part of casting the spell and is therefore included in the casting time. \$\endgroup\$ – Ryan Thompson Jul 15 '18 at 22:39
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A reaction is an instant response to a trigger of some kind, which can occur on your turn or on someone else's. In typical game mechanics, a round is 6 seconds and turns occur nearly simultaneously within that time. A reaction is 1 second.

Reaction spells are very quick to cast:

Some spells can be cast as reactions. These spells take a fraction of a second to bring about and are cast in response to some event. If a spell can be cast as a reaction, the spell description tells you exactly when you can do so. roll20 compendium

Since neither this nor the spell descriptions state that you must be holding the material components, you do not need to be holding them when the trigger occurs, but they need to be readily accessible. For example your components pouch hanging on your belt, not in your backpack. In most cases, the components pouch functions the same as a spell casting focus. See this question and answer: What is the difference between an Arcane Focus and a Component Pouch?

Looking at the counterpoint:
If you required that the material component had to be held at the time of the triggering event, you'd be forcing the character to choose which spell he can cast because he could only hold one material component at a time. Well, two if he used both hands. This does not seem to be the intent of reaction spells since they are already limited by the triggering event.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Could you cite the source for your definition of "a reaction is 1 second"? The text you've cited simply says reaction spells take "a fraction of a second" to cast, not that reactions in general take 1 second. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jul 15 '18 at 18:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast - do you contend that it is longer? \$\endgroup\$ – ravery Jul 15 '18 at 19:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ No, I just haven't seen it stated anywhere that a reaction takes 1 second, so it seems like an arbitrary definition. (If anything, reactions are less than a second.) \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jul 15 '18 at 22:39

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