My Ancients Paladin is commonly stymied by the limitation on Readied Actions, in that Bonus Actions cannot under any circumstances, per RAW, be "prepared".

For example, suppose a Paladin wished to react to a creature trying to cross a bridge. She would prepare to cast Misty Step to teleport in front of them, blocking their way, and (on a successful roll) prevent them from crossing the bridge. To me, this seems like a reasonable use of mechanics—except that it's explicitly disallowed per RAW:


Sometimes you want to get the jump on a foe or wait for a particular circumstance before you act. To do so, you can take the Ready action on your turn so that you can act later in the round using your reaction.


When you ready a spell, you cast it as normal but hold its energy, which you release with your reaction when the trigger occurs. To be readied, a spell must have a casting time of 1 action..

Misty Step, with a casting time of 1 bonus Action, is expressly disallowed.

To fix this, I'd like to permit in my games the following modification to this rule to permit these kinds of mechanics:

Readying a Bonus Action

When a character uses the Ready Action, they may choose to ready a Bonus Action or a spell with a casting time of 1 Bonus Action, instead of a regular Action, to be used as their Reaction. They may do this by using a Bonus Action on their turn, in addition to the Action used to perform the Ready Action. Bonus Actions prepared in this way are not subject to the normal limitation placed on Bonus Actions where they must be performed on the character's turn, but otherwise obey the restrictions placed on Bonus Actions.

For example, I would have to spend my Action and my bonus action to ready Misty Step. Any time between when I readied it and the beginning of my next turn, once my trigger is met, I can release the spell as a reaction.

Does this seem like a reasonable modification to the rules, or are there some obvious/non-obvious exploits that could be used if I were to permit this rule in my games?

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    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch This question is intended to examine any Bonus Action, with Misty Step provided as a "This use seems reasonable but is disallowed by RAW" example. I don't think it's necessary for an answer to consider every possible interaction, just to disprove my null hypothesis, which assumes there are no exploitable interactions. \$\endgroup\$
    – Xirema
    Oct 1, 2018 at 17:11

4 Answers 4


It Shouldn't Unbalance Anything... for the moment

For the purpose of simplicity, I'll be mainly restricting my answer to bonus action spells here. This is both because many bonus actions require an action to be done the same turn (such as Two Weapon Fighting), or are unlikely to be particularly useful outside of your turn (such as Cunning Action).

There are two major restrictions on bonus action spells in DnD-5e.

  1. You cannot Ready a bonus action spell.

  2. If you cast a bonus action spell during a turn, other spells you cast must be cantrips with casting times of one action.

With a Paladin character, there's very little chance that the second restriction will come into play often. But with other classes (especially Sorcerers), the second restriction comes into play quite often.

The major concern I'd have with "readying" a bonus action is that it might be used to circumvent the second restriction: but your proposed method will help reduce that worry considerably.

Why it is balanced... for the moment

1. Your Action is still restricted (by being used up)

Normally, casting a bonus action spell limits the use of your Action. Your proposed method (using up an Action, and bonus action to Ready the spell, and a Reaction to release it) similarly guarantees that action economy is maintained. Granted, a Fighter's Action Surge could permit you to still cast a leveled spell on the same round you'd readied a bonus action, but Action Surge can similarly permit for two leveled spells being cast in the same round (without costing a bonus action and reaction).

2. "Readying" a bonus action spell will be inefficient and risky

Many of the bonus action spells available (Magic Weapon, Shillelagh, the Smite spells) are designed to make your Action more effective in combat: to enhance something else you do on your turn. The ability to do these things outside of your turn will not enhance their effectiveness. Other ones (like Misty Step) could potentially be quite useful on turns other than your own: but often they'd be just as useful during your turn. If you suspect you might need to teleport somewhere to cut off an enemy's retreat, you could teleport there ahead of time, and restrict that enemy's options. The fact that you'd need to spend the spell slot of the bonus action spell to Ready it, and maintain concentration on it until it is released, also makes this strategy one which is inherently risky : if you're mistaken, and the Readied spell never gets its trigger (the enemy doesn't run to the bridge, but rather jumps over the gorge), you'll never release the spell, and will lose the spell slot.

There could be some niche situations where you'd want to ready a bonus action spell (e.g. you're worried the enemy might just cut the rope bridge while you're on it, and want to wait until they're on it too), but mostly it will be a highly inefficient use of an Action, Bonus Action, and Reaction. Especially since I can't see any examples of Bonus Action spells which would be considerably more devastating if taken on another creatures' turn... for the moment.

Why I keep saying "for the moment"

Any answer which posits how the rules will change in the future is suspect, as is any answer which posits designer thinking on a topic without quoting the designers. Unfortunately, I'm about to do both, so take it with a grain of salt.

The bonus-action rules on spellcasting are a protection against future problematic interactions. If the game designers think up a cool new spell, but are concerned with how it might interact with non-cantrip spells (cast by the same caster), or concerned how it might be overpowered if used on another creature's turn, they can circumvent these potential problems by giving it a casting time of a bonus action. As such, it's entirely possible that a spell will come into being later which makes this homebrewed rule highly unbalanced and problematic.

By allowing bonus actions to be "readied," we may be removing a barrier to abuse the game designers are counting on down the road. Still, this is a "slippery slope" argument, plain and simple, and shouldn't prevent you, now, from making this change if you so desire (and are the DM/ have your DM's approval). That being said, if you do make this change, stay vigilant for new bonus-action spells in future material: and be prepared to alter this rule further if it becomes problematic.

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ "Granted, a Fighter's Action Surge could permit you to still cast a leveled spell on the same round you'd readied a bonus action" Not if you mean readied a bonus action spell, because readying a spell is still casting it (on your turn,) just holding its energy. \$\endgroup\$
    – Zeus
    Oct 2, 2018 at 1:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Zeus Probably. As a "readied" bonus action is not part of the rules, there could be seen to be some leeway. But you're right: you still cast the spell on your turn. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 2, 2018 at 3:06

For spells of 4th level or lower, this is already in the game.

The Chronurgy Magic wizard from Explorer's Guide to Wildemount gains the Arcane Abeyance feature at 10th level (p. 184-185). Its description states, in part:

When you cast a spell using a spell slot of 4th level or lower, you can condense the spell’s magic into a mote. The spell is frozen in time at the moment of casting and held within a gray bead for 1 hour.

This stores the spell's magic into this tiny bead. Then, releasing the spell from the bead requires an action:

A creature holding the bead can use its action to release the spell within, whereupon the bead disappears.

So it isn't a freely available thing, but with some setup, it can be done:

  1. Wizard casts a bonus-action spell into the bead less than an hour before combat.
  2. On the Wizard's turn in combat, the Wizard uses the Ready action to release the spell from the bead in response to a perceivable trigger.

The wizard is still readying an action - but it's to release a bonus-action spell from the bead.

For spells, given that this can already be done within the rules, it shouldn't be unbalanced to permit anyone to do it.


Taking explicitly Misty Step in consideration, I could see the spell a bit overpowered with the change.

Assume you are protecting two squishy players that are standing just behind the two different doors to the main hall with the big boss. You are standing in front of one squishy, so obviously the big bad enemy tries to get to the second one and smash it to bits. Gotcha, you are now in front of that player, blocking the monster. He tries getting to the other one, another readied action and another denial of easy meat.

Additionally, it would be pretty easy to use it defensively as "if monster X approaches me, I teleport to position Y" - say you want to kill all the pteranodons but not tackle the nasty T-rex - it should rather eat all those pteranodons instead.

Sure, it might be a niche way of "exploiting" this, but so is the intended usage - why wouldn't fighter teleport there in advance? If you feel this teleporting there at the moment of crossing makes sense, you can obviously allow it, but I suggest you do only in a way similar to: "You MAY ready this bonus action in this scenario, it does make sense. But I will generally not allow this, as it could be unbalanced in some other circumstances encountered."

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    \$\begingroup\$ Small question: why would it matter if you teleported in front of the squishy caster? You've used your Reaction to do so, which means that you can't make any opportunity attacks this turn. Couldn't they just go around you? And what did you mean by "another readied action and another denial of easy meat"? You can't ready two spells at once (it requires concentration), nor do you have two reactions to spend. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 2, 2018 at 13:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ Also, couldn't you just use a regular Ready action to move (mundanely) in front of a caster if an enemy approaches within 10 feet of it (and then still have your bonus action on your turn to do something else)? Or to move away from an enemy that approaches you? It seems like it'd be a pretty specific situation where misty step would be necessary here. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 2, 2018 at 13:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Gandalfmeansme I meant to get in the doorway and thus block the path to caster. Another readied action - next turn you ready misty step to defend the now undefended squishy target - in case the big boss now switches target. But I completely agree these situations would be incredibly specific and possibly not all that relevant or unbalanced in most cases - I just tried to find some circumstances where it could get broken. So, (as in the last part) I believe the best would be to allow usage for this circumstance, but to keep it prohibited unless specifically allowed (rather than vice versa). \$\endgroup\$ Oct 2, 2018 at 13:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ That's a good point! I didn't understand before that the two casters are through the two doors that you mentioned. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 2, 2018 at 16:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ Readied actions also only occur after their triggers. I don't see how this would actually prevent the enemy from just attacking whichever of your allies you're not currently in the way of (e.g. even if you block the enemy's path to get close enough to one ally to attack them), since you can't be in 2 places at once. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Oct 11, 2020 at 7:57

Bottom line, it's up to the dm. I personally dont allow any spells as a bonus action. According to the mechanics a round of combat is roughly six seconds. Divide this among multiple turns and you are left with two or three seconds per turn. If we suspend all disbelief a magic user can get a spell off in this time but certainly not two. This isn't magic. This is storytelling. The dm is the storyteller not wotc.


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