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If I ready the cantrip Gust to push back the first enemy that tries to use a (melee) attack against my party, what happens if the push back was successful?

  1. Does it interrupt the attack?

  2. Does the attack simply fail through the push back?

  3. Does it allow the enemy to walk forward again and attack anyway?

What exactly happens?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I feel like this is a dupe of one of the various readied action questions.rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/80796/… rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/132490/… \$\endgroup\$ – goodguy5 Nov 27 '18 at 13:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE. Thanks for your question. While you are at it, please take the tour and visit the help (you'll get badges!) to see how to get the most out of an SE Q&A site. Thanks for joining in, and have fun. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Nov 27 '18 at 13:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ @goodguy I don't get the idea that this is a dupe of the Eldritch Blast question, since the two spells are quite different. That's related, but not a dupe. I also think that it is related to the Ready question, but the specifics of this spell suggest to me that "related" is closer than "dupe." We'll see what other reviewers think. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Nov 27 '18 at 13:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast "Can I cast a cantrip to interrupt an attack by moving the attacker?" seems the same question to me, in both cases. \$\endgroup\$ – goodguy5 Nov 27 '18 at 13:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ Honore, don't worry that the question is marked as duplicate. That is in many ways helpful for future users, as the same, or the "same enough," question can often be asked in a variety of ways. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Nov 27 '18 at 14:43
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This is going to depend strongly on how your "trigger" for the Ready action is worded. It is important to remember that readied actions go off after their trigger resolves/completes.

... you can either take your reaction right after the trigger finishes or ignore the trigger. (PHB, p.192)

If your trigger is "when the first enemy attacks," then your cantrip could go off immediately after the attack finishes. (Not what you want.)

If your trigger is "when the first enemy enters attacking range," then your cantrip could go off before the attack starts (assuming ad arguendo you know ranges and distances &c.). In that case, if the enemy then has movement remaining to them they could simply continue moving toward their target and eventually attack.

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Gust would push the melee attacker away, but not waste their Action

Presumably you're referring to this aspect of the gust cantrip:

One Medium or smaller creature that you choose must succeed on a Strength saving throw or be pushed up to 5 feet away from you.

If you readied this cantrip with a trigger like "if a melee combatant gets within range of my allies", then when that happens, you push them back (assuming they failed the Strength save).

They still have their action since they didn't use that, so they can still attempt to attack; in fact, if they haven't used up all their movement yet getting within melee range of your ally, they can just step back to where they were and attack anyway, like you never did anything (this is your option 3 from your question).

If, on the other hand, you worded the trigger like "when they attack", then since readied actions don't interrupt their triggers, your cantrip would only happen after they've already made their attack.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't normally ask about downvotes, but we both received a downvote within seconds of posting. If there's something wrong/bad about my answer I'm not sure what it is. Do you have any idea? \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Nov 27 '18 at 13:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @nitsua60 I also noticed that. All I can say is that it wasn't me... \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Nov 27 '18 at 13:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ And the original post, now that I notice. Strange.... (Well, going back to work.) \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Nov 27 '18 at 13:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ I noticed a spate of seemingly drive-by downvotes on a few threads last week. \$\endgroup\$ – SeriousBri Nov 27 '18 at 14:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ @nitsua60 from my PoV all three downvotes happened in nearly an instant. Looked fishy. \$\endgroup\$ – Mołot Nov 27 '18 at 14:09
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Readied actions happen after their trigger

A Gust readied with the trigger "an enemy tries to use a melee attack on my party" can be used only after the attack is done. See the rules for Ready in DnD Basic Rules on DnDBeyond:

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.

If your trigger is "an enemy comes into striking range of my party", you can fire your Gust before they attack. However, if they still have movement left, they can use that to close in to your party and land the attacks as normal.

Finally, if the enemy can make multiple attacks and you decide to trigger your Gust by "an enemy attacks my party", you can fire the spell after the first attack to move your enemy (possibly) outside reach. Beware that if the enemy has movement left, they can use it to close in to land the remaining attacks by the Moving between attacks rule:

If you take an action that includes more than one weapon attack, you can break up your movement even further by moving between those attacks.

If the enemy had to spend the last of its movement closing in to your character, they cannot close in anymore after Gust fires, potentially costing them the opportunity to attack at all.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Do you want to address the edge case where "the enemy had to use all of their movement to get into attack range?" That might also be helpful in showing the rare case where this works? Just an idea. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Nov 27 '18 at 14:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast Thanks, I thought it'd be clear implicitly but you're right that it'd improve the answer. I'll do it once I get back on a computer :) \$\endgroup\$ – kviiri Nov 27 '18 at 16:23

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