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Stardock Under Siege (DDEP08-02) concludes with all of the tables in the Epic boarding skiffs and facing off against a massive mothership. The PCs are tasked with destroying the mothership before time runs out. At the end of each round, runners from each table report their table's damage total. The next round cannot start until damage has been reported. If the mothership reaches zero HP in time, it is successfully destroyed.

The mothership has an AC and a damage threshold, allowing it to be attacked with the normal rules for attacking objects. Ranged attacks and spells are viable options that allow the PCs to keep their distance. The PCs can also choose to board the mothership and attack it in melee. Any PC on the mothership when it is destroyed is subject to an effect, but each PC may first take a reaction. The effect does not call for a saving throw, attack roll, or ability check. The full (spoilery) quote from the adventure is as follows (Stardock Under Siege, p. 34):

Anyone on the nautiloid when it is destroyed may take 1 reaction before they are killed.

This reaction is presumably granted at the end of the round when the mothership is destroyed, after damage has been reported from all tables. Since the adventure does not list specific valid reactions, I assume that only the standard reactions are available. Are there AL-legal features or magic items that allow movement, teleportation, or appropriate defenses as a reaction with a relevant trigger?

Bonus points for solutions that work for a variety of PCs in Tiers 1-3, the tier range for the Epic. The party also needs to damage the mothership, so "just keep Readying movement" won't work, unless the party as a whole can still deal enough damage.

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A Readied Action

Having gone digging through the rules, I cannot find anything that would be usable here apart from this. Reactions trigger in response to a 'thing,' the most likely relevant ones here would be reactions you can use when taking damage or being hit...but the text in question doesn't say you're taking damage or being hit...it just says "You can take 1 Reaction before you die."

So, the only sort of Reaction that can be used here is one triggered by "The Ship exploding." The only way to get something that works like that is to Ready an Action with that being the trigger. The way this would be most useful is if a player suspects that the ship is about to go, so they Ready an Action to do something that will get them out of the ship (most useful if they are too deep within the ship to make it out before they think it will blow).

This could be anything from leaping out the side of the ship, to casting Teleport to get yourself and all of your allies somewhere safe. This is a risky maneuver, of course, because it prevents you from actually doing anything else that round, and risks wasting a spell slot if that's what you readied.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ @ChrisStarnes Ah, missed that one... \$\endgroup\$ – guildsbounty Jun 12 at 19:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ It's also tricky because readied actions happen after their trigger, so they'd need to specify a trigger that isn't them being killed... Though the quote in the question indicates that anything like "when the ship starts blowing up" would be a valid trigger because the character can take 1 reaction before they are killed, indicating there'd be enough time between the ship starting to blow up and the character's death to do something about it. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jun 12 at 20:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast That's a good point. It's possible the adventure states that the players can take a reaction for exactly that reason. I don't think I've ever seen such a mechanic in any other adventure, though, so it's hard to be sure. \$\endgroup\$ – Chris Starnes Jun 14 at 23:43
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There are no reaction spells

Reaction spells listed in D&D Beyond are Absorb Elements, Hellish Rebuke, Feather Fall, Shield, Counterspell and Soul Cage. None of these apply. However, a Contingency with an appropriate spell such as Dimension Door would suffice.

No Class Abilities

As far as I am aware of, no class/subclass abilities allow a character to ignore instant death mechanics. However, at the same time, there are no subclass abilities which trigger off a generic reaction which also permit movement (for example, Vengeance Paladins can do so after making an attack of opportunity, but that isn't valid here).

An argument might be made for Crown/Redemption paladins to be able to save someone else using their 7th level class abilities, but since the effect does not deal damage, neither may be applied.

Non-reaction solutions

The most straightforward option I know of is Death Ward.

If the spell is still in effect when the target is subjected to an effect that would kill it instantaneously without dealing damage, that effect is instead negated against the target, and the spell ends.

Alternatively, we can look to fix the problem afterwards. This may involve a cleric with Divine Intervention, a Spellcasting Service True Resurrection (should be free with a Zealot Barbarian with the Acolyte background), or if the body is recoverable (such as with Locate Object), a cheaper spell such as raise dead might be attempted.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't think this quite touches on what Chris is asking about. Specifically, the body of the question asks whether there are any abilities that use a reaction provided a trigger that is met by the given scenario - it's not just asking for ways to avoid being killed by the scenario. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jun 12 at 7:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ Given the circumstances I don't think Death Ward would work. My understanding is that it's not really an "effect" that causes instant death (as in Powerword Kill), it's more a circumstance that isn't survivable by normal means. It's the same way a DM might rule that a character falling into a volcano instantly dies. \$\endgroup\$ – Cubic Jun 12 at 10:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ Death ward is a good call. V2Blast is right, though; I'm more interested in reactions. If the answer is "there are no applicable reactions", then alternatives like death ward are fine to bring up. I've edited my question to narrow it down. \$\endgroup\$ – Chris Starnes Jun 12 at 16:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Cubic RAW, it's definitely an effect that kills instantly and it doesn't list damage, so it should work. RAI, you're probably right. The first thing a player is going to ask, though, is "what type and how much?" If the answer is "I dunno, 5000 fire damage", then they could reply "I have efreeti chain, so I take 0". \$\endgroup\$ – Chris Starnes Jun 12 at 16:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Cubic The text of the effect indicates an instantaneous death effect, which Death Ward explicitly protects against. Falling into a volcano isn't necessarily instant death, but rather death by massive damage. In this case, a death ward would extend a creature's lifespan by about 6 seconds. \$\endgroup\$ – Snakes and Coffee Jun 12 at 17:04

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