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The Ready action states:

Then, you choose the action you will take in response to that trigger...

I am unsure whether this means you can only ready an action such as Dodge, Hide, Attack, Cast A Spell, or if this also includes bonus actions and reactions as the PHB states (page 189):

Certain special abilities, spells, and situations allow you to take a special action called a reaction.

And then later states (page 190):

Various class features, spells, and other abilities let you take an additional action on your turn called a bonus action.

I am aware that the Ready action uses up your action just like Dodge, Hide, and others, but am wondering whether what you spend your reaction to do can be something that would normally require a bonus action.

I am also aware that you cannot take a bonus action when it is not your own turn. Given that, one reason you might want to do this is to effectively use two bonus actions on a single turn (one using your bonus action, and another using the Ready action where the trigger occurs on that same turn).

One example of when you may want to do this (however there could be others which are entirely different in structure or setup):

  1. You have already cast a spell such as spiritual weapon which you can use your bonus action to do something with (in this case make the weapon move and attack).

  2. You take the Ready action to Ready the following: "When I say 'Go!', I will use my reaction to make the spiritual weapon move and make an attack."

  3. You say "Go!", providing the trigger which allows you to spend your reaction to make the spiritual weapon attack.

  4. You now still have a bonus action you haven't spent and can use it on anything, such as casting the spell misty step

Another possible example scenario:

You are walking past a row of allies but one is secretly an enemy and will attack you with an opportunity attack as you walk past.
You want to know who this enemy is but also do not want to get attacked.
Disengaging will prevent you from learning who they are as no opportunity attack will be provoked.
Instead you decide to Ready misty step so that "When a creature attacks me (but before they have hit me) I will cast misty step and get away" thus allowing you to learn who they are and prevent the attack.

Can you ready a bonus action?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ @Catar4 That has an explicit answer in the Sage Advice Compendium, as shown in this Q/A: Are actions and bonus actions interchangeable? \$\endgroup\$ Jul 22 '19 at 14:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't think your 2nd example works. See this question on how you can ready an action. While examples are helpful, moving the goalposts by adding more examples after an answer shows how yours doesn't work is something I'm also uncomfortable with. This is why theoretical questions can be problematic compared to questions that are generated by an experiential issue that people are trying to resolve. \$\endgroup\$
    – NautArch
    Jul 22 '19 at 17:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ Examples are good and helpful - and are often what generates the best questions because they're real. Theoretical is harder because you're trying to come up with an example of a problem you aren't actually experiencing, so it's easier to provide a bad example. But we need examples here. CHanging them after answers have come in is where it gets tricky because it means the answers have to constantly keep pace with the changes. \$\endgroup\$
    – NautArch
    Jul 22 '19 at 18:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch That makes sense, thank you \$\endgroup\$ Jul 22 '19 at 18:15
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Probably not

It is important to note that underneath the Bonus Action section, it specifically states:

You can take only one bonus action on your turn, so you must choose which bonus action to use when you have more than one available.

In the situation in question, you are taking 2 Bonus Actions (even if one of them is being used by your Action and Reaction). The rules are written specifically to prohibit this.

Additionally this would not work, because it seems that the writers' intention is that you cannot ready a bonus action. The precedent for this is set by the PHB under the section titled "Ready" which describes the "Ready Action." It states:

To be readied, a spell must have a casting time of 1 action.

While this does not specifically exclude other bonus actions from being used, I think that it does set the precedent that only Actions can be used.

However, there is some grey area on non-spell Bonus Actions.

In the case of the added scenario, if you had a bonus action that mitigated the Attack that was not a spell, the rules are not clear on that. That is why I use what appears to be the writer's intent as an answer to that.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This may be true for a spell that requires a bonus action to cast, but doesn't tell anything about features that require bonus action or additional effects of spells that is activated with a bonus action instead of an action. Flaming Sphere for example has casting time of 1 action but the additional effect is activated with bonus action. The answer seems lacking. \$\endgroup\$
    – FenrirG
    Jul 22 '19 at 14:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ As far as gray area goes, most non-spell bonus actions have a prerequisite Action. You will see a lot of, "When you use the Attack action...". So the character cannot perform the Bonus Action, without first doing the prerequisite Action, which is given up when they Ready an action. Hopefully that all makes sense. \$\endgroup\$
    – MivaScott
    Jul 22 '19 at 19:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MivaScott However, there are other such as Cunning Action, Rage, Moon Druid Wild Shape, Bardic Inspiration, and so forth which have to prerequisites \$\endgroup\$ Jul 23 '19 at 14:15
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A Chronurgy Wizard can ready a bonus-action spell of 4th level or lower.

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.

RAW, this is the only way you can "ready a bonus action", and it's something of a work-around. The wizard is still readying an action - but it's to release a bonus-action spell from the bead.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Here are they not still Readying an action? It's just an action to cast a spell that would usually require a bonus action? \$\endgroup\$ Oct 9 '20 at 14:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ That is correct. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 9 '20 at 14:12
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I'm pretty certain that you cannot ready a bonus action using only an action. In the PHB it is clearly said that you cannot use an action as a bonus action. So, I would rule against using the "ready an action" mechanic to try to get two bonus actions in a turn.

Although I wonder if you can either use an action to ready a bonus action, which would essentially burn your action to ready the action, and then burn both your reaction and your bonus action to trigger your bonus action. A less costly way to implement this would be to accept you can use a bonus action to "ready a bonus action" following the same rules as the "ready action" action, but with a bonus action. If you follow the RAW though, that one wouldn't be an option.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Hi pyhriel! Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already, and check out the help center for more guidance. In particular, please review How do I write a good answer? This stack expects a certain level of expertise in answers, and phrases like "I'm pretty certain" and "I wonder if" may be indicating that you aren't using resources to answer the question in the authoritative way that is expected. Also, considering that this question is more than...(1/2) \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Sep 13 at 20:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ (2/2)...two years old and already has an accepted answer, make sure your answer is adding something unique and helpful to the discussion. It may be that what you actually have is a question, not an answer - in which case, I would encourage you to submit it as a question. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Sep 13 at 20:45

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