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Suppose the case: There are three participants fighting, a Fighter, a Cleric and a goblin, the Fighter and the Cleric fight against the goblin. The initiative is Fighter (18), Cleric (12) and goblin (1).

So, in the first round:

  • The Fighter attacks the goblin and misses

  • The Cleric attacks the goblin and misses

  • The goblin attacks the Fighter and reduces them to 0 HP

In the second round:

  • The Fighter makes a death saving throw, and passes it

  • The Cleric heals the Fighter

And at this point I don't know if the Fighter can take any actions during this turn, or has to wait till another round starts, so the rest of round 2 could be:

  1. The Fighter attacks. The goblin attacks. Round 3 starts.

Or:

  1. The goblin attacks. Round 3 starts.

So, does the Fighter get to take any actions during round 2?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Is the Fighter going before or after the Cleric? \$\endgroup\$ – SkyPaul Aug 6 at 21:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SkyPaul The initiative order is given in the question with the Fighter going first. \$\endgroup\$ – Someone_Evil Aug 6 at 21:59
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The Fighter must wait until round 3

During round two in your scenario, when the Cleric heals the Fighter, the Fighter's turn has already ended for that round, so they would need to wait until the next round to take another turn.

The rules for death saving throws state the the saving throw is made at the start of the dying creature's turn (the Fighter, in this case):

Whenever you start your turn with 0 hit points, you must make a special saving throw, called a death saving throw, to determine whether you creep closer to death or hang onto life.

So this confirms that the Fighter must have started their turn. Then, the rules for dropping to 0 HP also state that:

When you drop to 0 hit points, you either die outright or fall unconscious

And an unconscious creature:

An unconscious creature is incapacitated, can't move or speak, and is unaware of its surroundings

And an incapacitated creature:

An incapacitated creature can't take actions or reactions.

Since the Fighter started their turn, made their death saving throw, was unconscious due to being at 0 HP, which means they are also incapacitated, which means they cannot take actions, that means they can do nothing on their turn besides making their death saving throw, upon which their turn ends. At that point the next in the initiative order is the Cleric, so as soon as the Cleric's turn begins, the Fighter's turn is ended and must wait until round 3 to take another turn.


NB: If it so happened that the goblin wanted to move away from the Fighter (and for some reason didn't want to take the disengage action), then the now-conscious Fighter would still be able to use their reaction to take an opportunity attack, since they are no longer unconscious and no longer incapacitated, and thus are able to use reactions again. This can be done during other creature's turns, but anything else would need to wait until round 3, as I explained above.

However, as @KorvinStarmast reminded me, such an opportunity attack would be made with disadvantage as the Fighter would still be prone, since he has not yet had an opportunity to stand up (which uses movement, which he would need to wait until his next turn to use).

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    \$\begingroup\$ Unless I'm missing it, could you add a clause about rolling a natural 20 on the death saving throw? \$\endgroup\$ – goodguy5 Aug 6 at 12:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ @goodguy5 I chose to leave that out because the OP's original scenario simply stated that the Fighter passed their saving throw, but not with a natural 20 (indeed, if that were the case, there'd be no need to consider whether or not the Fighter can now continue with their turn, and the Cleric may not have chosen to heal the Fighter either); in other words, that's a totally different scenario. \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Aug 6 at 12:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ ah, fair enough. okay. \$\endgroup\$ – goodguy5 Aug 6 at 12:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ I would suggest altering your N.B. to be more general. Here it concentrates quite specifically on OAs, but any reaction the character has available is open to them, including reaction spells, any items that can be used as a reaction, etc. \$\endgroup\$ – Jim Cullen Aug 7 at 1:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ The exception to this is if the fighter rolls a 20 on their death saving throw. In this situation, they regain 1 hp, and because death saving throws happen at the start of your turn, they now have their entire turn to act as they wish. \$\endgroup\$ – anaximander Aug 7 at 8:33

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