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Can a player hold the effect or spell granted to them by an item, and if so, does the spell or effect follow the normal "Readying spell" rule where if the trigger never occurs, the effect or the spell, or the charges on the item are wasted.

IE: "I hold the effect of my Cape of the Mountebank (dimension door) until the minotaur moves into melee with me."

The minotaur never moves into melee with said character.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Hi Grand, welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour to find out how things work here, and visit the help center for more info. This is a very interesting first question! \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Oct 3 '19 at 14:00
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Cape of the Mountebank (DMG 157)

While wearing it, you can use it to cast the dimension door spell as an action.

Activating an Item (DMG 141)

Spells Some magic items allow the user to cast a spell from the item. The spell is cast at the lowest possible spell and caster level, doesn't expend any of the user's spell slots, and requires no components, unless the item's description says otherwise. The spell uses its normal casting time, range, and duration, and the user of the item must concentrate if the spell requires concentration.

Ready (PHB 193)

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, which lets you act using your reaction before the start of your next turn. When you ready a spell, you cast it as normal but hold its energy, which you release with your reactions when the trigger occurs. To be readied, a spell must have a casting time of 1 action, and holding onto the spell's magic requires concentration.

Using the above quotes (with some unrelated text omitted, and with my emphasis in bold), I see this situation with the following logic:

  1. The cape says it allows the user to cast a spell.
  2. The rules for activating a magic item explicitly refer to casting a spell from the item.
  3. Those same rules say that most the normal rules for casting apply, including concentration.
  4. Readying the spell requires casting the spell, and holding it with your concentration.
  5. You have until the start of your next turn to use a readied item. Otherwise, you lose the spell.

Therefore, if the trigger does not occur, the spell is lost. You must wait until the next dawn to use it again.

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You ask two subtly different things. Readying the use of an item's effect to cast a spell is much different than casting a spell.

  1. You use "ready" as your action to use the cape's effect to cast Dimension Door if a trigger occurs. The trigger doesn't occur before the start of your next turn, the cape's effect is never used and you may still use it.

  2. You use "ready" to ready a spell to hurl at a target if a trigger occurs. You cast the spell and hold back the spell's energy as per the PHB (pg 193). At this point, the spell is cast and the spell slot consumed. The trigger does not occur before the start of your next turn, so the spell dissipates with no effect.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm not sure what you're nitpicking. You use your action to use the cape's ability. \$\endgroup\$ – JRodge01 Oct 3 '19 at 16:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ Reads to me like you're "using it" to cast the spell. Otherwise, it would be simpler to just say "while wearing it, you may cast [the spell]." \$\endgroup\$ – JRodge01 Oct 3 '19 at 16:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ That's a very good point I didn't read NautArch. By that, the interpretation of wasting the charges/use would apply. This also applies to the rule of items granting the casting of a spell vs "a spell like effect". \$\endgroup\$ – Grand Oct 3 '19 at 16:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch wands say you can use your action to expend charges to cast the spell, yet they fall under 'Use an Object' \$\endgroup\$ – Nicolas Budig Oct 3 '19 at 16:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NicolasBudig: Magic item use is separate from the Use an Object action. From DMG p. 141, below the "Activating an Item" header under magic items: "If an item requires an action to activate, that action isn't a function of the Use an Object action, so a feature such as the rogue's Fast Hands can't be used to activate the item." \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Oct 4 '19 at 3:55
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Welcome to Stack Exchange!

I believe the best way to state that would be:

"I ready an action to 'Use an object' to activate my Cape of the Montebank once the minotaur gets in range"

If the trigger never occurs than interacting with the item (which is what expends the charge) doesn't happen and the charge isn't spent.

Use an Object: You normally interact with an object while doing something else, such as when you draw a sword as part of an attack. When an object requires your action for its use, you take the Use an Object action. This action is also useful when you want to interact with more than one object on your turn.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ That was one of the arguements that I thought of as well, but based on PHB 193 "When you ready a spell, you cast it as normal but hold it's energy which you release with your reaction when the trigger occurs". Based on that snippet I would think that simply interacting with the item would not be enough to increase its casting time to reaction speed, and the spell would already have to be initialized, though of course I may be mistaken. \$\endgroup\$ – Grand Oct 3 '19 at 14:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'd have to check my PHB & DMG for verification later after work, but I believe that's the beauty of magic items - you don't risk losing their charge because you only need to speak the command word (or press the button, or whatever). \$\endgroup\$ – Joshjurg Oct 3 '19 at 14:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ Using a magic item doesn’t use the Use an Object Action -it requires the specific Activate Magic Item X action. It’s the difference between a dragon, say, taking the Attack action or the Claw action. Whether there’s a practical differed - generally not but there could be in specific edge cases. \$\endgroup\$ – Dale M Oct 3 '19 at 21:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ As Dale said, magic item use is separate from the Use an Object action. From DMG p. 141, below the "Activating an Item" header under magic items: "If an item requires an action to activate, that action isn't a function of the Use an Object action, so a feature such as the rogue's Fast Hands can't be used to activate the item." \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Oct 4 '19 at 3:53

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