Lore Bard's Cutting Words feature states the following:

Also at 3rd level, you learn how to use your wit to distract, confuse, and otherwise sap the confidence and competence of others. When a creature that you can see within 60 feet of you makes an attack roll, an ability check, or a damage roll, you can use your reaction to expend one of your uses of Bardic Inspiration, rolling a Bardic Inspiration die and subtracting the number rolled from the creature’s roll. You can choose to use this feature after the creature makes its roll, but before the DM determines whether the attack roll or ability check succeeds or fails, or before the creature deals its damage. The creature is immune if it can’t hear you or if it’s immune to being charmed.

What exactly does that mean. At what time do I have to say my DM I interrupt them?

When playing at a table, my DM usually goes this way: "The goblin attacks [player character] with their bow and [rolls] hits". I can hear the dice roll and I say I want to know the result in order to decide if I want to use Cutting Words.

Now with the current sanitary situation, we play online. The DM rolls physical dice and seems to do all the computation ahead since they have our ACs registered. And the "roll" pause in the sentence is not happening anymore: "The goblin attacks [player character] with their bow and hits". So there is no pause anymore between the description of the action and its result. This basically forbids me to use my Cutting Words.

So what is the exact timing where I can interrupt the DM, online, and use my Cutting Words?

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @Aaron3468 That sounds like an excellent start of an answer. Please expand it into one. \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil
    May 13, 2020 at 9:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ Does your DM roll just the die in the Roll20 chat, or do they roll die+modifiers? \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    May 13, 2020 at 12:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ Related on How much does a bard know when they decide to use Cutting Words? and What rolls should players get to see? \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    May 13, 2020 at 12:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch they roll with dice, the actual, physical dice, and I don't hear the dice rolling, but it seems they roll when they start the sentence to have a fluid sentence so there's no pause between the fact that they describe an action and its result. \$\endgroup\$ May 13, 2020 at 12:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ Gotcha - can you add that to the question so everyone has that info? \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    May 13, 2020 at 12:43

1 Answer 1


You need to talk with your DM

How Cutting Words work is very dependent on the DM and their playstyle. There is no hard and fast always-on, every table consistent ruling here, so you need to talk with your DM about what works for you and for them.

Since you say that they are rolling physical dice and not digital, that treats it actually more like a DM who rolls behind their screen at a table. You can ask them to either tell you the physical roll, or tell you if it's in range for cutting words to do something, or come up with a different and personal solution that works for the table.

But you do need to communicate and talk it out. This is a core feature of the Lore Bard and coming up with a system that's fun for everyone and agreed upon is the priority.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Thank you, I will definitely speak with them to try and find a solution fitting everybody, especially since I'm about to hit Bard level 5 next session meaning even more Cutting Words! \$\endgroup\$ May 13, 2020 at 13:08
  • 6
    \$\begingroup\$ For what it's worth, as DM, I always kinda ignore those "after the roll but before you know the result" clauses. They cause more problems than they solve, in my opinion. If the game is moving well at the table, there's often not a lot of pause to see if anyone wants to interrupt before the result is announced, so I'm fine with somebody breaking in after the "And he hits you for... 23 damage" to say "Hold on, I want to use my cutting words!" It represents a small power boost, potentially, but I'm pretty much okay with that. \$\endgroup\$ May 13, 2020 at 14:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DarthPseudonym A perfectly valid play style (as they all are!) I personally would rather have it happen prior to damage as cutting words also lets you reduce damage. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    May 13, 2020 at 15:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DarthPseudonym I like your attitude :) do you still let them stop a critical hit, or they have to use the dramatic pause to stop your strike? \$\endgroup\$
    – MrTakeru
    May 13, 2020 at 15:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MrTakeru FYI Can cutting words cancel a critical hit \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    May 13, 2020 at 16:08

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