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A PC states that they are going to use the Ready action to cast produce flame. They want to produce the flame to see on their turn, but they want to wait until the trigger happens to hurl the flame.

Would the casting of produce flame happen as a reaction? Or do they need to wait their turn to attack as an action on a later turn?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Related, in a way: "Can a readied spell be Counterspelled after it is cast, but before the trigger occurs?" \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Oct 15 at 18:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ from the way i am understanding it, it would be the same as saying i want to cast magic missile, shoot just one missile and hold the other 2 until a creature does this, Which I dont believe is possible either, but i may be wrong. \$\endgroup\$ – Francisco De La Paz Oct 15 at 18:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ So the character is already holding the flame, and you're asking if they can use the ready action to throw it? \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Markov Oct 15 at 18:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ No they just produced the flame to see what was happening, but wanted to hold the throwing of the flame. \$\endgroup\$ – Francisco De La Paz Oct 15 at 18:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ Your post seems to present one intent by the player, but the question itself focuses on a slightly different scenario. To ask if what the PC intends is possible, you might ask, "Can I use the Ready action to cast the produce flame cantrip and summon the flame immediately, but wait until the trigger to hurl the flame?" However, right now, the next sentence says: "Does the casting happen as a reaction, or do they need to wait their turn to attack as action on a later turn?" It's unclear to me whether either part of this sentence intends to ask about the same thing as what the PC intends. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Oct 16 at 3:09
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When you cast the spell, or as an action on a later turn, you can hurl the flame at a creature...

The spell produce flame allows you to do one of two things:

  • Cast the spell and hold the flame as a light source, potentially throwing it as an action on a later turn, or
  • Cast the spell and immediately hurl the flames, making your attack as part of the same action.

The rule about readying actions says,

When you ready a spell, you cast it as normal but hold its energy, which you release with your reaction when the trigger occurs.

So you can ready the spell produce flame, casting it and holding its energy, but at this point it's just energy -- none of the spell's text takes effect yet. When the trigger occurs, you use your reaction to complete the casting, and at that point you follow the spell's text. For this particular cantrip, that text allows you to either hold the flame in your hand to shed light, or throw it immediately.

You can cast the produce flame spell and throw the flame all as part of the single reaction, but you can't cast the spell fully, holding the flame in your hand to benefit from its light, and at the same time ready an action to throw the flame. That would be using two actions in one turn, which is not allowed without some kind of special ability.

You could cast the spell on your turn, hold the flame, then on your next turn, ready an action to hurl it if a specific trigger occurs. But in that case, you'd be splitting it across multiple turns, not taking two actions at the same time.

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    \$\begingroup\$ "you can't cast the spell fully, holding the flame in your hand to benefit from its light, and at the same time ready an action to throw the flame. That would be using two actions in one turn." You can if you're a Fighter using Action Surge. \$\endgroup\$ – nick012000 Oct 16 at 4:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ @nick012000 Interesting. But I'd argue that the spell description says "or as an action on a later turn", so even with Action Surge I'd probably rule against it. Depends on how you define "When you cast the spell" I suppose, but at least in my mind, once you use action surge, you've already cast the spell, so it's too late. But might be debatable. \$\endgroup\$ – Mark Oct 16 at 7:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mark this seems a particularly poor use of action surge, to be honest. I agree that a strict-rules interpretation would agree with you, but I would probably rule the opposite - if the fighter of sufficient level to have action surge wanted to use both an action and action surge for a cantrip like this, I can't see it being game-breaking. \$\endgroup\$ – Tal Oct 16 at 15:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @nick012000 By the nature of the game, a new rule exception could appear at any time as new materials are produced, so there's really no point to building a list of every possible way a separate rule might interact with the case at hand to change the answer. "How can I perform two actions in a single turn?" is a different question that we aren't dealing with here. \$\endgroup\$ – Darth Pseudonym Oct 16 at 16:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DarthPseudonym: True. I might just add the word "normally" somewhere in that sentence, to allow for the possibility of features that contradict the general rule. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Oct 16 at 19:23
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The ranged spell attack can be made using your reaction after readying the spell.

Produce flame says (emphasis mine):

You can also attack with the flame, although doing so ends the spell. When you cast this spell, or as an action on a later turn, you can hurl the flame at a creature within 30 feet of you. Make a ranged spell attack. On a hit, the target takes 1d8 fire damage.

This spell description tells us how produce flame works in general. But, the rules for readying an action give us a more specific rule to follow when readying the spell:

When you ready a spell, you cast it as normal but hold its energy, which you release with your reaction when the trigger occurs.

You cast the spell as normal, which is when you would normally make the ranged spell attack, but then you hold the spell's energy which you release when the trigger occurs. This releasing of the spell's energy is when you make the ranged spell attack.

If cast on a previous turn, you can use the Ready action to throw it as a reaction.

If you have already cast the spell in order to create light, on a later turn you can use the Ready action to throw the fire in response to a trigger.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ if producing the flame is the action, where does the extra action come from to also be able to hold it? \$\endgroup\$ – Francisco De La Paz Oct 15 at 17:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ "Holding a spell" is the special term for readying a spell. See the Ready action description in the PHB p.193. It isn't the same as holding the flame from a Produce Flame spell in your hand. When you ready a spell, you cast it MOST of the way and 'hold the energy', waiting for the trigger, at which point you finish the casting and enact the text of the spell. In the case of Produce Flame, the text that you enact at that time gives you the option to throw the flame immediately, so that would be part of resolving the Ready action. \$\endgroup\$ – Darth Pseudonym Oct 15 at 18:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ It's worth mentioning in the answer that "holding its energy" in this way does not actually cause a flame to appear in the caster's hand on their turn, as the PC wants to do according to the question. You basically perform the spell components right away, but none of the spell effect (including the flame appearing in your hand) occurs until just after the perceptible trigger occurs. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Oct 16 at 3:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ The answer is otherwise correct about the ability to Ready the spell, and then summon and immediately hurl the flame as a reaction when the trigger happens. It's also correct about the ability to Ready a throw of a produce flame spell that was cast on a previous turn (i.e. that has appeared in your hand and that you haven't thrown). \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Oct 16 at 3:15

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