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Without using any feats, can a player with a reach weapon set that weapon to receive a 'charge' by the enemy, attacking them when they enter range? Or even a non-reach weapon? That is, can a player commit to using their attack action when an enemy crosses an arbitrary line with their movement? (Examples: Ready my glaive to attack when the orc gets 10' away from me. Ready my shortbow to attack when the dragon enters 80' from me. Ready my dagger in case the kobold comes adjacent.)

If this is possible, and the player's attack hits, does it have any effect on the enemy's remaining movement or other actions?

I think the answers are yes, and no, respectively.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to Stack Exchange! Not a bad first question, but it looks like you're looking for confirmation on your own answers to it, rather than a proper answer. This question would benefit from your reasoning as to why it would work either way (why you can set the weapon, why you can't set the weapon, why it affects movement, why it doesn't) so that that uncertainty can be addressed. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 10, 2021 at 1:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ Does your game playing group use feats? \$\endgroup\$ Feb 10, 2021 at 2:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've been in groups that use feats. The reason I specified 'no feats' was that every answer I've found to this question includes Polearm Master and/or Sentinel, and so doesn't directly answer the question. \$\endgroup\$
    – wumpus7
    Feb 10, 2021 at 22:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @StopBeingEvil - Thanks! With respect, I didn't want to bias other people's answers or add a bunch of irrelevant detail to my question. (I did that in the comments instead - heh.) I think both answers are good and address my question(s) fully, and each addresses my reasoning without me having to expound on it, so I think I'll leave well enough alone. \$\endgroup\$
    – wumpus7
    Feb 10, 2021 at 22:18

2 Answers 2

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The answers are "yes, and no, respectively"

Ready requires a "perceivable circumstance". When an enemy gets close enough that you can effectively strike them with your weapon is a perceivable circumstance and is a valid trigger for ready. Similarly, "when an enemy comes through the door", or "steps on the bridge" or "looks at me funny"1 are all valid triggers that can use ranged weapons instead of melee weapons.

However, absent killing the creature or some other effect of the attack (e.g. if you grappled them); hit or miss, the enemy's freedom of action is unaffected by your Ready action attack.

1 Assuming we can agree on objective criteria for a funny look.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The only reason I really had a question about this is knowing that you can't interrupt spellcasting with a Readied attack. It seemed possible that the move would complete 'because it's already in process' before your trigger could activate, in the same manner that you can't choose 'when the mage begins casting a spell'. \$\endgroup\$
    – wumpus7
    Feb 10, 2021 at 1:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ Unless the attack grapples them or knocks them prone (vis a vis your last bit) \$\endgroup\$ Feb 10, 2021 at 2:13
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It is absolutely possible to hold the attack

When the trigger occurs, you can either take your reaction right after the trigger finishes or ignore the trigger.

The timing of the reaction can make a difference. If you held your Attack action till "when the enemy entered my melee range", you can then attack them before they can attack you!

If you instead said "I'll hold my Attack action until someone attacks me" you'd have to suffer a possible hit first as the readied action only occurs after the trigger, meaning, in this case, you getting attacked.

But you can't interfere with their movement, normally

A normal attack doesn't do anything to an opponent's speed, generally. If you wanted to arrest their movement, you'd need to either knock them prone, kill them or have an ability that grappled or restrained or similar on a hit.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Ah, that makes sense. You can't choose 'when the enemy begins attacking me', but you can choose 'when the enemy enters range'. \$\endgroup\$
    – wumpus7
    Feb 10, 2021 at 1:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ Triggers need to be clearly defined and I, as a DM, would hold a player to stating a single, discrete event as the trigger. Things like "begin', 'start to', etc leave too much scope for wiggle room. \$\endgroup\$
    – Steve
    Feb 10, 2021 at 1:21

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