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At level 6 when you get the ability to teleport to other bonded creatures to take their incoming damage do you get to know the damage value before you teleport?

For instance Player 1 is bonded to Player 2. If Player 2 is attacked by a goblin wielding a shortbow and the goblin rolls a successful attack, can Player 1 wait until after the damage roll before deciding to use the reaction to teleport and take the damage? Or, does Player 1 have to declare the teleport after the successful attack but before the damage is known?

Emboldening Bond
1st-level Peace Domain feature

{snip} While any bonded creature is within 30 feet of another, the creature can roll a d4 and add the number rolled to an attack roll, an ability check, or a saving throw it makes. Each creature can add the d4 no more than once per turn.

You can use this feature a number of times equal to your proficiency bonus, and you regain all expended uses when you finish a long rest.

Protective Bond
6th-level Peace Domain feature

{snip} When a creature affected by your Emboldening Bond feature is about to take damage, a second bonded creature within 30 feet of the first can use its reaction to teleport to an unoccupied space within 5 feet of the first creature. The second creature then takes all the damage instead.

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The reaction is taken immediately after its trigger. But sometimes it's complicated.

The trigger for the Protective Bond reaction is:

When a creature affected by your Emboldening Bond feature is about to take damage

Therefore, the Protective Bond reaction is available immediately after the rules of the game have decided that the creature affected by Emboldening Bond is to take damage. There are actually several cases we must consider here.

Hit by an Attack

The rules for attack rolls state:

To make an attack roll, roll a d20 and add the appropriate modifiers. If the total of the roll plus modifiers equals or exceeds the target's Armor Class (AC), the attack hits.

The rules for resolving attacks state:

On a hit, you roll damage.

So when the affected creature is hit with an attack, this is the reaction trigger. It is at this point, once the attack has been determined to hit, that we know the creature is about to take damage, and this is before we have rolled the damage - the trigger occurs before damage is rolled.

Now, if there is a possibility that the attack could deal 0 damage the DM does have to roll the damage to be sure that the affected creature is about to take damage, but the reaction still occurs immediately after the trigger, which is before the damage is applied. In this situation the DM would tell you, "The damage is more than 0", and give you an opportunity to make the choice, but the DM shouldn't tell you what the damage is.

Saving throw (half damage on success)

Saving throw damage is complicated, as there are two cases which need to be handled differently. In the first case, suppose the affected creature is in the area of effect of a fireball spell. They take 8d6 damage on a failed save, and half on a successful save. In this instance, the rules have established that they are about to take damage before the saving throw is even made. In this case, the saving throw is not determining if they take damage, it is determining how much damage to roll. So you would make the choice to use your reaction before the creature even attempts the saving throw.

Saving throw (no damage on success)

In this case, such as in cantrips which deal no damage on a successful save, the saving throw is determining if the creature is about to take damage. Therefore, your reaction would only be available to you after the saving throw has been attempted and failed, but again, before the damage is actually rolled. It is only after the saving throw has been attempted that the rules of the game have determined if the creature is about to take damage or not.

Fall Damage

This one will just require a ruling form the DM. Protective Bond just teleports you to a space near the creature, which seems to me wouldn't actually affect fall damage at all. RAW, it can cancel fall damage, but it seems reasonable to rule that this feature doesn't help with fall damage, or allows you to quickly utilize Tasha's optional Falling onto a Creaure rule:

If a creature falls into the space of a second creature and neither of them is Tiny, the second creature must succeed on a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw or be impacted by the falling creature, and any damage resulting from the fall is divided evenly between them. The impacted creature is also knocked prone, unless it is two or more sizes larger than the falling creature.

There is room to rule differently.

What I gave above is a pretty strict reading, I think, of the feature and the relevant rules, but the trigger "about to take damage" is still somewhat ambiguous, so there's room to rule differently. To me it just seems a bit cheesy to be able to be this selective with using the feature, but there's nothing wrong with taking it in a different direction. In particular, ruling that you can make the choice after you know what the damage would be makes it far less complicated than what I presented above.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Nice exploration of cases and the closing paragraph adds more tasty bits. +1 \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Feb 23 at 17:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ What about the case where the saving throw would still cause damage but the target has something that on a successful save they take no damage instead of half damage? (For example: Evasion) \$\endgroup\$ – The Grand J Feb 24 at 2:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @TheGrandJ isn’t that just the “no damage on a success” case? \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Markov Feb 24 at 2:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ It seems to be entirely identical. There are some more edge cases I can think of, such as a creature have an ability that could optionally prevent damage from being taken, but stuff like that is rare and unlikely to come up at the table. \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Markov Feb 24 at 2:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ @PeterCordes At least with the Monk's Deflect Missiles feature, this occurs when the Monk is hit which is before damage is applied. Thus, it would have to be resolved before the teleportation and damage-redirection occurs, though whether the reduced damage stays reduced for the character that is teleporting in is... unclear. That said, the character who is teleporting in is not actually hit by the attack, they merely take its damage, so they could not use Deflect Missiles \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Feb 24 at 15:58
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No.

The wording makes things clear.

When a creature affected by your Emboldening Bond feature is about to take damage,

The creature hasn't taken the damage yet, and the player doesn't know how much damage it is. At this point, the character can use its reaction and take the damage. Not later, after the creature has taken the damage.

As Medix2 suggested, compare this with features or spells like Absorb Elements, that state you react when you take the damage, so after knowing the damage roll and type.

One reaction, which you take when you take acid, cold, fire, lightning, or thunder damage

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Maybe, Yes, No.

"Taking 0 damage" doesn't count as taking damage for the purpose of triggers (see here and here), and the condition for the trigger will only be resolved when the final amount of damage is known and about to be subtracted from Player 2's hit points. This is the amount of damage Player 1 can elect to take instead.

So:

do you get to know the damage value before you teleport?

Maybe.

With human Players, a traditional tabletop setup with dice rolled in full sight of the players will often allow Player 1 to know the damage. But the bonded target can be under the DM's control. In this setup, I suggest ruling YES for uniformity.

At worst, Player 1 has to be told that Player 2 is about to have some positive number subtracted from his hit points and must decide then.

can Player 1 wait until after the damage roll before deciding to use the reaction to teleport and take the damage?

He has to.

Or, does Player 1 have to declare the teleport after the successful attack but before the damage is known?

No, at this point it's not yet known if Player 2 is "about to take damage". (Also, the source of damage needn't be an attack.)

If Player 2's damage turns out to be zero, for example due to immunity, the trigger does not activate and Player 1 cannot choose to teleport, even if it would be advantageous for him to do so.

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