Prompted by this question about the sleep spell and waking those effected by it, I've been wondering whether it has been commented on officially.

The issue of a chain of dependent events all occurring in the same six seconds must have been noticed before now. In the case of the question that prompted this, five out of six goblins are put to sleep and then wake each other up as their turn comes around; Goblin 1 (who is awake) uses their action to wake up Goblin 2, Goblin 2 then wakes Goblin 3 and so on until Goblin 6 is woken and can attack. That attack relies on five other actions already having taken place.

Are there any limitations on the length of a chain of actions like this?

Any official books or even Jeremy Crawford's comments (I know they aren't "official" any more) would count.


2 Answers 2


Yeah, the limitation is the DM. There's a bunch of situations you can up with that abuse the idea that the game world is simultaneous, but the table is turn-based. The only real limit on this is what the DM will allow.

See also this article on the legendary "Peasant Railgun", which abuses the idea that you can ready an action to grab an object and give it to someone else to make objects travel an arbitrary distance in one round by lining up a lot of people who are all doing just that.


And as the article says:

As a DM you sometimes have to say “no, this is how it is” and move on.

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ I suspected it would be like this - it makes sense because its hard to draw a hard line anywhere and make a rule out of it. Some DMs are rules focused rather though, rather than considering what is actually going on - would be nice to have something official to have pointed to to guide those. Thanks for the answer :) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 17, 2021 at 20:49
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ +1 for mentioning the railgun, cuz that's what I was gonna bring up. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 20, 2021 at 3:51

No. We can contrive an arbitrarily long chain of dependent events in a single turn.


Consider N wizards standing in a single file line. Wizard 1 casts fireball, as one does. Wizard 2 casts counterspell. Wizard 3 casts counterspell to Wizard 2's counterspell, and so on. For N odd, fireball goes off, for N even, fireball is successfully countered.

The Sage Advice Compendium explicitly confirms that we can counterspell a counterspell:

Cornelius the wizard is casting fireball on his turn, and his foe casts counterspell on him. Cornelius also has counterspell prepared, so he uses his reaction to cast it and break his foe’s counterspell before it can stop fireball.

There are no rules in place placing an upper bound on N.

  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ This is certainly true as an illustration of principle. I think one part of the problem with the original question is that the DM is permitting all of the goblins to act on the same initiative. Hopefully that wouldn't be the case with wizards. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Commented Jun 17, 2021 at 18:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Kirt Did you slap the keyboard there? "df ]\" \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 17, 2021 at 18:11
  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ Not me - my daughter's cat. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Commented Jun 17, 2021 at 18:12

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