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Inspired by Does The Amazing Lightspeed Horse work, RAW? I thought up a different exploit and I hope someone can find a RAW flaw in it.

N Medium humanoids have gathered on an arbitrarily long field, standing in a line with each creature 10 feet away from each of its neighbors. An incapacitated medium creature is at one end, adjacent to the first creature. The creatures are arranged in initiative order, such that all N creatures will act in the order of their position in a single melee round.

The first creature grapples the incapacitated creature and drags it towards the next creature. That creature then grapples it and moves it towards the next creature, etc.

Bonus points if the creature is tiny and you can move at normal speed, or if you have rogues/monks who can bonus action dash.

I really hope there is a flaw in this logic, but I'm afraid it's just a symptom of using turn-based combat to simulate real-time combat.

While the odds of it being used like this are rare, and DnD admits their rules don't work well for large-scale combat, it does come up when a player is unconscious. Even 2 or 3 other players relaying them to safety can make a big difference. I'm generally okay with that, though it does feel somewhat absurd.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Does this answer your question: Are there any limitations on the length of a chain of actions? \$\endgroup\$ Mar 20 at 8:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ Also know as Peasant Railgun \$\endgroup\$ Mar 20 at 15:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Revolver_Ocelot This is slightly different kind of peasant railgun, in which peasants comprise not only the gun but also the bullet. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 20 at 18:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ So, we're not actually using reactions at all here. This is just initiative order playing out during a single round. The turn order and positions just have to line up with the chain of actions is all. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 23 at 17:47

3 Answers 3

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Technically this works

It is an artificial, contrieved situation and seems to not serve a practical purpose, but by the simplifying mechanics of the rules there is no limit to the number of reactions, and this can work.

It is quite possible that your DM will decide to rule otherwise, because it produces an outcome that contradicts common sense.

See also: Are there any limitations on the length of a chain of actions?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Also relevant: Is there a citation for "D&D is not a physics simulation"? - applying the 5e mechanical rules and getting absurdity is a great example. D&D's turn-wise modeling of simultaneous actions and time normally works fine with occasional hand-waving, but if you set out to break it you totally can by creating causality chains across many turns. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 20 at 19:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ My understanding is that no reactions are actually involved at all in this scenario. They just go in sequential initiative order and happen to line up. All of which occurs in a single round. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 23 at 17:46
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This situation requires DM adjudication.

You don't actually say it, but it seems your implication is that RAW, in your scenario each creature's action happens within the single round and therefore as the value of n increases, the speed of the incapacitated person increases.

There are a bunch of situations you can come 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.

First of all, your question assumes that the action economy is the best way to resolve the scenario. But according to the rules, "The DM might use a different time scale depending on the context of the situation at hand."

Assuming there is time pressure and that therefore the action economy is the best way to arbitrate the situation, you are postulating that n characters can each sequentially execute an action A that takes time t and that no matter how large n becomes, n * t will never exceed a single 6-second round. Essentially, you are postulating that time t is 0.

The maximally cooperative DM

The theoretical maximally cooperative GM will agree with you, that time t is 0, in other words, an infinite number of creatures can hand off the incapacitated creature one after the other within a single round and therefore as the incapacitated creature travels across the arbitrarily large field in a single round, it's speed also becomes arbitrarily large.

Of course, the theoreticallly maximally cooperative GM may also rule that long before the speed of the incapacitated creature reaches any theoretical maximum imposed by the likely unstated physical limitations of the game world, air friction causes the now incandescent remains of the incapacitated creature to tear a hole between the prime material plane and the plane of fire, engulfing the arbitrarily large field in an arbitrarily large fireball.

Or maybe air friction isn't a thing either, and you've just invented high-speed transportation.

Or maybe the above is actually the jerk DM, and the maximally cooperative DM just shrugs and says, yeah, you get the incapacitated creature to the other end of the field.

In my experience, a lot of GMs will look at you and either shrug and say, "sure, I'll allow it", or say "shenanigans, hard no".

What the rules say

The rules say:

In situations where keeping track of the passage of time is important, the DM determines the time a task requires.

The DM must determine time t.

If the DM determines that time t is 0, then yes, action A can be repeated an n (or infinite) amount of times in 6 seconds.

The DM may choose to make a different determination. This is explicitly the DM's job.

The fact that the rules do not explicitly spell out what time t is, does not mean that the rules as written assume it to be 0. The rules explicitly leave it up to the DM to decide.

How does the DM decide?

Since this requires DM adjudication, there are as many ways to decide as DMs.

I don't think your question is really about how long it takes to hand off an incapacitated person from one person to another, but based on real-life experience and guesswork a DM could say, hmm, that will take about a second for each handoff, therefore you can move the incapacitated person 60 feet per round.

Also, see the question:

Are there any limitations on the length of a chain of actions

and the answer:

Yeah, the limitation is the DM

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    \$\begingroup\$ I upvoted your previous answer because I thought it provided valuable insight into how a player should understand the DM’s perspective on such shenanigans. I’ve upvoted this one too, because I think it’s the right way to approach things that are clearly shenanigans, but I think including some of the depth your previous answer provided would improve it. That said, I’m just one opinion and the other answer pulled a couple downvotes, so I understand if you want to leave it out. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 20 at 15:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, I thought so too, but at some point I gotta stop throwing endless amounts of time down the answer hole! \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    Mar 20 at 15:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ -1 This appears to be focused on the actual time elapsed, which the question is not concerned about. You also appear to use as a basis for your answer a novel rule that if a series of actions legitimately taken within the space of a round can't actually conclude within the time theoretically alloted to that round (6 seconds) then those actions can't actually all happen and hit a limit—but you do not cite anything to demonstrate this rule exists, nor do you appear to consider that completely ordinary benign combats in normal play an trivially violate such a limit, suggesting it does not exist. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 20 at 15:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener I've included some text more closely aligned with the "Yeah, the limitation is the DM" answer. If that doesn't ameliorate your concern, then I'll have to live with the downvote. Don't see how my answer is substantively different from that one though, which at the time of this writing has no downvotes. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    Mar 20 at 15:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener Awesome! I want to name a theoretical construct "Dopplegreener's Maximally Cooperative DM". Sort of like "Occam's Razor", etc. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    Mar 20 at 18:56
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This is much less cheesy than the peasant railgun. This is just the advantage of going first in initiative.

Upon first reading, I was going to mention "You can't take an action and then move as a readied action" but you aren't using reactions or readied actions at all.

This is just procedural usages of turn order as intended in the rules. Initiative being the driving force in this case, (which likely wouldn't line up everytime in play)

This is no different than if you had 100 PCs at your table and within a single round of combat, wiped away an entire enemy army before they could act because the party went first in initiative and did all their actions before the enemy was able to act at all.

There's nothing out of the ordinary here, it only gets weird when the chain gets exceptionally long to the player's benefit. All it takes though is a single enemy turn to interrupt the party, though once the party turns resumed, the chain could likely continue.

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