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Can a player hold ONLY their bonus action? They take their turn, take the attack action, hold the bonus action. With disengage and dash as bonus actions, it puts the rogue in a better place to control their position.

Is this a legit interpretation of the rules? The rogues turn comes, he takes an attack action with his bow, then holds his bonus action for a disengage stating the trigger being when an opponent moves in to attack OR holds the bonus action for a dash when an opponent comes with in 10 feet.

Could some one with Misty Step do the same? (assuming they did not cast another level 1+ spell that turn.)

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You cannot ready a bonus action, but more importantly, readying Dash and Disengage wouldn't make sense anyway.

Your general question of "can you do this" is addressed here: Can you ready a bonus action?. But I think there is some confusion here, because even if you could, readying Dash and Disengage is not something you would ever do.

First, we must understand what Dash does:

When you take the Dash action, you gain extra movement for the current turn. The increase equals your speed, after applying any modifiers.

Notably, Dash does not allow you to move. It only adds to your available movement this turn, so using the Ready action to Dash does nothing.

Second, Disengage:

If you take the Disengage action, your movement doesn't provoke opportunity attacks for the rest of the turn.

Like Dash, there isn't really a circumstance where using the Ready action to Disengage on someone else's turn would actually do anything,1 and it isn't entirely clear from the question what you think it would be doing if you used it when someone moved near you or attacked you.


1 Okay, there is such a circumstance, discussed here (thanks Kirt), but using your action to anticipate such forced movement is still probably not the best use of your action. And it isn't really relevant to the question here.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Notably you can Ready your movement (as an Action), which is clearly what a player trying to Ready a Dash is trying to achieve. \$\endgroup\$
    – Vigil
    Nov 25, 2022 at 17:02
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No, you cannot use the Ready Action with a Bonus Action

Note: The "Holding" of you action you describe is called a Ready Action in 5E and this is how it works:

Sometimes you want to get the jump on a foe or wait for a particular circumstance before you act. To do so, you can take the Ready Action on your turn, which lets you act using your Reaction before the start of your next turn. First, you decide what perceivable circumstance will trigger your Reaction. Then, you choose the Action you will take in response to that trigger, or you choose to move up to your speed in response to it (…)

This explicitly only works with your Action or with movement, not with Bonus Action. You can also only use this to specify a single trigger and a single response so wording it as "doing something if X happens or something else instead if Y happens" like your second paragraph suggests also doesn't work.

In order to Ready a spell, it must meet the requirements:

To be readied, a spell must have a Casting Time of 1 Action (…)

So you cannot Ready Misty Step either.

Also, there's this twitter post by Jeremy Crawford that you might check out, covering exactly the question of Readying a bonus action (not an official ruling but supporting material for it): https://twitter.com/jeremyecrawford/status/779375456927690753?lang=en-GB

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No, the Ready action requires taking an Action, not a Bonus Action.

In the section of the rules called Your Turn you can find what you can do during your turn: to sum up, you can:

  • Take an action
  • Take a bonus action
  • Move

A special case is the reaction, which can take place on your turn or on someone else's, since it is a response to a particular trigger. Note that the description of the Bonus Action says:

You can take only one bonus action on your turn, so you must choose which bonus action to use when you have more than one available.

You choose when to take a bonus action during your turn, unless the bonus action’s timing is specified, and anything that deprives you of your ability to take actions also prevents you from taking a bonus action.

A Bonus Action can be taken only during your turn, as confirmed by the Sage Advice Compendium:

Can you use the Ready action to take the Dash action on someone else’s turn and then combine the Charger feat with it?

No, since you can’t take a bonus action on someone else’s turn.

The list of the possible actions to be taken can be found here, and in particular the description of the Ready action reads:

Sometimes you want to get the jump on a foe or wait for a particular circumstance before you act. To do so, you can take the Ready action on your turn, which lets you act using your reaction before the start of your next turn.

There are two aspect to consider here.

Firstly, your readied action may take place on another creature's turn (usually, this is the main scope of a readied action). This means that if rules allowed you to Ready a Bonus Action, it still could not take place outside your turn for the rules to be consistent.

Moreover, once you had taken the Attack action, you could not take also the Ready action, because you would have already spent your turn's action budget\$^\dagger\$. You cannot exchange the Bonus Action with an Action, as explained also in the Sage Advice Compendium:

Can a bonus action be used as an action or vice versa? For example, can a bard use a bonus action to grant a Bardic Inspiration die and an action to cast healing word?

No. Actions and bonus actions aren’t interchangeable. In the example, the bard could use Bardic Inspiration or healing word on a turn, not both.


\$^\dagger\$ An exception is the Fighter's Action Surge feature, which allows you to take another Action on your turn.

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No, "holding" a Bonus Action is not meaningful. One can use the Ready action to take a specific action or move.

The idea of "holding" an action is terminology from older editions of D&D that is not really applicable. D&D 5e allows you to use the Ready action:

Sometimes you want to get the jump on a foe or wait for a particular circumstance before you act. To do so, you can take the Ready action on your turn, which lets you act using your reaction before the start of your next turn. --PH 193

Importantly, Ready is an action. It uses the rogue's action on their turn. The Rogue could choose to Ready an action and use a Bonus Action (e.g., from their Cunning Action class feature). So it would be allowable to:

  1. Move
  2. Use Cunning Action to Dash (move their speed again)
  3. Use Ready to prepare to attack an opponent who moves within reach of their weapon

It sounds like what you want to do is:

  1. Take an action (e.g. take the Attack action)
  2. Use Ready as a bonus action to prepare to do something that would normally be allowed by Cunning Action

This doesn't work because Ready is not a bonus action (and Cunning Action doesn't say that Ready is one of the actions that can be used as a bonus action).

Taking Disengage or Dash as a reaction also seems to not quite work the way you want it to per RAW. When you ready an action, you specify the trigger, then "you choose the action you will take in response to that trigger, or you choose to move up to your speed in response to it." Note that on your turn you can both move and take an action, but when you choose the Ready action, you can move or take an action, not both. Therefore, if you take the Disengage action, you can move without provoking attacks of opportunity but you can't also move, and if you take the Dash action you can move up to your speed but you can't also move, so you still only move your speed, not twice your speed.

You can still move as your reaction. The Players Handbook example "If the goblin steps next to me, I move away," would expose you to an Opportunity Attack (if the goblin still has its reaction), which seems like it defeats the purpose of readying this particular action! The player could get around this by saying that they will move when the goblin is 5 feet away rather than next them. This could set up kind of a standoff where the goblin then uses their remaining movement (if any) to go in a different direction and attack someone else, so the player may not want to move until the last minute in order to draw the goblin in before escaping. This example seems so poorly constructed that a permissive DM might choose to let your move not draw an Opportunity Attack from that particular goblin. But either way, you still have given up your action on your turn in order to Ready moving as a reaction.

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PHB. p193: Actions in Combat

Ready

"... you can take the Ready action on your turn, which lets you act using your reaction before the start of your next turn."

Ready is an action which a player can chose to take, on their turn. It costs your action, "ready" is what you do for your action.

" Then, you choose the action you will take in response... "

Action is a keyword, not a description. You choose the Action (or to move) which you may perform as a reaction. Bonus Actions are not Actions. Reactions are not Actions. Spells which have a casting time longer than one action, are not Actions. Spells cast with a reaction are Reactions, and not Actions.

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You cannot “hold” any type of action

There are five types of action:

  1. Actions - these must be taken on your turn. “When you take your action on your turn, you can take one of the actions presented here, an action you gained from your class or a special feature, or an action that you improvise.” PHB p.192.
  2. Bonus Actions - these must also be taken on your turn. “Various class features, spells, and other abilities let you take an additional action on your turn called a bonus action.” PHB p.189.
  3. Reactions - these must be taken immediately the trigger occurs. “ A reaction is an instant response to a trigger of some kind, which can occur on your turn or on someone else’s.” PHB p.190.
  4. Legendary Actions - these are taken at the end of somebody else’s turn. “Only one legendary action option can be used at a time and only at the end of another creature's turn.” MM p.11.
  5. Lair Actions - these are taken at a given point in the initiative cycle; effectively getting their own turn. “On initiative count 20 (losing all initiative ties), the creature can use one of its lair action options, …” MM p.11.

None of these actions can be “held”.

The Ready action happens on your turn

“… you can take the Ready action on your turn so that you can act later in the round using your reaction.” PHB p.193.

The Ready action creates a bespoke Reaction by defining:

  1. the trigger. “First, you decide what perceivable circumstance will trigger your reaction.” PHB p.193.
  2. the response. “Then, you choose the action you will take in response to that trigger, or you choose to move up to your speed in response to it.” PHB p.193.

The Ready action happens on your turn. The Reaction happens later, if it happens at all. Neither is “held”.

The Reaction created by the Ready action cannot be a Bonus action

The rules are clear that the Reaction must be an action (which does not include any other type of action) or movement up to your speed.

Because a rogue only has one action on a turn they cannot take both the Attack action and the Ready action on the same turn so none of your options work.

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