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Here's the plan, and I think it's possible..

  1. Move close to my ally Bobby
  2. Bonus action use Metamagic to cast Quickened Spell Darkness on my dagger's blade (or a tennis ball, doesn't matter)
  3. Free object interaction to Sheath dagger (or pocket ball) (which I just read should block the darkness)
  4. Action: "ready Action" to draw dagger when I see Bobby shoot an arrow

Bobby moves 30 feet (15 to me, then 15 more towards escaping) and shoots an arrow at our enemies

  1. Reaction/Readied Action Draw dagger putting me & Bobby in defensive darkness

On subsequent turns could I basically repeat the sheath, move, and ready to draw thus shrouding us in darkness while Bobby shoots in the light as we make our escape?

One issue that's already apparent is that the initiative order would have to go Me>Bobby>everyone else for this to work.

Are there any other issues?

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    \$\begingroup\$ @Flynxer Please do not write answers in comments. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 31, 2023 at 12:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ Now if only your archer friend had the Devil's Sight warlock Invocation, you wouldn't need all this coordination AND they'd be attacking with advantage. \$\endgroup\$
    – aaron9eee
    Nov 2, 2023 at 18:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ Between step 4 and 5, Bobby needs to fire an arrow from a location you can see for step 5 to occur. Just to note. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 30, 2023 at 22:44

4 Answers 4

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This works

The trigger of your Readied Action finishes before the action, so Bobby will get of his shot

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

Your linked questions already covers if darkness is blocked, and you can move, take one action (including the Ready action), one free object interaction and one bonus action in your turn, so the action economy also works.

As you observe, it depends on exact initiative order. Also note that the enemies can Ready actions too, for example to shoot at you or Bobby the moment the light goes back on when you pocket your ball or sheathe your knife.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Oh that's excellent, I hadn't thought about enemies being able to ready actions. So (with my DM) we could probably pull it off for a couple of rounds. Generally we're rewarded for thinking outside the box even if it is a bizarre exploit. Probably because my DM loves coming up with her own to break us if we try them again, and a bunch of readied actions would do that \$\endgroup\$ Nov 2, 2023 at 16:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ Keep in mind though that Anything preventing the OP from Seeing Bobby "shoot an arrow" will leave OP standing there in the light, having wasted their action for the turn. So if Bobby has to make a melee attack, or an obstruction blocks OP from having vision on Bobby, etc, that's basically the risk/cost that intelligent enemies can exploit to counter the benefit of a potentially strong strategy. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 30, 2023 at 22:53
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This is a loophole in the rules

Whether this works, depends on what is acceptable at your table. Many DMs explicitly forbid exploiting technical loopholes, regardless of the fact it should work rules as written.

The thing is, characters act simultaneously in the game world. They don't stay frozen, waiting for "their turn". However, the rules use turns to structurize the game process. Exploiting these rules creates unfair (and most probably unintended) situation, which contradicts common sense.

In the middle of a fight you come closer to your archer Bobby and blind him (and yourself) with the Darkness spell. How would this work without turns? What would happen in the game world?

The battle continues, blades are clashing, your teammates are probably struggling, and you have no idea what's happening, because you can't see anything. When are you going to deactivate the spell, in what particular moment? You might say "when my turn begins", but the character doesn't know that.

You could convince the DM this course of actions is plausible. But be ready (s)he won't agree, and the plan won't go well, even being 100% RAW. The DM has every right to ignore the rules, when they fall short.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I’ll be throwing a bounty at this as soon as the button is available. “How does this actually work in the narrative” is such an under-appreciated heuristic for examining rules interactions, imo. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 1, 2023 at 10:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think in the narrative, everything happening at the same time, you just pull out the light for an instant and repocket it, and it is in that instant that your pal shoots his arrow at the opposition (kinda reversing who reacts). But honestly, it is very hard to consistently map turn based combat resolution to an "everything happens at the same time" narrative, they are just that different. Another egregious issue is when a larger group acts all on the same ini, but each (typically monster) in the group can adjust their actions based on the outcome of the last one acting. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 1, 2023 at 12:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ This borders on the line of assuming D&D is a physics simulator. You're literally suggesting ignoring rules for the sake of physical realism. And down we go into the rabbit hole of deciding which rules to follow, which rules to modify, and which rules to ignore. \$\endgroup\$
    – ikegami
    Nov 1, 2023 at 15:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ikegami narrative consistency is not "physical realism". \$\endgroup\$
    – enkryptor
    Nov 1, 2023 at 15:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ There isn't nothing narratively inconsistent with waiting for another player to shoot their arrow before sheathing their dagger. This isn't about narritive consistency. Your answer suggests you should ignoring the rules to provide physical realism ("The thing is, characters act simultaneously in the game world. They don't stay frozen, waiting for "their turn".") \$\endgroup\$
    – ikegami
    Nov 1, 2023 at 16:00
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This sounds like Help with extra steps (almost)

It's true that this feels a little cheesy and relying too much on RAW - possibly bending a little the idea that characters act simultaneously (and introducing interesting questions about how fast darkness travels and reaction times).

But in the end, you spend an entire action to pull it off.

Compare your scenario with just having permanent Darkness. Your sheathing-unseathing trick is then the same* as granting Bobby advantage, as the advantage would cancel the disadvantage.

There are a few ways to sacrifice an action to gain advantage, albeit with some extra restrictions (but consider you burned a lv2 spell slot+metamagic!):

  • The Help action gives advantage to the first attack roll but requires you to be within 5ft of the target (so not ideal for fleeing)
  • True strike: a cantrip that gives advantage to the first attack roll but it's only self-cast
  • Guiding Bolt: 1st level cleric spell but you also deal damage (requires attack roll) and gives advantage to the first attack roll
  • Just attack: 2 attacks with disadvantage result in 0.6 hits (assuming +5 to hit and AC15) while 1 normal attack results in 0.55 hits on average. Granted, the damage output difference between the characters could make it better if one attacked normally.

Tl;dr: It's not a groundbreaking exploit, it's RAW, it's cool!

*It could be that Bobby can gain advantage in some other way as well, in which case removing the darkness is different from giving advantage (because advantage (bobby's)+advantage(yours)+disadvantage(darkness)=nothing while advantage(bobby's)+ removal of darkness disadvantage (yours) = advantage). In this case, the dagger trick becomes more powerful than the previous actions and perhaps it shouldnt be applied.

** The darkness trick doesn't have this limitation (assuming you make a tweak to the trigger to be "when Bobby fires his second/third/... arrow"). Perhaps, to keep this balanced, Bobby can only get one attack without disadvantage while the dagger is sheathed due to reaction times?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ "It could be that Bobby can gain advantage but only if he's in light. This would stretch things a bit too much!" It is actually not as rare as you think. Samurai Fighting Spirit gives advantage on all attacks for one turn, for example. Using the OP's trick, the samurai can benefit from this advantage. Using the permanent darkness, the samurai can't get this benefit. \$\endgroup\$
    – justhalf
    Nov 2, 2023 at 6:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ @justhalf sorry, I meant that the dagger trick would stretch things too much ie be more powerful; i've edited to clarify! \$\endgroup\$
    – falsedot
    Nov 2, 2023 at 13:44
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This would work, but in my opinion the best use for a tag-team Darkness combo is with animate objects. Before the bard/wizard whoever starts flinging haunted gold coins at people, cast darkness on one of them. AFAIK, Animate Objects is one of a pretty small list of spells that don't require you be able to see the thing you're casting on, so the caster enchants the coins etc and then they fly off.

Then you can move the darkness at-will essentially (well the animate objects guy can), and generally the objects will all get advantage on their many, many attacks since they have blindsight and are in a darkness bubble. That can then be compounded by crusader's mantle, poison, etc if you really want to go wild, although you're going to hit diminishing returns. Will give you great flexibility with where the darkness goes, boost the damage of an already pretty damaging spell, and gives you good utility by directing the darkness to block line of sight for an enemy caster etc.

Note you do have to cast darkness before he casts animate objects, after they are animated they are constructs/creatures and no longer eligible for the spell. If the DM says that breaks the original darkness spell, a caltrop bent into a loop on one end with a ring or washer or whatever in it will allow you to get around that.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ That's a neat twist, I must admit I've never reached level 9 so that spell wasn't even on my radar. One thing of note though is that your idea would require 2 casters since they are both concentration spells. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 4, 2023 at 11:20

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