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I have two actions that I want to do one right after the other, while trying to avoid anything happening between the two actions that could interfere with my plan.

What I want to do is, on one turn, ready the first action with a trigger of "immediately before my next turn". (Or, equivalently, "at the end of the turn of the creature before me".) That way right after my readied action goes off, it will be my turn again and I can do my second action. Is this allowed?

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No, you can't do that. Purely mechanical events like "at the end of my turn" or "before your turn" are not legal triggers (PHB, p. 193, emphasis mine):

Ready

[…] First, you decide what perceivable circumstance will trigger your reaction.

That means that only things that your character could perceive make for legal triggers.

So, say we have two PCs Yolanda and Xavier, and Yolanda's turn comes after Xavier's.

  • Can Yolanda ready an action to be triggered by the end of Xavier's turn?

    No, because a turn ending isn't a perceivable circumstance.

  • Can Yolanda ready an action to be triggered by Xavier's attack (or move, etc.) instead, to get the same effect as readying for “after Xavier's turn”?

    The answer depends on the answer to “Is Xavier's activity perceivable?” If yes, then “Yes Yolanda can.” If no, then “No Yolanda can't.”

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I would not consider that to be a valid trigger. I think the key here is

First you decide what perceivable circumstance... (PHB 193)

To me, the end of someone's turn is not a perceivable circumstance and you'd need to say "after X character attacks" or something.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ How about "after X acts"? That seems mechanically equivalent to after their turn, at least in many circumstances. \$\endgroup\$ – Hassassin Sep 20 '14 at 6:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Hassassin At my table I'd ask the trigger to be a specific perceivable action. A turn is a meta concept, not an in game one. So "after X character attacks" or "After X character moves." IT's a subtle difference, but "After they take their turn" leaves no perceivable effect if a creature is...say stunned or otherwise incapacitated. \$\endgroup\$ – wax eagle Sep 20 '14 at 11:24
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To play devil's advocate: Yes, you should be able to do this, and it's entirely within the spirit of the rules.

Narratively consistent

  • Sometimes, it's desirable to follow one action directly with another action
  • If you ready an action, this will sometimes occur; that is, it's something that's physically/mechanically possible, depending on your trigger

So the question is: should a PC be able to explicitly plan on doing this? Narratively, it would be pretty weird if they were forced to rely on an external trigger. That seems more game-like to me than allowing a PC to ready for just before their turn -- the narrative goal is to quickly follow one action with another, which is perfectly reasonable! That's exactly what someone in combat might want to do.

We just use the rules for readying an action to model this idea. If the trigger seems somewhat arbitrary, remember that the whole idea of initiative is also pretty arbitrary.

Setting a trigger represents waiting until the moment is right; here, you're waiting for the very same window in the flow of combat that lets you act.

Mechanically balanced

You're not getting something for nothing, here:

  • it uses up your reaction
  • there are many bonuses you only get on your turn (extra attacks, for instance) that are incompatible with a ready action. (The general definition of bonus actions says they are taken on your turn, but I'm uncertain if that's supposed to forbid bonus actions off reactions.)
  • doing this with a spell requires maintaining its energy
  • you sacrifice the ability to do something right now to help your comrades
  • there's every chance that circumstances will change totally messing up your plan!
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  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 for highlighting narrative and game flow as key considerations when choosing to allow or disallow a player action. \$\endgroup\$ – Ruthaford Jan 21 '16 at 14:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think the confliction in answers is in the detail. In the narrative characters don't 'stop' acting because it's not their turn. Doesn't work like the abstraction does. Hence narratively it doesn't make sense. Yet, tactically it does and hence in a narrative sense you might want to do that. The key part is that, narratively, you're never waiting for someone to 'finish whatever they're going to do'. You're waiting for them to do X. (i.e get out of the range of your fireball, or, stop getting in the way of your shot, or, get over here so I can give you a leg-up.) \$\endgroup\$ – Cyberspark May 18 '16 at 8:30
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As worded? I'd say no. Worded differently, for the same (or very nearly the same) effect? I'd say yes.

"Immediately before my next turn" isn't a perceivable action/incident. "Immediately after {the player before me} moves/attacks/casts/whatever", very likely is. Your order there might get a bit mixed up if, for example, you pick 'moves', and the target player moves and then attacks, but even that is effectively the same thing.

You're still running the risk that some action prior to the action that triggers your readied action is going to change things such that the action is useless/pointless/impossible. If you want to trigger off of 'Bob the Fighter' attacking an enemy, and the enemy caster throws down a Wall of Stone between the two of you, you've lost your ability to trigger off of Bob's action, unless he can move back into sight.

Remember, too, that readying an action isn't a subtle thing. The enemy may not know exactly what you have planned, but there's probably several cues as to what you're waiting for, and what you're planning to do in general terms. If you're waiting for Bob to attack someone, you're going to be watching Bob pretty carefully. If you're planning to stab someone, you're going to be paying attention to them as well. If you're planning to run somewhere, you'll probably be keeping an eye on the general path there to make sure it doesn't get blocked. (Or at least that you won't be completely surprised when it happens.) If you're going to be shooting someone with an arrow, you've got it nocked, and drawn back, ready to loose when the trigger occurs.

Observant enemies can see these sorts of things, and realize that something is going down. If they get lucky, they can guess what it is with some degree of clarity, and act to minimize the risk that action presents. This might be where passive Insight or Perception come into play, though I'd have to give some thought on how I'd set the DCs. If the DM does this, however, it's got to go both ways. PCs can notice those same cues, and have a chance to interpret them to their advantage misinterpret them to their disadvantage.

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If your party members are in on it, you could simply have your action trigger on a player before you in turn order signalling you (using a free action, I shout "Now!" to our mage). This would provide a little more interactivity than just a static "When X happens" trigger, as well as making a huge amount of sense narratively. ;)

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Maybe. This depends entirely upon the action you want to ready.

  • An action that grants you some benefit on a second action, but which other characters can negate at the beginning of their turn, should not be allowed. You can't "wait to hide until after the orc attacks", then hide and immediately attack with free advantage. You just hide on your turn.
  • An action that grains you some benefit, but which other characters cannot negate, should be fine. You could wait to drink a potion of invisiblity and then break out your hidden attack; you're just doing together what you would have done in sequence.
  • Using ready to "stack" casting two spells together or making your full set of attacks twice is also likely to be fine. Holding the spell takes concentration, and you paid for whatever slight advantage you gain by doubling up your attacks by not doing anything for a round.

It is a little meta-gamey to "wait until just before my next turn", but no more so than using ready to "wait until Bob casts his next spells", when Bob goes right before you in the initiative order. The important consideration should be if your "ready" is trying to deny someone else's chance to interrupt you, instead of doing something that makes the battle more interesting.


If you're willing to go further afield from RAW, there's a lot of possibility in discarding the need for a trigger on Ready, and just allowing a simple "wait" to trigger a named reaction-consuming action latter in the round. It's distinct enough that it's clearly a house-rule, but letting a low-level thief "wait for the perfect moment" and then unleash a pair of sneak attacks is more and more appealing the more I think about it.

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To do so, you can take the Ready action on your turn so that you can act later in the round using your reaction.

...so if you are not first to act on round count, you cannot do it and, anyway, actions happens in different rounds.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This is an incorrect interpretation of this meaning of round. You can roll it over. The round in this text refers to the time between your turns. \$\endgroup\$ – wax eagle Sep 20 '14 at 11:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ Quoting from PHB: A round represents about 6 seconds in the game world. During a round, each participant in a battle takes a turn. The order o f turns is determined at the beginning o f a combat encounter, when everyone rolls initiative. Once everyone has taken a turn, the fight continues to the next round if neither side has defeated the other. \$\endgroup\$ – Crico Sep 20 '14 at 19:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ twitter.com/chimerasame/status/489394379295973377 Mearls says differently. \$\endgroup\$ – wax eagle Sep 20 '14 at 20:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ Invalidated by PHB Errata under "Combat: Ready (p. 193). You have until the start of your next turn to use a readied action" \$\endgroup\$ – daze413 Feb 17 '17 at 2:21
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You are in effect trying to do two things at once. I would categorically disallow that unless you were using magic that specifically allowed it.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Would you disallow someone from doing that if the ordinary ready rules lead to it? (If a wizard readies a fireball after their party gets clear, only they don't until just before the wizard's next action, would you keep the wizard from being able to use his readied fireball?) \$\endgroup\$ – Bleep Sep 20 '14 at 0:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DougM The fireball goes off--but uses up the next action in the process. \$\endgroup\$ – Loren Pechtel Sep 20 '14 at 16:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ If it's using your next action then it ceases to be a readied action at all. The readied action specifically uses your reaction and must occur prior to your next turn. At that point you've completely negated the readied action and they're just acting normally on their new turn. It also should occur at the end of whatever triggered it. If the trigger was the party getting clear, that occurs at the end of them moving out of range, which is still prior to their turn ending (i.e. it's not the readied person's turn yet and therefore your ruling is invalid per the rules). \$\endgroup\$ – JBC Oct 25 '16 at 18:43

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