In D&D 4e there was an option to Delay your initiative:

Perform your actions as desired and adjust your initiative to your new position in the order.

Does this rule to change initiative order still exist in 5th edition? I cannot find it in the PHB.


4 Answers 4


No. There is no delay action in the PHB or BD&D.

The only way to postpone your action is to ready an action and wait for the specified trigger. Using this action burns your reaction, but does not change initiative as in previous editions.

There is actually no way to jump around the initiative order (temporarily or permanently) at all at this time in 5e.

†: The rules for readying an action can be found on page 193 of the PHB or here in the Basic Rules.

  • 7
    \$\begingroup\$ "There is actually no way to jump around the initiative order" Except for sphinxes in their lairs, "time is altered such that every creature in the lair must reroll initiative. The sphinx can choose not to reroll." \$\endgroup\$ May 28, 2019 at 18:31
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ DM's could implement it as a home rule. There are good reasons to why it isn't though: it interrupts spell effects and gives other turn-based advantages. \$\endgroup\$
    – ChiMo
    Aug 15, 2019 at 4:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ There is another way for a creature to take actions at a time other than its initiative count, which is to be a controlled mount. This does not change the mount's initiative count itself, and it has some potentially surprising implications if a creature is dismounted and mounted by various riders over the course of a round. \$\endgroup\$
    – sptrashcan
    Aug 4, 2020 at 4:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ While I agree with your answer, wording it as "burning your reaction" is misleading. When one readies an action, if the trigger occurs, one may then choose to spend one's reaction, or not, in which case it is preserved for another use granted by a different ability or situation. If 'using this action' means readying an action on your turn, that does not by itself 'burn your reaction'. If by 'using this action' you mean performing your readied action, yes, this takes your reaction, so that is correct, but could be worded better. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Jan 22, 2022 at 3:08

No, according to the sage advice.

They explain in the Rules Answers: August 2015 that being able to delay your turn can let you wreak havoc on the durations of spells and other effects. Simply by changing when your turn happens, you could change the length of certain spells and other effects, particularly any of them that last until your next turn.

  • \$\begingroup\$ @半金龙半天界兔子 Thanks for providing that citation. I've used it to search up a web article we can link to with the same text, which will be an easier to handle reference for most. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 1, 2017 at 14:31
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Might be worth noting that the same text from the linked page also appears in the Sage Advice Compendium. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Jun 8, 2018 at 20:16
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for that answer. However, none of the reasons given in the link apply to the situation, in which someone wants to permanently change their initiative at the very beginning of an encounter. I still think this should be a reasonable exception (as a house rule at least). \$\endgroup\$ May 28, 2019 at 17:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MarsPlastic one problem with allowing that even at the very beginning, is that the players and their enemies want different things. For example, if one player is going to debuff an enemy's AC, and another player is going to attack that enemy, then they probably want their turns to be back-to-back. But the enemy wants the opposite. If they can guess the players' strategy, they want their turns to occur in between, so that they have the option of reacting to the debuff before the attack. Who wins this race? \$\endgroup\$ Sep 13, 2021 at 1:09

You can, providing the DM uses the initiative variant

Although there is no "Delay" action in 5e, there are a couple of Initiative Variants in the DMG, having a similar functionality.

Side Initiative:

When it's a side's turn, the members of that side can act in any order they choose.

If the DM uses Side Initiative, players are free to choose their turn order every round.

Speed Factor:

Speed factor is an option for initiative that introduces more uncertainty into combat, at the cost of speed of play. Under this variant, the participants in a battle roll initiative each round.

If the DM uses Speed Factor, a player can't actually choose to delay their turn, but his initiative is being rerolled every round, and the player's actions affect its modifier.

See more details in DMG, Chapter 9, under "Combat Options" (page 270).

  • \$\begingroup\$ "When it's a side's turn, the members of that side can act in any order they choose.". So because the tortoise has cheetah on its side it gets to act before the rabbit? \$\endgroup\$ Jan 31, 2020 at 21:44
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @DJClayworth That's what the variant rule says. Although, I think your example is questionable⁠—initiative is an abstraction of reaction time, not movement speed. While a rabbit certainly has higher movement speed than a tortoise, it is not obvious to me that—in response to a confrontation—a rabbit could start running before a tortoise could retract into its shell. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 31, 2020 at 22:08


From the rules for initiative:

The initiative order remains the same from round to round.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Why are you answering a question that is already answered from 6 years ago? \$\endgroup\$
    – Adrian
    Nov 11, 2020 at 20:28
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Adrian Because it is explicitly answered in the Player's Handbook and no answer so far had cited that rule. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 11, 2020 at 20:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ The only exception is in Sphinx's Lair, and summoning some creatures get to roll their own initiative when summoned. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 6, 2021 at 18:43

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .