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.


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.

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    \$\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\$ – J. A. Streich May 28 '19 at 18:31
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    \$\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 '19 at 4:37

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.

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  • \$\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\$ – doppelgreener Oct 1 '17 at 14:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ Might be worth noting that the same text from the linked page also appears in the Sage Advice Compendium. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jun 8 '18 at 20:16
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    \$\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\$ – Mars Plastic May 28 '19 at 17:49

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).

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  • \$\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\$ – DJClayworth Jan 31 at 21:44
  • \$\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\$ – Aaron Rotenberg Jan 31 at 22:08

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