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Let's suppose I'm a wizard casting a ranged spell. An enemy is behind cover but I suspect he'll come out, so I ready an action to cast at him when he comes out; but I don't want to risk getting charged at by another enemy and losing concentration or taking disadvantage. Can I say:

"I ready a spell. When that guy over there leaves cover, or when any enemy gets within 5 feet of me, I will cast it on that enemy"?

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The Ready action is described on PHB, p. 193 or here in the Basic Rules.

You may set a perceivable trigger. The rules are somewhat vague in two aspects:

  • One might assume, that this means a single trigger, not a bunch of triggers.

  • It also has to be perceivable, so if you wait for someone to come out of cover somewhere in front of you, you cannot possibly perceive an enemy behind you by common sense. Although the rules do not explicitly say so.

If I had to interpret the rules strictly by the rules and English grammar, there would only be one trigger allowed. The trigger. You would have to pick one of your two.

The way my group plays, we allow multiple triggers if all are perceivable with the same senses and in the same direction. So if you wait for someone to step out of cover and someone in your line of sight attacks you, your ready-action would be valid. But you should consult with your group if they think it's a good way to read this rule.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The second point and the way @nvoigt's group plays seem to indicate (some) use of the Facing optional rule from the DMG, p. 252. \$\endgroup\$ – sadaqah Dec 27 '14 at 20:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ Actually, our houserules are a lot older than 5e and span multiple systems. This vagueness of what a trigger can be and how complex the action may be has happened to us in nearly all systems that have a notion of "ready-action" or "overwatch" or whatever you call it. It's more of a common-sense rule than hard rules. But the optional facing rule could probably be used for good effect if a harder rule than common sense is required. \$\endgroup\$ – nvoigt Dec 27 '14 at 21:04

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