How does taking an action with my reaction work?

For example: If my initiative put me first, but I wanted to attack after a certain event, can I use my action as a reaction to use my Attack action (multiple attacks) and bonus action after a certain specified circumstance? Or do I only get one attack and no bonus actions if I use the reaction?


3 Answers 3


The Ready action is described on page 72 of the Player's Basic Rules. It allows you to ready a single action or move that you can take as a reaction to a trigger you choose when you take the Ready action.

Then, you choose the action you will take in response to that trigger, or you choose to move up to your speed in response to it. Examples include “If the cultist steps on the trapdoor, I’ll pull the lever that opens it,” and “If the goblin steps next to me, I move away.”

So you can only Ready either a single action or a move up to your speed. This action can be any action, so you can Ready the Attack action. However, you can't use your Extra Attack ability when you take the Attack action as a reaction, because:

Beginning at 5th level, you can attack twice, instead of once, whenever you take the Attack action on your turn.

Since you can only Ready a single action, you can't Ready a bonus action as well as an action, and you can't Ready a bonus action. (Even if you could, you can only take a bonus action on your turn.) The Ready action is an action, though, so you can still move and/or use a bonus action on the turn when you use the Ready action.


@Miniman's answer covers the first of your questions; however, it does not address the second.

To summarise:

Can I use my action as a reaction to use my attack actions (multiple attacks) and bonus action after a certain specified circumstance?

No, because:

  1. Multiple attacks are only available when you take the Attack action on your turn,
  2. Bonus actions can only be taken on your turn (PHB p. 189).

And to address the second question:

Or do I only get one attack and no bonus actions if I use the reaction?

You can still use a bonus action; just not one that relies on taking the Attack action on your turn

The action economy is like this:

  1. Move up to your speed (on your turn)
  2. Take an action (on your turn; even the Ready action does this - on your turn you choose to do an action with your reaction on a trigger)
  3. Take a bonus action if available (on your turn unless the bonus action says otherwise)
  4. Take a reaction (on someone else's turn)

For example, if your character was a Rogue of 2nd level or higher, then they could:

  1. Use Cunning Action to Disengage as a bonus action
  2. Move
  3. Take the Ready action in order to ...
  4. Use their Reaction to attack action to attack the first enemy that moves within reach.

This "adds" a reaction option to whatever existing suite of reactions they currently have and they could, for example, take an opportunity attack or cast a Shield spell instead if the trigger for that came up.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Could you summarise the first of those questions, so that this can be a complete and comprehensive answer to the question? Please see Should I be requesting people answer the question independently? for why we expect each answer to answer the question fully, and advice for what to do if you feel you'd just be repeating Miniman's answer. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 24, 2015 at 5:07

RAW for the readied action indicated that you are taking part of your turn later - not some out of turn action. Therefor using an Attack action would count as being on your turn.

Until there's a Sage Advice clarifying this, we allow using a full Attack Action as a reaction - why punish melee combatants when a wizard still gets to cast their full spell as a Readied Action?

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Technically the Wizard is punished even more severely most of the time, because readying a spell means you have to drop concentration to hold the energy AND if the trigger doesn't come up, the spell is wasted AND if you take damage and fail a concentration check the spell is lost :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Erik
    Commented May 8, 2020 at 13:20
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ The basic rules indicate reactions can be on someone else's turn: "A reaction is an instant response to a trigger of some kind, which can occur on your turn or on someone else's." \$\endgroup\$
    – GcL
    Commented May 8, 2020 at 15:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already, and check out the help center for more guidance. As GcL's comment says, reactions are not inherently part of your turn. They could happen on your turn (e.g. you move away from an enemy, provoking an opportunity attack, and cast the shield spell to prevent it from hitting you), but they often happen on another creature's turn. No rule defines a reaction as "part of your turn", whether the reaction's from an earlier Ready action or something else. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Commented May 9, 2020 at 0:06

You must log in to answer this question.

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