I want to ready the disengage action as a trigger if a creature appears near me. Is that possible?

My DM told me I could ready any other action like dodge, etc. as a trigger except for disengage. I've read the player's handbook but I don't see any rule that disengage can not be readied?

  • \$\begingroup\$ But you can still run away (just not using Dash): Can I Ready an action to run away? \$\endgroup\$ – Neil Slater Feb 3 '16 at 18:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ Semantic note: the trigger is the thing that you perceive that makes you take the action, not the action you take. So Dodge and Disengage are not triggers. \$\endgroup\$ – Dan Henderson Jun 2 '16 at 20:27

There's nothing in the Ready action description that would prevent readying Disengage. When you ready an action you:

decide what perceivable circumstance will trigger your reaction. 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.

The perceivable circumstance is that the creature appears near you, the action you will take in response to that is to Disengage.

However, this would be a complete waste of a reaction. Disengage doesn't allow you to use any of your movement, it only lasts until the end of the turn you use it, and you can't ready an action and move in response to the trigger. So you would be stuck in the same place, having burned your reaction, and the advantages of Disengage would end as soon as the other creature's turn ends.

If you choose to move in response to the trigger instead of readying Disengage, then the creature would get an opportunity attack only if you move out of the creature's reach.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Maybe but consider this scenario imagine that the creature can move 30 feet and I'm exactly at 30 feet from him , then he comes towards me as soon as he comes near me I could disengage to the other side, where one of my companions is that way it wouldn't not provoke Attacks of opportunity, if I would go from the same side where he is it would provoke attacks of opportunity wouldn't it? \$\endgroup\$ – likewyise Feb 3 '16 at 11:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ For the action taken in response to the trigger, you can take an action (disengage) or move, but not both. In your example, you couldn't disengage to the other side. \$\endgroup\$ – Greenstone Walker Feb 3 '16 at 11:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ @likewyise Disengage doesn't allow you to move. You can choose to ready Disengage (which would be useless as I've gone over in my answer) or you can choose to move, in which case the creature would get an opportunity attack if you move out of its reach. \$\endgroup\$ – Purple Monkey Feb 3 '16 at 12:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ @likewyise The Action Disengage is confusingly named. It should be read as "Go into Opportunity-Attack Prevention Mode until the end of your turn" So if you use this Action you can then move away without provoking Attacks. But the move is separate from the Action. So you can ready either the move, or the Action, not both. But couldn't you just trigger a move action on "Enemy moves into X feet" ? So you move away one step before he is in attack range ? \$\endgroup\$ – Falco Feb 3 '16 at 12:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ I believe @likewyise may be confusing the 5th Edition Disengage with the 4th Edition (and perhaps other games) Shift . Shifting was a defensive move that worked much like disengage, only it actually shifted you backwards one space as part of it. Just my thoughts. \$\endgroup\$ – Airatome Feb 3 '16 at 17:26

Nothing prevents you from using Ready Action to Disengage... but it's entirely useless.

Disengage only prevents attacks of opportunity while you're moving. It does not alter your position with respect to a creature, or prevent the creature from attacking you with it's action. In fact, it's a purely defensive action meant to be taken on the run when you are overwhelmed so that you minimize damage to your character.

Furthermore, forced movement doesn't provoke opportunity attacks, so even if you were forcibly dragged through targets, they wouldn't get to hit you, and you wouldn't need to use disengage.

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