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I want to Ready the Disengage action to trigger if a creature comes near me. Is that possible?

My DM told me I could Ready any other action like Dodge, etc. except for Disengage. I've read the player's handbook but I don't see any rule that Disengage can not be Readied?

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3 Answers 3

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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, 2016 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\$ Feb 3, 2016 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\$ Feb 3, 2016 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, 2016 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, 2016 at 17:26
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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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As other people have said, yes you could, but you shouldn't. Disengage doesn't allow you to move, etc. However, what you're (probably) trying to do is move away if something comes near you, ideally without opportunity attacks. That is possible, just not with disengage. What you want to do is use the Ready action to ready movement, but trigger it not when a creature moves within melee range of you (as that would be too late), but when a creature would move within melee range of you (but hasn't yet) or alternatively trigger it when a creature has moved just outside melee range.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ “when a creature would move within melee range of you” Since Ready requires a perceivable circumstance, how are you perceiving what the creature is going to do in the future so that you can react to it before it even happens? \$\endgroup\$ Mar 30, 2023 at 18:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov Creature is 30ft away from you and walking towards you, when it gets to 10ft still walking toward you you can perceive that it intends to get within melee range of you and if it moved another 5ft it would. Perfectly reasonable trigger to move away. \$\endgroup\$
    – linksassin
    Mar 31, 2023 at 3:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ @linksassin You think it intends to continue towards you, but you cannot actually perceive its intent. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 31, 2023 at 4:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov If you choose to play it that is that's fine. We clearly have different interpretations of what would be perceivable to the character. Attacks of Opportunity occur when a creature intends to leave their square, this is just placing a trigger on when a creature intends to enter a square. If intended movement is perceivable for AoO then it's perceivable for a held action. \$\endgroup\$
    – linksassin
    Mar 31, 2023 at 6:26

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