Other Combat Actions Pt. 2 – DM’s Pocket Guide
Welcome to DM’s Pocket Guide, where we discuss the rules, spells, and monsters of Dungeons and Dragons, 5th edition.
Tricia: Hello, we are going to continue our previous conversation on Other Combat Actions.
Rachel: Yeah! So next up is the Ready action. Sometimes you want to get the jump on a foe or wait for a particular circumstance before you act. To do so, you can take the Ready action on your turn, which lets you act using your reaction before the start of your next turn. That’s a lot of –
T: Action, reaction, ready, turn?
R: Yes, say well this is essentially doing is saying that the thing that you would usually do in your turn is to say, “Wait! When this thing happens, I’m going to do a thing.” The thing that you get to do is a reaction, which is like a limited form of action. Some things, some players will have a reaction ready to go, like there is a spell that I’m thinking of that puts like a barrier up between.
T: Oh yeah. Like Shield of Faith or something.
R: Yeah. So you use that as a reaction to something that’s happening. So this whole ready action is designed for those circumstances where… “I want to wait until the goblin appears that back out from behind that pillar again, and then I’m gonna do blah.”
T: Yeah. But you do have to specifically say what you’re going to do and under what circumstances, which is the thing that we have not done. When we learned, oh you can like ready your action, we had just been giving a full turn whenever they wanted basically.
R: Yeah, I had allowed people to just literally take their two attacks and use their movement and yeah, do whatever it was they wanted to do in that time. That’s not the purpose here.
T: Yeah, because we would also use it of just like, when players were taking too long to figure out what they wanted to do,we’d be like, “You want to just hold your action and do it later?”
R: I mean, that’s a good time management piece. If you want to use that, like, feel free to do that. But the proper use of the ready action is to specifically specify what it is you want to do and then take a limited turn when it is your turn. So, the examples it gives in the book is things like using your movement. So usually in a turn, you would get to use your movement and make an attack or do another action. Well, you can’t do that if you ready your action. If you ready your action to move then you just move.
T: Yeah. Which you would use in a case for like, “Well, if that guy gets any closer to me, I’ll back up.”
R: Exactly. Yeah.
T: So another thing you can do with the ready action is ready a spell. Perhaps you don’t want to use it during your turn for whatever reason – perhaps the monster you want to attack isn’t actually in your line of sight yet, but you’re hoping it will move and you can – and so you cast it as normal during your turn, but you hold its energy to release during your turn. I think the thing to remember with this is that if you are attacked while you are holding this energy waiting for your reaction to use it, then you still have to do the typical…Your concentration is broken, you have to roll to see if you can maintain concentration. So, there is a lot there with the spells. You can’t just be like, well, no matter what I cast this spell when I want to.
R: I think it might also be interesting in that you use this spell slot on your turn, and if your concentration is broken, you know, the spell slot is still used. The energy is–
T: Yeah, you’ve already siphoned it out.
R: You’ve mustered it or gathered it together. Yeah, just making sure that’s the thing. And yeah, I think that’s the Ready action.
T: Yeah. Next up is Search. When you take the search action, you devote your attention to finding something. Depending on the nature of the search, the DM might have you make a perception check or an investigation check. This is pretty obvious. I honestly don’t really understand why it’s listed here with combat actions.
R: I mean, I guess, just so it’s written down. And I mean, I didn’t think to do it until I actually read through, saw it, and needed to use it. It was in the game that we played together that you DM, and I asked that one of my characters who was familiar with fighting monsters if they could tell a certain characteristic about that monster. I wanted to find out if it was undead and then relay that information to the rest of the party because I knew that there were spells they had that targeted specifically undead and you let me I think roll one of these two… I still had to roll for it to work out if my character knew this information, but that was one way to use it. Another way would be like, looking for a weakness in a rock wall to try and bring it down.
T: Yeah, you want to shoot an arrow and have it collapse right on the encroaching hoard!
R: Or just put a wall between you and yeah, encroaching hoard, I think is what I might do. So searching for it and allowing and – I think it’s an opportunity as a player, and as a DM, to allow your players to resolve combat in maybe different ways. And that might be a use of the Search action. And then the last one is Use an Object. You normally interact with an object while doing something else, such as when you draw a sword as part of an attack. When an object requires your action for its use, you take the Use Object action. This action is also useful when you want to interact with more than one object on your turn.
T: So for instance, this would be useful if you’re fighting this encroaching horde and you’re like, “Aw man, there’s no way we can do this alone. We must ring the bells to summon our companions!” So your action would be to use an object, pick up a bell hammer and strike a bell.
R: Yeah, I mean, this is one that feels obvious to me of like, yeah, you could always, you know, use your turn to turn away and do another thing. But this is a specific thing. There might also be items that require an action to use. I think I’ve seen that written on some magical items.
T: Yeah, that’s true. I think kind of what we’re saying with both search and use an object is covered in this little added bit to the book that’s called Improvise an Action. Which basically is just, your character can do things not covered by the actions in this chapter such as breaking down doors, intimidating enemies, sensing weaknesses, etc, etc. And I think that that is the key point. Even though we were kind of locked into this attack, cast a spell and we’re like, wow, there’s so much more you could do. There’s so much more beyond that. D&D is fundamentally a game about imagination and as long as you can justify doing a thing within six seconds, it could be a combat action.
R: Yeah, it’s really good to consider the other things that you can do. And it’s always trying to say yes, whatever it is that the player’s wanting to try and just encouraging that creativity.
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