Readying an Action FAQ
The rules forum gets a lot of questions on ready an action, and I've also noticed that many posts not actually asking about ready an action make false assumptions about how the mechanic works. So it seemed like an FAQ on the subject would, at the very least, save me a lot of retyping.
Where are the rules on ready an action?
Page 247 of the Rules Compendium. I imagine it's also in the DMG, HotFL, and HotFK. You'll also need to understand the rules on immediate actions, page 195. The section on readying actions has had some slight tweaks in the RC, so this is the preferable version to use.
In brief, how does ready an action work?
On your turn, you spend a standard action to ready an action. You then choose a target (if applicable), a triggering circumstance, and a specific action to ready. When/if the trigger action takes place, and it's legal for you to perform the action, you perform the action as an immediate reaction to the trigger action. Then you change your place in the initiative order so that you take your turn before the creature who triggered your readied action.
What if the triggering action never happens?
Then you wasted the standard action, and your initiative does not change. This is one of the risks of readying an action.
5. What is the difference between readying an action and delaying your turn?
Delaying your turn delays your entire turn until later in the round. Readying an action allows you to set up a specific action to happen later, contingent on a trigger condition. Both of them change your place in the initiative order.
Can I ready an action I can't legally perform at the time I ready it? For example, can I ready a move action when I'm immobilized?
Nothing in ready an action block states that the action has to be one you can perform at the time you ready it. Just be careful that you pick a legal trigger and target, see below.
Becuase some people seem to have problems with this: before you nerf this or cry that it's combat cheese, you need to consider that a character readying an action is taking a certain amount of risk. There is always the possibility that by the time the readied action is triggered, if the trigger happens at all, battlefield conditions may well have changed such that the readied action is impossible. Readying an action is not a guaranteed way of getting around conditions like immobilized, at best, they offer characters a reasonable shot.
Can I ready an action to trigger from a non-action trigger, like making a saving throw or beginning a turn?
It depends on how your DM defines "circumstance." Triggering can be very broad, your DM is probably going to have to make jugement calls on what he or she feels is a valid trigger.
Board consensus seems to be that a trigger should be an observable event. That is, it should be something characters in the game could plausibly perceive. That would rule out beginning or ending a turn, but might include succeeding on a saving throw (Your character no longer being on fire, for example, should certainly be obvious to the naked eye). A reminder: normally, saving throws are done at the end of your own turn, and thus, are not legal triggers because of the rules on the timing of immediate actions (see the entry below). Saving throws granted by powers when it isn't your turn are another story. It might also include conditions or beneficial effects expiring, depending on how "observable" your DM feels these events to be.
Again, this is board consensus, not RAW. The language about triggers is vague, I feel it's intentionally so to allow DMs and players some flexibility.
Can I use a readied action on my own turn?
No. Readied actions are immediate reactions, and thus follow all the rules for immediate actions, one of which is that they can't be used on your own turn.
Can I ready two or more actions at once?
If you can get more than one standard action to spend, sure. However, note that since you only get one immediate action per round, you'll only get to use, at best, one of those readied actions. Any others will be wasted.
Can I ready an action outside of combat?
The rules do not specifically forbid this, but the ready an action mechanic is very heavily dependent on other mechanics that only have meaning when combat is actually happening, such as actions and initiative order, so the intent seems to be that it should be used inside of combat only.
If multiple characters (or monsters) ready actions that use the same trigger, in what order do they resolve?
The timing of immediate actions that use the same trigger is not defined in the rules. The DM will need to make a ruling in situations where the order in which they resolve is important. A suggested solution is resolving in descending order by initiative bonus (which is how initiative ties are handled).
If your trigger comes up more than once, can you ignore it the first time and take it the second (or third, or fourth, or whateverth) time?
While the text of ready an action states that if you ignore the trigger, the action is lost, most of us find that to be a very draconian interpretation. We recommend that players be able to trigger a readied action from any trigger that happens before the beginning of their next turn before declaring the action lost.
How does readying a full-discipline action work?
Full discipline powers require different actions for each part of the power, so each part needs to be readied separately. If you wanted to ready both the attack technique and the movement portion, you'd have to somehow get two standard actions to spend (maybe via an action point). It is important to remember the rule about not being able to use any parts of an encounter full-discipline power more than once. If you use the movement portion of your full-discipline power on your turn, then you won't be able to ready it unless the power is an at-will.
Can I trigger readied actions off of free actions? Wouldn't that mean I could trigger my own readied actions, since I can take free actions when it isn't my turn?
*sigh* Technically, this is legal. It is probably also a place where DM discretion needs to be exercised.