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D&D 3E
Readied actions 
11th-Aug-2004 04:31 pm
My character is standing next to a enemy wizard. I have a readied action of "five foot step into here [points at the square they currently occupy] and feint, if they cast a spell" which is legal as I have not moved yet.

The wizard five-foot-steps away from me and casts a spell: at this point I close and feint, but is it too late to then take the attack of opportunity caused by them casting the spell? And which comes first, the feint or the attack?

And what if the wizard did not move: will the legal part of my action (the feint) still happen? (NB neither of us are Tiny or Fine!) And if they don't cast defensively will the feint happen before the AoO?

Also: what do you think is the right way to keep the GM/players honest if you play rock-paper-scissors with readied actions like this; the NPC wizard could cast defensively if they know you have readied a feint and 5FS if you have readied an attack, and both if you have declared both. Should GM/players declare readied actions on hidden scraps of paper?

And what if one of the combatants has a huge Sense Motive skill and/or BAB: will they see it coming?

Edit: Thanks for all comments. Please consider the dialogue between foxsable and myself before contributing further as I find that very convincing.

Still interested on any ideas (at the "house rule" level) about what it would take for someone being readied against to realise it and act accordingly, other than "He should have gone already on initiative 18, I won't waste my breath weapon on him as he's clearly up to something!"
11th-Aug-2004 08:37 am (UTC)
The way we play it is that if someone moves to attack you, you get your attack of opportunity first. Why? Because it's your combat skills telling you that they are moving to attack, and your combat skills trying to keep that action from happening that makes you do your attack of opportunity. It's not a reaction to their attack, its a reaction to their action. Does that make sense?
11th-Aug-2004 08:51 am (UTC)
Do you mean readied action when you say AoO? Yes, generally speaking the readied action happens before the action that provoked it (I'm not sure that is the case when the condition is "I will hit them as soon as their Invisibility wears off by them attacking me", though it would be cool if it did.).

So you think that the "move and feint" happens so far "before" the spell casting that I will be in position to take an AoO triggered by the same spell?
11th-Aug-2004 09:13 am (UTC)
I would say that when they moved, you'd get your AoO, but that for you to say that as soon as they moved into that certain square to cast a spell that you were able to move and feint.. well, I'd personally say that you couldn't move and feint till well after their action. Why? Because if you could just call a move like that, then people would always say "If that big guy right there moves into the square right infront of me to hit me, I'm gonna fall over backwards." That would keep anyone from ever getting hit. Does that make sense? I'd almost determine that as an illegal call or *coughcoughpowergaming*.

I would think that it would be in this order:

Bad guy moves into square. You get attack of opportunity. Bad guy casts spell. You move and feint.

That's what I'd do. But then again, I'm mean, and that's probably why I don't GM. :P
11th-Aug-2004 09:41 am (UTC)
"If that big guy right there moves into the square right infront of me to hit me, I'm gonna fall over backwards."

Readied actions certainly allow for tricks like that: I've certainly moved thirty feet to the other side of a cavern in response to a giant spider charging me. The disadvantage is that it costs you a standard action (even if it is a "move" like this) and it is wasted if the trigger doesn't happen. The guesswork about what might trigger the readied action is what provoked the last part of my original question.
11th-Aug-2004 08:50 am (UTC)
Here's how I'd have done it, and my explanations for the ruling. Other people are sure to do do it differently.

I'd say the wizard gets to move and cast his spell. The readied action was "if he casts his spell", but he moved first, removing himself from your threatened area. The readied action you had (which was simply to move and feint) then takes place as he casts his spell. No AofO, but you do get your readied action.

Which comes first- the feint or the attack? I'd call it simultaneous. The attack goes off, but you get whatever bonus the feint provides.

If the Wizard did not move and simply started casting, then you would get to take your move+feint just as he started casting, just as you planned, PLUS an Attack of opportunity, provided you were eligible for one (had a weapon, and hadn't already used an AofO).

In reality: things like this happen in a moment by moment basis in the heat of the game, and you end up making snap judgements, like any referee in a sporting event. Like any referee- a DM can sometimes be wrong, and people will go over the instant replay to see if there was a better way to do it.. and that's ok. But that's how I'd rule it.

11th-Aug-2004 08:53 am (UTC)
"Which comes first- the feint or the attack? I'd call it simultaneous. The attack goes off, but you get whatever bonus the feint provides." should say

"Which comes first- the feint or the wizard's spell? I'd call it simultaneous. The wizard's spell goes off, but you get whatever bonus the feint provides, if that spell turns out to be an attack spell.
11th-Aug-2004 09:03 am (UTC)
Which comes first- the feint or the attack? I'd call it simultaneous.

As someone who played Magic The Gathering in its first year, when things happened simulataneously, I know this is going to end in tears.

Normally after a feint you know whether it worked or not, so you know how much you can afford to Power Attack. The way you suggest, you don't get to pick but you might get the feint "bonus", which adds an interesting bit of skill in picking what do do but I don't think it is "the rules".

I do suspect there is a right answer to this question: it doesn't need ad hoc rulings.
11th-Aug-2004 09:06 am (UTC)
True. Thus my caveat.
11th-Aug-2004 08:54 am (UTC)
The advantage of a readied action is that it pre-empts any action. The cost is it must be very specific. All of this is dependant on the readied action. if it was "5 foot/ feint if he casts a spell", and he takes a 5 foot step OUT of range, then your action never goes off. If it is as I imagine it, and you are standing right next to him, the correct readied action would have been "If the wizard moves and then casts a spell I will take a five foot step and pre-empt it with a feint. Feinting in combat is a standard action. So, then you would move, and feint. If he still casts the spell, you get an attack of opportunity if he fails his concentration check to cast defensively. If you failed to mention moving, it would not apply.

Am I imagining this right?
11th-Aug-2004 09:20 am (UTC)
Background: I play a character that... after a year of play, there are players who have not worked out what class I am yet. Suffice it to say I have Sneak Attack dice and Bluff off the scale (viper familiar).

I normally fight by flanking in melee. I was thinking how to deal with the standard wizard tactic of five foot stepping away to cast a spell. I thought of including a five foot step into my readied action, but what square to declare, not knowing which way they would move? The answer is to declare you are moving into their square, which can't happen, but if they 5FS, you are sure to be in a square adjacent to wherever they go to. So the Wizard moves, they lose their DEX bonus due to the feint and suffer loads of sneak attack damage, probably blowing their spell. In theory.

I agree with you about how I should be more specific with the readied action i.e. to include "if he moves and casts", which is both in the spirit of readied actions and avoids relying on the rules detail of "bouncing" off occupied squares you try to enter. Sucks to me be.

But I don't think I would have to say "if he moves to square X" though?

And if the wizard moves 30' (provoking an entirely separate movement based AoO) and casts Lightning Bolt, my 5' move will still happen won't it...and after he decides the where the bolt goes? That could be nice compensation for blowing the feint part of the readied action!
11th-Aug-2004 09:31 am (UTC)
You don't have to predict his direction of movement, if he moves is fine. And I see what you mean...you were adjacent to begin with. You do not need to move 5' though. Since a readied action pre-empts, he stirs as if to move and cast a spell, and your readied action goes off. You feint from where you are. Readied action can also include movement..... so

1. you ready the action
2. the wizard begins to move (lifts a foot off the ground, etc.
3. YOu feint.
4. He moves (hopefully 5 foot step style
5. You move with him into your adjacent 5' square following his movement, he is in the next 5' square.
6. He tries to cast
7. YOu AoO if you can.

sound right?
11th-Aug-2004 09:58 am (UTC)
That is a very good point about the additional restriction on the trigger ("move and cast" instead of "cast") having the compensation that the movement is part of what sets the trigger off, so even if
they move 30' I can still roll to feint before taking the AoO for them leaving a threatened area (though any damage would not contribute towards the Concentration roll they might make later).

So the correct wording of my readied action should be
"If they move and cast, I feint THEN 5' step into the square they were in"


There's a fairly fundamental rule that I'm not sure about here: do you have to account for a full turns of actions in one declaration i.e. "I tumble past four guards and attack the cleric"? Generally we have played "Move, see what happens, attack who is nearest!"

This is relevant here because if the wizard's player is allowed to say they move, and having moved (and taken AoO) say "that wasn't too bad" they cast a spell, then you have to rewind time so the readied action goes off and they were feinted before they got as far as that...quite possibly being killed by my snaeak attack dice!

That is crazy talk, so there's the implicit rule in what you are saying that all the components of a "go" have to be declared at once : is this right?
11th-Aug-2004 10:06 am (UTC)
Many times, it doesn't matter. But one thing to remember is that the actions happen simultaniously. He is assumed to be beginning his casting, taking out components, etc. while he is walked. It is seperated into two actions, but I think really it is one set... so if it matters, the set should be declared, without knowledge of your actiong.
11th-Aug-2004 09:05 am (UTC)
Barring rules to the contrary, (I don't have mine handy), I would disallow any AoO in this situation. You have readied an action based on the action of the wizard and he has triggered that action. So basically, the two of you are acting at the same time. He's casting, you're feinting. So the only matter to resolve is the effects of those two actions. You're too busy doing something (the feint) to get off an AoO during his incantation and you did declare the feint as what you were going to do if a spell was cast.
11th-Aug-2004 09:23 am (UTC)
I'd rule you were trying to ready two actions. You could ready a feint or ready the move, but not move and feint, even a five foot step. You always get a five foot step if you take two move equivalent actions that don't involve movement or you take a full round action that didn't involve movement. You have done neither of the two.

Besides, if you are a fighter within 5 feet of the wizard why aren't you grappling if you don't want him casting spells?
11th-Aug-2004 09:30 am (UTC)
The rules explicitly allow a 5' step as part of a readied action if you have not moved already this turn.

An entire four hour session was devoted to the ramifications of my character attempting to grapple, mostly consisting of a paladin throwing me against a wall and telling me that I am not strong enough to try anything clever.
11th-Aug-2004 09:45 am (UTC) - I stand corrected
PG 160 of the PHB. I can't believe I've always missed that. I still say you grapple, you've got sneak attack dice and you can draw a dagger during a grapple and Sneak Attack the grappled wizard :)

Since you can in fact do both, it's tricky. You are specifically moving and feinting in response to the spell casting. You weren't threatening them when they started casting which I believe is what triggers the Attack of Opportunity. Tough call. How would you rule if you moved to threaten a wizard who was casting a 1 minute long spell after he started casting? If he provokes because he's in the middle of casting then I'd say you can feint and take the AoO if you have to be there right when he starts casting, then I'd probably only let you feint... Hmm something to think about.
11th-Aug-2004 10:14 am (UTC) - Re: I stand corrected
If foxsable's seven steps above work like I'm just about convinced they do, then the "tough call" doesn't happen. Just as well as I have no idea what the answer to the "1 minute casting" case is.

11th-Aug-2004 10:45 am (UTC) - Re: I stand corrected
I'll buy that for a dollar. I still think you should grapple him and stick daggers in his vital bits :)
11th-Aug-2004 10:35 am (UTC)
Why do that rather than attack during your turn? I can't see any advantage just some disadvantages; the damage youd dealt during your turn would still apply to his concentration check, you'd get to do a full attack action, and you've guarenteed doing it rather than having a limited circumstance in which you could do it.
Genuinely like to know if there is an advantage.
11th-Aug-2004 10:47 am (UTC)
Well, he can't feint and attack on the same turn without feinting and taking an attack of opportunity unless he has improved feint.

Also, if you attack and don't drop the wizard, you get to watch the wizard move 5 feet and cast with impunity. I think that's what he's trying to prevent.
11th-Aug-2004 10:50 am (UTC)
Hitting them as they are casting is no different to hitting them before they cast, the damage applys to any action up to your next action.
11th-Aug-2004 10:55 am (UTC)
Only for "continuous damage": check the 3.5 SRD section on "Injury:"
under Concentration in "Magic Overview".
11th-Aug-2004 11:02 am (UTC)
Just have, and you're entirely correct. This is a change from 3rd ed yes?
11th-Aug-2004 11:11 am (UTC)
No apparently not..damn that's embarrasing. Last time I listen to our rules Guru. I feel like I've fraudulently joined the WOC GM thing now:
11th-Aug-2004 04:20 pm (UTC)
Just as a further note:
I'm rather glad this got pointed out thanks.

I've just shocked quite a few of the gamers in our circle of friends with it.
11th-Aug-2004 10:59 am (UTC)
Not anywhere I can find in the player's handbook.

Under concentration there is a check of 10+damage taken for 10+damage dealt "for damaged during the action" and taking damage before would not be during (PHB pg 70)

and on pg 160 of the PHB it says under distracting spellcasters "you can ready an attack again a spell caster with the trigger 'if she starts casting a spell'. If you damage the spellcaster, she may lose the spell she was trying to cast (as determined by her concentration check)"

So as I read them, you have to be damaged while casting not before.
11th-Aug-2004 10:48 am (UTC)
Sneak attack damage, if I'm not already flanking, and it costs them a spell. My full attack is only one attack anyway, so we could be talking about the difference between a 1d6-1 full attack and a (maybe) 4d6-1 readied attack against a target with (maybe) no DEX bonus and a built-in counterspell.

Damage does not affect concentration unless it is inflicted during casting.
11th-Aug-2004 12:12 pm (UTC)
Attacks of opportunity come first, they interrupt the flow of combat and get resolved before any other actions, it says so in the PHB.

As for the feint, it would resolve normally, I see no reason why it wouldn't.

As far as the GM/Player honesty, I typically have NPC wizards cast defensively when they're in melee, it just makes sense to.
11th-Aug-2004 12:31 pm (UTC)
Attacks of Opportunity interrupt everything, but not until they are provoked: I think they don't "come first" in foxsable's seven steps above? Is it your opinion that the wizard declares they "move and cast", and at that point threatening squares are considered, before any readied actions happen?

I'm thinking that the wizard is in a threatened square (if they do a 5' step) by the time they cast like foxsable says.
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