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D&D 5E Clutch Readied Actions

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
After three days of sea travel, the 3rd-level party made it to an island and made their way into the mountains to look for a hidden pirate treasure. They moved into the mountain hex and I rolled for a random encounter - a bulette. I describe the area as having a lot of holes in the ground as well as lengthy furrows and knocked over trees, the land generally despoiled and turned over. The players figured it might be some kind of burrowing monster and became more alert, but when I later described a fin sticking out of the ground coming straight at them through the dirt, they knew what they were up against!

Taking advantage of the terrain, some of the party climbed up the stony faces of rock walls nearby. But the rogue and barbarian were a bit too slow on the draw and the land shark leapt out of the earth and smashed them both under its massive bulk. Nearly dying straight away, they disengaged and climbed as well. Eventually they were able to climb to their escape from this terror as it could not burrow through stone.

Toward the end of the session, having explored the island for a few days, the party bedded down to rest for the night. They had not yet found the treasure trove, but had narrowed it down to a couple of hexes on the map to be explored the next day. I rolled a random encounter - it came up as a bulette. So, of course, this was the very same bulette they had encountered a few days ago, hunting them doggedly the whole journey! Immediately the PCs began to scatter again, but not the barbarian who had it out for this monster since the first encounter.

The barbarian's first action, after verifying the distance of the fin grinding its way through the dirt toward him, was to ready a grapple for when the land shark was within reach. The nearby warlock rolled low in initiative and was expecting to get smashed by the bulette's deadly leap just like the rogue had been. The bulette leapt from the dirt toward the barbarian and warlock at which point the barbarian's readied grapple went off - his Athletics check exceeded the bulette's, stopping the thing dead in its tracks. It was at this point the party, sensing a glimmer of hope, piled on the attacks and spells, dragging the beast through spike growth until it died. It got a few nasty bites on the barbarian, but he was raging and withstood it.

That clutch readied grapple turned another rout into some very satisfying payback! What are some very effective and dramatic readied actions you've seen?
 

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Mad_Jack

Legend
More comical than dramatic, but it definitely turned the tide of a fight...

Back in 4E, the party was going to fight a large group of bandits, so we waited until the guy currently in charge (half of them were out on a raid) took a trip to the outhouse, snuck up and tied a rope around it to keep him in there until the end of the fight...

...At which point we yanked the rope to untie it, the guy came charging out... and took an entire party's worth of readied actions to the face.


Later on, when the bandits who'd been out on the raid came back, we were ready to ambush them - we'd carefully coordinated our first several rounds of actions. Half the party was hiding inside their headquarters. Interrogation of prisoners from the last fight revealed they had a melee fighter and a wizard leading the raiding party, so when they came into the building the fighter got shoved back outside and the door slammed in his face by a pair of readied actions at the same time my ranger jumped out of the rafters onto the wizard, knocking them face down on the ground and covering their mouth. A couple rounds later the wizard was dead, one of the party members who'd closed the door unlocked it, and the guy came charging in only to get several more readied actions in the face.
Meanwhile, outside the building, the other half of the party who'd been hiding in the woods had readied actions to unload some area spells on the rest of the bandits when we opened the door to let the bandit fighter guy in.

Unfortunately the original nova strike on the fighter wasn't enough to take him out, and he ended up taking a few rounds of three-on-one to kill. Long enough that my ranger ended up breaking off and doing an end run around through the back door to go support the folks outside. Comically, that "support" ended up being my ranger getting chased around the outside of the building twice by a number of the bandits as she kited them.
 
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iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Another clutch readied action in tonight's game. In this particular campaign, you get bonus XP if you either get reduced to 0 hit points and/or bring an ally back from the brink of death at least once during the session. It's not that easy to get, so it's always fun when the opportunities arise.

The party is split between three adjoining caves when we are beset on all sides by zealots and heirophants of the Ashen Heart. The ranger and paladin got the worst of it so everyone else started converging, potions of healing in hand to harvest that sweet XP. Each person was trying to get ahead of the other in a hilarious competition.

One of the clerics stole the XP by reviving the paladin with a healing word before we could get to him. The half-orc ranger was nearing 0 hit points and the wizard was closest to him. As we all turned and started heading in that direction, the ranger dropped to 0 but stayed on his feet with his half-orc trait. The wizard assessed the situation and, knowing that he couldn't take down the heirophant accosting the ranger in a single go, and drawing upon his flaw of always coming up with complex solutions instead of simple ones, he readied an action to administer a potion of healing to the ranger once he fell unconscious.

Sure enough, the ranger went down seconds later, suffering devastating internal injuries. (We roll for lingering injuries when made to start dying in this one.) The wizard baby-birded the potion down his neck and the ranger both regained consciousness and shrugged off the internal injuries, since they could be healed by magic. And he got his bonus XP!

Now the ranger would have his revenge!
 
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