D&D 5E Reactions for all monsters!

How do you feel reactions should be handled for monsters?

  • Reactions are special because they can turn a battle, and only important monsters should get them

    Votes: 7 17.1%
  • Give reactions to nearly every creature; it adds options for the DM

    Votes: 17 41.5%
  • Other

    Votes: 17 41.5%


How do you feel about reactions and monsters, more specifically, how do you feel about low CR and mook having reactions. Would granting these creatures inevitably increase their CRs because it allows them extra "stuff" a typically low CR creature wouldn't have?

I'm strongly leaning to give every creature, even low CR creatures, a unique trick or feature in their statblock, which often manifests into a reaction they do. For example, the afanc below is only CR1, but it has a reaction limited to it's species type:


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I'm not opposed to it in theory, but tracking reactions adds more bookkeeping to a fight. I often run fights against a dozen or more mooks, and trying to keep track of which ones had used their reaction and which had not would be a big enough hassle that I would probably skip it. (The monster in your example has two uses of the reaction, so a DM ALSO needs to track total uses for each monster as well as tracking if they have used it that round.) So for practical reasons I would prefer reactions be limited to more elite/solo type enemies where you are only going to be facing one or two at a time.

Casimir Liber

I don’t think they necessarily turn battles or should only be for important monsters, but I also don’t feel special reactions should be available to everyone. There are a series of middle paths here.
Yeah I think something along these lines would be good above

If it makes sense for a creature to have a reaction, it should have it regardless of power level. Shoving in reactions for monsters just to have the option is dumb.


Limit Break Dancing
I've been giving monsters unique Reactions for years now...especially monsters that I've designed myself, and nothing has broken yet. I say go for it!

When my players voted to use the optional rules for Feats, I started giving feats to the monsters they fight as well (one feat for every 4 Hit Dice of the monster, minimum 0). That didn't break anything, either.


He / Him
I love giving reactions to all monsters! I think it's a fun way to add back in a bit of 4e monster design.

It can also create really dynamic battles. A monster that causes an explosion of elemental energy as a reaction to taking damage, a monster that teleports as a reaction to getting attacked, a monster that attempts a grapple as a reaction to movement... It's a really fun way to add in more strategies and movement to combat.


Reactions are good, but I would either keep them to important monsters (like the BBEG) or make them quite specific so that they are not getting used every round. I'd hate to run a battle against 10 skeletons and every time someone takes a turn one or more skeletons get to react to it.
I feel that would get quite frustrating for me as a DM and would slow everything down - especially as I do seperate initiative for each monster already.

It may double the time needed to play a monster. If you add also bonus action, it may actually triple. give more reaction to players, and we will get close to endless turntable seen in 4ed.


For mooks, I'd probably design something reaction-like that didn't require tracking, and was a response to specific circumstances. The idea would be that it happens once, and then players adjust their tactics to avoid it, and the monsters try to box them in so they have to trigger it. It would add extra depth to the battle, without having to actually resolve the ability very often.

The problem with 'mook' types having reactions is tracking them.

It's easier with distinctive, solos or big bads.

A counter next to the monster helps (chuck a token next to them when they take a reaction).

Every NPC already has a reaction (Opp Att). Adding other reactions is... or can be cumbersome. Tracking/bookkeeping, slows down combat, etc.

Sure, give any NPC a special reaction when needed to add to fun, but not just because you are bored.


A suffusion of yellow
Yeah, I think that encounters should be designed as lairs, with PC having to deal with the primary monster, mooks, terrain etc. That way reactions take the same role as lair actions for higher CR creatures.

so if the Afanc is your primary then, it gets to be the center of an active lair with the Musk Spray triggered as a lair action.

mooks shouldnt get there own reactions however


I agree with several here that this could be burdensome and slow things down, particularly with this example creature. If there were multiple afancs, each one potentially triggering mulitple CON saves, with multiple uses and durations that need to be tracked ... well, I wouldn't enjoy it. I'm all for adding more interesting bits to monsters. If you can keep it more streamlined, it would be better. Some creatures have effects that are consequences rather than reactions -- like the heated body of the azer. Creature gets hit, fire damage happens. Maybe more of those things?


Reactions make fora great addition to a fight. Mobs don't really need them, but I give many singular monsters reactions or a single legendary action per round to spice things up.


Mind Mage
Maybe most Beasts should have reactions, especially because it feels plausible, and keeps the encounter interesting.

Reactions aren't that special, but they should be used judiciously. This is not the bad Syndrome logic of "when everyone is special, no one is," but rather that reactions as a game design element can be used very poorly if not given proper thought. They can drag down the pace of play and make things actually much less interesting, rather than the reverse.

But you SHOULD use them. I'd even say most fights should have at least one creature with a reaction--so that the tool is in the toolbox, as it were.

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