Do reactions that trigger on saving throws give knowledge of saving throws that would otherwise be secret?


Preliminaries.

Some reactions have triggers which are tangible events in the fiction of the game. For example, feather fall‘s casting time is:

1 reaction, which you take when you or a creature within 60 feet of you falls.

This is something tangible within the fiction: feather fall’s trigger is something perceived and understood by both the player out of game and the character in game.

On the other hand, some reactions have triggers which are intangible within the fiction of the game: they are perceived only by the player out of game, and do not actually reflect anything about the character’s knowledge in game. For example, the Artificer’s Flash of Genius ability says:

When you or another creature you can see within 30 feet of you makes an ability check or a saving throw, you can use your reaction to add your Intelligence modifier to the roll.

Another example is the Oath of the Watchers Paladin’s Vigilant Rebuke ability:

You’ve learned how to chastise anyone who dares wield beguilements against you and your wards. Whenever you or a creature you can see within 30 feet of you succeeds on an Intelligence, a Wisdom, or a Charisma saving throw, you can use your reaction to deal 2d8 + your Charisma modifier force damage to the creature that forced the saving throw.

Both of these abilities allow the character to take a reaction in response to another character making a saving throw.

But passing, failing, or even attempting a saving throw are not something characters know about. Characters don’t even know what saving throws are. These two questions discuss this:

  • In 5e, are saving throw results detected by the opposing party?
  • Do characters know if someone else, who they can see, has failed a saving throw?

The Scenario.

Suppose the evil Archmage casts scrying on one of our party members, in an attempt to secretly spy on them. Scrying calls for a wisdom saving throw. The party would normally have no idea this was going, no idea someone was making a saving throw, and no idea if that saving throw succeeded or failed.

But what if we have an Artificer or Watchers Paladin around?

Rules as written the artificer or paladin would be able to use their respective reactions in response to the saving throw for the Archmage’s scrying.

Do the artificer and paladin characters know in game that they used their abilities in response to the saving throw against the scrying spell?

Obviously, they don’t know what a saving throw is, and won’t know that it is a scrying spell at work. But do they know that something is afoot and that they used their ability?

Are Vengeful Ancestors’ damage-dealing reactions enough to sustain the Barbarian’s rage?

To sustain their rage at the end of their turn, a Barbarian must have attacked a hostile creature since their last turn or must have taken damage since then. [PHB, pg. 48]

In the level 14 feature of the Primal Path of the Ancestral Guardian, "Vengeful Ancestors," the spirits called by the Barbarian’s rage may do force damage to a hostile creature. Mechanically, the Barbarian is using their reaction to cause this damage. [XGtE, pg. 10]

Is the fact that the Barbarian is using their reaction to cause damage to a hostile creature enough to sustain their rage? Or is this insufficient because the damage is not being caused directly by the Barbarian?

Are these homebrew reactions balanced with each other?

I have been working on a homebrew reaction system so that each person can do more throughout the initiative than the very rare opportunity attack or counterspell. I feel as though reactions should be available to all classes, and this is my effort do do this.

Homebrew reactions on Homebrewery

My general design principle for this was to give something thematic to the class and have its effect strength become stronger the rarer it is. For example, allowing a fighter to attack when a creature attacks someone other than him, but only allowing the rogue to attack when someone dies, because a rogue attack will likely be stronger than a fighter’s attack.

I realize this will have some balance implications for the rest of the game, for example making shield and counterspell weaker and not necessarily a must-have. I also realize that this will make the players significantly stronger.

For classes or subclasses within their default PHB rules, I’ve given them an ability that should be of roughly the same power as a reaction, but not a reaction, since they already have one.

What I am looking for:

  • "This feature is much stronger than the others because [the reaction is stronger than you think / the reaction will happen more often than you think / etc]"

  • "This feature is much weaker than the others because…"

  • "This feature will break some other part of the game [by making x feature moot / by significantly strengthening x feature]"

  • "This concept in general will cause the game in general to be unbalanced for x reason"

  • "This feature is significantly ambiguous and it could mean two mechanically different things"

What I am not looking for:

  • "This concept in general will slow down combat or make the game less fun to play" (An issue I will be playtesting)

  • "This feature doesn’t feel like something x subclass would have" (An issue I will ask my friends)

  • "This feature isn’t worded how WotC would word it in 5e" (An issue to address if I decide to publish on dmsguild)

Reactions or Replacements

Barbarian

Path of the Berserker – Approach Me

When you reach 4th level, you gain the ability to retaliate against those who approach you in melee combat. During your rage, other creatures provoke an opportunity attack when they enter your reach.

Path of the Totem Warrior – Spectral Blessing

When you reach 4th level, you gain the ability to grant the blessing of your totem spirit to creatures near you. During yor rage, when a creature begins its turn within 30 feet of you, you may use your reaction to grant them a benefit until the end of their turn based on the totem animal you chose while gaining this feature. You may choose the same animal you selected at 3rd level or a different one.

Bear. Whenever the chosen creature makes an attack, they gain resistance against damage from melee attacks from that creature until the end of their next turn.

Eagle. Whenever the chosen creature makes an attack roll, they don’t provoke opportunity attacks for the rest of the turn.

Wolf. Whenever the chosen creature makes a melee weapon attack, they gain a bonus to the damage roll equal to your Rage Damage.

Bard

College of Lore – Improved Cutting Words

When you reach 4th level, you no longer expend Bardic Inspiration when you use Cutting Words. Instead, you can use it a number of times equal to your Charisma modifier (a minimum of once).

College of Valor – Hit Harder

When you reach 4th level, you gain the ability to improve the strength of your allies’ strikes. When a creature within 30 feet of you is hit by a weapon attack, you can use your reaction to give a bonus to the damage roll equal to half your Bard level.

Cleric

Knowledge Domain – Quick Recall

When you reach 4th level, you learn how to better apply your smarts to the battlefield. When a creature you can see and haven’t used this feature on starts its turn within 60 feet, you may use your reaction to make a Knowledge check (DM’s choice) to determine aspects of the creature. The DC is 10 + the creature’s Challenge Rating, or Level if the creature has class levels. If you succeed, you learn the creature’s AC, their highest saving throw, and any resistances, immunities, and vulnerabilities they may have.

Life Domain – Shield the Faithful

When you reach 4th level, your god grants you the ability to protect others from harm. When another creature within 30 feet of you takes damage, you may use your reaction to reduce that damage by half of your Cleric level, rounded up. This can’t reduce the damage below zero.

Light Domain – Sun’s Blessing

At 4th level, when you cast a spell of first level or higher that deals fire or radiant damage, you deal additional damage of that type equal to half of your Wisdom modifier, rounded up (minimum of 1).

Nature Domain – Abhor Unnatural

When you reach 4th level, your Channel Divinity: Turn Undead also works on the creature types aberration, celestial, elemental, fey, and fiend, in addition to undead.

Tempest Domain – Storm’s Blessing

When you reach 4th level, when you cast a spell of first level or higher that deals lightning or thunder damage, you deal additional damage of that type equal to half of your Wisdom modifier, rounded up (minimum of 1).

Trickery Domain – Degrading Miss

When you reach 4th level, your god grants you the ability to affect others when they fail to draw your blood. When a creature within 30 feet of you misses you with an attack, you may use your reaction to impose disadvantage on that creature’s attack rolls until the start of its next turn.

War Domain – Divine Defenses

When you reach 4th level, you gain the ability to invoke your god’s power to prevent further harm to yourself. When a creature hits you with a weapon attack, you may use your reaction to add your Wisdom modifier to your AC for the rest of the turn.

Druid

Circle of the Land – Manipulate Terrain

When you reach 4th level, your connection with the land manifests in harsh winds, churned earth, and roiling sea near you. When a creature moves to an area within 15 feet of you, you may use you reaction to create difficult terrain in a sphere with a raidus of 15 feet centered on yourself until the end of the turn.

Circle of the Moon – Feral Instincts

When you reach 4th level, your more animalistic instincts take over while wild-shaped. While wild-shaped, when a creature at maximum hit points takes damage, you may use your reaction to move up to your speed towards the creature. Then, if the creature is within your reach, you may make an opportunity attack against it.

Fighter

Champion – Strive for the Best

When you reach 4th level, your determination to be the best of the best makes sure no one can outshine you. When a creature other than you lands a critical hit, you may make one weapon attack with advantage as a reaction.

Battle Master – Face Me!

When you reach 4th level, you gain the ability to exploit the distractions of your enemies. As a bonus action, you can Mark a creature until that creature falls unconcious or you cannot see it. When a Marked creature makes an attack against a creature other than you, you may use your reaction to make a weapon attack against the Marked target. You may only have one creature Marked at once, and a creature may only be Marked by one creature.

Eldritch Knight – Spell Recognition

When you reach 4th level, you have some rudamentary understanding of defensive magic and can shield yourself with it. When a spell is cast by a creature within 5 feet of you, you may use your reaction to gain resistance to the damage of the spell this turn.

Monk

Keep Your Balance

When you reach 4th level, you are able to avoid being moved around against your will. When you would be moved any distance, you may instead move only half that distance.

Paladin

Oath of Devotion – Protect the Good

When you reach 4th level, your loyalty an attention to your allies allows you to protect them in more and more ways. When a creature within 10 feet of you is hit with an attack, you may use your reaction to grant that creature the effects of sanctuary until the end of the turn.

Oath of the Ancients – Nature’s Wrap

When you reach 4th level, your attunement with nature extends to protection of your allies. When an ally within 10 feet of you is hit with a melee attack, you may use your reaction to force the attacker to make a Strength saving throw versus your spell save DC. On a failed save, the attacker is restrained until the end of the turn as vines coil around the creature’s body.

Oath of Vengeance – Answered Sleight

When you reach 4th level, you gain the ability to retaliate more effectively against those that would dare harm who you care about. When a creature within 10 feet of you is hit with a melee attack, you may use your reaction to move up to 10 feet and make a melee attack against the attacker, if able.

Ranger

Hunter – Prey’s Vulnerability

When you reach 4th level, you gain the ability to more effectively take advantage of your target’s weaknesses. When you hit a creature with a weapon attack, you may Mark that creature until the start of your next turn. While a creature is Marked in this way, if it makes an attack against any other creature than you, you may use your reaction to make a weapon attack against the Marked creature. You may only have one creature Marked at once, and a creature may only be Marked by one creature.

Beast Master – Beast’s Bond

When you reach 4th level, your bond with your companion allows you to retaliate against those who wrong it. When a creature deals damage to your beast companion, you may use your reaction to make an attack against that creature.

Rogue

Thief – Nimble Swipe

When you reach 4th level, your nimble fingers allow you to disrupt others while fighting. When a hostile creature you can see moves out of your reach, you may use your reaction to try to swipe an object from the creature. If you do so, make a sleight of hand check contested by their athletics or acrobatics check. If you win, you can take an object from them that you could wield or put away with the Use an Object action. For example, you could take a weapon, arcane focus, or potion, but you could not take a shield or armor.

A creature can avoid provoking this reaction by taking the Disengage action. They also don’t provoke this reaction when they teleport or when someone or something moves them without using their movement, action, or reaction.

Assassin – Lethal Response

When you reach 4th level, you can pay more attention to your target’s lives and are motivated by their deaths. When a creature you’ve dealt damage to dies, you may use your reaction to make an attack against another creature.

Arcane Trickster – Distracting Gesture

When you reach 4th level, you can manipulate your mage hand in more complex ways. When a creature within 5 feet of your mage hand casts a spell, you may use your reaction to attempt to break their incantation. If you do, make an ability check using your spellcasting ability contested by their concentration check. If you win, the creature’s spell fails and has no effect.

Sorcerer

Draconic Bloodline – Elemental Infusion

When you reach 4th level, you can assist an ally by allowing them to tap into your elemental power. When a creature other than you damages an enemy, you may use your reaction to deal additional damage to that enemy. If the triggering damage is the type associated with your draconic ancestry, the additional damage is equal to your sorcerer level. Otherwise, the additional damage is equal to half of your sorcerer level, rounded up. Either way, the additional damage is the type associated with your draconic ancestry.

Wild Magic – Bend Luck

You gain the Wild Magic Bend Luck feature when you reach 4th level.

When you reach 6th level, the sorcery point cost of Bend Luck reduces from 2 to 1.

Warlock

The Archfey – Misty Escape

You gain the Archfey Misty Escape feature at 4th level.

When you reach 6th level, you may use it an additional time per long rest.

The Fiend – Fiendish Retaliation

When you reach 4th level, you gain the ability to lash out at those who harm you. You can choose one damage type when you finish a short or long rest. When a creature hits you with a melee attack, you may use your reaction to deal damage to that creature of the chosen type. The amount of damage is equal to half of your warlock level, rounded up.

When you reach 10th level, you may choose the same or different damage types for Fiendish Retaliation and Fiendish Resistance.

The Great Old One – Mind Warp

When you reach 4th level, you can force a creature to see unknowable and horrifying sights when it harms you. When a creature hits you with a melee attack, you may use your reaction to Blind the creature until the start of its next turn or until it takes damage.

Wizard

Abjuration – Improved Ward

When you reach 4th level, your arcane ward continues to improve. When you create your magical ward, it has hit points equal to three times your wizard level + your Intelligence modifier. Whenever you cast an abjuration spell of 1st level or higher, the ward regains a number of hit points equal to three times the level of the spell.

Conjuration – Instinctive Jump

When you reach 4th level, you react to danger by teleporting to safety temporarily. When a creature moves within 5 feet of you, you may use your reaction to teleport to a location you can see within 30 feet. At the end of the turn, you return to the space that you vanished from, if it is unoccupied, or the nearest unoccupied space (chosen at random if more than one space is equally near.

Divination – See Failure

When you reach 4th level, you gain the ability to influence events by seeing a negative future. When a creature you can see makes a Saving Throw against a spell you did not cast, you can use your reaction to impose disadvantage on their saving throw. You can use this feature a number of times equal to your Intelligence modifier (minimum of 1). When you finish a long rest, you regain all expended uses.

Enchantment – Potent Charm

When you reach 4th level, your enchantment spells bypass some natural resistances of certain creatures. If a creature would normally have advantage on saving throws against being charmed, it does not benefit from that feature when resisting your spells.

Evocation – Elemental Defenses

When you reach 4th level, your knowledge of the elements give you an edge up aginst those that use the elemental magics. When you take Acid, Cold, Fire, Lightning, Poison, or Thunder damage, you may use your reaction to gain resistance against that damage type until the start of your next turn.

Illusion – Question Reality

When you reach 4th level, you can harm those who touch your illusions as they doubt their existence.

When a creature touches an illusion you’ve created, you may use your reaction to force them to make an Intelligence saving throw. On a failure, they take psychic damage equal to your wizard level.

When a creature fails a check to see through an illusion you’ve created, you may use your reaction to deal psychic damage to them equal to your wizard level.

Necromancy – Shift Pain

When you reach 4th level, you can relocate some of the damage you take to your minions. When you take damage, you may use your reaction to have a willing creature within 30 feet take that damage instead, reduced by half your wizard level, rounded up.

Transmutation – Swap Elements

When you reach 4th level, you learn how to change the elements instinctively. When a creature other than you casts a spell that deals Acid, Cold, Fire, Lightning, Poison, or Thunder damage, you may use your reaction to change one of those damage types from that spell to another from that list. For example, you could change fireball to deal cold damage instead of fire, or have meteor swarm deal lightning and bludgeoning damage instead of fire and bludgeoning.

Can a Readied Action be used multiple times in the same round if you have multiple reactions?

A Marilith picks up a Longbow to use in combat. It walks to a tower window overlooking a large battle with many creatures. It takes the Ready Action with a trigger of "when a creature moves or attacks, I will shoot it".
Mariliths can take a reaction on every turn of combat.

Does the Marilith get to shoot every creature on the battlefield before its next turn?

If I were to cast a spell limiting reactions (shocking grasp), does that mean the target can’t make a saving throw?

The shocking grasp cantrip states that the target can not take reactions until the start of its next turn. Therefore, the target should not be able to cast spells like absorb elements and shield. The second thing that I am unsure about is this: are saving throws reactions? If they are, someone could cast a spell using a saving throw against a target who can’t take reactions and theoretically they would automatically fail because of the inability to take a reaction. Through my knowledge, it never states anywhere that a saving throw takes a reaction, its just a roll.

Any rules that I should know about that would answer this question?

What are the balance ramifications of always preventing creatures from taking reactions before their first turn?

I’ve recently been toying with some rule modifications to 5e’s Initiative rules in an attempt to resolve the rule/reality inconsistency where a player “gets the jump” on a monster, but the monster is able to act first via a Reaction.

The rule changes I’m considering is the following:

A creature cannot use its Reaction before the start of its first turn.

Note that this is not a modification to Surprise rules. This rule would apply any time that Initiative is rolled.

Clearly this will add greater emphasis on rolling well for Initiative. However, for the sake of completeness, I’d like to know if there are there any larger balance ramifications that might occur under this change?


For context: the following is the intent of the change:

  • Deliver on the thematic of being the “first to draw” in combat; i.e., support the intuitive understanding that Initiative defines which creatures are quickest to act.
  • Deliver on my players’ desire to feel like they can surprise their opponents without needing to roll for stealth.

What reactions are available to an artificer’s homunculus servant?

The description of the artificer’s homunculus servant states:

In combat, the homunculus shares your initiative count, but it takes its turn immediately after yours. It can move and use its reaction on its own, but the only action it takes on its turn is the Dodge action, unless you take a bonus action on your turn to command it to take the action in its stat block or the Dash, Disengage, Help, Hide, or Search action.

The homunculus has a limited number of action options in combat, and most require the artificer to use their bonus action on their own turn. This (closed) question lists the reactions that are generally available in the game, but the homunculus can’t have feats, use the Ready action, or take an Opportunity Attack.

Yet the rules specifically go out of their way to mention that the homunculus can “use its reaction on its own”.

Question: what reactions can it use?

Does a successful Tumble Through trigger reactions?

The text of tumble through says:

You Stride up to your Speed. During this movement, you can try to move through the space of one enemy. Attempt an Acrobatics check against the enemy’s Reflex DC as soon as you try to enter its space. You can Tumble Through using Climb, Fly, Swim, or another action instead of Stride in the appropriate environment.

This doesn’t mention that it won’t trigger reactions such as attacks of opportunity. However in Failure it states:

Your movement ends, and you trigger reactions as if you had moved out of the square you started in.

Which implies that success won’t trigger those reactions.

Open Hand Monk versus Legendary Action reactions

Tiamat can take a Legendary Actions at the end of each turn and I believe these were listed a reactions. So could an Open Hand Monk’s ability prevent these actions entirely? Per the Flurry of Hands ability, the text indicates that if the monk hits (and picks the no reactions option), then the target “can’t take reactions until the end of your (the monk’s) next turn”.

That interpretation seems overpowered unless the Legendary Actions are NOT reactions (I may be remembering this incorrectly) or the reactions are treated differently because they’re Legendary Actions rather than normal Reactions.

Does preventing a creature from taking actions also prevent reactions?

I’m slightly confused by the use of the word “action” in the text. The section on “Reactions” states:

Certain special abilities, spells, and situations allow you to take a special action called a reaction…

And then there are times where you cannot take actions such as the dream spell which states:

[…] While in the trance, the messenger is aware of his or her surroundings, but can’t take Actions or move…

There are also time where something explicitly says you can’t take reactions like the Incapacitated condition which states:

An incapacitated creature can’t take actions or reactions.

And then there is this phrase from the section on “Bonus Actions”:

[…] anything that deprives you of your ability to take actions also prevents you from taking a bonus action.

There is no similar phrase in the “Reactions” section so I am left wondering:
If something, like the spell dream, prevents you from taking actions, but not reactions, can you still take a reaction?