Holding, Delaying, or Readying an Action? – Rules As Written [duplicate]

Please point or link me to any official rules (rules as written) on when a character can delay, hold or ready an action for later in a round, instead of going on their initiative.

What does a character have to do to delay or hold an action during a round?

What actions are characters allowed to take when they delay?

Readying an action before combat

Suppose the party suspects that combat is imminent, and some of the PCs ready actions (attack nearest hostile creature, attack first thing that moves). Then combat erupts. Some of the PCs are considered Surprised (for instance, because the attack came from enemies they weren’t expecting).

When do the readied actions take place?

  • Before or after initiative is rolled and gaining any Warlord initiative bonus such as shifting?
  • During surprise round turns? If so at the PC’s initiative or at the mob’s initiative?
  • Or do they wait to trigger until the PC is no longer Surprised?

Is it possible to be Surprised while you have a readied action?

Also, what’s the PC’s initiative order after this? Can the PC wind up at a higher position than was rolled?

Animal Companions hiding, searching, and readying an action

The PHB has this to say about Animal Companions:

The beast obeys your commands as best as it can. It takes its turn on your initiative. On your turn, you can verbally command the beast where to move (no action required by you). You can use your action to verbally command it to take the Attack, Dash, Disengage, or Help action. If you don’t issue a command, the beast takes the dodge action.

My question is, although it specifies that movement takes no action while a list of actions take your actions, can a Ranger also verbally command the beast to hide, search, or ready an action (that isn’t in the list of actions that take your actions)? Nothing in the feature specifies that you can’t order the beast to take any of the other actions listed.

How does readying a spell interact with the Sorcerer’s Metamagic feature?

The Ready action states (emphasis mine):

[…] When you ready a spell, you cast it as normal but hold its energy, which you release with your reaction when the trigger occurs. […]

Thus, when you ready a spell you cast it before you release it; for further evidence of this there are the following questions:

  • Can a readied spell be Counterspelled after it is cast, but before the trigger occurs?
  • Can I deny a counterspell by readying my spell behind full cover?

To quote a few sections of the Sorcerer’s Metamagic feature (emphasis mine):

[…]

Careful Spell

When you cast a spell that forces other creatures to make a saving throw, you can protect some of those creatures from the spell’s full force. To do so, you spend 1 sorcery point and choose a number of those creatures up to your Charisma modifier (minimum of one creature). A chosen creature automatically succeeds on its saving throw against the spell.

[…]

Heightened Spell

When you cast a spell that forces a creature to make a saving throw to resist its effects, you can spend 3 sorcery points to give one target of the spell disadvantage on its first saving throw made against the spell.

[…]

Twinned Spell

When you cast a spell that targets only one creature and doesn’t have a range of self, you can spend a number of sorcery points equal to the spell’s level to target a second creature in range with the same spell (1 sorcery point if the spell is a cantrip). […]

Thus, you do not wait until the spell forces a saving throw to use these features, instead you use them when you cast the spell; for further evidence of this there are the following questions:

  • When must the wizard choose to overchannel?
  • When do I have to declare that I want to twin my spell?
  • Can a Sorcerer protect their friend from Web by using Careful Spell?

This all leaves me with some related questions (if they should each be separate questions then I can certainly split them up):

What happens when you try to use Careful Spell on a readied spell? If you can do this, when do you choose the affected targets?

What happens when you try to use Heightened Spell on a readied spell? If you can do this, when do you choose the affected targets?

What happens when you try to use Twinned Spell on a readied spell? If you can do this, when do you choose the affected targets?

Note that the question about the web spell above is rather similar to Careful Spell and Heightened Spell, though there is a different gap in time between the spell being cast and the saving throw being made; I’m unsure if that changes anything

Is there anything preventing a familiar from Readying a Help action? [duplicate]

Suppose the following situation: I want a familiar to give me advantage on melee attacks via the help action. However, I do not want to be yet another adventurer with an owl familiar doing fly-by helps. Instead, I pick something smaller (say, a spider), and have it ride on me.

My idea is thus: The familiar, on its turn, readies an action to help me whenever I attack anybody. Seeing as I close to melee to do that, the familiar is within both 5ft of whoever they’re helping and the target, satisfying the range requirement. Is there a RAW reason this shouldn’t work?

Readying an Item effect

Can a player hold the effect or spell granted to them by an item, and if so, does the spell or effect follow the normal “Readying spell” rule where if the trigger never occurs, the effect or the spell, or the charges on the item are wasted.

IE: “I hold the effect of my Cape of the Montebank (dimension door) until the minotaur moves into melee with me.”

The minotaur never moves into melee with said character.

Are there limitations on what spells a creature can cast while readying a spell?

To give an example, say that a cleric uses their action to cast, and hold, a sacred flame, with some arbitrary trigger. Are they, by RAW, allowed to cast a bonus action spell such as healing word?

Does this also work if the held spell is, say, ice knife and the bonus action spell is shillelagh?

Should readying an action to set a brace weapon dissuade an intelligent enemy from charging?

The rules about readying a weapon against a charge states :

You can ready weapons with the brace feature, setting them to receive charges. A readied weapon of this type deals double damage if you score a hit with it against a charging character.

I’m wondering if this kind of readied actions should be visible or not during the combat and then possibly modifying the actions some characters or enemies would make ?

Here for the example, the PC group progress in a dungeon corridor, the fighter with a brace weapon opening the way. At that moment they face a hostile group of bandits. The fight begins and the fighter being first at the initiative roll decides to set its brace weapon as a readied action. If they had been first at the initiative roll, the bandits would have charge the fighter. Now that the fighter prepares to receive a charge, if the readied action is visible to them, it would obviously be a less appealing idea and they would engage him with a move action instead of charging.

The other examples I found on this subject are based with generic creatures which don’t really bother of the ennemy tactics, but in this situation, should the bandits deny the fact that the fighter has readied its action and charge him anyway or should they notice this action and react accordingly to avoid impale themselves on the weapon ?