[RPG] When do you receive a bonus action and reaction


When you start combat, after determining surprise and establishing positions; you roll for initiative. At this point, do all combatants have a reaction or bonus action even if they are not first?

For example:
"X" is talking to "Y" when they break out in a fight. The fight begins with X and Y standing adjacent to one another. X is first in the initiative order and decides to move away then attack.
Does Y have the ability to use a reaction (Attack of Opportunity)?
If yes, can he use another reaction after his turn?

In a sense I am asking if reactions can be used on a per round basis or specific to the character.

If it were a per round basis, Y could perform an Attack of opportunity and on his turn will not be able to ready an action.

If it is specific, he won't be able to perform an Attack of Opportunity on X's turn, but would be able to if he moves so he is adjacent to X and X moves away on his turn.

Or can Y use a reaction to attack, then on his turn, gains back a reaction?

Best Answer

Short answer: Yes, you can take a reaction before your first turn in combat.

Reactions and bonus actions aren't ever something you “have”, they're something you do. And there is a limit on the number of times in a round that you can do them.

As a consequence, it doesn't make sense to ask if you “have” either one when you are surprised. What matters is whether you can do things that count as a reaction or as a bonus action. The only reason you wouldn't be able to take a reaction before your first turn is if you're surprised (both quotes from PHB page 189):


If you’re surprised, you can’t move or take an action on your first turn of the combat, and you can’t take a reaction until that turn ends.

Bonus Actions

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

So since you're not surprised in this scenario, you can still take reactions.

Also note that surprise also doesn't occur just because you lose initiative. To be surprised:

character or monster that doesn’t notice a threat is surprised at the start of the encounter.

If you're used to earlier editions of D&D that have a “flat-footed” rule that make you vulnerable in a surprised-like way until your first-round initiative comes up, that might be the source of your assumption that someone can't act in 5e until the first time they have a turn in a combat. There is no similar rule in D&D 5e: if you're unsurprised, you are no more vulnerable before your first turn than after.