D&D 5e: How bonus actions work

In Dungeons & Dragons, bonus actions provide additional opportunities to cast spells, make attacks or disengage from a sticky situation.

When it comes to Dungeons & Dragons combat, all the different terms can get a little confusing. Actions, reactions, and bonus actions all work together to create a player character’s economy of action, but at times it is not clear exactly what can be used as a bonus action. Bonus actions are special in that they can often take the form of a spell, racial trait, achievement, or even a class characteristic.

Having the ability to perform a bonus action can help speed up the fight considerably, and when the fight is going fast, it is often a lot more fun to participate. Here’s what players need to understand about how bonus actions work and how to access more options.


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What are bonus actions used for?

During each round of combat, players are allowed to use a bonus action. However, different characters will have different options, and some will have a greater variety available than others. Players attacking with two weapons, for example, can use their attack action for their dominant hand weapon (adding their proficiency bonus to the attack), then perform a second attack with their off hand weapon without adding the mastery bonus.

There are also class abilities that count as bonus actions, such as a Barbarian’s Rage or a Druid’s Savage Form. If these weren’t counting as bonus actions, it would slow down the fight by forcing these characters to spend an entire turn preparing to use their signature abilities before they could actually benefit from them. Fortunately, the fact that these are bonus actions means that a Barbarian can launch into his Rage and then use his attack action to take advantage of that bonus in the same turn.


Some classes have access to spells that can be cast as an action and then used with a bonus action, such as the Cleric’s Spirit Weapon or the Sorcerer’s Hand of Bigby. Once the spell has been cast with the action, the caster can use their bonus action to attack with it, then use their bonus action on each subsequent turn to move and attack with it until the spells stop. exhaust. Performing a bonus action to cast Misty Step can increase a player’s movement up to 25 feet, allowing them to reach an enemy they might not have reached on foot, or escape combat without seize an attack of opportunity.


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Suppose a player wishes to disengage from combat to avoid seizing an attack of opportunity when using their movement to escape. Normally this would require player action, but Rogue can use a bonus action instead and still take advantage of their action to do other things in turn. Thieves can also use a bonus action to rush to move half their movement speed more or hide.

Achievements that offer bonus actions

D&D Great Achievement of Weapons Master

There are a handful of feats that provide players with bonus action opportunities. Charging, for example, allows a player to do a melee attack with a weapon or push a creature after using the dodge action, while Crossbow Master offers the ability to fire a crossbow at an enemy afterwards. attacking with a one-handed weapon. Great Weapon Master allows the player to perform an additional melee attack when they land a critical hit, and Tavern Brawlers can use their bonus action to attempt a grappling hook after connecting with an unarmed strike.


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The best bonus action spells

Dungeons & Dragons Action Bonus Hellish Rebuke

When it comes to casting spells as a bonus action, there is one major rule to keep in mind: after casting a first level or higher spell as a bonus action, the only type spell that the player can use as an action is a cantrip. Fortunately, there are some powerful bonus action spells that make settling for a minor spell worth it.

Paladins in particular have powerful spell options that can be cast as a bonus action, like Banishing Smite, Searing Smite, Blinding Smite, Thunderous Smite, Branding Smite, Staggering Smite, and Wrathful Smite are all options. When it comes to Clerics, Word of Healing, Word of Mass Healing, Divine Favor, Divine Word, and Sanctuary are excellent bonus action spells.


Warlocks can take advantage of the Hex spell as a bonus action, then use their Eldritch Blast magic spell to inflict a world of damage on enemies. Rangers can cast their Hunter’s Mark as a bonus action and move it to another enemy in successive turns using their bonus action, as long as they continue to maintain focus.

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Maria D. Ervin