I need a brief clarification on the spell dragon's breath (Xanathar's Guide to Everything, p. 154):

Until the spell ends, the creature can use an action to exhale energy of the chosen type in a 15-foot cone.

I think the description is ambiguous regarding the number of times you can exhale during the duration of the spell. You can think of that "an action" in 2 ways:

  1. Until the spell ends, the creature can use one action to exhale magical energy. It can use an action this way as many times as it wants for the duration of the spell.

  2. Until the spell ends, the creature can exhale magical energy once during the spell's duration, losing the ability to do so after that first time.

Which is the correct interpretation?

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @YED-YellowEndlessDog I made some small edits to try to clear up inthemanual's concern for good. I hope it reflects what you wanted based off of your reaction to what Wibbs said, but if not you can revert the edit \$\endgroup\$
    – lithas
    Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 22:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ Note a minor semantical difference in option 1. "use its action to exhale magical energy as many times as it wants" implies that every exhale costs 1 action, but you can repeatedly spend an action to exhale. Your description seems to imply that it's a single-action multi-exhale, which is semantically not what the rule describes. \$\endgroup\$
    – Flater
    Commented Aug 28, 2018 at 13:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think the confusion results from the missing "per action" that should follow the word "once" in Option 2. \$\endgroup\$
    – Lexible
    Commented Aug 28, 2018 at 15:20

3 Answers 3


Option 1, is the sure answer based on several considerations, especially looking at why it isn't Option 2.

It's Option 1 because:

  1. Its power level is on par with (or just barely above) several similar 2nd level spells. Druids already have a very similar 2nd level spell, Flame Blade (3d6, melee, 10 min, level 2.) There are several other 2nd level spells with concentration which can be used the whole duration with comparative damage: Heat Metal (2d8, ranged, 1 min), Moonbeam (2d10, ranged, 1 min), Flaming Sphere (2d6, ranged, 1 min), Mind Spike, Shadow Blade (2d8, melee/range (20/06), 1 min)

It's not Option 2 because:

  1. It would be almost as weak as a 1st level spell. It would be almost identical to the 1st level spell Burning Hands (also 3d6 cone, fire), but only gaining the option to change the damage type and delaying the attack for 1 min. This doesn't really justify to cost a 2nd level slot
  2. Spells that end after the use state it in the spell description that they end after activation. Examples: Guidance (Cantrip), All Smite Spells, Flame Arrows (3rd level)
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ It would be weaker than Burning Hands, concentration is a very high price to pay \$\endgroup\$
    – András
    Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 22:22

You can breathe energy as many times during the duration as you have actions.

Until the spell ends, the creature can use an action to exhale energy of the chosen type in a 15 foot cone.

This construction, "Until X, Y", means that until X is true, you can do Y. Thus, you can exhale energy as many times as you have actions before the spell ends. If the spell was intended to limit the number of breaths that you could take it would have said so or phrased the spell in a different way.


Whenever you may take an action, you may use it to breathe fire.

If the effect of Dragon's Breath were intended to only be used once per turn, it would say so. Since it doesn't, the limit is solely on how many actions a character can make in a given turn. Normally, a character can only make one action per turn, but there may be situations (like a Fighter's Action Surge) that permits more than one action in a turn, which would enable more uses.

Dragon's Breath normally lasts a minute. So these are the most common scenarios:

  • Normal Casting: 10 times (once per turn for 10 turns)
  • Sorcerer Casting with Extended Spell Metamagic: 20 times (once per turn for 20 turns)
  • Eldritch Knight: 11-12 times (one or two uses of Action Surge to gain two actions in one round, permitting 2 actions on those turns)
  • Fighter w/Multiclassed Sorcerer: 21-22 times

If there are magic items that permit longer spell durations, or magic items that give extra Actions during a turn, then it may be possible to gain additional uses per casting of Dragon's Breath.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Nice examples, but my concern is you're creating a partial list that may be more confusing than helpful in terms of understanding how/why they get that many times. Or give a counter-example of the language that does limit it to once during the duration. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 22:07
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Why only Eldritch Knight specifically that can get 11-12 times (1-2 extra from Action Surge)? I think all pure Fighters, or at least those with 17 levels in Fighter can do 12 times, right? \$\endgroup\$
    – Vylix
    Commented Aug 28, 2018 at 1:47
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Vylix That's why I'm concerned with the partial list. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Aug 28, 2018 at 13:07

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