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Part of the Great Weapon Master feat (PHB, p. 167) says:

On your turn, when you score a critical hit with a melee weapon or reduce a creature to 0 hit points with one, you can make one melee weapon attack as a bonus action.

I quiet don't understand what is meant by one, the critical hit or the melee weapon? First I thought, if I kill a creature with one hit, I get a bonus action. Then a friend told me, one means the critical hit and the information

...or reduce a creature to 0 hit points with one...

is redundant, since no matter if the creature dies or not, as long as it's a critical hit (but only then) I get a bonus action. Also, if my first assumption is true, and a one hit kill as well as a critical hit gets me a bonus action, can I get another bonus action from this, if the prerequisites are met, and so on.

The idea by choosing GWM, besides all the other great opportunities this feat grants, was the chance of killing a whole group of weak enemies with my raging barbarian.

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"One" is referencing the melee attack

What GWM does is give you the option to perform a single additional melee attack as a bonus action if you either roll a critical hit or reduce a target's HP to zero (either by killing them or simply getting them to 0 HP) while using a melee weapon.

There can be only one

It is important to note that you only ever get one single bonus action per turn. Therefore, you cannot kill a group of weak enemies since you are still limited by the standard action economy of having available, in a given turn, your Attack action and your bonus action.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you NautArch, this answer is at least between what I feared and what I hoped. So now as you refering to the "standard action economy", how about my bonus action when being in Frenzy Rage? Do I'm loosing this bonus action when critting or one-hitting as GWM? \$\endgroup\$ – Raymond Osterbrink Sep 20 '18 at 13:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ @RaymondOsterbrink You only get one Bonus Action per turn. So you'd need to choose whether or not to Frenzy for it or to use your GWM. I also suggest waiting a bit for other answers to come in just to make sure someone doesn't haven answer you think is written better or has better info. And welcome to the site! \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Sep 20 '18 at 13:35
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"One" in this case refers to a melee weapon

Specifically, the Great Weapon Master feat allows you to use a bonus action to make a melee attack if either of the following conditions are true:

  • You make a critical hit with a melee weapon
  • You reduce an enemy to 0 hit points with a melee weapon

Two things to note here (based on what you wrote and a potential misunderstanding you may have):

You only need to reduce the enemy to 0 hit points with a melee attack. You do not need to do so in only a single hit. In other words, if you hit an enemy three times over three turns, and then on the fourth turn hit them and reduce their hp to 0, you can use your bonus action to make a melee attack on that turn.

You only get one bonus action per turn. If you have something else you can do with a bonus action (such as a spell or other class feature) you have to pick which you want to do. You can't use the bonus action attack from Great Weapon Master and Frenzy in the same turn, for example. You have to pick which you wish to use (perhaps a bad example given they both do the same thing: allow you to make an attack; but point is you can't make two bonus action attacks, only one).

Note: DnD has many instances of language use like this. If English is not your first language, or you just generally have questions about some of the language use, there is also an English Language stack exchange (and an English Language Learners stack exchange) that would be willing to help teach some of these usages.

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A pronoun always refers to the closest noun in the sentence/phrase or previous sentence that serves the same grammatical function. In this case, the corresponding phrases are "with a melee weapon" and "with one". Thus, One refers to "melee weapon".

So you get a bonus attack, if you get a critical hit or if you kill (reduce to 0 HP) a creature when making an attack with a melee weapon.

Note: you can only have one bonus action per turn. So if you have already used it, you will not have the option to make a second attack. Or if you make a second attack, you will not be able to use a bonus action from a different feat/ability.

A Diagram of the quoted sentence: enter image description here

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm pretty sure that English pronoun usage doesn't fall into the simple pattern you describe. For example: "Kathy's the best in the squad; she's stronger than Sarah, she's faster than Allie, and she's a better shot than Jenny" ('Sarah' is the closest noun to the second use of 'she', but it refers to 'Kathy'). Or: "What's that in the street?" "It's huge!" ('It' refers to the pronoun 'that', not 'the street'). \$\endgroup\$ – Marq Sep 20 '18 at 14:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ in your sentence, She is the subject of the phrases, the only noun used as a subject is Kathy. same for the second example; "It" and "that" are the subjects " the street" is the object of a preposition. you need to apply the entire condition not just half of it. \$\endgroup\$ – ravery Sep 20 '18 at 14:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Marq nearest refers to gramatical definition of the distance; not by a literal word position. Since it's English, it's a train wreck to explain. E.g. english.stackexchange.com/questions/56376/… but also to illustrate the ambiguity english.stackexchange.com/questions/7125/… \$\endgroup\$ – Grosscol Sep 20 '18 at 14:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ “a melee weapon” is the object of the preposition “with” \$\endgroup\$ – James Sep 20 '18 at 18:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @James - and so is "one", which is why "one" refers to "a melee weapon". \$\endgroup\$ – ravery Sep 20 '18 at 19:30

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