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The expeditious retreat spell (which has a casting time of a bonus action) says:

This spell allows you to move at an incredible pace. When you cast this spell, and then as a bonus action on each of your turns until the spell ends, you can take the Dash action.

However, with a strict reading of the wording, it says "when you cast this spell ... you can take the Dash action". It doesn't add "as a bonus action" on the end (like how, say, the rogue's Cunning Action is worded), which implies that the "you can Dash as a bonus action" part only comes into effect on subsequently turns, and dashing this turn still uses an action, since it only specifies the bonus action in the context of the subsequent turns ("then as a bonus action on each of your turns until the spell ends").

If I wanted to cast this spell, then Dash, would I still have my action to use for something else on that same turn? My strict reading seems to imply "no". I'm fairly certain my strict reading is wrong (at least not RAI), but why am I wrong?

There are other questions on this site about this spell, but none of them specifically address this wording that I'm focusing on.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Does this Question not address the same thing? Can you use your bonus action to Dash on the same turn as you cast Expeditious Retreat? \$\endgroup\$ – Black Spike Jan 5 at 12:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BlackSpike I did see that question, but it focuses on whether it can be done on the same turn at all, whereas mine is more focused on how it allows it on the same turn. \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Jan 5 at 12:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ "It doesn't add "as a bonus action" on the end" — how the description would look like? "as a bonus action on each of your turns until the spell ends, you can take the Dash action as a bonus action"? \$\endgroup\$ – enkryptor Jan 5 at 15:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ @enkryptor Adjusting the wording by literally just sticking "as a bonus action" on the end does look a bit odd, true, but I was more considering a wording more like: "When you cast this spell, and then on each of your turns until the spell ends, you can take the Dash action as a bonus action." That, to me, would resolve any ambiguity that I perceived (although they might also need to also specify that on this turn it can be part of the same bonus action as the one used to cast the spell, so maybe it's not that good after all...); either way, the answers are clearing things up for me nicely. \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Jan 5 at 16:23
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It does not consume your turn's action

On any given turn, you can do the following things (plus possibly other things for specific classes or races):

  • Action
  • Bonus action
  • Movement

Casting this spell uses a Bonus action, and changes your available remaining things you can do on this turn to the following:

  • Action
  • Movement
  • Dash

It uses your Bonus action, and gives you the Dash action as an additional thing you can do.

You still retain your action for that turn, because the spell doesn't say When you cast this spell, can use your action to Dash (which you can usually always do), it just says When you cast this spell, ... you can take the Dash action.

Something being an "[something] action" doesn't mean it consumes your turn's action

Your Turn (PHB 189)

On your turn, you can move a distance up to your speed and take one action. (Emphasis original.)

Many things count as an action, but when they can be used is based on the rules, not on the fact that designers re-used the word "action" in many places.

This a common confusion, but it is important to always be aware of the difference between something being referred to as "[something] action" and your turn's one "action". When a "[something] action" can be used is dependent upon what the rules say for that particular action.

In this case, the "Dash action" can be the one action you use on your turn, because the rules say so.

Actions In Combat heading (PHB 192)

When you take your action on your turn, you can take one of the actions presented here,...

Dash is then presented there.

The rules for the expeditious retreat spell also permit you to take the Dash action.

So, what you have is 2 different ways to take the Dash action (and there are many more, as well, that I won't get into.)

Key takeaway: There is no rule that says that anything with the word "action" attached to it will consume your turn's action, so you are free to use as many "[something] actions" on your turn as you have rules to support doing so.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Good answer. I think it's worth clarifying that there is a difference between big-A Action and little-a action. The Dash action is just something you can do which takes an unspecified amount of time (though normally requires your Action) \$\endgroup\$ – lucasvw Jan 5 at 13:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ @L0neGamer that's only in subsequent turns, though. In the casting turn, the bonus action is already expended for casting the spell. \$\endgroup\$ – PixelMaster Jan 5 at 14:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ @lucasvw I added a section on that. \$\endgroup\$ – Willem Renzema Jan 5 at 15:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't believe your last section is correct. The word action is almost never capitalized in 5e (outside of section titles). In fact the word before action is the capitalized one, and 5e rarely (if ever) uses the word "action" in the standard English sense. "The Dash action" is a specific action detailed in the "Actions In Combat" section, and it usually requires your action but there are features such as the Rogue's Cunning Action which allow the Dash action to be taken using your bonus action. Here's a somewhat related Q/A: rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/105781 \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Jan 5 at 16:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Medix2 You may be right, I was wondering that myself. It is more that an "Action" is a specific mechanical thing, rather than a consistent capitalization. I'll refine it later, I need to leave for work soon. \$\endgroup\$ – Willem Renzema Jan 5 at 16:33
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Much like spiritual weapon it doesn't consume any further parts of your action economy

I think the confusion here stems from the fact that it's called the Dash action which ordinarily requires an action. So let's instead look at spiritual weapon which takes a bonus action to cast:

[...] When you cast the spell, you can make a melee spell attack against a creature within 5 feet of the weapon [...]

This spell attack is clearly not meant to use your action, nor is there any reason to believe that it would since this attack is part of the casting of the spell. If it wanted to require you to use your action as well it would have included "as an action" somewhere in the above description.

Ultimately, if something states "when you cast this spell you can X" and does not state "when you cast this spell you can use your action to X" then doing X is part of the casting and doesn't require your action.

Another spell that's similar is Melf's minute meteors which requires an action to cast but a bonus action to send the meteors flying except on the turn you cast the spell:

[...] When you cast the spell — and as a bonus action on each of your turns thereafter — you can expend one or two of the meteors [...]

This spell does not require you to expend both your action and bonus action on the turn you cast the spell in order to launch 1-2 meteors.

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As part of the casting you can take the Dash action

The text for Expeditious Retreat states:

When you cast this spell ... you can take the Dash action.

By RAW: It does not say "if you are able to," "if you have not taken an action this turn already," or any other qualifier. This doesn't constitute a normal action.

By RAI: The Dash action is a part of the standard action set, it seems bizarre to add a note saying that a player can perform a normal action that they can always take.

Conclusion: The Dash action is a part of the spell.

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