This question was brought to mind upon reading one of the bullet points in this answer (regarding a Marilith's ability to take a reaction every turn), which reads:

  • This limits you to one attack per group for certain implementations of group initiative, as well as for groups of summoned monsters that share a turn

This is noticeable in many of the "Conjure ..." spells which share this common line (emphasis mine):

The summoned creatures are friendly to you and your companions. Roll initiative for the summoned creatures as a group, which has its own turns.

The language seems to read "a group...has its own turns", not "the summoned creatures...have their own turns", which lends to the idea that the summoned creatures are not just sharing an initiative, but actually sharing the turn. This Q&A brings up other instances of creatures acting on the same turn, so it does not seem out of the ordinary that multiple creatures could share a turn. My question is: how does that interact with once-per-turn abilities such as the Marilith in the question referenced above, the Cavalier Fighter's Vigilant Defender, or monsters' legendary actions.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This question assumes they share the same turn but it's really unclear to me based on the language: One would expect it to read "group, which has it's own turn (singular)" if the group went all at once. Using the plural obfuscates this and makes it seem like initiative may be rolled for the group but then they take turns in sequence, not all at once. \$\endgroup\$
    – Rykara
    Commented Jul 9, 2020 at 18:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Rykara The plural indicates that they have one each round (they have multiple turns per combat). Just saying "turn" would be confusing (do they get only 1?), you would have to write "turn every round", but that sounds unnecessarily clunky. \$\endgroup\$
    – Szega
    Commented Jul 9, 2020 at 18:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ @sze I'm not convinced by that because the general rules for combat always use the singular "turn" so it's consistent with using the singular form to refer to the generic turn that repeats each round. \$\endgroup\$
    – Rykara
    Commented Jul 9, 2020 at 20:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Rykara If you write an answer you can make an argument that the wording for summoned creatures does not work that way, but the question remains the same. What about rocks true-polymorphed into creatures or a simulacrum army? Or would you argue that no creatures share a turn? \$\endgroup\$
    – smbailey
    Commented Jul 9, 2020 at 20:29

2 Answers 2


In general, every creature has its own turn

From the combat rules:

Initiative determines the order of turns during combat. When combat starts, every participant makes a Dexterity check to determine their place in the initiative order. The DM makes one roll for an entire group of identical creatures, so each member of the group acts at the same time.

If a tie occurs, the DM decides the order among tied DM-controlled creatures, and the players decide the order among their tied characters. The DM can decide the order if the tie is between a monster and a player character. Optionally, the DM can have the tied characters and monsters each roll a d20 to determine the order, highest roll going first.

While creatures may act at the "same time" they each act on their own turn, the order of which is decided by initiative and the tie-breaking procedure above - tie-breaking is done once at the start of combat, not each round. This covers mounted combat as well with the order of the mount and rider decided at the time of mounting.

The Marilith can react on each and every one of those turns tied or otherwise.

The exception: shared turns

With respect to the specific exceptions to this rule that you linked (True Polymorph etc.); there is only one turn shared between several creatures.

The Marilith can react once on shared creatures' turn.

The Conjure spells ...

They are not sharing turns. This is evident from the use of the same term, "group" in both the initiative rule and the spell description.

What we have is some poor grammatical choices by the editor possibly because the first part of the sentence has both a plural noun - "creatures" and a collective noun "group". This creates some awkward subject-verb (dis)agreement problems.

The editor has gone with a singular (pro)noun - "its" and a plural verb - "turn". The grammatical construction that best fits is that this is a reference to the "group" (since a plural noun should have a plural verb "their own turns") and it places the emphasis on the group collectively rather than its members individually.

So, you have a choice:

  • Its poor editing and proof-reading by WotC (which happens) and each creature has its own turn, or
  • They mean what they say and the creatures share a turn.

The Marilith is waiting to react based on your decision.

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    \$\begingroup\$ turn is a singular noun, not a plural verb... \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 10, 2020 at 2:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also using a plural then collective noun is actually an excellent choice in my opinion; it saves a lot of space by letting them unambiguously use pronouns. For example: "While allied, treat the cities as a nation with an extra +1 to its attack modifier, and give them an extra +2 to their attack modifiers" clearly refers first to the nation's attack modifier and then second to the cities' attack modifiers despite both things being named the same and the number ambiguity in 'them' and the total lack of context because number agreement is such a strong thing. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 10, 2020 at 2:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Pleasestopbeingevil turn is both a noun and a verb depending on context - its usage in D&D as a container for various actions makes it a verb. \$\endgroup\$
    – Dale M
    Commented Jul 10, 2020 at 3:21

If you get an ability once per turn, you get it once per turn

If you get an ability that you can use a maximum of one time per turn and you use it once then want to use it again before a new turn has started, you can't. There's no special interaction when multiple creatures share a turn; there's no text that indicates such an interaction should occur.


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