8
\$\begingroup\$

After the errata / Tasha's, we know that you can use your character's bonus action to command a Homunculus to use a Spell Storing Item. I think we also know that a Homunculus can freely maintain Concentration on a spell cast from the Item, as Concentration requires no action.

Let's say the Item contains Heat Metal. The Heat Metal spell lets the caster take a bonus action on subsequent turns to re-inflict damage (and disadvantage) on the target.

Can the Homunculus take this bonus action without being commanded by the character?

The Homunculus description in Tasha's states that

it can move and use its reaction on its own, but the only action it takes on its turn is the Dodge action, unless you take a bonus action on your turn to command it to take another action. That action can be one in its stat block or some other action.

Note that nothing is said about its ability to take a bonus action, probably because the ability to take a bonus action is granted by specific circumstances (e.g., dual wielding light weapons), class features (e.g., Defensive Field), feats (e.g., Crossbow Expert), and spells (e.g., Heat Metal).

Absent anything more specific in the Homunculus description, one could argue that the specific language from Heat Metal lets the Homunculus take a bonus action at will. On the other hand, one could also argue that a "bonus action" is a subcategory of "action" -- however, I don't think such an argument holds water, because while some bonus actions replicate actions (like weapon attacks), others do not (like Defensive Field), suggesting that "bonus action" is a separate category of game mechanic (similar to "reaction" and "object interaction" being separate categories in 5e, even though just going by English parlance they're all, of course, actions).

\$\endgroup\$
5
\$\begingroup\$

Bonus actions are not actions

This can be concluded through the following two examples:

The Fighter's Action Surge feature states:

[...] On your turn, you can take one additional action. [...]

Meanwhile, the Sage Advice Compendium clarifies what this means:

Q. Does the fighter’s Action Surge feature let you take an extra bonus action, in addition to an extra action?

A. Action Surge gives you an extra action, not an extra bonus action.


Another part of the rules that clarifies that these are different is the following:

[...] Anything that deprives you of your ability to take actions also prevents you from taking a bonus action.

This is explicitly called out in the rules, which leads me to believe it would otherwise not be the case; thus I conclude from this (and features like Action Surge) that bonus actions are not actions.

Similarly, if something says "You must use your action to activate this item" that does not mean you can instead use a bonus action. Your action is a specific thing that your bonus action is not.


If bonus actions are actions, reactions would be too

This is because the section on reactions states:

Certain special abilities, spells, and situations allow you to take a special action called a reaction [...]

However numerous features separate these such as various conditions and even the homunculus itself:

An incapacitated creature can't take actions or reactions.

it can move and use its reaction on its own, but the only action it takes on its turn is the Dodge action [...]

Clearly reactions cannot be actions otherwise the above sentence would be nonsensical. As the paragraph on reactions is extremely similar to the paragraph on bonus actions (both listed below), I would conclude that since reactions are not actions, neither are bonus actions.

Various class features, spells, and other abilities let you take an additional action on your turn called a bonus action. [...]

Certain special abilities, spells, and situations allow you to take a special action called a reaction [...]


Thus the Homunculus can do whatever it wants to with its bonus action, but keep in mind, as with all things, the GM has the final say on how they work out.

\$\endgroup\$
2
5
\$\begingroup\$

A bonus action is an action

“the only action it takes on its turn” includes bonus actions because bonus actions are actions:

Various class features, spells, and other abilities let you take an additional action on your turn called a bonus action.

You must take a bonus action on your turn to command the homunculus “to take another (bonus) action”.

\$\endgroup\$
0

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.