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The description of the Tasha's mind whip spell states (TCoE, p. 115):

You psychically lash out at one creature you can see within range. The target must make an Intelligence saving throw. On a failed save, the target takes 3d6 psychic damage, and it can’t take a reaction until the end of its next turn. Moreover, on its next turn, it must choose whether it gets a move, an action, or a bonus action; it gets only one of the three. On a successful save, the target takes half as much damage and suffers none of the spell’s other effects.

Meanwhile, the rules on bonus actions state:

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

If the target chooses a bonus action, it technically shouldn't be able to do so, as it was deprived of its action. Or is this a case of specific beats general?

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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't get the downvotes on this. Yeah, the answer is a relatively straightforward "specific beats general," but it's still a facially legitimate question about an apparent contradiction in the rules. And there's at least one non-obvious wrinkle where the target's contemplated bonus action would require talking an action first. \$\endgroup\$
    – screamline
    Commented Mar 1, 2021 at 20:19

3 Answers 3

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You may choose to take a bonus action.

Notably, the Tasha's mind whip spell (TCoE, p. 114) does not deprive you of your ability to take an action:

Moreover, on its next turn, it must choose whether it gets a move, an action, or a bonus action; it gets only one of the three.

You can still take an action while under the effect of Tasha's mind whip. Nothing is preventing me from taking an action or a bonus action, so I choose to take a bonus action. It is only after I take a bonus action that I am deprived of my ability to take an action, since taking the bonus action is what deprived me of the ability to take an action.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It's a minor point, but perhaps still worth noting that if the bonus action the target would want to take requires taking an action first (e.g., the bonus-action shove permitted by the Shield Master feat, which requires taking the Attack action), mind whip is guaranteed to shut that bonus action down. \$\endgroup\$
    – screamline
    Commented Mar 1, 2021 at 20:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ @screamline Sure but since you get the option to choose action or bonus you could take an action and shove with that instead. Can you think of something which requires an action to be done as a bonus action but can't be performed as an action itself? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 14, 2021 at 18:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ @LioElbammaf Sure. Just off the top of my head, the Storm sorcerer's Tempestuous Magic feature takes a bonus action to give yourself a fly speed on top of casting a leveled spell on your turn, which will in turn require using an action except in the rare case where you're casting as a reaction on your own turn. The Commander’s Strike maneuver takes using both your Attack action and a bonus action to give an ally an attack as a reaction. There are plenty more. \$\endgroup\$
    – screamline
    Commented Apr 15, 2021 at 0:39
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The breakdown as stated in the primary answer is solid from an analytical standpoint, but there is a simpler answer that is technically closer to being correct concerning rule analysis. "Specific beats general" when analyzing RAW. "It must choose" - 'it' being the target. A bonus action is on the explicit list of what the target can choose.

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Tasha's mind whip reduces the number of options that can be taken during one's next turn.

In combat, during one's turn, there are three main options to take:

  • Action
  • Bonus Action
  • Movement

and depending on the circumstances a character can take all three of them: e.g., a 1st level fighter with two short swords can move close to an enemy (Movement), attack them with one sword (Action) and attack them with the other sword (Bonus Action, Two-Weapon-Fighting).

Tasha's Mind Whip does not allow, on a failed save, to take all three of them, but just one: the quoted rule about bonus action is related to game features that remove the possibility to take an Action during one's turn. For example, the spell (Tasha's) Hideous Laughter inflicts the incapacitated condition:

An incapacitated creature can't take actions or reactions.

In this case, Bonus Actions are not listed, by per the quoted rule the target of this spell cannot take Bonus Actions either.


The reason for which game features that prevent characters to take Actions do not allow to take Bonus Action either relies on the fact that a Bonus Action is an Action, per the Sage Advice Compendium (emphasis mine):

Does using a bonus action break invisibility from a warlock’s One with Shadows invocation?

Taking a bonus action breaks the invisibility of a warlock’s One with Shadows. A bonus action is an action.

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