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From the MM, pg. 11

Recharge X-Y. The notation "Recharge X- Y" means a monster can use a special ability once and that the ability then has a random chance of recharging during each subsequent round of combat. At the start of each of the monster's turns, roll a d6. If the roll is one of the numbers in the recharge notation, the monster regains the use of the special ability. The ability also recharges when the monster finishes a short or long rest.

I couldn't find any creatures with multiple abilities with recharge, but I was working on creating a BBEG which has 3 different abilities with "Recharge 5-6".

By RAW, would I need to roll one d6 for each ability that is "Recharging"? Or would I roll a single d6, and on a 5-6 it recharges all of the abilities? Or some other option? Or if there is a precedent to rule upon from previous editions, etc. First and foremost, how does it work by the rules?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Yes, each of the abilities in question are "Recharge 5-6". I am not opposed to any answer on this topic, and the thought experiment of different recharge thresholds still pertains to this, at least tangentially. Would a monster with "Recharge 5-6" and "Recharge 6," regain use of both abilities with one roll of a 6(for example.) \$\endgroup\$ – Robert Pain VanZant Apr 29 at 1:15
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Recharge X-Y. The notation “Recharge X-Y” means a monster can use a special ability once and that the ability then has a random chance of recharging during each subsequent round of combat. At the start of each of the monster’s turns, roll a d6. If the roll is one of the numbers in the recharge notation, the monster regains the use of the special ability. The ability also recharges when the monster finishes a short or long rest.

This notation is attached to an individual ability. It indicates that the ability it is attached to has, as additional rules beyond its individual description, these rules as well. You could replace the “Recharge X–Y” notation with these rules to achieve the same effect; the notation just saves space and is easier to remember.

Considering that, then, let’s consider the one monster that appears to actually have multiple recharge abilities:

Lightning Strike. The giant hurls a magical lightning bolt at a point it can see within 500 feet of it. Each creature within 10 feet of that point must make a DC 17 Dexterity saving throw, taking 54 (12d8) lightning damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one. [The giant can use Lightning Strike once and it then has a random chance of recharging during each subsequent round of combat. At the start of each of the giant’s turns, roll a d6. If the roll is a 5 or 6, the giant regains the use of Lightning Strike. Lightning Strike also recharges when the giant finishes a short or long rest.]

Thunderous Stomp. The storm giant stomps the ground, triggering a thunderclap. All other creatures within 15 feet of the giant must succeed on a DC 17 Constitution saving throw or take 33 (6d10) thunder damage and be deafened until the start of the giant’s next turn. On a successful save, a creature takes half as much damage and isn’t deafened. The thunderclap can be heard out to a range of 1,200 feet. [The giant can use Thunderous Stomp once and it then has a random chance of recharging during each subsequent round of combat. At the start of each of the giant’s turns, roll a d6. If the roll is a 6, the giant regains the use of Thunderous Stomp. Thunderous Stomp also recharges when the giant finishes a short or long rest.]

Written out this way, it’s clear that it’s a separate d6 roll for each ability if both are discharged. The wording of the “Recharge X–Y” notation description is consistent with this: it says “the roll” allows the monster to regain “the use of the special ability.” That is, one roll, one special ability. If there are multiple special abilities, they get multiple rolls. The rules do not allow for a single roll to govern the recharge of more than one ability through this notation (a situation like that would likely have to be spelled out in more detail rather than rely on the “Recharge X–Y” notation—see dragons’ breath weapons for a possible example of a somewhat-similar situation).

However, in a publication... you might want a reminder

Note that, per the various answers to this question, this isn’t clear to a lot of folks. The text certainly doesn’t explicitly cover the situation, as the fact you needed to ask the question might itself indicate. And the variant Storm Giant seems to be literally the only official monster that includes more than one of these abilities, which means that, ultimately, the rules text might not be explicit here because they didn’t think it would ever come up—monsters would generally have at most one such ability.

So if you plan on having multiple recharge abilities on your monsters, and you want other DMs to understand what you mean, you might include a sidebar on the subject explaining exactly what you mean. Wizards of the Coast probably ought to have done so when they first introduced a creature with multiple recharge abilities, but they did not. I would.

(If you’re just homebrewing monsters for your own campaign, of course, this is less important.)

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Each ability has its own recharge roll

The description for recharge is written in the singular form; "can use a special ability once and that the ability then has a random chance of recharging during each subsequent round of combat".

The recharge value is also part of the ability description; "Acid Breath (Recharge 5–6)." And the value can change from ability to ability (it's not always 5-6).

Those types of abilities are generally one-at-time, as in, you don't get to bite, and claw, and breathe acid, all in one go. More so, I don't see WotC creating a monster where they can use two of these special abilities within a single round.

Given that, it becomes clearer that they should be rolled separately each round.

  • Round 1: Use Ability-A(Recharge 5-6)
  • Round 2: Roll for recharge of Ability-A, get a 4, so use Ability-B(Recharge 6)
  • Round 3: Roll for recharge of Ability-A, got a 1. Roll for recharge of Ability-B, get a 6. This only recharges Ability-B since you rolled and failed for Ability-A. Use Ability-B again
  • Round 4: ...
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The rules are unclear. The DM decides.

The recharge rules state:

Recharge X–Y. The notation “Recharge X–Y” means a monster can use a special ability once and that the ability then has a random chance of recharging during each subsequent round of combat. At the start of each of the monster’s turns, roll a d6. If the roll is one of the numbers in the recharge notation, the monster regains the use of the special ability. The ability also recharges when the monster finishes a short or long rest.

Both interpretations, that is, rolling one die for all abilities, or each ability has its own die, are consistent with these rules. This is a homebrew monster you are designing, so you can make it however you like.

For reference, the only official stat block I have found with more than one recharge ability is the Storm Giant (Variant):

Lightning Strike (Recharge 5–6). The giant hurls a magical lightning bolt at a point it can see within 500 feet of it. Each creature within 10 feet of that point must make a DC 17 Dexterity saving throw, taking 54 (12d8) lightning damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.

Thunderous Stomp (Recharge 6). The storm giant stomps the ground, triggering a thunderclap. All other creatures within 15 feet of the giant must succeed on a DC 17 Constitution saving throw or take 33 (6d10) thunder damage and be deafened until the start of the giant’s next turn. On a successful save, a creature takes half as much damage and isn’t deafened. The thunderclap can be heard out to a range of 1,200 feet.

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Firstly, the rules on recharging abilities:

Recharge X-Y. The notation "Recharge X- Y" means a monster can use a special ability once and that the ability then has a random chance of recharging during each subsequent round of combat. At the start of each of the monster's turns, roll a d6. If the roll is one of the numbers in the recharge notation, the monster regains the use of the special ability. The ability also recharges when the monster finishes a short or long rest.

Notice that it mentions the ability as a singular thing, not a plural. The same with the dice roll, it mentions rolling a single D6. This indicates that you won't normally have a creature which will have multiple abilities that recharge in this fashion.

There is one creature that does have multiple recharge abilities though, a Duergar has both enlarge and invisibility but they only recharge after the creature takes either long or short rest. Since they are listed seperately then you could take it to mean the recharge abilities are independant, but since they both recharge on a short or long rest that isn't really conclusive evidence.

On the other hand, some dragons have an ability called "breath weapons". This ability actually allows the dragon to pick from two different types of breath. For example, a gold dragon can use either fire breath or weakening breath. Both abilities are tied to the same recharge roll:

Breath Weapons (Recharge 5-6): The Dragon uses one of the following Breath Weapons. Fire Breath. The Dragon exhales fire in a 60-foot cone. Each creature in that area must make a DC 21 Dexterity saving throw, taking 66 (12d10) fire damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one. Weakening Breath. The Dragon exhales gas in a 60-foot cone. Each creature in that area must succeed on a DC 21 Strength saving throw or have disadvantage on Strength-based Attack Rolls, Strength Checks, and Strength Saving Throws for 1 minute. A creature can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, Ending the Effect on itself on a success.

The conclusion I would draw, based upon the dragon breath weapon rules, is that a creature may have multiple abilities which require a D6 roll to recharge, but they don't work independantly. If a creature uses any of them then they have to wait until they make their recharge roll before using any of them again.

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