I had a whole thing typed for this and then saw I need to broaden the scope of my question.

If a creature has 4 legendary actions on its sheet (like the lich) and it states:

The lich can take 3 legendary actions, choosing from the options below. Only one legendary action can be used at a time...

Does that mean that per round of initiative - The lich can only use only 1 legendary action from the list up to a total point value of 3 (after multiple players turns)?


Does that mean that per round of initiative - the lich can use multiple legendary actions up to a total point value of 3 (after multiple players turns)?


Have I completely missed the mark on both of these examples?

My confusion stems from the line:

Only one legendary action option can be used at a time.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I’m not sure I understand the question. What part of “can take 3 legendary actions” makes you think “can only take 1 legendary action” could possibly be the correct reading? Is there something else you’ve read that you left out of the question that could be causing confusion? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 25, 2023 at 15:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkovisonStrike Apologies - Its the line "Only one legendary action option can be used at a time" I forgot to add it to the Question. I will now though \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 25, 2023 at 15:59

2 Answers 2


Yes, the creature can take as many as listed, provided there are enough combatants to give it turns to do so

Legendary actions are explained on p. 11 of the MM:

A legendary creature can take a certain number of special actions- called legendary actions- outside its turn. Only one legendary action option can be used at a time and only at the end of another creature's turn. A legendary creature regains spent legendary actions at the start of its turn. It isn't required to use its legendary actions, and it can't use legendary actions while incapacitated.

So the lich can take up to 3 legendary actions in one round, if there are enough other combatants to provide three other turns, during each of which it can take one. If there is only one opponent, it could only take one legendary action, at the end of the opponent's turn, because it can only take one each time.

The lich's legendary options that are listed are:

Cantrip. The lich casts a cantrip.
Paralyzing Touch (Costs 2 Actions). (...)
Frightening Gaze (Costs 2 Actions). (...)
Disrupt Life (Costs 3 Actions). (...)

Each one is a legendary action, but some of them cost the lich more than one of its legendary actions when it is taking that one.


For example, if the lich decides on the end of the first opponent's turn to use its Frightening Gaze, that legendary action will consume two of the lich's actions for that round. It only will have one unused legendary action left (and since all of them except for the cantrip action cost more than one, will be reduced to using the cantrip option for the remainder of the round). It then could use the remaining legendary action to cast a cantrip at the end of the second opponent's turn. After that, it would have used up all its available actions for the round, and could not take another one at the end of the third opponent's turn.

Second example: if the lich had only one opponent, to not let go anything to waste it could choose to take the most expensive (and probably, powerful) option, Disrupt Life, at the end of that single opponent's turn, which will cost it all three of its available actions, so in taking the one action it is using all three potential actions.

Note that the other combatants do not need to be allies, so a cunning lich could keep some minions around, if it wanted to be able to take multiple legendary actions against a single opponent. (Kudos to @Dughall for pointing this out.)

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    \$\begingroup\$ So, a creature with 3 legendary actions would need to be fighting 3 PCs in order to use all actions in one round - once after each PC's turn? \$\endgroup\$
    – Senmurv
    Commented Jun 25, 2023 at 18:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Senmurv It would to take all three actions, but, as explained it the second example, it can use all three against a single opponent, if it takes the single allowed action, and that costs three. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 25, 2023 at 18:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NobodytheHobgoblin I had to read your comment twice, but now I got it :-) Just to explain what confused me, I may add to your comment: "(...) it can use all three against a single opponent (but each action has to be taken after the end of a different opponent's turn), (...)" \$\endgroup\$
    – Flynxer
    Commented Jun 26, 2023 at 6:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ The lich doesn't need to be fighting three PCs, any other creature's action is sufficient to allow the lich to use a legendary action. The lich could take a legendary action between the actions of two of its minions. And since a lich is extremely intelligent, it most likely will be able to arrange things so it does indeed fight with minions. \$\endgroup\$
    – Dughall
    Commented Jun 26, 2023 at 16:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Dughall You are totally right. I added this to the answer \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 26, 2023 at 16:53

The lich can take "legendary actions" while it is not the lich's turn to act.

After each other player acts, the lich has one opportunity to take a legendary action (any one of the four things listed).

The lich can take up to three total legendary actions in this way between the start of the lich's turn and the next start of the lich's turn.

Some legendary actions count as multiple actions towards this limit of three.

See here to read the same thing more officially.

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    \$\begingroup\$ You said it’s the first one then described the second. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 25, 2023 at 18:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkovisonStrike it was less clear before the edit. \$\endgroup\$
    – fectin
    Commented Jun 25, 2023 at 23:44

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