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Absorb elements says:

Also, the first time you hit with a melee attack on your next turn, the target takes an extra 1d6 damage of the triggering type, and the spell ends.

If I were to cast absorb elements as a reaction after finishing my last turn in a combat encounter, and the combat ended before my next turn, would the extra damage carry over to my first turn in the next combat encounter?

I'm assuming it wouldn’t , but I’m looking for an explanation.

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No - the duration is one round

Even though the spell description states that absorb elements ends the first time you hit with a melee attack on your next turn, the spell also has an explicit duration of one round.

We know that a round is

about six seconds in the game world

Even if your 'next turn' had not come up yet, the spell would end about six seconds after you cast it. Time continues to pass outside of combat, even if turns are no longer tracked.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Turns don’t technically exist ever, even during combat. They’re just the prescribed way for the players to organize the narrative of the combat the characters are experiencing. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 5 at 6:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov Turns don't exist in a narrative sense, sure, but they very much do in a rules sense. Since my answer was vague on that point, I have edited it. Thank you. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Nov 5 at 17:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yep, that is more clear. Good answer. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 5 at 18:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, a turn or a round is simply an abstraction for any period of six seconds: One round passes every six seconds, whether you're in combat or not. We just generally don't keep track of them outside of combat as having to describe tasks taking potentially hours in six second increments would be incredibly cumbersome and boring. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kryomaani
    Nov 6 at 10:13

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