Is there anything preventing a character from using an ability such as Second Wind, or casting a spell such as Misty Step, when not engaged in a combat encounter?

The rules indicate you get one Bonus Action on your turn. My assumption is that a character gets a "turn" every round whether they are in combat or just walking down the street, but I want to be sure there's nothing that explicitly contradicts this idea.


2 Answers 2


Yes, they can be used out of combat. Bonus Actions aren't special in this regard—all spells take an action of some kind to cast, and if you couldn't take "combat" actions outside of combat, you couldn't cast any spell out of combat. (Or drink a potion. Or remove something from your backpack. Or walk 30 feet.)

Combat isn't a special "mode" that the characters move into and out of inside the game world, it's just a zoom setting that's useful when strict time-tracking and order of action is important for the real people sitting around the table. Anything that can be attempted in combat can be attempted out of combat and vice versa, given the opportunity.

  • \$\begingroup\$ While I agree with this answer, is this clearly spelled out somewhere in RAW? This has come up in the context of rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/78918/… \$\endgroup\$ Apr 20, 2016 at 13:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SorcererQzot Nowhere explicit—“wizards can cast spells even outside of combat” is not something the rulebook is going to bother saying explicitly, since it's too obvious. The alternative (that certain activities are only possible during the meta concept of combat time) is the stranger claim and therefore is what would require explicit rules to be true. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 20, 2016 at 15:50

All kinds of action can be taken out of combat

Combat is just a construct to help gameplay zoom in when a lot of things are happening at the same time. The PHB expains this on page 189:

Combat in D&D can be chaotic, deadly, and thrilling. This chapter provides the rules you need for your characters and monsters to engage in combat. (...) The game organizes the chaos of combat into a cycle of rounds and turns.

Bonus actions are not the only actions that you can only "take on your turn". The PHB says on page 192:

When you take your action on your turn, you can take one of the actions presented here

and then proceeds to list actions such as "Cast a Spell", "Hide", "Search" and "Use an Object".

There is the proof by reductio ad absurdum SSD is making: if you could not take these actions also outside of combat, outside combat you could not cast cure wounds or any other spell. Or drink a potion. Or remove something from your backpack. Or Run. Or Hide. Or Search for secret doors. And so on.

So in general, you can do anything you can do in combat also out of combat. Except for actual fighting.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm actually experiencing a measure of doubt on this chain of related questions due to specificity. Bonus actions, by default, can only be used on your turn once combat has started. Outside of combat, barring other unmet requirements you can still use them. By the same token, any action that specifies "on your turn" can't be readied as a reaction to use outside of your turn when combat is happening. Not all bonus actions specify "on your turn," because rules already cover this. Doesn't this reasonably imply that bonus actions that do specify are meant for in-combat only? \$\endgroup\$ Dec 13, 2022 at 9:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TheFallen0ne Something I often use with my players is the “explain it to me narratively” test. I usually do it when they try to get advantage on a check, or try to metagame their skills for something, and I say, “explain it to me narratively and we’ll see”. I think it helps here. Explain to me narratively what is possibly preventing a person from using one skill or another outside of a combat type situation. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 13, 2022 at 11:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @TheFallen0ne I don't see why that would be implied. The rules for bonus actions on p 189 say "Various class features, spells, and other abilities let you take an additional action on your turn called a bonus action". That the "on your turn" is mentioned again in the class feature does not change anything about it really. Probably is more of a reminder text. If all philosopers are humans and Socrates is a philosopher, then Socrates is human. Stating that Socrates is a human explictly would not change a thing about all of them being so. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 13, 2022 at 11:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ What I could see if a feature said that you can take a bonus action at another time, like during a reaction, then it would create an exemption over the more general rule. But here, it is just reiterating the general rule. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 13, 2022 at 11:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov Happy to go with that. Narratively speaking, the ability is second wind, a well of stamina you draw upon to protect yourself. The entire premise of a second wind is something you draw upon in the midst of being winded. The fighter sprints across the battlefield, hoping to get to his fallen ally in time to save his life. On the way he takes 2 attacks of opportunity, and it looks like he might fall before saving his friend. He cushions his HP back up with second wind in a valiant effort to save his friend. 1/2 \$\endgroup\$ Dec 13, 2022 at 23:18

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