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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.

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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.

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  • \$\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\$ – SorcererQzot Apr 20 '16 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\$ – SevenSidedDie Apr 20 '16 at 15:50

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