A power being "used" or "expended" are phrases that show up in certain important situations, and I don't know of a rules source for the answer. I was hoping that someone here did.

When is a power considered used or expended? Also, can a power be considered used or expended whilst I'm still using it?

Consider these examples:

Ancient Soul is a feat from PHBR: Dragonborn. It states that

Whenever you take damage of the type dealt by your dragon breath (after the damage dealt is reduced by your resistance), you regain the use of your dragon breath if you have already expended it in this encounter.

If you damage yourself with your Dragon Breath, do you regain it? Or have you not expended it yet? (This is the core of the "rebreather" build).

Epic Resurgence, from PHB, allows that

The first time you score a critical hit during an encounter, you regain the use of one encounter attack power of your choice.

Can you regain the power even if you are in the middle of its use?

  • \$\begingroup\$ The expend/regain stuff and the opportunity attack stuff should be split into separate questions, as they're not about the same thing. \$\endgroup\$
    – Oblivious Sage
    Feb 23, 2015 at 3:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree with Oblivious Sage. I've removed your opportunity attack question. It's unrelated to your question about power expenditure, and should be asked separately in its own questions. You can still retrieve its content in your revision history, which you can access by clicking the 'edited X time ago' link at the bottom center of your post. I've also concentrated your question about power expenditure by asking your general question at the beginning, along with the complication it might lead to that you're examining in your examples. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 23, 2015 at 4:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ Am I correct in that you know the answer, but are just looking for the supporting official rules text? \$\endgroup\$
    – webbcode
    Feb 23, 2015 at 16:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ No, not sure of the answer. It feels like something that's open to interpretation, but I was hoping that there was a rules text I was missing that could make that interpretation. \$\endgroup\$
    – JLan
    Feb 23, 2015 at 20:08

1 Answer 1


In the situation you've described, a power is expended at the point at which its used, not at the end of the turn and yes your triggering power can potentially trigger it to recharge....but

  • At will powers can be used at any time that action needed to used is not prohibited. These are your weakest but also your bread and butter for basic abilities. They are never expended (unless otherwise stated).
  • Encounter powers can be used once per battle (battle terminating when players are no longer in initiative order or threatened by monsters/environment) They are expended once they are used and automatically returns to you upon the next combat/encounter. These are your medium strength attacks. They CAN turn the tide of battle but are expected to be used for maximal effect in an encounter.
  • Daily powers can be used once per in-game day and have the biggest impact over an encounter. Save these when you need them. They are expended once they are used.

All that said, you would regain such an encounter power for multiple uses if you met the criteria needed for the recharge to happen EVEN IF you are using the power and that is the function that triggers it. Just bear in mind you cant stack uses of powers for later.

As for attempting to hit yourself with your own cone to trigger a recharge, the issue isnt how powers recharge but the practical issue with trying to target yourself with a cone effect when you are the emanating point of such a power. There are no rules in place that allow you to include yourself in the instantaneous area of effect of your own cone. However the feats for a rebreather build circumvent part of this by allowing you to damage an ally and transfer part of that damage back at you.

This is valid for a recharge (as you have already expended a use of the ability, its done its damage, and the damage has looped back to you, recharging the power), however as a DM it seems like an unforseen abuse of a feat that wasnt intended to work in such a way. Essentially you've turned an encounter power into an at-will and have altered the balance of a class's relative power. Which can lead to various issues down the road.

  • \$\begingroup\$ "In the situation you've described, yes" - there were two different situations described (ancient soul and epic resurgence), one of which had two questions that are mutually exclusive and couldn't both be a 'yes'. You might want to clarify your first sentence. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 23, 2015 at 20:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ Clarity added, good point I kinda lumped them together mentally rather than explicitly splitting them like I should have. \$\endgroup\$
    – TechImp
    Feb 23, 2015 at 20:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm a little confused. Do you have a textual cite that indicates that a power is "Expended" when it is used and not when it is RESOLVED? Because the latter feels much more natural to me. \$\endgroup\$
    – Airk
    Feb 24, 2015 at 0:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ If youre asking if I have a rule I can whip out from text, no rule was committed to paper for something this specific. So common sense rules that if a power were not "expended" when used then certain recharging powers would have less use/impact unless you have 2 valid powers to recharge from (one that you actually want recharged, one that you use to recharge the other via triggering some conditions) \$\endgroup\$
    – TechImp
    Feb 24, 2015 at 14:20
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ If I "use" a power, and then am bit by an attack of opportunity that stuns me, is my power Expended? If so, then yes, powers are expended when they are "used" (start of the process) if no, then powers are expended when they are resolved (end of the process.) \$\endgroup\$
    – Airk
    Feb 24, 2015 at 21:07

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