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We were trying to understand how the "Action Surge" rule works, and after some discussion we came to a standstill.

Starting at 2nd level, you can push yourself beyond your normal limits for a moment. On your turn, you can take one additional action on top of your regular action and a possible bonus action

The keyword "possible" is what threw us off. Half the group thought it meant "additional action or bonus action", and the other half thought it was "additional action and bonus action".

So which is it?

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No it doesn't give you another bonus action. The optional part is that if you haven't used your bonus action that turn you can still use it after the Action Surge (AS).

So it could be:

  • Action → Bonus Action → AS Action
  • Action → AS Action → Bonus Action

Source

To quote the rules:

You can take only one bonus action on your turn, so you must choose which bonus action to use when you have more than one available.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ So - my understanding now is that Action Surge does not actually require a bonus action to use..? \$\endgroup\$ – Ben Jun 22 '15 at 22:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yup, it's a complete extra action, look at the wording, it doesn't say that as a bonus action you can use your action surge, it's an extra action, that's what pushing beyond the limit means \$\endgroup\$ – Wouter Jun 23 '15 at 7:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ Also the bonus action can come first. Use of the spell Misty Step for instance can come before any other actions are taken. \$\endgroup\$ – Protonflux Dec 14 '17 at 13:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ This is confirmed by the 2019 Sage Advice Compendium, which also references that the wording of Action Surge was simplified in the 2018 PHB errata to clarify it and remove the wording that was causing confusion. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jan 30 at 19:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast The SA Compendium actually notes that it was altered in new printings of the PHB. The errata PDF unfortunately does not include the clarified wording. \$\endgroup\$ – recognizer Mar 11 at 20:15
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Action surge allows you to take 1 additional action. This is in addition to your existing action and bonus action. Action surge does not grant you an additional bonus action.

The rules note that the bonus action is optional because you do not have to use your bonus action on the same turn that you use an action surge, therefore, it is optional. It does not imply that you receive an additional bonus action, as you can only take one on your turn.

From the rules for bonus actions:

You can take only one bonus action on your turn, so you must choose which bonus action to use when you have more than one available.

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You do not gain a bonus action

The key here is that action surge does not state states "you gain" and then lists actions you gain. Rather, it states "you can take", then lists the actions you can take, which include those you could already take without action surge.

With this in mind, there are two readings of the sentence in question which are semantically correct, depending on how you group the subjects. Neither will grant two bonus actions. I will use parentheses to indicate the groups, and paraphrase them afterwards.

  1. you can take (one additional action) on top of (your regular action and a possible bonus action)

    This one is pretty clear. One additional action of top of what you already can take (an action and possibly a bonus action).

  2. you can take (one additional action on top of your regular action) and (a possible bonus action)

    The first expression can be rephrased to "2 actions". The second expression is fine as is, but note that it is semantically linked to "you can take", making it effectively

    you can take 2 actions and you can take a possible bonus action

    But you could already take a possible bonus action without action surge, so nothing gained here.

There is no correct way to semantically link "bonus action" to "additional".

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This is confirmed by the 2019 Sage Advice Compendium, which also references that the wording of Action Surge was simplified in the 2018 PHB errata to clarify it and remove the wording that was causing confusion. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jan 30 at 19:20
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As part of the 2018 errata updates to the Player's Handbook, the following sentence quoted in the question:

On your turn, you can take one additional action on top of your regular action and a possible bonus action.

Has been updated to this, to remove the confusing language:

On your turn, you can take one additional action.

Now it's much clearer that Action Surge does not enable a second bonus action.

(Note: Though it isn't reflected in the PHB errata document itself, this is an intentional change to clear up exactly this confusion, and is also reflected in the 2018 version of the Basic Rules pdf, as well as the 2019 Sage Advice Compendium.)

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No you read it all wrong.

Starting at 2nd level, you can push yourself beyond your normal limits for a moment. On your turn, you can take one additional action on top of your regular action and a possible bonus action

...means that you get 1 action on top of 'what you can normally do' during your turn. And the 'what you can normally do' part is then explained: It's usually 1 action and a possible bonus action.

If someone would have casted Haste (also provides +1 action), the action surge would give you +1 action on top of what you can normally do => 2 actions and a possible bonus action.

But this doesn't state anything about the order in which you can / have to use these actions.

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Under normal circumstances you have a move, an action and may have a bonus action (because of other abilities, weapon in your off hand, etc.)

If you use action surge you add another action to the mix. If you already had something you could do as a bonus action you can still do it as a bonus action, but you do not gain an additional bonus action

Without "AS:" Movement, Action, Possible Bonus Action

With "AS:" Movement, Action, AS-Action, Possible Bonus Action

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Starting at 2nd level, you can push yourself beyond your normal limits for a moment. On your turn, you can take one additional action on top of your regular action and a possible bonus action.

The "and a possible bonus action" is in case you chose dual wield which uses your bonus action every turn as your off-hand weapon. Action Surge lets you use an additional action "not a bonus action" on top of your main action (main hand weapon) and a possible bonus action (off-hand weapon if dual wield is chosen).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ A bonus action is not tied to another action in any way. If a character is dual wielding, they can use their bonus action to attack with their off hand weapon, but only once, as there is no way to grant a second bonus action. \$\endgroup\$ – Ben Dec 13 '17 at 22:26
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My understanding is as follows:

Action surge allows for the use of an additional action on the player's turn. As the action hierarchy goes (Normal action, Bonus action, and Free action) a player may use a lesser action in place of a greater action.

i.e. using a bonus action instead of normal.

Therefore an Action surge could net you a Normal action or a Bonus action, unless otherwise stated.

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