The obvious things are:

  • ending it voluntarily
  • losing concentration
  • breaking the tether with range or cover
  • using a normal action on your turn for something other than witch bolt

What isn't specified is whether or not the spell ends when you use a bonus action, movement or reaction. I would assume that reactions would be fine because they are quick spells and not on your turn. Movement is generally not considered an action in 5e afaik, so it seems fine too. The description is less clear about bonus actions however, because they occur on your turn and witch bolt states

On a hit, the target takes 1d12 lightning damage, and on each of your turns for the duration, you can use your action to deal 1d12 lightning damage to the target automatically. The spell ends if you use your action to do anything else. The spell also ends if the target is ever outside the spell’s range or if it has total cover from you.

BUT Bonus actions are fast and often without a somatic/verbal component, and most cases in the PHB refer to the normal action as "your action". Also, the action required for witch bolt is NOT casting a spell and so the "bonus spell + cantrip" rule is not applicable here. Witch bolt is presumably taking a mental effort to maintain, such that I wouldn't be able to cast another normal action spell without losing focus on the beam, but for something like misty step, with only a verbal component and taking minimal effort (especially if it's a wizard spell-mastery spell), it seems to me like it would be possible.

Anyone know if there's an official ruling for this, or is it entirely up to the DM? If I were a DM I'd rule that it's allowed, since it requires giving up your standard action, and you're still limited to the 30ft tether AND line of sight, AND concentration, AND spell slots if you're not a lvl 18 wizard. Compared to a high level blastlock hitting for 4d10+20+knockback with eblast each turn, with a cantrip that would allow a bonus spell on your turn and a reaction spell on someone else's turn, witch bolt with bonus action and reaction (now that I think about the math) still seems underpowered at high levels. (especially now that I realize that subsequent turns don't add the extra damage from a higher lvl spell slot. A lot of text for something not terrible useful. Still curious though.

TL:DR Can I maintain witch bolt on a target and move normally and use my bonus action to teleport around with misty step (provided I maintain line of sight and tether range), while using my reactions on enemy creature's turns for counterspell or shield?


4 Answers 4


You said it yourself, witch bolt "ends if you use your action to do anything else". Using your bonus action isn't using your action.

In 5e, it's just "action" not "standard" action, and as you also said "movement" actions aren't a thing. PH 189 says that "On your turn, you can move a distance up to your speed and take one action."

If you spend that one action doing not-witch bolt, the spell ends. Anything else you do with your move, bonus action, or reaction are immaterial—unless those actions violate one of the restrictions of the spell you already listed (like using your bonus action to misty step out of line of sight).

  • \$\begingroup\$ I suppose I was mostly just not sure if I was interpreting it correctly. The "use your action to do anything else" is what threw me. I feel like the terminology should be different, like the way magic the gathering defines instants and sorceries. I think "action", "instant" and "reaction" would make the wording far more clear. \$\endgroup\$
    – PCP_MD
    Jun 30, 2016 at 22:26
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ @PCP_MD For better or worse, 5th edition consciously de-emphasized technical terminology in favor of natural language. 4th edition is the precise one. \$\endgroup\$
    – Sebkha
    Jul 1, 2016 at 0:09
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ All that aside, Action is a very common term in 5e, and when used it means what it says. An Action is not a Bonus Action and it is not a Reaction nor is it anything else. It's partly a specific measurement of time, partly a resource. Waving your hands about could be considered an action in english terms, but in DnD 5e it is probably not something you'd spend an Action doing, either in cost or length of time. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 1, 2016 at 17:04

In the comments of Paul's answer, Drunk Cynic hit the nail on the head.

A bonus action is an action, but it is not Your Action

Emphasis added

There are 4 types of actions that a player gets on a given round. A reaction, an action, a bonus action, and movement. All of these are fall underneath the action descriptor. but when we take the wording of the spell

The spell ends if you use your action to do anything else

Specifically your action, not an action. This wording leads me to believe that it means it takes up the regular action that a player gets on their turn. Simply put, you're still free to use your bonus/movement/reaction. Your action is the only other resource that gets eaten to sustain the spell.


In the June 2016 Rules Answers, Jeremy Crawford has stated that "a bonus action is an action." This was in response to a similar question about the Warlock invocation One with Shadows. So any bonus action will end the witch bolt spell.

Reactions seem to be called out separately, so they won't. Likewise, movement doesn't count as an action at all.

  • 8
    \$\begingroup\$ A bonus action is an action, but it is not Your Action. Witch Bolt allows you to sustain the spell for subsequent turns, via Concentration and the expenditure of your Action for those turns. This wouldn't stop you from using you're bonus action while maintaining Witch Bolt. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 2, 2016 at 16:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ And further Crawford's tweets are no longer considered official rulings, as I recall reading. \$\endgroup\$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Jan 16, 2020 at 14:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ZeissIkon More than that, Witch Bolt already is a weak spell. Crawford's ruling, official or not, only weakens it further, which would be an unfun surprise for the player at the table who has already used a prepared spell/spell known + spell slot. Ruling against Crawford and in favor of the player on this one thing isn't going to break anything. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 16, 2020 at 17:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ The idea is that, basically, things that prevent you from taking an action (e.g. a few conditions and some other spells) also prevent you from taking a bonus action. But that doesn't mean that if something requires you to take a certain action, it also requires you to spend your bonus action - because it's not actually preventing you from taking an action, just requiring you to spend your action specifically in a certain way. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Sep 4, 2020 at 23:50

I think the correct answer is to ask your DM and talk to him. Maybe he doesn't consider a bonus action the same as an action, but maybe he does. The Bonus action sections states that it is an additional action, but Witch Bolt says 'if you use your action' not use AN action, which one can interpret as meaning just your Action step.

If I was your DM, I'd say a bonus action is an action. It's just an additional one your character can pull off in the, in game, 6 seconds your character has for his turn. Even in the book, PG. 189 of the PHB, under Bonus Action it states "Blah Blah Blah and other abilities let you take an ADDITIONAL action."

So I would say yes, Witch Bolt would end if you used a bonus action or reaction, but not movement.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE. Have you taken the tour yet? I have downvoted this particular answer because it seems to contradict the rules stated in the PHB and it doesn't add to the discussion given the answers already present here. \$\endgroup\$
    – Willibrord
    Sep 17, 2020 at 13:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ Witch Bolt also uses the same phrasing on its ongoing damage: "you can use your action to deal 1d12 lightning damage to the target automatically". If a Bonus Action is an action for the purposes of ending the spell, might as well use the compulsory Bonus Action for pumping out an additional 1d12 lightning each round, on top of the 1d12 you get for committing your Action to it. \$\endgroup\$
    – notovny
    Sep 17, 2020 at 15:02

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