I read many topics in relation to bonus actions and their timing, but there is still on aspect I need to see clearly: how can the DM determine whose action or bonus action comes first? How do the timing of bonus actions and initiative order interact?

According to the PHB: "You choose when to take a bonus action during your turn, unless the bonus action’s timing is specified, and anything that deprives you of your ability to take actions also prevents you from taking a bonus action."

It seems to be clear. But I just wonder how other DMs would decide in the following 2 examples:

  1. One of the PCs, a wizard (being very close to 0 HP) wants to flee from melee combat. The hostile NPC was faster so it is likely that the wizard will be hit and he falls unconscious. Can the wizard cast a Misty step as a bonus action and can he do it before the NPC starts it attack (i.e. against the initiative order)? This would mean that despite any initiative order the bonus actions override the sequence of actions and the wizard could flee without any problem.

  2. The PC wants to cast some sort of spell with a casting time of a bonus action. The hostile caster starts casting a Silence. What is the decisive factor if the bonus action spell can be cast? Is it up to the PC, if he/she wants to cast the spell before the hostile caster or is it up to the DM?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks, this is clear, although having played only AD&D for 15 years, the term "turn" had a quite different meaning. \$\endgroup\$
    – Balage
    Commented Oct 6, 2016 at 10:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ In case (1), is the attack the wizard wants to avoid an opportunity attack? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 6, 2016 at 14:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Balage You might find this other D&D 5e Q&A useful then: What are turns and rounds and how long are they each? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 6, 2016 at 15:24

2 Answers 2


The key phrase here is "during your turn".

That doesn't mean "At any point during the round". It is specifically on your turn, which is the point in the round where your initiative roll is up.

In both the examples you give, it is during a different character's turn, so the bonus action can't be taken (unless the rules for that particular bonus action specify different timing).

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    \$\begingroup\$ Bonus actions can't be taken outside of your turn regardless. Only Reactions can be taken outside of your turn, and that's when they're usually expected to. \$\endgroup\$
    – Javelin
    Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 23:59

I think you're confusing a bonus action with a reaction. As Quentin explained, a bonus action happens on your turn in the round - so this follows initiative order.

Bonus Action

You can take a bonus action only when a special ability, spell, or feature states that you can do something as a bonus action. Max 1 per turn.

A bonus action can be:

  • Offhand Attack: Use with the Attack action
  • Cast a spell: Cast time of 1 bonus action
  • Use class feature: Some feats use bonus actions. E.g. "Second Wind" (PHB p. 72)

A reaction can happen any time in a round, but similar to the bonus action, you must have an ability that allows you to use it as a reaction, as well as an appropriate trigger.


A reaction is an instant response to a trigger of some kind, which can occur on your turn or on someone else's. Max 1 per round.

A reaction can be:

  • Opportunity attack: Enemy leaves your reach (most common form of reaction)
  • Readied action: Part of your Ready action
  • Cast a spell: Cast time of 1 reaction. E.g. "Counterspell" (PHB p.228)

In the examples you've provided, they would need to be handled as such:

  1. The player wishes to break from combat

Under normal circumstances, doing this automatically gives the opponent a free attack on the player. This gets no special rules as is dealt with as a basic attack (still need to roll to hit, etc., if they fail, no damage is dealt). However, the player wishes to use "Misty Step" to move themselves out of combat.

Misty Step

Cast Time: 1 bonus action

As long as they have not used a bonus action, and have the appropriate resources to do so, they can cast this on their turn, before the attacker gets their turn. This will move them out of combat, without attracting an Attack of Opportunity from the enemy (similar to a "Disengage" Action).

  1. The PC wants to cast a spell, and the opponent casts Silence.

A bonus action will not help in this situation. The PC has their turn, then the opponent has their turn; casting Silence. Unless the PC has a spell that uses a reaction (E.g. Counterspell), there is nothing that they can do.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks. I know that reaction and bonus action are different (see above). \$\endgroup\$
    – Balage
    Commented Oct 6, 2016 at 9:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ I still need to get used to the term 'turn' (see above). On the other hand does Misty Step really give chance for an opportunity attack? My understanding was that it is some kind of minor Teleport, or does also a Teleport give chance for an opportunity attack during melee? \$\endgroup\$
    – Balage
    Commented Oct 6, 2016 at 10:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Balage it might, it might not. However that's down to RAW, and you can play it how you want to when you're the DM :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Ben
    Commented Oct 6, 2016 at 11:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Balage RAW, misty step doesn't provoke an opportunity attack. PHB p. 195: "You also don't provoke an opportunity attack when you teleport", and from the description of misty step: "you teleport up to 30 feet" \$\endgroup\$
    – purplexa
    Commented Dec 21, 2016 at 3:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Balage a "Turn" is a character's contribution to a "Round". You can go "round" the table to make sure everyone gets their "turn". \$\endgroup\$
    – Ben
    Commented Dec 21, 2016 at 3:40

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