We used to play AD&D for 15 years and now want to "upgrade" to 5e.

Do bonus actions need to be announced at the beginning of the round, like normal action announcements, when the DM starts asking the PCs what the want to do in the given round?

The relevance of this question is that some spells can be cast as a bonus action and the player can still have an action (e.g. make an attack) in the same round. So if the player (a cleric) only announced at the beginning of the round to the DM that he/she only wants to make a melee attack, but during the round he/she realizes that one of the party members has got heavily injured, can he/she besides the melee attack cast a Healing word as a bonus action even if not announced to the DM before?


3 Answers 3


No actions need to be announced at the beginning of the round.

Nowhere in the default rules for combat in 5e is it stated that creatures have to announce their actions at the beginning of the round, or for that matter even at the beginning of their turn.

Yes, there is the optional Speed Factor variant rule on pages 270-271 of the DMG (which might actually be more akin to AD&D rules, I really wouldn't know), which says an action must be chosen at the beginning of the round but it appears you're not using that.

Given the ever-changing nature of combat, (bonus) actions are announced "as they happen", in a sense, which is how the general rules are moulded to work.

Players take their turn when their initiative order comes up and that's when they decide what they're going to do (with the exception of things like reactions, which can happen on someone else's turn). With any luck the players are strategising and already thinking about what they're going to do before their turn comes up to hopefully help speed up the combat process. They could even announce their intentions before their turn (i.e. I'm going to attack the monster) but those actions aren't set in stone and it's perfectly acceptable to decide to do something else if the circumstance has changed by the time their turn comes around.

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    \$\begingroup\$ For the players reading this, PLEASE do think of your actions ahead of your turn. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 6, 2016 at 14:17

By the default rules, there is no announcing of actions or bonus actions at the start of the round.

On the other hand, if you are using the "Speed Factor" Initiative Variant from the DMG you will have to announce the bonus action as well, as this will have to be factored into your initiative modifier.


The player “chooses when” - there is no “announce”

From the “Your Turn” section of Chapter 9 of D&D Basic Rules.

You choose when to take a bonus action during your turn, unless the bonus action’s timing is specified

Players have the leeway on what to do during their turn, and when

Although these quotes don’t mention bonus actions specifically, they demonstrate a player generally has unfettered leeway over what to do on his character’s turns.

You decide whether you move first or take your action first.

You can break up your movement on your turn, using some of your speed before and after your action. For example, if you have a speed of 30 feet, you can move 10 feet, take your action, and then move 20 feet.

The parts of your turn are resolved as you perform them. There are no general conditions that restrict what the player chooses to do. In the above example, the additional 20 feet of movement after the action is resolved. (For example, if an attack drops an opponent, the player can choose to advance further.)

The same is true for bonus actions. A player may elect to use a bonus action, if she has one available, at any point in her turn. She can make this election based on what has happened during her turn.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I think this is the best cited answer here. One thing I would add is a section on "ending a turn" and that some DMs might allow a player to retcon a bonus action in after saying "I'm done" if it is something that wasn't caused by later action and it was very quickly after the turn ended, where others are strict on the ending of turns to keep things moving. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 6, 2016 at 15:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ In addition, many bonus actions that seem like they impose timing actually don't. E.g. Shield Master feat says "If you take the Attack action on your turn, you can use a bonus action to try to shove a creature within 5 feet of you with your shield." The shove can happen before the attack. Contrast with Flurry of Blows: "Immediately after you take the attack action on your turn..." which explicitly says the timing. \$\endgroup\$
    – Doval
    Oct 6, 2016 at 19:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Doval: Note that Crawford has recently changed his mind on that ruling about Shield Master (and other conditional bonus actions); see my answer to a question about that for more info. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    May 18, 2018 at 7:12

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