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D&D 5E Deleting Bonus Actions

Xeviat

Community Supporter
Supporter
Two Weapon Fighting could have been balanced without the bonus action. The only classes that would overly benefit from this are the Monk and Rogue. TWFing would become the default melee style, more so than it is now, since it wouldn't compete with the bonus action for aim or cunning action.

TWFing could have also scaled with extra attack. I've suggested this before but it usually gets overlooked:

Greatsword is 2d6+Str
Two shortswords is 1d6+Stat +1d6. There's an advantage of being able to split attacks, so that's something.

If the TWFing style didn't give stat to offhand, and, say, let you two weapon fight with nonlight weapons, then the style would be equal to the +2 damage from duelist (I'd suggest changing Great Weapon Fighting to +1d4 damage, so that it multiplies on a crit and so it's the same for 2d6s and 1d12s).

But what about magic weapons? "TWFing can stack magic weapons" you say. If you're talking about basic magic weapons, it's not a big deal and just make sure you're giving out items equally (Joe has a +1 sword and a +1 armor, Jill has a +1 sword and a +1 shield, and Jane has two +1 swords). If you're talking about special weapons, you have attunement caps and the great weapon fighter can stack a belt of giant strength and a magic greatsword so it's fine.

Rogues and monks would need to be addressed. Flurry would need to be +1 attack, martial arts would basically always be on. You'd have to accept rogues would not have to choose if they use cunning action, and you might need to do something like give the rapier no shield rogue a +2 to hit (I want that style anyway, I've done the math it's ok and cool).
 

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auburn2

Adventurer
Two Weapon Fighting could have been balanced without the bonus action. The only classes that would overly benefit from this are the Monk and Rogue. TWFing would become the default melee style, more so than it is now, since it wouldn't compete with the bonus action for aim or cunning action.

TWFing could have also scaled with extra attack. I've suggested this before but it usually gets overlooked:

Greatsword is 2d6+Str
Two shortswords is 1d6+Stat +1d6. There's an advantage of being able to split attacks, so that's something.

If the TWFing style didn't give stat to offhand, and, say, let you two weapon fight with nonlight weapons, then the style would be equal to the +2 damage from duelist (I'd suggest changing Great Weapon Fighting to +1d4 damage, so that it multiplies on a crit and so it's the same for 2d6s and 1d12s).

But what about magic weapons? "TWFing can stack magic weapons" you say. If you're talking about basic magic weapons, it's not a big deal and just make sure you're giving out items equally (Joe has a +1 sword and a +1 armor, Jill has a +1 sword and a +1 shield, and Jane has two +1 swords). If you're talking about special weapons, you have attunement caps and the great weapon fighter can stack a belt of giant strength and a magic greatsword so it's fine.

Rogues and monks would need to be addressed. Flurry would need to be +1 attack, martial arts would basically always be on. You'd have to accept rogues would not have to choose if they use cunning action, and you might need to do something like give the rapier no shield rogue a +2 to hit (I want that style anyway, I've done the math it's ok and cool).
I think it is pretty balanced as is though.
 

auburn2

Adventurer
It was nova when you first wrote your post. I see that since I responded, you edited it to make it an MC'd Bladesinger-Arcane Trickster. Probably would have been nice for you to mention that.



Except your previous turn was basically wasted casting Flaming Sphere for a paltry 2d6 damage, and you immediately lose it when you cast Shadow Blade. This whole setup is a complete waste. It's literally less powerful than just casting Shadow Blade the first round at 3rd level and attacking with it every round, no exploits attempted whatsoever.

Non-nova - a 5th level Monk with PAM and dual wielder can make 5 attacks every turn, without using a single ki. spear, spear, offhand attack, martial arts, butt of spear. If he spends a ki he gets another.

This really breaks the action economy. Even just a single class, take the bladesinger for example; the game is balanced around the idea that casting shadow blade and bladesong is going to take 2 turns. That means it is round 2 until that character is full on ready for melee and that is assuming you don't use a BA on something else. Being able to use both of these the first turn of combat is a HUGE plus, it gets the character online and in the fight much quicker, and a wizard is not even a class with a ton of bonus action options.
 
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DEFCON 1

Legend
At the end of the day it doesn't matter at all what any of us say here. The only thing to do is to actually put your rules into place, run and playtest them at your table, and then see if it helps your players or only makes things worse.

My guess would be that if your players are really so blase about learning or remembering the difference between Actions and Bonus actions-- plus not actually creating for themselves a short list of like the 1-5 Bonus actions they actually have available to them so they always have that list at hand-- any rules changes or action name changes you make aren't going to help.

Personally... if I had players that refused or were unable to remember Bonus actions... I'd just not allow them to take any features that used them. "No, you can't take that spell. It uses a Bonus action and you've proven over these last 7 years you can't be trusted with them. Take a different spell." ;)
 

NotAYakk

Legend
So, because I want them in one place, here are proposed rules:

Bonus Action Unlimited

On your turn you can do as many bonus actions as you want, with certain limits. Only one of your bonus actions can grant an attack, and for each class feature or feat you can only do one bonus action granted by it. So a Rogue's Cunning Action permits the Rogue to Dash or Disengage as a bonus action on their turn, not both, but it does not interfere with other Bonus Actions like two weapon fighting.

Bonus actions granted by all spells count as being granted by the same feature for this purpose; so only one bonus action granted by spells on a given turn, even if you have 2 spells that both let you take a bonus action for some purpose.

As an additional rule change, you can only cast 1 spell with a level of 1 or greater on a given turn, so you cannot cast a bonus action healing word and a cure wounds spell on the same turn. This replaces the complex and confusing rules around bonus action spellcasting.

Examples:
You are a level 2 fighter/level 3 sorcerer/level 6 bladesinger using two short swords.

You cannot quicken booming blade (bonus action) and use the two-weapon fighting feature, because both are bonus actions that grant an attack. Nor can you action surge then cast fireball twice, which you could do before this rule change.

You can, however, enter bladesong, quicken fireball, do an attack action where you booming blade and attack with a short sword, then bonus action two weapon fighting attack with your offhand short sword, second wind, action surge, then greenflame blade and do another short sword attack, all on the same turn.

Prior to this rule change the bladesong bonus action would block your TWF, quicken fireball and second wind abilities that turn. Of these, only TWF wasn't using "rest reset" resources, so while the nova is slightly higher, the total daily power budget doesn't change much.

Similarly, a Moon Druid 6/Berzerker 3 can wild shape, rage, frenzy and attack on the same turn. The next turn they can do a frenzied attack in their wildshape (they can't use the frenzied attack on the turn they frenzy, only because the rules for frenzy specifically disallow it).

A gloomstalker 5 using a pair of scimitars can move up, hunter's mark a foe, and attack 4 times on the first turn of combat. If the foe dies, they can even move the HM once to another target.

A Rogue 2 gets to dash or disengage every turn of combat. If they are two weapon fighting, they can move in, attack twice, then disengage and get out for free.
 
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.
At the end of the day it doesn't matter at all what any of us say here. The only thing to do is to actually put your rules into place, run and playtest them at your table, and then see if it helps your players or only makes things worse.

My guess would be that if your players are really so blase about learning or remembering the difference between Actions and Bonus actions-- plus not actually creating for themselves a short list of like the 1-5 Bonus actions they actually have available to them so they always have that list at hand-- any rules changes or action name changes you make aren't going to help.

Personally... if I had players that refused or were unable to remember Bonus actions... I'd just not allow them to take any features that used them. "No, you can't take that spell. It uses a Bonus action and you've proven over these last 7 years you can't be trusted with them. Take a different spell." ;)
Truth. Some players just won’t take the time to understand their character’s abilities fully no matter how we as DMs try to encourage it. In whatever way we reskin a bonus action, some players just won’t use the full suite of abilities for their character. They are at the table to have fun and socialize but, as a player, may just not be thinking about D&D most days to the extent that most DMs do. Or, like, at all until game day.

At our table, the DM tries to ask the player “anything else [your PC] wants to do this turn? Bonus action, move, whatever...”. If they don’t have an idea, sometimes we suggest something and sometimes we just conclude their turn and move on to set the scene for the next player in the initiative order.
 

This thread should be name Transforming bonus action into free action.
It will be a delight for optimizers! They are starving since the launch of the 5ed.
For now what I see will result into an orgy of actions at every single turn.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
This thread should be name Transforming bonus action into free action.
It will be a delight for optimizers! They are starving since the launch of the 5ed.
For now what I see will result into an orgy of actions at every single turn.
The thing is, I see non optimizers running into bonus action traps more than optimizers.

Optimizers know not to play a ranger.

Maybe after removing them the optimizer exploits it more?
 

meltdownpass

Explorer
I see no problem with bonus actions conceptually. The question is whether bonus actions are suitable for who the game is targeting. Since my group is full of old school players, we don't see a problem with it. If your target audience is a little newer to TTRPGs or more inclined towards other play styles then it may not be great for you or your group.
 

I don't think you could remove bonus actions form 5e without doing a lot of work to mitigate all the side effects, probably to the point of not being worth the effort. Changing the basic action economy is a major change no matter how you slice it.

On the other hand, there are some specific things that might not be the right action type. Two-weapon fighting, for example, could be moved to just being part of the action without a lot of problems. Maybe have it require the style so monks and rogues don't overly benefit.
 

I came to the conclusion when playing the Rune Knight that a class that takes multiple turns to build up is just bad design.
I'm enjoying my rune knight partially because it takes a bit to ramp up - it makes the fights progressive in a way that rage never did.

But I'd probably enjoy a RK that didn't have this factor about as much.
 

Undrave

Hero
At this point, might as well build a whole new game from scratch with your own terminology. Changing the action economy NOW is a huge undertaking and I'm not sure what you gain out of it?
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
All the discussion about TWF sucking because of the bonus actions conveniently ignores that it's not how TWF works in real life.

How about we fix that instead? The notion that more weapons = more attack isn't how it works.
 

Sabathius42

Bree-Yark
Going back to one of the things mentioned in the OP....specifically the idea that optimizers feel left out if they don't ha e a BA available to exploit....

How about a fix that is just introducing an interesting set of generically accessable bonus actions?

I loved the "damage on a miss" feature for fighters in the playtest so I'd frequently use a BA that did the same on many classes.

Similarly maybe a BA for being hidden, going earlier on the first round of combat, or many of the other situations that gave bonuses in older editions ....

It would certainly add a layer of complexity to the game, but the bones of 5e can easily support that extra weight if your players wanted it.
 

Non-nova - a 5th level Monk with PAM and dual wielder can make 5 attacks every turn, without using a single ki. spear, spear, offhand attack, martial arts, butt of spear. If he spends a ki he gets another.

Actual text of the feat:

"When you take the Attack action and attack with only a glaive, halberd, quarterstaff, or spear..."

So no off-hand attack allowed, as we made the off-hand attack part of the Attack action. Now, if you try to rules-lawyer this, this is a house rule draft, remember? That means I can change the text of the feat to make it clear. I'd rather revise a feature slightly than reintroduce the bonus action economy.

As for the fact that the monk sacrificed stats to get a damage bump, fine by me. I don't care. That's what feats are for.

This really breaks the action economy. Even just a single class, take the bladesinger for example; the game is balanced around the idea that casting shadow blade and bladesong is going to take 2 turns.

I disagree that this is a balance issue. If Blade Song hadn't been a bonus action from publication time, and Shadow Blade popped up in round 1, I don't think anybody would have really noticed or cared or particularly seen it as an issue. But, if it is an issue, I collapsed the bonus action down to a spell class, so make Bladesong such a spell.
 

All the discussion about TWF sucking because of the bonus actions conveniently ignores that it's not how TWF works in real life.

How about we fix that instead? The notion that more weapons = more attack isn't how it works.

Being really experienced at life doesn't make it easier to survive a 100' drop onto concrete, either, but, well, that's D&D for ya. If anything, at age 40, pretty sure my max fall distance is way less than it was at age 9.

Greatsword is 2d6+Str
Two shortswords is 1d6+Stat +1d6. There's an advantage of being able to split attacks, so that's something.

Advantages of TWF:
1. You can go DEX-based, and DEX is the god stat. IMO, if TWF can hit as hard as GW, there's almost no point for STR fighters to even exist.
2. If STR-based, you can open combat with an extra handaxe attack.
 

All the discussion about TWF sucking because of the bonus actions conveniently ignores that it's not how TWF works in real life.

How about we fix that instead? The notion that more weapons = more attack isn't how it works.
I think you'd get more pushback form people who are used to the trope / fantasy of two-weapon fighting than the reality.
 

Actual text of the feat:

"When you take the Attack action and attack with only a glaive, halberd, quarterstaff, or spear..."

So no off-hand attack allowed, as we made the off-hand attack part of the Attack action. Now, if you try to rules-lawyer this, this is a house rule draft, remember? That means I can change the text of the feat to make it clear. I'd rather revise a feature slightly than reintroduce the bonus action economy.
Pedantically: if you had PAM and Dual-Wielder, and were using two spears or quarterstaffs, you could trigger both, which in this case is two extra spear attacks.

I'm not saying that's a problem, because only Vhumans can get there without letting their ability scores fall behind, and for non-vhumans it's a later-stage benefit anyways. In other words, it allows for a crazy combo, but frankly I find those more fun than broken.

Edit: and this combo doesn't get the soft twf benefit of being dex-based.
 

So ... on my turn my cleric can cast Mass Healing Word, control my Spiritual Weapon to attack, trigger my Aura of Vitality, trigger my channel divinity and still have my action and move available? Say, to attack with on hand and off-hand light weapons?

Can't cast somatic spells while dual-wielding, and AFAIK, there are no Cleric Channels that take a bonus action. There is one that takes no action, the War Cleric's Guided Strike. Maybe those few Paladin bonus action CDs should be instantaneous spells.

As for the rest of it, if we keep "one non-cantrip spell per turn," it takes two full rounds to prepare all this, so is it really a big deal? IMO not really, even if you're a War Domain Cleric burning up War Priest strikes, not compared to what a Paladin can already do.

And you say that this is there is no power creep and these remain the same power level as existing characters, including ones that have no bonus actions available?

I really hate when people put words in my mouth.

I said it stays within the 5e power band. Let's compare to the high end of the band: The Paladin. The Paladin is the absolute king in terms of being able to expend lots of resources in one turn. Not only that, but Divine Smite is (a) usually irresistible and (b) unstoppable. No save, no attack roll, no concentration. It's also a lot of damage, since it combines with a weapon attack.

Sure, giving more classes ways to expend multiple resources in a turn bumps up their nova potential, but how does it compare to a dual-wielding Paladin smiting 3 times in a round? IMO everything proposed so far is still well below this threshold. And you know what? Players love the Paladin. Players don't want Divine Smite to take a bonus action and Concentration. They want to be able to cast Hunter's Mark and actually use their fighting style on the same turn.
 

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