Legendary actions are insanely powerful game-balancing attacks and abilities, so it’s no wonder player characters want to get their grubby little hands on them.
Can players get legendary actions in DND?
DND player characters can not get legendary actions according to the official rules of the game. Dungeon Masters can homebrew temporary or permanent means of a player acquiring a legendary action. Examples include using a Wish Spell, accomplishing a great feat, or vanquishing a powerful monster.
In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about DND players and legendary actions.
Can Players Get Legendary Actions in DND? (Official Answer)
There are no explicit rules that say players can’t get legendary actions.
For those who are unfamiliar, legendary actions are extra actions that a creature can take outside of its normal turn. These actions can be used to attack, move, or take other special actions.
However, we can extrapolate some general “rules” from the official canon of Dungeons and Dragons.
And those rules mostly point to the answer, “No.”
In DND, the focus is on:
- Balanced gameplay
While it might be fun and entertaining to give a player character (or an entire DND party) legendary actions, it would probably also break the game.
That’s not to say you can’t do it but that you should do it with intention and thoughtfulness.
The rest of this article goes over my best ideas and tips from the last 20+ years.
Should Players Get Legendary Actions in DND? (Pros and Cons)
Just because players can get legendary actions doesn’t mean that they should.
In role-playing games, there is always debate about what mechanics are fair and which give players an unfair advantage. One mechanic that has come under scrutiny in recent years is the use of legendary actions in Dungeons and Dragons.
Creatures with legendary action often have high Challenge Ratings, making them difficult foes for player characters to defeat.
Combat is a key part of DND.
Many players are content to simply hack and slash their way through encounters.
However, some players crave a greater challenge.
For these players, giving them access to legendary actions can provide a much-needed boost to the difficulty level of the game.
In addition, tougher monsters can be introduced into the game, providing an extra test for the players.
Of course, there are downsides to giving players access to legendary actions.
For one thing, it can quickly make the game too easy for the players.
Especially if they are already powerful characters.
In addition, not all players may have access to legendary actions, which can create an imbalance of power between the characters.
Finally, some players may simply become bored with the game if it becomes too easy.
Nonetheless, for those looking for a greater challenge in their D&D games, giving them access to legendary actions can be a great way to spice up the game.
How Can Players Get Legendary Actions in D&D?
Since we are flying outside of the official canon, a Dungeon Master (DM) is going to have to homebrew a way for players to get legendary actions.
The main ways might include:
- Magical items
- Accomplishing a great feat
- Slaying a powerful monster
- Wish spell
- Divine intervention
Homebrewed Magical Items
Magical items are one way to grant legendary actions to players.
These items can help you gain an edge in combat, provide protection from harm, and grant you special abilities that can make you nearly unstoppable.
However, finding magical items can be a challenge, especially if you’re looking for something specific (and super rare).
If you’re looking for a legendary item, you better believe your DM will make it hard to find.
Accomplishing a Great Feat
Characters in DND often accomplish great feats in the course of their adventures.
Whether it’s saving a town or rescuing a captured prince, these deeds can earn your character renown and admiration.
In some cases, accomplishing a great feat can also earn your character a legendary action.
Slaying a Powerful Monster
Another way for player characters to gain legendary actions is by slaying a powerful monster.
While not all monsters are created equal, some are definitely more dangerous than others.
If you’re able to defeat one of these fearsome creatures, you could be rewarded with a legendary action.
This could come in the form of an item drop, or simply an experience bonus.
Either way, it’s definitely worth taking down a few extra monsters if the outcome is snagging some legendary actions.
The Wish spell is one of the most powerful spells in all of Dungeons and Dragons.
It can be used to grant almost any desire, no matter how impossible it may seem. However, using the Wish spell comes at a price; each time it’s used, there is a chance that reality will twist in unpredictable ways.
Still, if you’re desperate for a legendary action, using the Wish spell is certainly one way to get it.
Just be prepared for the consequences.
Divine Intervention by a Deity
In some rare cases, characters might find themselves the beneficiaries of divine intervention by one of the game’s deities.
If this happens, it’s almost guaranteed that they’ll receive a legendary action as part of their reward.
Of course, actually getting this intervention is entirely up to the whims of the deity in question; so don’t count on it happening too often (or ever more than once).
When To Give Players Legendary Actions in DND
I can think of a few times when it might make sense to give player characters legendary actions.
Give players legendary actions when:
- Playing a solo adventure
- Running a player-versus-player game
- Temporarily for a big battle
- Playing a fun one-shot adventure
- Granting a Wish spell (but it backfires)
The common thread in all of these is that they are temporary.
I wouldn’t recommend granting a legendary action unless the entire DND party is on board, high-level, and the action is not integrated into a long campaign.
Rather, design a one-shot or player-versus-player sandbox situation.
What Legendary Actions Can Players Get in DND?
If you’re going to give your players some legendary actions, it’s helpful to have a list of options.
So, I made one.
Here is a chart of legendary actions for players to get your creative juices flowing:
|Absorb||Absorb the power of an enemy’s attack. The absorbed energy can then be used to fuel the caster’s own spells or abilities.|
|Bite||Bite an enemy with such force that it can cause serious damage. The bite can also inflict debilitating poison on the target.|
|Blend||Blend in with their surroundings, making them nearly invisible to enemies.|
|Blind||This causes an enemy to become blind, making them unable to see until they pass a Constitution savings throw.|
|Blur||Create a temporary illusion of movement, making it difficult for enemies to target the caster.|
|Cantrip||This allows the player to cast one cantrip.|
|Detection||Automatically sense the presence of enemies or magic.|
|Elemental Surge||Call upon the power of the elements, giving them immunity to one type of elemental damage for 1 minute.|
|Freeze||This ability causes an opponent to become frozen solid, immobilizing them.|
|Heal||Rapidly heal their wounds, often restoring them to full health in just a few seconds.|
|Movement||Quickly cover ground, whether it’s for chasing down an enemy or escaping from danger.|
|Necrotic Damage||This type of damage is particularly deadly, as it damages not only the target’s body but also their soul.|
|Paralyze||Completely immobilizes an opponent for a short period of time.|
|Poison||The effects of poison can vary depending on the type of poison used, but they can often be quite debilitating.|
|Rip||Rip allows your character to literally tear an opponent apart. This action is best used when your character is surrounded by enemies and needs to quickly clear some space.|
|Sandstorm||Sandstorm is used for both offense and defense. When used offensively, it can disorient and damage opponents. When used defensively, it can provide cover for your players while also slowing down enemy movement.|
|Sheild||This action produces a forcefield of protection.|
|Slam||A powerful melee attack that can deal significant damage, a slam is often used to knock an opponent down or to break through armor.|
|Swarm||Summon a swarm of creatures, such as bats or rats, to attack your opponents. The swarm will automatically target the weakest creature in range.|
|Tail Attack||Make a powerful tail attack against an opponent. Dragons and other large creatures often use a tail attack to deal massive damage and even knock an opponent unconscious.|
|Teleport||Instantly transport themselves to any location within range.|
|Terrify||Frighten all hostile creatures within a 25 feet radius for 1 minute.|
|Time Stop||Take an extra turn in combat, giving them a significant advantage.|
|Transform||Change their form into that of another creature. This can be used in order to gain the abilities and characteristics of that creature|
|Web||Fire a volley of webbing at an opponent, entangling them and making them vulnerable to attack.|
|Wild Growth||Cause vegetation to grow in an area in order to stunt the movement of enemies.|
|Winded||Creates exhaustion in every creature within a 40-foot radius. This disadvantages saving throws and attack rolls.|
|Wing Attack||A powerful offensive move that can easily take down an opponent|
|X-Ray Vision||See through walls and other large obstructions.|
|Zone of Truth||This action forces all creatures within range to speak only the truth. Any creature that attempts to lie while under the effect of this action will be automatically detected.|
These are just a few of the many legendary actions available in DND.
With so many options available, players can tailor their combat style to fit their own unique playstyle.
30 Legendary Action Ideas for Player Characters
With just a little creativity, you can use legendary actions to make any D&D game or encounter more exciting and memorable.
Here are just a few ideas for using legendary actions:
- Allow players to perform special attacks or maneuvers that are unique to their character. For example, a paladin could smite evil with a single strike, or a ranger could unleash a deadly volley of arrows.
- Use legendary actions to temporarily give players the wisdom to solve unsolvable puzzles or riddles. For example, you could require them to find the correct combination of symbols in order to open a secret door to find the cure to a disease ravaging the land.
- Use legendary actions to allow players to influence the environment around them. For example, they could use their action to create an area of difficult terrain, or summon forth a storm that hampers enemy movement.
- You could have a character temporarily transform into a golem with a defensive legendary action. For example, a golem could use its Legendary Actions to raise a shield or spin around in a whirling maelstrom of blades.
- Allow player characters to use their legendary actions to perform special stunts or maneuvers. This could include doing something impossible, such as leaping over a chasm or throwing a boulder at an enemy.
- Give player characters the ability to use their legendary actions to cast spells outside of their turn. This could be handy for offensive spells that require a higher level than the character can typically cast, or for defensive spells that need to be cast quickly in order to protect the party.
- Use legendary actions to allow player characters to call upon their patron deity for aid.
- Give the legendary action a temporary time frame. Perhaps the power runs out in 2 hours of game time. This adds more tension to the plot.
- Every time the player uses their legendary action, a random creature within a 300 feet radius takes 2d6 damage (including the other players).
- Every time the player uses the legendary action, they must make a wisdom savings throw. If they fail, they slowly start acting irrationally.
- Allow players to use their own legendary actions to counterspell or interrupt an enemy’s Legendary Actions.
- Use legendary actions to create environmental hazards or effects that the players must navigate around or through.
- Allow players to use their legendary actions to revive fallen comrades or heal themselves during combat.
- Use legendary actions to grant additional benefits or bonuses to player characters, such as extra damage, more accuracy, or bonus movement speed.
- Grant legendary actions that teleport player characters around the battlefield, giving them strategic advantages or allowing them to escape dangerous situations.
- Allow players to create temporary spheres of protection or condition immunity.
- Use legendary actions to telegraph the creature’s intentions, giving players a chance to react accordingly.
- Use legendary actions to resolve long-standing plot threads or mysteries.
- Use legendary actions to reintroduce forgotten NPCs or villains into the story.
- Players use their additional actions to quickly gather information or search for an exit.
- Players take down multiple opponents by using their extra attacks to target multiple creatures.
- Players force opponents to make difficult choices by using their extra actions to target multiple creatures with different effects.
- Create a sense of urgency by using their increased speed to close in on objectives quickly.
- Give them opportunities to show off their strength by using their extra actions to lift heavy objects or break through doors and walls.
- Customize their abilities to fit the theme and tone of your campaign setting.
- Let characters play to their strengths by choosing abilities that complement their existing skill set.
- Help players stand out from the crowd by making use of their unnatural appearance or eerie presence.
- Use legendary actions to allow players to circumvent traps or other hazards.
- Use legendary actions to allow players to recover from being stunned or knocked unconscious.
- Allow players to take complete or partial control of an enemy’s mind or body. Perhaps they can play as an evil god in DND but must accomplish something quickly or be trapped in that being’s body forever.
Here is a good video about how to use legendary actions in your campaigns:
Who Gets Legendary Actions in DND?
Legendary actions are powerful abilities that are reserved for the most dangerous opponents.
Typically, only monsters have access to these abilities, but there are exceptions to this rule.
In certain circumstances, the Dungeon Master may decide to grant a legendary action to an NPC, evil leader, or deity.
This decision is based on a number of factors, including the danger posed by the opponent and the desires of the players. By granting a creature a legendary action, the Dungeon Master can make an encounter more challenging and exciting.
However, it is important to use this power sparingly, as it can quickly unbalance the game.
Final Thoughts: Can Players Get Legendary Actions in DND?
One final suggestion before we wrap up this blog post.
I really like the idea of giving a legendary item that comes with a major downside, curse, or time limit.
Always take game balance into consideration when toying around with powerful mechanics like legendary actions.