Defensive Duelist 5e
Published on May 25, 2022, Last modified on June 10th, 2022
Have you ever wanted to enter the fray with a rapier and parry even the strongest creatures wielding massive weapons? Defensive Duelist might be for you.
Anna Podedworna - Wizards of the Coast - Dueling Rapier
What Is Defensive Duelist 5e?
One of the funniest quotes in Game of Thrones is when Jon Snow explains how to use a sword to his sister, Arya. “Stick them with the pointy end,” he says, and they have a giggle. Yet, one of the essential factors Arya learns from her sword-fighting teacher is that a good defense beats all.
Within Dungeons and Dragons 5e comes a feat that, on paper, sounds great for a swordfighter’s defense: Defensive Duelist.
How Does Defensive Duelist Work?
If you have this feat, whenever you are wielding a finesse weapon and are hit by a melee attack, you may use your reaction to add your proficiency bonus to your AC.
This works best with any class that wants to use finesse weapons, so mainly Dexterity-based builds, such as rogues, bards, fighters, and rangers. Those in melee range will typically benefit the most from this as they are getting hit more often than your party members that prefer to stay at a distance.
Is Defensive Duelist Good?
We gave Defensive Duelist a C Tier rating In our 5e Feats Tier List, making it a below-average feat in D&D 5e.
Being able to add your proficiency bonus to your AC is a great use of your reaction. This is a solid trait for finesse builds that don’t have access to spells like shield or some other defensive reaction. Unfortunately for Defensive Duelist, several classes already offer better defensive abilities, some that don’t even need a reaction. Even still, Defensive Duelist isn’t outright bad and can contribute to the survivability of a DEX-based martial character.
Defensive Duelist 5e Interactions
While this feat is pretty simple, there are a few interactions that you might come across, such as:
- Monk’s unarmed strikes are not finesse weapons, so they can’t be used for this feat.
- When you decide to use this feat, you must declare your reaction after you’re hit but before the damage is rolled.
- This AC boost only lasts for a single attack, unlike the shield spell which lasts the whole round.
Defensive Duelist 5e FAQs
Can I apply Defensive Duelist to an unarmed strike?
Sadly, no. Despite being attached to your body, your limbs do not have the finesse property for this feat to trigger.
Can monks use Defensive Duelist?
Yes and no. As mentioned above, unarmed strikes don’t count as finesse weapons. However, Way of the Kensei monks can pick up a finesse weapon and benefit from this feat without any issues.
Can you stack Parry with Defensive Duelist?
No you cannot. Each of those abilities requires a reaction, and you only get one reaction per round.
Do I know the dice roll for Defensive Duelist?
This depends entirely on your Dungeon Master. If they make public rolls, then yes. Otherwise, you will never know the result until you decide to use it.
Defensive Duelist on paper sounds like a stellar feat, but in reality, it falls flat in many scenarios. Several classes already offer better defensive abilities, some that don’t even need a reaction. Even still, Defensive Duelist isn’t outright bad and can contribute to the survivability of a DEX-based martial character.
How do you feel about Defensive Duelist? Let us know in the comments about any builds that can make this feat shine!