Published on June 27, 2023, Last modified on September 21st, 2023
Master the art of the strategic escape in D&D 5e with our comprehensive guide to the Disengage action.
Mathias Kollros - Wizards of the Coast - Escape Velocity
Table of Contents
What is Disengage in 5e?
At its core, the Disengage action in D&D 5e allows a character to evade opportunity attacks for the rest of their turn. It’s a defensive tactic used when you want to safely move away from an enemy without risking a free swing.
This is what the Basic Rules have to say about the Disengage action:
If you take the Disengage action, your movement doesn’t provoke opportunity attacks for the rest of the turn.
An opportunity attack, for those unfamiliar, is a reaction that combatants can use to make a melee attack against enemies moving out of their reach.
Disengage and Sentinel
The Sentinel feat specifies, “Creatures provoke opportunity attacks from you even if they take the Disengage action before leaving your reach.” In D&D rulings, specific wording beats general wording, thus causing this feat to negate the effects of an enemy’s attempt to disengage.
Who Can Disengage?
The beauty of the Disengage action is that any character, NPC, or monster can use it, regardless of class, race, or background. However, certain classes and creatures get added benefits when using Disengage, such as:
- Rogues: At 2nd level, rogues gain the Cunning Action feature, allowing them to Disengage as a bonus action instead of a standard action. This flexibility means a Rogue can Disengage and still attack or perform other actions in the same turn.
- Monks: Starting at 2nd level, monks can use Step of the Wind to Disengage as a bonus action by spending 1 ki point. They also double their jump distance for that turn.
- Goblins: Goblins, as a race, possess the Nimble Escape trait, allowing them to Disengage as a bonus action.
Disengage vs. Dodge
It’s essential to understand the differences between the Disengage and Dodge actions, as they are both defensive maneuvers with distinct uses.
While Disengage prevents opportunity attacks for the remainder of your turn, Dodge focuses on reducing the likelihood of being hit. When you take the Dodge action, all attack rolls made against you have disadvantage until the start of your next turn, and you make Dexterity saving throws with advantage.
In essence, Disengage is about escape, while Dodge is about endurance. Consider your situation carefully before deciding which is most beneficial.
Strategic Use of Disengage
The Disengage action becomes incredibly valuable when strategically used. Here are some scenarios where Disengage can shine:
- Retreating: If your character is low on hit points, Disengaging can provide a safe way to retreat and find cover.
- Bypassing Enemies: If you need to reach a specific point on the battlefield without being hit, Disengage is your best friend.
- Protecting Allies: If an ally is in trouble, a character can Disengage and move to block enemies, taking the heat off their comrade.
- Hit-and-Run Tactics: Classes that can Disengage as a bonus action can use this feature to dart in, attack, and then safely retreat out of reach.
The Disengage action in D&D 5e is a simple, yet effective tool in the repertoire of any adventurer. It exemplifies the age-old wisdom that sometimes, the best offense is a good defense. Whether you’re a cunning rogue, a swift monk, or a stalwart fighter, understanding when and how to retreat can be the difference between and TPK living to fight another day.