The defensive duelist feat in D&D5e is a situational ability that only works if you have nothing to do for a round.
For starters, it does not work with natural attack melee weapons which means its user is limited to the basic fighting style of sword and shield. Beyond this point, the defensive duelist can only be taken at level 5/6 so without forward planning it would be difficult to take two levels in such a short span of time. Finally, the negating for an oldschool player would come in several forms from dodge bonuses to armour class and alignment bonuses and could easily average 18 or more points off your final score across the board – making this feat somewhat redundant on high ac characters.
The defensive duelist feat grants the following benefits: +1 to AC for each spell you cast on yourself, 1d8 temporary hit points when you finish a long rest, and all attacks against you have disadvantage.
It’s not worth it if only one enemy is attacking your. It’s better than nothing, but there are so many good options already available in 5E that I’d say it doesn’t make sense to take this feat unless there is a specific need that can be met with this. If you want to know what feats will help your character avoid getting attacked and handled by enemies while still trying to deal damage (as opposed to just surviving), then look into Combat Expertise, Dodge or Mobile features.
What about if there are two or more creatures attacking me at the same time? In this case, you can use it to your advantage. Instead of taking the average damage from 2 attacks, you have a chance at blocking both of them and ending up with 1 extra hit point by its effect! This is pretty good for a feat, so I believe as long as there are two or more enemies near you, it’s worth taking.
What about if I’m getting attacked by several different creatures? It all comes down to your stats and the number of enemies. If the number is greater than one, then this feat isn’t helping you much unless your AC is low enough for it to have a significant effect. If you have low AC, then taking this feat is probably your best choice, but if it’s not very low then I’d say that there are better feats to take in 5E.
To conclude the defensive duelist doesn’t help much against single enemies, but can be quite useful when facing two or more opponents.
I think this feat is good if your DM isn’t very specific with how many opponents you are fighting at the same time.
The problem is that to the DM, it’s not clear what number of opponents you’re fighting at one time. Attacking one opponent could be considered a “single target” while attacking two or more targets may also be considered “single target”. If your DM is consistent with your rulings, this feat can make sense – but there’s nothing in the feat description to help clarify anything in the event of a disagreement.
If you have any additions for my answer, please share them below! However, I do understand that it is difficult and may require some amount of brainstorming on your part.
This feat gives the character a +2 bonus to Defense, but only when dueling. If you take a hit and your opponent has this feat, then it’s an automatic success on their dueling roll. This is one of those feats that can be useful if you’re going for being flavor-based or story-wise ‘the best swordsman who ever lived’. It also doesn’t require any kind of action each round, so it can be pretty good during free time as well.
The defensive duelist has never been my favorite class because they are at such a disadvantage when not in a dueling situation and typically end up being squishier than other players due to the limited armor options available to them.
The defensive duelist feat is pretty bad. It’s an opportunity for flavor, but not gameplay.
The problem with the Defensive Duelist feat–and I see it being used a lot by newer players who are proud of what they think it does–is that it doesn’t do anything. What? You might ask incredulously, giving me a chance to say “no sh*t” and go on with my diatribe against the poor design of this feat as far as 5E mechanics go. Well, let me explicate (as if anyone reading this would need me to). The trick about feats in 5E is that they can only be taken at first level and they always have a class-specific benefit.
The best feat for defense is Uncanny Dodge.
Uncanny dodge provides an automatic reaction. Eliminating the need to use your action, and no reason not to have at least one class with this ability in addition to other defensive feats. Taking a feat that only helps with damage prevention is unlikely to be better than taking another feat or adding DR as a class feature. Other great feats include Evasion (if there is an attack you can’t make it as difficult for them) and Deflect Missiles (knowing what’s coming). You’ll want some number of skills which can reduce incoming fire such as dodging out of the way, using Acrobatics maneuvers, doubling back or go behind cover after shooting a barrage at someone.
Offense is where the action is. To prevent damage you need to be able to not take hits as much as avoid them. If you start with having surprise and control of your environment (commanding high ground, cover etc.) then the enemy likely has few actions they can use effectively per round against those that can retaliate quickly and accurately.
I’m not aware of what the numbers are, but it seems quite good.
I can’t answer that question with any sense of authority. I speak from a position where I have never played D&D before and have no idea how this feat is supposed to function other than in theory. Please reach out to Wizards of the Coast for the answer to this question. If you find an answer please send it over to me so that I may revise my post appropriately. Thank you!
The duelist feat in D&D 5th Edition is a decent late game option. It can help to rebalance the RAW casters who have combat spell slots left over at higher levels, and it’s certainly better than first level but not as powerful as casting combat spells.
Specialties lie pretty expensive for what you get, but they are way more potent and distinctive than feats that are available to other classes for “power gaming”. Definitively worth consideration if you’re looking for some unique abilities to make your character look really cool.
Honestly this all comes down to preference; those interested in playing strictly a fighter should probably avoid the disadvantage of taking a specialization. However, if one is who believes that there is always something to be gained from every action, then the option of specializing should not be completely out of sight.
It probably won’t make much difference if you don’t specialize in anything other than defense, but that’s what makes it good; no one knows how many different kinds of other items exist until they try them and realize their possibilities.
The Duelist feat is a very powerful option for those who are interested in making their character an unbreakable defensive wall. But since it is limited to Dexterity, I can understand how some people might not be impressed with the number of feats that they must place into its prerequisite chain.
It’s good in that it can absorb damage from a single attack, but it has the downside of being vulnerable to attacks before and after.
For example, an opponent using a full-attack action will be able to make five unarmed strikes against you; four of them (plus one free bonus attack) are guaranteed up front because they’re not making opportunity attacks. You’ll have five opportunities to evade or parry these strikes on your turn, two of which occur before their turn begins and three after – so all together there are 10 possible points for your opponent to hit you with their fists at the beginning and end of each round (not including any that might miss). As it happens, attacking is likelier to miss than take effect, so we’ll say five of those 10 will hit and 5 points of damage done: this averages 13.5 pts (8.8 after DR) maxed .
The first and last attacks will be at -4 because they’re opportunity attacks; the three in between enjoy no such handicap, which makes them equivalent to four sequential full-round attacks (four at -5, four at -10) which will come to an average of 20 points (13 after DR). So it turns out that you absorb damage slightly better in this case.
On the other hand, your opponent is no doubt capable of shifting or otherwise moving around behind you; if they can do so without provoking opportunity attacks, they can move five times as far as you do on each turn, so those 10 attacks will now correspond to 15 squares of movement. If this is enough to line up another attack without provoking opportunity attack from the same target, that’s a different story entirely: one full-round action at -5 and one unarmed melee attack at +4 for 14 points total, which averages to 10.5 pts (8 after DR).
So the feat is useful if your opponent is attacking you frontally but less so if they place themselves behind or beside you. It’s certainly better than nothing, though, given how easily it can be taken at first level by melee fighters who will benefit more from having such an attack available than the melee attack bonus it offers.
Now, what if you’ve got some way of shoving or tripping your foe? That’s easy enough; basically, you make a single unarmed combat maneuver check to either move them 5 ft (subtracting 10 from their CMD for this purpose but not for others) or trip them; either of these provokes an OA from the target. If they’re not able to retaliate (for example, if you move them into a chasm) then that’s two points of damage and your foe is staggered for one round: on average this is worth 8 pts (6 after DR); it maxes out at 12 points after two rounds.
The fact is that nobody makes five unarmed attacks per round unless they’re an orc or similar savage brute – most humanoids don’t have that many arms! So you can absorb damage better by taking the feat if your opponent isn’t capable of attacking multiple times with each attack penalty, but you can make up for it by being able to trip or shove. All in all, I’d say this feat is more niche than it first appears; it’s not useless but neither does it make you the unassailable defender that some of the early previews made it out to be (and still do ).
The defensive duelist is the only feat that offers dodging in 5E, which is considered a rare and useful ability. The fact that it requires light armor makes its utility questionable for players who wear heavier armors, but there are numerous other feats that offer better benefits for those heavily invested in their plate versions. If you’re looking for an alternative to Dodge, consider taking the Gladiator’s Parry skill instead.