D&D 5E Defensive Duelist fix?


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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
The more rolls in general the slower things go. There must be a moderate amount of rolls for the game to resemble D&D, but even the options that currently exist could be streamlined to have less bloat.
I think we are just generally at odds, then. I’m quite comfortable with the number of rolls, and most groups I see roll more than the game actually asks them to.
 


True, but a very sad reflection of the game when the best way to contribute to two out of three pillars of the game as a martial class is "Be a spellcaster." :(
That is a valid complaint/concern but it's the nature of 5e. Magic takes up the majority of the mechanical and narrative space. you really have to approach the game with the assumption that all classes are inherently magical and just channel it in different ways.
There are a few ways you can avoid spell casting and still get some good non combat ablities like skulker(such an under-appreciated option), dungeon delver, skilled, and actor.
 

The more rolls in general the slower things go. There must be a moderate amount of rolls for the game to resemble D&D, but even the options that currently exist could be streamlined to have less bloat.

It will take roughly the same number of attacks to down the beast whether I make them on my turn or with my reaction on theirs. If anything additional ways of getting opportunity attacks based on a feat speed combats up by downing more combatants in earlier rounds.
 


auburn2

Adventurer
  • Duelist’s Parry. When another creature hits you with a melee attack, you can use your reaction to add your proficiency bonus to your AC for that attack, potentially causing the attack to miss you.
  • Duelist’s Riposte, when an attack misses you, you can use your reaction to make a melee attack against the creature that missed you.
  • If you cause an attack to miss you by using Duelist’s Parry, you can use Duelist’s Riposte as part of the same reaction. If you do so, you cannot use either ability again until you have gone a round without using your reaction.
I think this is a bit much. I think a better way to buff it would be to allow the parry to apply for every subsequent attack until your next turn instead of one attack (like a shield spell) and allow it with any object being held in your hand. I think that would make it a very good feat without the repostes.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I think this is a bit much. I think a better way to buff it would be to allow the parry to apply for every subsequent attack until your next turn instead of one attack (like a shield spell) and allow it with any object being held in your hand. I think that would make it a very good feat without the repostes.
Doesn’t feel as much like a duelist, however, IMO.
 

I think pointing out the similarities to Shield is interesting. A level 18 wizard can have shield as an at-will spell due to a class ability (they get 2 at-will spells 1st or 2nd level spells). Base defensive duelist is weaker than shield. That supports increasing it, I think.
I disagree, Defensive Duelist is a feat, available at level 1, not a class ability available at 18th level.

+2 to +6 to AC for a single hit is a decent bonus. For a class that does not have a lot of Reaction abilities, like a Druid, it is a good feat, especially if melee is a last resort.
Making it a half feat, would make it more appealing.

I don't think the feat needs more than that.
 


doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
When you are wielding a finesse or light weapon with which you are proficient, and not wearing heavy armor, you gain the following abilities.
  • Duelist’s Parry. When another creature hits you with a melee attack, you can use your reaction to add your proficiency bonus to your AC for that attack, potentially causing the attack to miss you.
  • Duelist’s Riposte, when an attack misses you, you can use your reaction to make a melee attack against the creature that missed you.
  • If you cause an attack to miss you by using Duelist’s Parry, you can use Duelist’s Riposte as part of the same reaction. If you do so, you cannot use either ability again until you have gone a round without using your reaction.
So, I do think this isn't quite where it needs to be, but I want to point out that rather than having a short rest limit or the like, it can't be used every round, and indeed if you do a Parry-Riposte you can't do either a parry or a riposte again until you go a round without using your reaction at all.

That seems to be ignored in the balance analysis others are making, here.
 

Xeviat

Community Supporter
Supporter
I disagree, Defensive Duelist is a feat, available at level 1, not a class ability available at 18th level.

+2 to +6 to AC for a single hit is a decent bonus. For a class that does not have a lot of Reaction abilities, like a Druid, it is a good feat, especially if melee is a last resort.
Making it a half feat, would make it more appealing.

I don't think the feat needs more than that.

You can't say it's available at first level then say it ranges from +2 to +6. A feat for a situational +2 AC when there's a feat for a constant +2 AC (medium armor master if you have Dex 16+ and want to stealth) shows that, at least early levels, it's weak.

Making it a half feat would be better than leaving it alone.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
you can't do either a parry or a riposte again until you go a round without using your reaction at all
Honestly, I would just remove this stipulation. It is a bit wordy and really not necessary IMO.

Any way, if you consider the bonus to AC this provides, +2 at level 1-4, at best this will only be used 10% of the time. So, the riposte-attack would not happen often really because the margin is so narrow. A number of times when you get hit, and attempt to Parry, the bonus is small enough you are more likely to still be hit and the Riposte won't trigger.

At the other end of the spectrum, when AC bonus provided becomes +6, this bumps this up to 30% of the time at most. Powerful? Sure, an additional attack about 1 in 3 rounds? But then we are in Tier 4 so expected IMO.

I certainly don't think this is too powerful of an addition.

I agree with those who favor making this a half feat (instead of Riposte), and I think removing the finesse property requirement would be a good suggestion as well either way. It might see more use without the finesse requirement.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Honestly, I would just remove this stipulation. It is a bit wordy and really not necessary IMO.

Any way, if you consider the bonus to AC this provides, +2 at level 1-4, at best this will only be used 10% of the time. So, the riposte-attack would not happen often really because the margin is so narrow. A number of times when you get hit, and attempt to Parry, the bonus is small enough you are more likely to still be hit and the Riposte won't trigger.

At the other end of the spectrum, when AC bonus provided becomes +6, this bumps this up to 30% of the time at most. Powerful? Sure, an additional attack about 1 in 3 rounds? But then we are in Tier 4 so expected IMO.

I certainly don't think this is too powerful of an addition.

I agree with those who favor making this a half feat (instead of Riposte), and I think removing the finesse property requirement would be a good suggestion as well either way. It might see more use without the finesse requirement.
So I’m guessing your agreement with them is based on something other than balance concerns? It is simplicity?
 

You can't say it's available at first level then say it ranges from +2 to +6.
Of course I can...because all of the above is true. The feat is available a 1st level and grants a bonus to AC equal to the Proficiency Bonus of the character with the feat.

Medium Armor Master only nets a character with a 16 Dex score, one more point of AC compared to a character with a 14 Dex.

The MAM feat strikes me as much weaker then the Defensive Duelist feat. The reception of the Defensive Duelist feat is impacted by being sandwiched between the Crossbow Expert and Dual Wielder feat. Randomize the feat order, and I think public perception would increase.

A prerequisite of 13 Dex is not impossible to achieve, and the benefit surpasses your Dex modifier and stacks with all other AC enhancements.
I've seen the Defensive Duelist feat in play three times over the years.

On a Rogue, deciding between using Defensive Duelist or Uncanny Dodge is the difference between potentially taking no damage from a single melee attack or ensuring just half damage.
This is a tactically meaningful choice.

On a Barbarian, in high tier play, the +5 to +6 to AC can turn a hit to a miss, and the feat is usable by just having a DART in one's off hand. One can attack with a great axe, rest the axe in one hand with the axe head on the ground, and free object interaction to draw a dart.

On a Vhuman Druid...+4 AC to a single attack via the combo of using a shield and the Defensive Duelist feat, helps damage mitigation, especially at level 1.

Honestly, I think the Defensive Duelist feat is most effective at lower tiers...there is not as much competition for Reaction abilities, and an extra +2 to AC vs the +4 Attack Modifier of a Goblin, is not insignificant.

A Kensai with Defensive Duelist and Agile Parry can really boost AC, with no spell slots expended.

Add in a +1 Ability Score Increase to Str, Dex, or Con, or allow the Ability Score Increase to apply to any ability, and the Defensive Duelist feat, becomes a great choice of feat for Ability Scores with an odd numbered score.
 
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DND_Reborn

Legend
So I’m guessing your agreement with them is based on something other than balance concerns? It is simplicity?
Yep. I think your proposal is balanced well. Removing the condition about not using your reaction is both for simplicity and because no other features in the game (that I can think of anyway) have similar restrictions. It is enough you are limited to one reaction per round.

My concern (and like I said I've never used the feat AS IS or seen anyone take it... so this could be completely unfounded) is that the Riposte won't see much use since most games only go to +4 prof bonus (9-12 levels). Up to 20% of the "first" hits you take become misses, and you get an extra attack when that happens.

If the feat offered a DEX +1 instead, the could get a PC to the next modifier, and give them a lot more benefits overall IMO. This would also make it simpler. Good thing or bad? Either way. I like the features to be as simple as possible. Nothing about your idea is overly complex of course.

I think there are many ways to make this a better feat and more appealing:
  • DEX +1.
  • Have the parry AC bonus extend for any additional attacks made by that target. (Similar to Multiattack Defense of Ranger Hunters.)
  • Targets have disadvantage on attempts to disarm you.
  • Riposte for a "counter-attack".
  • Disadvantage on further attacks by that creature.
  • Advantage on your next attack before the end of your next turn.
I'm sure there are others I forgot. Any combination or single additional feature could be enough, just depends on how much better you want to make the feat.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
Medium Armor Master only nets a character with a 16 Dex score, one more point of AC compared to a character with a 14 Dex.
But that +1 to AC is against all attacks, every round, melee or ranged. Defensive Duelist is very limited in comparison.

The reception of the Defensive Duelist feat is impacted by being sandwiched between the Crossbow Expert and Dual Wielder feat. Randomize the feat order, and I think public perception would increase.
Sorry, but I don't buy that at all. Players IME scourer through the PHB looking at all the feats. The order really doesn't matter. Even if you listed the feats by "supposed" power levels, people who want the flavor of the weaker feats would still take them.

I've seen the Defensive Duelist feat in play three times over the years.
I've never seen it once. Not at all. Ever. In any game. And three times over how many years? Compared to the "better" feats such as Alert, GWM, etc., how many times have you seen them?

FWIW, your examples are great, though! So, thanks for sharing them because I have just never found the feat worth it--there are better things to take IMO, but it is wonderful YMMV! :)
 

Xeviat

Community Supporter
Supporter
Medium Armor Master only nets a character with a 16 Dex score, one more point of AC compared to a character with a 14 Dex.

Medium armor master is +2 AC since it also removes the stealth penalty, allowing someone to go up from breastplate to half-plate. I was looking at the best case scenario. Medium Armor Mastery is a really bad feat, but at least it fits into some semblance of scale (where +1 AC is half a feat, as evidenced by armor proficiency feats).
 


I've never seen it once. Not at all. Ever. In any game. And three times over how many years?
I have seen the feat selected Three Times, by Three separate players over 5 years.
I have never seen the Magic Initiate nor Ritual Magic feats selected...should I infer that those feats are subpar?

I have seen the Great Weapon Master feat selected twice in 5 years. Dex builds are quite prevalent at my table, and as I mentioned before, one only needs a modest investment in Dex and a Finesse weapon to take advantage of the Defensive Duelist feat.

The type of argument of "I have never seen the feat in play" is akin to stating that since you have never seen or experienced racism, then racism must not exist. Many people choose not to travel to see a full eclipse of the sun, are full solar eclipses therefore Overrated?
But that +1 to AC is against all attacks, every round, melee or ranged. Defensive Duelist is very limited in comparison.
That depends on how one interprets the math. A +5% general increase to AC is nice.
Adding a +10% to +30% increase to AC, after knowing that one's regular AC would be struck can be better.

An Aircraft Carrier about to be struck by a Surface to Ship Missile that will severely damage or sink the ship, is going to prefer the limited, but more effective, Defensive Duelist Feat over a flat +1 to AC.

In real game terms stopping a blow from landing, is often more important and more impactful, then a constant static bonus that sheer luck/swingyness will negate, ala a static +1 to AC.

If Defensive Duelist gave double your proficiency bonus to AC would that be too much for people? I think it would be for most tables.

I will also point out, it gives characters an additional option for their Reaction. What is the mathematical value of increasing one's Action Economy?
 
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