The Defensive Duelist feat conjures images of the smooth swordsman, the fancy fencer so good with his blade that he can use those exceptional swordsman skills to deflect incoming attacks making it not only an offensive weapon, but a defensive one, as well. A light armor or medium armored aficionado, these characters are going to fight, dance around enemy counter attacks and show themselves as a master of
The Defensive Duelist feat for One DnD gives players a +1 Dexterity score improvement, as well as use a reaction to add their proficiency bonus to their AC when hit with a melee attack, allowing them to turn a potential hit into a miss.
So is this feat good, bad, or something in between?
Let’s dive in and find out!
Defensive Duelist Feat DnD One Review
The best way to break down a feat is to check out the exact wording. Here is how the feat is currently written in the Expert Classes Unearthed Arcana release.
From Unearthed Arcana, Expert Classes:
Prerequisite: Dexterity 13+, Level 4+
You’ve learned to deftly parry attacks, granting you the following benefits:
Ability Score Increase. Increase your Dexterity score by 1, to a maximum of 20.
Parry. If you are holding a Finesse Weapon and another creature hits you with a Melee Attack, you can use your Reaction to add your Proficiency Bonus to your Armor Class for that attack, potentially causing the attack to miss you.
Unearthed Arcana, Expert Classes
Let’s break down these benefits deeper individually and see what this feat brings to the table.
Benefit #1: Increase your Dexterity score by 1.
Since Finesse Weapons are all used with the Dexterity statistic, so this Ability Score Improvement doesn’t look different or spectacular but it matches up with a character build using this feat perfectly, so that makes it a decent half feat.
Benefit #2: If you a holding a Finesse Weapon and you get hit with a melee attack you can use your reaction to add your proficiency bonus to your Armor Class, possibly turning an attack into a miss.
This is an excellent benefit. Most classes don’t have a use for a reaction, especially if they are a melee class. Being tied to the proficiency bonus means this feat scales as a player levels up, making the feat even stronger, and it can be used once per round since the player gets a new reaction each round of combat, meaning it may be able to save them multiple times in a fight.
How Does Defensive Duelist Feat Measure Up?
Defensive Duelist is a very good feat. This is aimed to allow many light and medium armor melee builds to be able to do some of the frontline work that more traditional tank builds can, and also gives these characters a high enough AC to help them escape when sneaking about and having something go wrong.
The design behind this feat is great because it does something that too many feats in 5E struggled with: Defensive Duelist is great in-context of the game itself.
It’s also important to understand what the Defensive Duelist feat is designed to do in the context of the game. This is a feat that is designed to go with the exact type of character build that it would benefit. What does this mean?
Who uses finesse weapons? Characters that are fighting on a Dexterity-build, not a Strength one. This matters because this also means the build is either: light armor (Dex-boosted), medium armor (Dex-boosted), or a class with unarmored bonuses like the Monk or Barbarian.
So if you have a character with a +2 AC bonus because of Dex (medium armor) or +5 (assuming a maxed out 20) for light armor, adding a proficiency bonus on top of that allows a light armored character with a crazy good AC.
If you want to build a Ranger who can wade into masses of enemies in melee combat, then you are going to need a Defensive Duelist build, making this one of the best feats for Rangers.
At high levels that +6 to AC is just outright insane. Even at low levels, +2 or +3 isn’t anything to sneeze at. As someone who has seen just how powerful the bane spell can be, I know not to underestimate what even small bumps to those hit/miss numbers can do.
Defensive Duelist Feat: DnD One Vs 5E
The feat is pretty much the same between both editions. The additional requirement of being at least Level 4 was added in One DnD, which is pretty obvious since it’s a Level 4 One DnD feat, but other than that the feat has stayed the same.
Which honestly, shows how well designed this feat was and how much they nailed it the first time, seeing as how the old 5E guide we did on this feat still holds up.
Related Article: 5E Defensive Duelist Feat Guide
Because of that they are equal, though if you are doing a sword master build from the beginning, it is nice to be able to take the Defensive Duelist feat in Level 1 with Variant Human or Tasha’s Variant Feat start, which is the one advantage that you can argue that 5th has over the new iteration, though I would argue that having this as a 4th level feat does make more sense from a thematic standpoint.
Who Should Take the Defensive Duelist Feat in DnD One?
The Defensive Duelist feat is perfect for melee characters using finesse and light armor versus the traditional tank build. That’s why this is a must for:
- Melee-based Rangers
- Melee-based Bards
Classes focused on using short swords, rapiers, and scimitars (all finesse weapons) should consider this feat, as well as dagger and whip users. So specialty builds and potentially Rogues and certain builds of melee-based Warlocks.
This is a narrow focused feat but it is one that makes all these builds more powerful and more viable than if this feat didn’t exist.
DnD One Defensive Duelist Feat Final Grade
I gave this feat a B+ grade in 5th Edition and I think that’s the right place for it now. While it didn’t get a power upgrade like many feats in the transition from 5E to One DnD, it didn’t need it as it works very well with builds that would consider it, scales with leveling up since it is tied to proficiency bonus, and holds up against the power creep of other feats.
This feat does what it’s supposed to and makes light armor sword master builds possible, and so I’m perfectly comfortable giving the DnD One Defensive Duelist feat a well-deserved B+.
Other Articles of Interest
- Complete 5E Feat List
- Level-1 One DnD Feats
- Best Feats for Monks
- Best Feats for Bards
- How Does Skill Expertise Work in DnD?
Proud to embrace the locally created moniker of “Corrupt Overlord” from one of the all time great Lords of Waterdeep runs, Shane is one member of the Assorted Meeples crew and will be hard at work creating awesome content for the website. He is a long-time player of board games, one time semi-professional poker player, and tends to run to the quirky or RPG side of things when it comes to playing video games. He loves tabletop roleplaying systems like Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, Werewolf, Fate, and others, and not only has been a player but has run games as DM for years. You can find his other work in publications like Level Skip or Hobby Lark.