Sentinel feat in DnD 5E explained

The Barbarian watched the eyes of the abomination in front of him, tracking them to see where it might attempt to move next, not the easiest task when the creature had half a dozen of them, but he didn’t know how to watch tentacles like you would feet. After several bone-shuddering slams into his shield, the creature had realized the onslaught was useless and was looking to make tracks over to the distracted Bard. As it began to slither away the Barbarian struck out with his axe, the enchantment helping to guide the edge firmly into what he suspected was a nerve cluster. The abomination stopped in place, eyes all swiveling over to meet the Barbarian. He smiled a toothy grin a raised the shield again.

Some people are drawn to the role of protecting their fellow party members and built their characters to do just that. The problem arises when the monsters start to ignore you and move on to those squishy party members, and this is where Sentinel comes in.

Let’s break down what this feat gives you:

  • When you hit a creature with an opportunity attack, the creature’s speed becomes 0 for the rest of the turn. An excellent way to lock down monsters and prevent them from getting past you to your squishy friends.
  • Creatures provoke opportunity attacks from you even if they take the Disengage action before leaving your reach. If you’re doing a good job of punishing a monster for dare stepping into combat with you they may want to flee, but this part of the feat greatly cuts down their options for doing so. This is particularly great against really mobile enemies such as goblins, which can Disengage as a bonus action.
  • When a creature within 5 feet of you makes an attack against a target other than you (and that target doesn’t have this feat), you can use your reaction to make a melee weapon attack against the attacking creature. This can really incentivize an enemy to focus on you, or they risk a speedy end. Note: the attack this part of the feat grants you is not an opportunity attack, so their speed will not be reduced to 0.

Being able to make more attacks, whilst locking down the monster in question, that’s a great feat, surely everyone that makes melee weapon attacks will want this right? Well not necessarily, let’s take a look at the melee weapon users that this feat is best and worst for:

Sentinel is most useful for

  • Barbarians – This class is built around being durable, but the core class lacks any mechanics to keep a monster focused on them, rather than move on to a softer target. This also gives the Barbarian another opportunity to leverage the additional damage of Rage and potentially Great Weapon Master, if the Barbarian in question has it and deems it worthwhile.
  • Fighters – With the most ASIs of any class, Fighters have the easiest time grabbing a feat like this and are tough enough to lock down a monster next to them. Some subclasses also offer ways to make more of the reaction attacks, an example of this is the Battle Master which can add additional damage whilst attempting to inflict a condition like prone or frightened.
  • Paladins – Not only is this class hardy enough to withstand a monster staying in the personal space but, Divine Smite gives them a way to make the most of the additional attacks the feat grants.

Sentinel is least useful for

  • Monks – Stunning Strike as a reaction is very potent, but that is both going to cost you more Ki and targets a strong monster save, whilst the damage from the attack itself will be relatively low. This makes the opportunity cost of grabbing a feat on such a MAD class too steep to bear.
  • Rangers – As a Ranger, you’re very likely to be relying on a concentration spell of some kind quite often in combat, this makes standing toe-to-toe with a monster that really wants to hit you unappealing. The attacks would also clash with some options you have, such as Absorb Elements, or many archetype capstones at higher levels.
  • Rogues – This may seem a little odd to some readers, after all the Rogue has an additional ASI and can potentially add Sneak Attack onto the reaction attacks. The reaction attacks are actually the problem here, as a Rogue largely relies on Uncanny Dodge for their durability against attacks and also requires a reaction. If you’re a Rogue player looking for ways to Sneak Attack as a reaction you’re best looking elsewhere, I’m afraid. 

It’s worth considering your subclass abilities before deciding whether or not to take this feat, if you are a Cavalier Fighter, Ancestral Guardian Barbarian, or an Armorer Artificer using the Guardian model, then you already have features to attract attention to yourself and the appeal of this feat is reduced accordingly. You should also be cautious when choosing this feat if you favor reach weapons like a glaive as the longer your reach, the more space a monster has to move in around you without provoking an opportunity attack.

We hope that this article managed to keep your attention focused on us, but don’t worry about any opportunity attacks on your way to other articles. If you’re interested in reading about feats then check out our feat spotlight section, or if you are considering this feat for your Paladin, then check out our Paladin guide. Until next time, may your shield hold fast and your opportunity attacks land true!