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The Polearm Master Feat is Crazy Good!

The halberd, glaive and pike: the legendary choice of arms used by heroes such as… erm…. wait…. no, just hang on a minute…. let me think…

Ok, nobody.

I can remember, even decades ago, looking at the weapons table of my 2nd edition Player’s Handbook and thinking: “What’s the point of these ugly, impractical weapons in Dungeons & Dragons?” Ok, these barge poles with weird-shaped, Swiss army knife attachments at one end might suit a foot soldier or town guard in florid uniform, but heroes don’t use polearms… and they certainly don’t take them on adventures and into cramped dungeons.

Above: Exactly how every D&D fighter imagines themselves (Source:

I’d be willing to bet that less than 0.1% of players chose to fight with a halberd or glaive back in those days, but I’m pretty sure that figure has risen a lot in 5th edition with the introduction of Polearm Master feat.

The Player’s Handbook states the following:

You gain the following benefits:

  • When you take the Attack action and attack with only a glaive, halberd, quarterstaff, or spear, you can use a bonus action to make a melee attack with the opposite end of the weapon. This attack uses the same ability modifier as the primary attack. The weapon’s damage die for this attack is d4, and it deals bludgeoning damage.
  • While you are wielding a glaive, halberd, pike, quarterstaff, or spear, other creatures provoke an opportunity attack from you when they enter your reach.

Wow, suddenly history’s least sexy melee weapons are now Dungeon and Dragon’s most powerful ones!

Tights are beginning to feel like a prerequisite (Source:

You probably don’t need telling this, but Polearm Master feat is crazy good, even courting the dreaded ‘overpowered’ label. You get the principle advantage that two weapon fighters get – an extra attack using a bonus action – but with the added bonus that you get to add your Strength modifier to the damage, no fighting style required (i.e. leaving you free to select Defense or Great Weapon Fighting fighting style instead). And, unlike with two weapon fighting, your main weapon attacks do d10 damage. Plus, no one can get near you without taking a spike to the face first!

Not only does PAM offer you the most attacks, and therefore the best damage output, of any martial feat (more than Great Weapon Master! Which anyway you can use in conjunction with this feat, if you like…) but it also combines brilliantly with the Sentinel feat, and also with the Battle Master’s superiority dice. The fact that you potentially get two extra attacks a round (one from your reaction and one using your bonus action) really maximises your action economy and also means you can go to town on your opponent using your Battle Master maneuvers, forcing them to make multiple saves, even in the first round of combat – something that can easily swing a battle.

Much as I love this feat, I think it’s probably a bit too good in RAW, and moreover it has some logic-defying glitches that need amending.

Let’s dig a little deeper, one problem point at a time and hopefully make the feat more credible and balanced along the way.

Bizarre Bonus Attack Range: Glitch Fix

The first is a bit of a no brainer for me, and that’s the reach of the bonus action attack. Contrary to what Jeremy Crawford says, I think it absolutely has to be limited to a 5 foot range.

For a wielder to strike out at 10 feet with the sharp/pointy end, they need to have their hands pretty far back on the shaft. In fact, one hand should be at the end of the shaft, so to attack anyone with that end the target would have to be within reach of your hand… i.e. really close range. Yes, you could adjust your grip, but constantly changing grips in a fight would put you at a disadvantage, and begs the question… if you have the time and technique to change grip, surely you could just strike out with the actual weapon end of the weapon again more easily? The bonus attack only really makes sense as a rapid combo, delivered at close quarters.

That looks like less than 10 feet range to me… (Source: )

Inopportune Opportunity Attacks: Glitch Fix

My second proposed change is likely to be more contentious, but is based on simple logic too. I don’t believe you should be able to use the feat’s opportunity attack when you’re already engaged in melee with another opponent. Or rather I don’t believe you should be able to do so with impunity. If you are fighting one foe, and a second comes at you from the exact opposite direction, it beggars belief that you could turn around and stab the opponent charging you without being promptly hacked down by the enemy you just turned your back on. This actually leads me to a house rule that the world probably isn’t ready for yet, and that’s that taking an opportunity attack should trigger an opportunity attack from any hostile creature in range. (This rule actually makes a lot of sense. While it can set off a bit of a chain, it is limited by the fact each combatant only gets one reaction, and it creates realistic scenarios…. you want to retreat when your mate is there to cover you? Great, your opponent might not take their opportunity attack, fearing a reprisal. You want to retreat when it’s just you and the enemy… well then, it’s open season for a beating!).

Anyway, if you’re not quite ready yet to trust uncle Duncan on this one, you could simulate something that does the same job without changing the core rules. “While you are wielding a glaive, halberd, pike, quarterstaff or spear, provided there are no hostile creatures within 5 feet of you, other creatures provoke an opportunity attack from you when they enter your reach.”

Twirling Spear Syndrome: Glitch Fix

Another weird issue that could have been easily dealt with by including three additional words in the feat’s text, but for some reason wasn’t (see Tweet below), is that in RAW you can actually combine this feat with a shield, and then use a spear or quarterstaff one-handed and get both the feat’s bonus attack AND a shield’s AC bonus. Apart from the fact that feels like having your cake and eating it (actually, I can’t really take issue with this power balance as I more or less advocate the same ability for the Shield Master feat), it just conjures up a horrible twirling baton technique that befits a marching band’s drum major more than a man-at-arms.

I’m definitely not buying this as a valid combat technique, and therefore I would add the proviso… “When you take the Attack action and attack with only a glaive, halberd, quarterstaff or spear, using two hands, you can use a bonus action to make a melee attack with the opposite end of the weapon.

Compensatory Buffs

Now, I think all of these restrictions are common sense, and still leave an incredibly powerful feat available for selection. But, since I’m such a warm-hearted soul, I might be tempted to throw these poor deprived Polearm Masters a couple of compensatory buffs, to prevent any tears and tantrums around the table.

Since I’ve restricted the use of the feat’s reaction-based opportunity attack, I might give them another use for their reaction: they can add +1 to their AC for a single melee attack that they can see. That pole looks pretty handy defensively, so would be nice to reflect that. (I would like to offer more than just +1, but I don’t think I can really justify that when balanced with Dual Wielder and Defensive Duellist feats).

Secondly, since I’m not allowing one-handed spear users a bonus action attack anymore, I’m going to let their mastery of the spear mean that they can use a d8 as their damage die (or d10 if they do go two handed, a la the Red Viper), PLUS give them ‘reach’ when using a spear. This now sets up a rather nice combo with Shield Master feat, which they can use to collect the bonus action they are missing.

A little Hipster buff and you can imitate the Red Viper…

So there we go… shall we put it all together?


Ok, this is what PAM looks like on my table…

You gain the following benefits:

  • When you take the Attack action and attack with only a glaive, halberd, quarterstaff or spear, using two hands, you can use a bonus action to make a melee attack with the opposite end of the weapon. This attack uses the same ability modifier as the primary attack. The weapon’s damage die for this attack is d4, it has a reach of 5 feet and it deals bludgeoning damage.
  • While you are wielding a glaive, halberd, pike, quarterstaff or spear, other creatures provoke an opportunity attack from you when they enter your reach, provided that no other hostile creature is within 5 feet of you. You also gain another way of using your reaction: when using your weapon with two hands and another creature hits you with a melee attack you can see, you can add +1 to your AC, potentially causing the attack to miss you.
  • Your mastery of polearms means that when you wield a spear it has the reach property, and your weapon damage die increases from a d6 to a d8 (and from a d8 to a d10, when used two-handed).

Not quite as elegant? Sure it’s not. But it’s hardly complicated either.


If you want to build a deadly Polearm Master I’d definitely go for the fighter’s Battle Master archetype, as your maneuvers will give you complete dominance in martial combat. A paladin is a decent shout as well, as having up to four attacks a round means you can dish out four smites a round (at least in RAW, where Divine Smite is wildly overpowered… don’t worry DMs, I’ve fixed it for you!), while the 11th level Improved Divine Smite ability works better the more attacks you have, if you think you’ll be playing a long campaign.

If you choose human feat variant as your race you will be able to pick up the feat at 1st level, giving you up to three attacks a round from the off. At fourth level you might consider boosting your Strength, or picking up the Sentinel feat, which almost breaks the game when paired with PAM. The Sentinel feat means that when you hit a creature with an opportunity attack their speed reduces to 0, so using PAM a creature that enters your reach at 10 feet range might easily get rooted to the spot, leaving them unable to complete their move and attack you. A rather handy defense mechanism, and, if you’re really boring, you could attack that stalled creature and then move backwards and run the same tactic again as it reenters your reach! (Actually I’m not a big fan of the Sentinel feat’s text, which offers no saving throw and makes no exceptions to this ability… i.e. a dragon attempting to fly out of combat would be stopped by a Medium sized creature’s opportunity attack. Another of 5e’s little peccadillos, and no doubt the subject of a future blog post).

Actually, if you go Battlemaster you don’t even really need the Sentinel feat to mirror the same tactic. You can use the opportunity attack you get when someone enters your range to throw down a Menacing attack for example, and, if it fails its save, it is frightened of you and can’t come nearer anyway. And, if it can still get you with a ranged attack option, it now has disadvantage on its attack rolls. Meanwhile, if a creature uses the Dash action to try and engage you, out comes the Trip Attack maneuver which should leave them prone at your feet, ready for you turn.

Trip attack or knee break? You decide… (Source:

On your own turn, you can also use the Trip Attack to good effect, especially if your DM allows you to use your polearm butt bonus action attack first (technically you’re not supposed to. But there’s a case to be made that you can use it in between the Attack action and any Extra attacks you get when you take the Attack action). Anyhow, using the Trip Attack on your first hit should allow you, or, if not, your allies to all pile in on the floored opponent with advantage.

Another thing you can do is use the Pushing Attack maneuver to push your opponent back and force them to enter your reach again on their turn. Depending on how far you intend to push them back, you might want to do this on your last attack, so as not to push them out of range of any remaining attacks you have.

I wrote a big post rating all the Battle Master’s maneuvers (plus I homebrewed a bunch more) and if you have a read, I’m confident you’ll avoid selecting the duds. After some more playing time, I’d also up Menacing attack to a full 5/5 as a choice.

Should probably also add that Great Weapon Master works pretty well with PAM too, and is best taken at later levels when that pesky -5 to hit is less of an issue. Smart players will also look to get advantage before invoking the -5 to hit, +10 damage feature.

Shield Master and Polearm Master can work well together

If you want to fight with a spear and shield, Hoplite style, PAM and Shield Master actually work pretty well, especially if you are using my version of PAM, as then your spear does more damage, has more reach, and there’s no overlap over the use of your bonus action. Using this combo you attack as normal and then use your Sheild Master shove attack to push your opponent back. You are now free to step back another 5 feet (no need in RAW, as your reach is only 5 feet) and force it to enter your reach on its turn.


Wielding a 6 to 9 feet long halberd, glaive or spear is not always practical, and I feel DMs out there should be alert to occasions when such a weapon might be more of a hindrance than a tool. You can’t sheath it like a sword, you’re pretty much stuck with it in your hand(s) all the time – fine for guard duty, but not great for climbing up a wall etc. Realistically it would be a massive nuisance for any adventurer, but while I wouldn’t advocate micromanaging how it is handled in every small tunnel or busy tavern, there are undoubtedly times when the player will have to put their weapon aside, or not carry it with them (in a social setting etc.).

The other major disadvantage of making polearms your go to weapon is the distinct lack of magical halberds and glaives.

Players concerned by this might want to invest in my Platinum best seller Esquiel’s Guide to Magic Weapons, which features the Displacer Glaive, the Glaive of Vengeance and the Halberd of Heroism, alongside several magical spears. It’s also got a Magic Weapon Generator with scores of different properties you can mix and match to make infinite new weapons of any variety. A nice present for your Dungeon Master that should benefit you (and also a nice way to support this blog!).

As always, please share your thoughts, experience, and tactics / builds, in the comments. Hint: you don’t have to agree with me, but you should probably keep it polite if you want me to click ‘approve comment’ and not ‘spam’.


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  1. Dennis

    I fully agree on PAM benefits only applying to spears and quarterstaves when they’re weilded two handed.

    Limiting the bonus action attack range also makes sense.

    I’d put the spear damage boost into a separate Spear Master feat and also give it reach when using a spear single handed (think a short throw while maintaining a loose grip) and the opportunity attack on approaching creatures from PAM – but no bonus action attack. This feat would have great synergy with Shield Master making hoplite or viking like spear and shield warriors appropriately deadly.

    Question: shouldn’t the benefits of PAM also apply when using a greataxe? It’s a two handed polearm.

    It would be easy to rig a shoulder sling for a polearm to keep it out of way when climbing or such. But social restrictions should apply – historically sidearms like swords were socially acceptable self defence tools in many contexts, in constrast carrying a battlefield weapon like polearm (or greatsword!) around town would be seen as intent to use it and draw the attention of local guards.

    • duncan

      Hi Dennis

      Glad I’m not the only one then!

      A separate spear feat makes sense, and I did one for my home games Spear Master feat (, but supposing that most people want to deviate from RAW as little as possible, I felt I could package this up relatively neatly together… now you can wield spear in two hands in traditional polearm master style, or one handed and not feel stupid that you’re not armed with a longsword.

      For me a greataxe (I’m thinking in fantasy terms, not historic ones) has a huge heavy head and you use both hands near the bottom of the shaft for as much leverage as possible… earning you that d12 damage die… but making a reverse swing with the butt end pretty tricky. Whereas a halberd for example has a smaller axe head, longer pole and you use with your grip much further part (allowing for that bonus action attack).

      You could def. rig a shoulder sling… however if the polearm was taller than you (which typically they were), you could never sling it when walking and it would still be a pain when climbing.


  2. Very nicely written! I’d like to add on, though, that there actually are plenty of great legendary heroes who used spears and other polearms; they just aren’t typically the ones we think of when it comes to the stereotypical medieval knight in shining armor. A great place to look for examples is the Fate series’ Lancer class (the Fate series in general is amazing for expanding your horizons on myth and legend), but here are a few notable highlights:

    Cú Chulainn; an Irish hero who wielded the legendary spear Gáe Bolg, and was so unbelievably badass that it took all of his greatest enemies tricking him into being weakened and then ganging up on him at once to take him out, and he still decimated their armies singlehandedly in the process.

    (A lot of other Irish heroes were notable polearm users as well, such as Scáthach, Ferdiad, Lugh, Diarmuid Ua Duibhne, and more, but Cú Chulainn is probably the most well-known and strongest, and in many cases is a mutual acquaintance / fling.)

    Odin; the Norse god known as the All-Father, who notably wielded the spear Gungnir.

    St. George; famous for slaying a dragon with his spear Ascalon, one of the archetypical stories of the modern dragon-slaying tale.

    King Arthur; while he’s more famous for having used the swords Excalibur and Caliburn, one of his other notable weapons was the spear Rhongomyniad.

    Achilles; though his spear doesn’t have a notable legendary name, he was most often depicted primarily using one, and it played a large part in several of his stories.

    Bradamante; the sister of one of Charlemagne’s paladins, who wielded a magical lance that unhorsed anyone it touched.

    Poseidon; the Greek god of the seas, who famously wielded a trident.

    And of course, that’s just a small selection. There’s plenty out there if you look – and none of them are characters you should sleep on =)

    • duncan

      Hey Katrina

      Cool, thanks for digging out all these heroes!

      I’m not sure I quite consider a spear or lance a polearm though. I was really joking that no hero wields a Bill-Guisarme or Bec-de-Corbin… or even a halberd. There’s something unheroic, or at least visually unappealing, about a weird shaped blade with jutting hooks, and other attachments, on the end of a long stick. A spear on the other hand is beautiful in its simplicity.

      • Very fair =) I generally consider them to fall in roughly the same category, but I totally get why that’s probably weird on my part. If you want to avoid spears as part of the discussion, it’s admittedly quite a bit harder, but there are a handful; the most notable I can think of offhand is Musashibou Benkei, who among other weapons was known for his use of the Japanese glaive (naginata).

        • duncan

          Good call on Benkei… just reading about him now!

          The naginata definitely has some sex appeal as a weapon!

          Thanks for including H&D on your Dungeon Daily feed btw 🙂

  3. Tigris

    Wow you are once again nerving a fun feat, which players like. Something totally new. How could anyone make good things in this game which players enjoy?

    As a bad DM its your job to ban everything relately good in the game!

    • duncan

      Indeed I am!

      If you can make a good counterargument to any of the points I made, now is your opportunity…

      • Tigris


        1. Players like the feat.

        Thats enough. If other feats are not taken, make them stronger. As easy as that.

        I mean in the lucky threat your “argument” was that you just deleted my comment XD (which is really only “OP” because you are playing by wrong rules)

        Also about your “logic” the Hallbeard was during about 2 centuries the top weapon for mercenaries in europe, just because you find it boring is a pretty bad argument.

        You post every month about 1 feat you find to strong, if so many feats are too strong, then maybe something is wrong with you, especially when so many feats are obviously too weak, but you never concern with them, maybe because you cant ruin the fun with that?

        Also in this game spellcasters are (especially later) soo much stronger than martial characters, that it honestly makes no sense to make martial things stronger.

        If you want to start somewhere: Fireball is even according to wizards of the costs own guidelines 2damage dices to strong, especially with your way of plaing the game (with way to many rests/not enough encounters).

        • duncan

          Many players, especially beginners, tend to think anything powerful is fun, without giving wider consideration to the balance of the game and how that effects fun in the long term. Any ‘must have’ feat or spell is rendering 100s more obsolete at worst or unattractive at best.

          I think I didn’t publish your Lucky comment because a) it was rude and b) you hadn’t made any arguments that hadn’t been raised and countered several times in the post itself or comments section already.

          I am not arguing that the halberd was a poor weapon… I’m just pointing out that the only reason D&D players suddenly fight with polearms is because of the PAM feat.

          I actually did just post about the Shield Master, making it better than in RAW. Plus I started a Remix series of posts that plan to revisit underperforming abilities.

          But overall, what is better… dialling back the game’s very few overpowered spells, abilities and feats, or trying to raise the other 90% to their level? When you do the latter, you end up with the inevitable power creep, as you’re just homebrewing ever more powerful stuff. It’s easier to bring down a few overperforming powers. Besides which, none of the changes I’ve suggested are actual nerfs, in that all of the abilities I ‘fix’ are still left as better than average options. If my versions of Divine Smite or Lucky or PAM were in the Player’s Handbook as official rules, people would still take them and be pleased with their performance. (Regarding PAM the fixes I suggest are more to do with credibility than power… a reach of 10 feet with the butt of your polearm is just plainly absurd).

          Regarding fireball, I do actually suggest you could lower the damage here:

        • Adm Izr

          I gotta say I agree with tigris, he probably could be more diplomatic, but my problem with polearm master isn’t that it is overpowered, it’s that it’s obligatory, nerfing this feat won’t help melee martials be less overshadowed by casters, it’s just going to make it more difficult to build a character that wants to be a melee character that’s not a hexblade or a paladin less viable. As a DM my biggest concern is wanting my players to play the characters they want to play, polearm master is a feat that works, it’s one of the only feats that benefits melee martials of small races:
          -d8 for a spear is really not impactful think of the ASI you gave up to take this feat, this is dual-wielder(one of the worst feats in the game) all over again.
          -having to enter the reach of a creature to use the bonus attack feature of this feat essentially negates the purpose of a reach weapon.
          -the feat gives you a “benefit” of using your reaction to gain a +1 to your armor class against one attack, even if you have no idea if it will be effective? I am somewhat skeptical how often this will be used or useful, but further if you do use this feature it conflicts with another feature the reaction attack for controlling enemy movement to keep them from dogpiling on you, but wait it probably won’t, cause you prevented yourself from being able to use this feature cause you already entered within 5ft of a enemy in order to make use of the bonus action attack.
          -this is the only feat support that a sword and board character really receives, shield master is pretty clunky seeing as you can’t shield bash until after you’ve made all your attacks. They really struggle with dpr even after taking this feat, they can’t qualify for GWM (I know not one of your favorites either). It’s also a feat that helps give PC’s who would like to play a smaller race an option for a melee focused build.

          Polearm master might seem overpowered, but it really isn’t, it just stands out because of IMO how awful or lneffective feats are for martial characters. The game isn’t going to be better balanced if you make more character options less tenable, if you want to throw challenging encounters at players you don’t want to have them feel ineffective or overshadowed by other PC’s. There are a lot of really badly designed mechanics in 5e like two-weapon fighting, but that should just make us thankful that polearm master just works and gives us a bunch of useful easily to implement mechanics that help players build a more diverse set of characters, revising the feat with tedious features that work against one another cause it doesn’t mesh well with how you imagine polearms should work is really just a solution where there is no problem

  4. Keith Case

    So, RAW is ‘This attack uses the same ability modifier as the primary attack. The weapon’s damage die for this attack is d4, and it deals bludgeoning damage’ – using the butt end of course. We have always played it precisely RAW which means ONLY the attack gets the modifiers, not the damage. This tones it down a little and makes it not so overpowered.

    Another thing I did which you mentioned was to say that the sentinel feat(even though that is not what this article is really about) could not stop dead anything greater than the characters size(T,S,M,L,H,G). I even went so far as to say that if the character was slight of build(many DM’s never use height and weight but I insist on it as I tailor some things to be either beneficial or detrimental and to add flavor) or that anything heavier than them would get a saving throw to resist it which I would scale to the actual mass difference. Thus a elf weighing 170 pounds using a polearm against orcs or anything weighing 250+ might have little chance of stopping them dead. My general rule on this was for every 10# up to 50 difference the save went down by 1, then above 50 it went down by one for every 5 pounds just due to the amount of inertia/momentum anything that big can develop. So, the save could be as low as 5(never lower). BUT, I did give the character the option to say if they were using the weapon as a bashing attack to stop them dead or as a hindrance, i.e. using it to disrupt the footing of the charging creature. This gave them a chance to force the creature to use a save that may be bad for them, dex vs strength, but no damage for disrupting the footing BUT if it succeeded then I would allow a chance(normal hit) for the character to either completely trip the creature or give them disadvantage on their next turn, I only offered the disadvantage until a player asked and gave a reasonable explanation about possibly tripping to the ground so I allowed it and it actually worked out well.

    Another thing I was toying with was that if the character was big and burly and the creature was smaller then rather than just stop the creature I would give it a dex save to roll with the blow AWAY from the character to prevent them being stopped right where they could get shish kabobed and thus making it a little more difficult for the players.

    The only other thing I was thinking about doing was that if you had used your bonus action for the butt end attack that with sentinel, you could do the reach out and touch someone but there would be no damage until you were high enough level to have two attacks(thus going up against stronger creatures). Because what I discovered was that everyone would take human variant and then take sentinel at 4th and just be a one person slaughter machine unless I scaled everything up and then the other players would have trouble surviving.

    So far most of this response is about the paired PAM and sentinel, but to be honest I have never seen anyone take sentinel unless they had PAM already.

    As for your PAM outline, I like it, but I would change it to be a +2 to equal a shield(because you are using your reaction vs a static +2 for the shield so should be at least equal IMO) but I would add another proviso that the ‘block’ must be declared before the to hit is determined. If the attack misses the reaction is not used but you may not attempt to block another attack from that creature again until your next turn. So, if the attack misses while you attempt to block you can’t block the second or third attack BUT you can still use the reaction to attempt to block an attack from a different creature. I did the same thing with Pally smite but that is a different issue.

    As for my rule of declaring before the to hit is determined and only allowing one attempt, it could be argued that the character used the reaction to up their armor class in a last ditch effort to ward off a blow that was going to hit. Now I know it is fantasy and heros and such but I try to keep a little RW in the game and if a last ditch effort is made to ‘block’ then there needs to be some form of negative because such a thing will usually cause a person to be off balance or out of position or more vulnerable for a few seconds whereas declaring before is kind of like keeping your guard up even while attacking but this is something that makes it harder to actually attack, I guess you could call it defensively attacking even though that is not completely right either.

    Another thing I had thought about was allowing a S character to have a “great weapon”. This would be a halfling using a longsword, a battle axe, or a 5-6 ft glaive or spear and doing the increased damage vs shortsword and then being able to take the PAM(for added flavor) but of course the 10′ would be reduced to 5′ for the sentinel. Hey, when you play long enough, you get bored with all the ‘normal’ builds and want to try the halfling barbarian wielding a greatsword(longsword) to deadly effect and be the badass of the shire.

    Anyway, as usual, I wrote a lot, but the end result is that I like your posts and value your contributions to the game.

    • duncan

      Hi Keith

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      I agree with the principles of everything you say, after that it’s finding a balance though between realism and simplicity.

      I had a scenario once where a Sentinel Polearm master wanted to stop the charge of a gorgon in its tracks, and 5e doesn’t make any effort to deal with those situations at all realistically. Your rule about creature size might well get incorporated into my next game!

      Btw RAW I’m sure that you do get your damage modifier too with PAM’s bonus attack…

  5. Sky

    Hello Keith,

    Do you think the new Dark Gift “Living Shadow” from VRG of Ravenloft can make the reach of any of the PAM weapons longer to provoke the opportunity attack from even far? Or to give the 1h spear a range bigger than 5 ft?

    For example: You have Shield and Spear with Living Shadow Dark Gift. The range of the spear is 5 ft (like a normal weapon). Will the trait “Shadow strike” of the gift trigger the opportunity attack if creature enters on 15 ft of you?

    If yes, can I wait to come even closer – on 10 ft or I have to attack immediately on 15 ft?

    The RAW states “when you make a mele attack roll, you can increase your reach for that attack by 10ft”.

    • Keith Case

      Duncan needs to weigh in on this also IMO.

      Interesting question and my answer is a little convoluted based on the the mechanics, but the simple answer is no.

      Explanation follows.

      In order for the PAM ability for the opportunity attack to trigger the creature must enter the range of your weapon. The shadow strike ability only happens when actually making a melee attack so the shadow strike will not be ‘active’ at the 15′ range as you are not making an attack and cannot make the opportunity attack until creature enters normal range of the weapon and that is when you make the melee attack. In your example, your spear only has a 5′ range thus any creature must get to the 5′ mark before the PAM ability triggers and you can make the opportunity attack.

      As for the waiting to get closer portion of your question: for the spear it is a moot point as the Sentinel ability can’t trigger until the PAM triggers and that is at 5′.

      For a halberd type of weapon with a range of 10′, I would say it would be up the DM if they will allow this. But RAW says the opportunity attack happens when they enter your reach, and one of the biggest strengths of this combined pair of feats is to allow the character to keep creatures away from themselves or others by stopping them in their tracks while they are out of range thus preventing at least one attack from the creature. I imagine there could be a time when you want to allow them to come into 5′ range of you and be able to attack but I honestly can’t think of one right now.

  6. Matthew Barr

    The one point you made that has me a little cautious about your change is the AoO when already engaged with another combatant. You have a weapon that enables you a 10-foot reach. It would be fairly easy to swing a said weapon or spin with a said weapon to slice at the person behind you without allowing the person you are engaged with to take a shot at you. A way I might change that is that if you are engaged in combat and want to take the AoO at someone else coming through your range or coming to attack you from behind, you would roll with Disadvantage. This way you still get that AoO, but you can justify the disadvantage as a DM by stating that you also have to keep an eye on your current opponent while also taking your reaction on another NPC.

    • duncan

      I would either allow them to make the AoO as normal, but provoke an AoO in turn (in my opinion AoOs should provoke AoOs in general)… or I would use your suggestion then, of letting them make one at disadvantage with no other consequences.

  7. Xavier

    You can absolutely use the butt-end of a spear one-handed. Try it yourself: Pick up a stick, pretend one end is pointy, hold that end forward like normal, then hit something with the other end. Swing with a hook or a make an overhand stabbing motion. I’d be willing to bet you could even break things with it if the stick is strong enough.

    Would it be easy to do effectively in a fight? Not particularly, but it’s far from impossible; that’s why the feat is called “polearm master”.

    *Also with the slightest RAI you could also just smash targets with the spear shaft, even if RAW only using the butt-end works too.

    • duncan

      I imagine such a one-handed, twirling baton technique could be mastered (although the times that using the butt of the spear vs. using the pointy end a second time would be extremely rare, I imagine… certainly against the same opponent), but, as I said, this ruling really feels like having your cake and eating i.

      A bonus action attack ( with Str modifier included) AND the benefit of a shield feels too much and makes two weapon fighting an even worse option.

      My objection here is more mechanical than anything else.

  8. DB

    Show me a player who thinks size should be a limiting factor for Sentinel, and I will show you a person who has never stepped on a bee.

  9. Artixzerxes

    For a game, that has been around for a long time. U all sure do take the fun out of bending the rules. U have druids that can change into any creature they have seen. Dragons and magic. Here u all are complaining that the pole arm attack is to UN-realistic and overpowered when combined with other feats. When has shooting a fireball from ur hand ever been realistic. Let people bend the rules and have fun doing it. Dms need to just accept it and move on. Have a good day/night. I won’t be following, remember it’s just a game.

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