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DnD opportunity attack 5e rules, explained

We answer all your questions about attacks of opportunity in Dungeons and Dragons, including how to avoid or strengthen these 5e strikes.

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The DnD opportunity attack 5e rules give you one last chance to hit an enemy that’s trying to run out of your reach. Like many Dungeons and Dragons mechanics, attacks of opportunity 5e seem fairly simple on the surface – but they can have some pretty complex interactions. It helps to know the ins and outs of how they work, so we’ve put together a handy guide to all things opportunity attack.

Below you’ll find a comprehensive rules explainer, summarizing the most important parts of the relevant DnD books. What we haven’t covered is how each of the DnD classes and DnD races can use opportunity attacks to their advantage – so be sure to check out our dedicated guides on those for more details.

Here’s everything you need to know about the DnD opportunity attack 5e rules:

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What triggers opportunity attacks 5e?

According to the Player’s Handbook, “You can make an opportunity attack when a hostile creature that you can see moves out of your reach.” Let’s break down the wording here:

  • “Hostile creature” – You don’t typically get to make opportunity attacks against your fellow party members.
  • “That you can see” – If you become blinded or your foe becomes invisible, you won’t be able to make an opportunity attack against them.
  • “Moves out of your reach” – If your DnD weapon’s reach is five feet, an enemy must move over five feet away to trigger an opportunity attack.

Opportunity attacks resolve right before the target leaves your area of reach. There are a few cases where movement won’t trigger an opportunity attack. To learn more about this, skip ahead to the second on how to avoid opportunity attacks. 

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How many DnD opportunity attacks do you get?

If you want to make an opportunity attack, you must spend your reaction. Every character gets one reaction per round of combat, so use them wisely. 

Can an opportunity attack 5e be a spell attack?

D&D’s basic rules state that opportunity attacks are always melee strikes. But what if you’re a DnD Wizard who can’t hit too hard with their quarterstaff?

Enter the War Caster 5e feat. This offers a range of spellcasting benefits designed to boost your battle prowess, and one of those is the option to cast a 5e spell as an opportunity attack. The spell you choose must have a casting time of one action, and it can only target the creature leaving your reach. But otherwise, go nuts. 

How does DnD opportunity attack work with reach weapons?

Some weapons in D&D have the ‘reach’ property, which extends their area of reach to ten feet. Enemies must leave your area of reach before they trigger an opportunity attack, and a larger area of reach means they have more freedom to move around before you can bash them over the head. Instead of five feet, targets must now move over ten feet before you get an attack of opportunity. 

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How to avoid opportunity attacks 5e

Heroes aren’t the only ones who can make attacks of opportunity. You’re just as likely to get stabbed by the Big Bad Evil of your DnD campaign if you step away from them too hastily. So here’s some advice on avoiding opportunity attacks:

Disengage 5e

The simplest way to avoid attacks of opportunity is to use the Disengage 5e action (or bonus action, if you’re a DnD Rogue). This action’s only purpose is to prevent you from triggering opportunity attacks while moving. It’s not the most powerful use of your action economy, but it comes in handy in a pinch.


If an enemy can’t see you, they can’t attack. A spell like Invisibility 5e is an easy way to get out of opportunity attacks, as is any spell or action that blinds nearby foes. Cast Darkness, and get out of dodge – simple.

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Teleportation allows you to move out of an area without technically stepping outside your enemy’s reach. This means spells like Misty Step don’t trigger attacks of opportunity.

Forced movement

The Player’s Handbook says you can’t be the target of opportunity attacks “when someone or something moves you without using your movement, action, or reaction”. This means, if an ally forces you to move out of a foe’s reach, the enemy won’t get a hit on you. The downside of this is that spells and abilities with forced movement also tend to deal damage.

A better idea would be to force your enemies to move instead. If a DnD Druid casts Thunderwave on a nearby hostile creature, pushing them back, they can now move away to safety.

Mobile 5e

The Mobile 5e feat protects you from all opportunity attacks on a turn, as long as you make a melee attack against a creature first. You don’t have to hit your target, but you do have to try. 

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How to make DnD opportunity attacks stronger

Plenty of DnD classes and subclasses have abilities that augment their attacks, and these still apply to attacks of opportunity. Consider the Rogue’s Sneak Attack feature, or the DnD Paladin’s Divine Smite.

But if you want to specifically enhance opportunity attacks, feats are the way to go. We already mentioned how awesome War Caster and Mobile can be, but these feats are also worth considering:

Sentinel 5e

Sentinel 5e nullifies the Disengage action, so creatures always trigger opportunity attacks when moving away from you. If your attack of opportunity hits, the target’s speed is also reduced to zero for the rest of the turn.

As if that wasn’t enough, Sentinel lets you make an opportunity attack when you see an enemy within five feet attack someone other than you. It’s the ultimate opportunity attack feat.

Polearm Master 5e

Reach can often be a problem for opportunity attacks, but Polearm Master 5e is here to fix that. This feat triggers an opportunity attack when an enemy enters your area of reach while you’re wielding a reach weapon.

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Mage Slayer 5e

Mage Slayer 5e triggers an opportunity attack when a creature within five feet of you casts a spell. Simple and a little situational, but it makes you very effective against spellcasters.

Crusher 5e

Crusher 5e is an example of a feat that can help you avoid opportunity attacks. Once per turn, this feat lets you move a creature five feet away after you successfully attack it. After that, you’re safe to make a run for it.

Fey Touched 5e

Fey Touched 5e is one of several D&D feats that gives you a free use of Misty Step once per long rest 5e. It’s an easy way to prevent opportunity attacks, particularly if your class can’t usually access this spell.

For more on how to play Dungeons and Dragons, here are some more rules guides. We can tell you all about DnD conditions and DnD damage types, as well as how attunement 5e works.