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The Polearm Master feat reads:

While you are wielding a glaive, halberd, pike, or quarterstaff, other creatures provoke an opportunity attack from you when they enter your reach.

Let's say my character is wielding a quarterstaff in one hand and a whip in the other hand, and I have the Polearm Master feat. When a character enters a square within 10 feet of me (which is within my reach with the whip), can I use the whip to make an opportunity attack?

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No. The OA from Polearm Master can only be taken with the listed weapons, by wielding those weapons. If you are hold a quarterstaff and attacking with a whip, you are not wielding the quarterstaff; you are wielding the whip.

Tweet from Jeremy Crawford: "The intent is that any OA triggered because you're wielding a polearm is then made with that polearm."

https://www.sageadvice.eu/2015/09/19/war-caster-feat/

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    \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for this logical answer that seems to feel much more correct! Wield != Hold. It is to hold and use. \$\endgroup\$ – Doc Feb 7 '18 at 23:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ I would disagree with your assertion that "wielding" = "attacking". For example, look at the Dueling Fighting Style: it requires that you be "wielding a melee weapon in one hand, and no other weapons". If you were holding two weapons but only attacking with one of them, I would not rule that you got the bonus from Dueling Fighting Style. Additionally, you can be wielding both a quarterstaff and a whip - the conditions are not exclusive. \$\endgroup\$ – Dacromir Feb 7 '18 at 23:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ Likewise the Dual Wielder feat says "You gain a +1 bonus to AC while you are wielding a separate melee weapon in each hand". I would not say that you have to attack with or even use both of those weapons to receive the benefit - you merely need to be holding (wielding) them. \$\endgroup\$ – Dacromir Feb 8 '18 at 0:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ You may rule it as you like, if/when you are the DM. I tend to be permissive with the rules myself, and get a lot of downvotes here for that. But the Polearm Master feat is specifically about fighting with polearms, not about fighting with other weapons while holding a polearm. I believe there is an official tweet from Crawford about this, but I don't know where it is. \$\endgroup\$ – Phil Boncer Feb 8 '18 at 0:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ah, found it, and added it to my answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Phil Boncer Feb 8 '18 at 2:23
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Rules As Intended - No OA is triggered

Jeremy Crawford has said:

Q: If I have the war caster feat and a reach weapon can I use a spell instead of the weapon if they move to 15 ft?

A: The intent is that any OA triggered because you're wielding a polearm is then made with that polearm.

So it seems like the designers actually intended for this combination not to work.

In this example, the OA is triggered only because you are weilding a polearm. According to Jeremy, this would mean the intent is that that OA is made with that polearm.

Since the polearm does not have a 10 foot reach and thus cannot make the attack, it would logically imply that opportunity attacks were not intended to be triggered by the non-polearm weapon.

You can decide for yourself if and/or how to apply this guidance at your table.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ @T.J.L.: fair point! I'll remove. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Feb 8 '18 at 14:47
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Yes, they do provoke an Attack of Opportunity at 10 feet

Let's look at the exact wording of the feat:

While you are wielding a glaive, halberd, pike, or quarterstaff, other creatures provoke an opportunity attack from you when they enter your reach.

This establishes a condition and an effect if that condition is met. The condition is:

While you are wielding a glaive, halberd, pike, or quarterstaff [...]

That condition is met if you are wielding a quarterstaff and a whip.

The effect is:

[...] other creatures provoke an opportunity attack from you when they enter your reach.

Since the condition is met, you receive that effect, which means that other creatures provoke Opportunity Attacks when they enter your reach. Your reach with a whip is 10 feet, so creatures provoke an OA when they enter that reach.

Alternative phrasing

If WotC didn't want the feat to function in this faction, they would have changed the wording on either the condition or the effect. I've provided two examples of how that might work:

While you are wielding only a glaive, halberd, pike, or quarterstaff, other creatures provoke an opportunity attack from you when they enter your reach.

This wording would change the condition so that it's no longer met if you're holding any other weapons - it would require you to hold only an eligible polearm to receive the effect.

While you are wielding a glaive, halberd, pike, or quarterstaff, other creatures provoke an opportunity attack from you when they enter your reach with that weapon.

This wording would change the mechanics of the effect so that enemies only provoke attacks of opportunity when they enter the reach of the polearm, rather than entering your reach with any weapon.

The writers made a deliberate choice not to restrict the condition (require wielding only a polearm) or the effect (requiring the reach or attack to be with a polearm).

For a similar example, see Crossbow Expert. The feat includes a benefit to ranged spell attacks. By looking at the name of the feat, you might reasonably assume that benefit was only meant to apply to crossbows. However, the writers explicitly chose not to include wording restricting the effect to crossbow attacks, which allows a feat named "Crossbow Expert" to benefit spellcasting. This was confirmed in the Sage Advice Compendium:

Is it intentional that the second benefit of Crossbow Expert helps ranged spell attacks? Yes, it’s intentional. [...] When designing a feat with a narrow use, we consider adding at least one element that can benefit a character more broadly [...]

They intended for the effect to extend to spellcasting, but they didn't explicitly spell it out. Rather, they explicitly avoided restricting the benefit to crossbows only. If they had intended for it to only apply to crossbow attacks, they would have said so.

If it's reasonable for a feat entitled "Crossbow Expert" to benefit ranged spell attacks, it's reasonable for a feat entitled "Polearm Master" to benefit whips.

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    \$\begingroup\$ RAW it is true, but it feels dirty somehow. By the way, why did you answer your own question? Even answered at the same time as the question. \$\endgroup\$ – Aguinaldo Silvestre Feb 7 '18 at 22:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ My only guess is so that the poster can point to it later and say, "See, I was right!" Using other people's upvotes as proof. \$\endgroup\$ – MivaScott Feb 7 '18 at 23:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ "If WotC didn't want the feat to function in this faction, they would have changed the wording on either the condition or the effect." is objectively untrue. \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Feb 7 '18 at 23:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ @AguinaldoSilvestre Answering your own question is explicitly encouraged by the Stack Overflow format. It's a way of sharing the work you have, but also opening the question to the community if someone has a better answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Dacromir Feb 7 '18 at 23:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Miniman The Sage Advice Compendium contains the following quote: "we would write 'melee-weapon attack' (with a hyphen) if we meant an attack with a melee weapon". WotC provides an example of a time we can gain information on a ruling by explicitly looking at what they didn't write. This means that a discussion of "if they wanted it to work like X, they would write it to work like X" is at least worth having, although I'd agree that it's not sufficient as a proof on its own. \$\endgroup\$ – Dacromir Feb 7 '18 at 23:51

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