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I know errata adds opportunity attacks to what reach works for (See: Does a reach weapon allow you to threaten squares 10 feet away or not?):

Reach (p. 147). This property also determines your reach for opportunity attacks with a reach weapon.

But I'm still confused, does reach only apply when you are attacking with a weapon? Or can it apply while not attacking as well?

For instance, on DMG page 206, the magic item Swords of Answering says:

In addition, while you hold the sword, you can use your reaction to make one melee attack with it against any creature in your reach that deals damage to you.

Assuming a homebrew item "Halberd of Answering" (with the same effects but on a halberd instead of a sword), would it allow me to use my reaction (as per above) against a foe 10 ft away?

Do I have "reach" when the enemy damages me (so my reaction triggers)? Or only later (when the reaction is triggered and it's time for my attack)?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Sure. I just added this link for context: rpg.stackexchange.com/q/46352/37067 \$\endgroup\$ – CapnZapp Jan 6 at 16:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've edited your question for clarity and formatting. Does everything still look right to you? And did I fix sufficiently the editing error that I made? \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Jan 6 at 17:41
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Your weapon always has its Reach

There is a difference between creature's "reach" and the Reach weapon property.

Any creature capable of attacking has "reach" — a distance measured in feet. That distance can be modified in some circumstances. Basically, "reach" is "range" for melee attacks. Both are mentioned in the PHB in the combat context only:

Pick a target within your attack's range: a creature, an object, or a location.

A weapon might have the Reach property. A weapon either has it, or not. Rules as written, this property increases your attack range by 5 feet "when you attack with it":

Reach. This weapon adds 5 feet to your reach when you attack with it.

I have to say, the 5 feet are added before you make an attack. Otherwise, it would be the endless circle: you have no reach until you make an attack, but you can't attack something out of reach.

RAW, this use case is still very limited — you can not press a button 10 feet away with your weapon, for example. The errata expands it though:

This property also determines your reach for opportunity attacks with a reach weapon.

This makes me think, that rule as intended was something like "this weapon adds 5 feet to your reach when you do something with it". As a DM, I would definitely allow a character to press a button 10 feet away with a halberd.

Although, it doesn't matter in this case

Now considering a hypothetical "Halberd of Answering". The thing is, homebrew items require homebrew adjudications. The only person who can say, when the feature is triggered, is the very author of this magic item. I'd say, it should work against a foe 10 ft away, but the author can say otherwise.

As written, the weapon feature triggers when "creature deals damage", not "creature within your reach deals damage". As a result, it allows you to "make one melee attack in your reach":

In addition, while you hold the sword, you can use your reaction to make one melee attack with it against any creature in your reach that deals damage to you.

So, it should work this way:

  1. a creature damages you
  2. the weapon feature is triggered, allowing you to "make one melee attack with it against this creature in your reach"
  3. you make your attack
  4. you attack a creature up to 10 feet from you, since the Reach property "adds 5 feet to your reach when you attack with it"
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  • \$\begingroup\$ Note 2: someone has edited my original question. I made it clear a "Halberd of Answering" was hypothetical; this is currently lost. Thank you for not closing the question for failing to disclose this- it was there when I wrote it. \$\endgroup\$ – CapnZapp Jan 6 at 17:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @CapnZapp Sorry about that! That was me. I didn't realize that hypothetical was indicating that. I'll make a fix to make it clearer. Of course if you are ever unhappy with an edit you can always edit it yourself or even revert the edit to what you had before. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Jan 6 at 17:31

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