The description of the Defensive Duelist feat says (PHB, p. 165):

When you are wielding a finesse weapon with which you are proficient and another creature hits you with a melee attack, you can use your reaction to add your proficiency bonus to your AC for that attack, potentially causing the attack to miss you.

Assume a spellcaster who has the Defensive Duelist feat is holding a dagger and an arcane focus. For the duration of combat, they cast spells and never make a melee weapon attack. Do they still gain the benefit of the feat?

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Spellcasting doesn't really seem to be a crucial portion of the premise (the relevant aspect of the sitation causing you to ask seems to be that the character's not attacking with the weapon, not that they're casting spells instead), so I've edited the title and tags accordingly. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Jul 28, 2020 at 5:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ This is actually really cute feat (assuming the answer is generally yes, which I do) for a caster at 12th or higher level (when you've already maxed your primary stat and the proficiency bonus gets interesting), that I would have totally missed. Just don't forget about the DEX prerequisite. \$\endgroup\$
    – J.E
    Jul 28, 2020 at 14:00

1 Answer 1


Defensive Duelist has nothing to do with you making a melee weapon attack.

The criteria for "activating" Defensive Duelist are spelled out in the first sentence:


  1. you are wielding a finesse weapon with which you are proficient


  1. another creature hits you with a melee attack.

It doesn't state that you have to make a melee weapon attack, only that you are wielding the finesse weapon. So yes, you can still use the defensive duelist feat when only casting spells in combat.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Logically it makes sense too - the idea being a defensive duelist is using their weapon to parry attacks. You can parry attacks without having to make any yourself. \$\endgroup\$
    – Zibbobz
    Jul 28, 2020 at 12:43

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