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This issue broke my group.

One player's character was engaged in combat with a creature. While that character was engaged, another creature not in combat range wanted to move 20 feet from their safe position past the character in combat.

Would the engaged character still be able to make an opportunity attack at the creature moving into and out of combat range, while they're already engaged in combat with the other creature?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Related: When can I make an opportunity attack \$\endgroup\$ Oct 31, 2022 at 10:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ Can you give any insight into why someone thought it wouldn’t work? We might be able to give a better answer if we knew where they were coming from. Right now all we can do is just read back the rules for Opportunity Attacks, which might not be that helpful since anyone can do that. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 31, 2022 at 10:35
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    – V2Blast
    Oct 31, 2022 at 19:48

1 Answer 1

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Yes, you can

The rule on opportunity attacks says (PHB, p. 195; emphasis mine):

In a fight, everyone is constantly watching for enemies to drop their guard. You can rarely move heedlessly past your foes without putting yourself in danger; doing so provokes an opportunity attack. You can make an opportunity attack when a hostile creature that you can see moves out of your reach.

So the only condition is that you have to be able to see the creature, and that it moves out of your reach (normally, 5 feet). The rule even talks about not being able to move past other creatures without risk.

The game does not have "engaged with another creature" as a formal game term. In melee combat the danger of being right next to an opponent is expressed by imposing disadvantage on ranged attacks when a foe is within 5 feet of you, or Sneak Attack triggering if an opponent is threatened by someone within 5 feet of them, but it does not put any limitations on opportunity attacks. Even if you are grappling another creature, all you need is the use of one of your hands. You could still make opportunity attacks with your other hand against a creature that moved by and left your reach. You are not exclusively engaged with someone you fight in melee, a lot can happen during the chaotic action of a combat round.

Moving into your reach does not normally trigger opportunity attacks in 5e; unless you have a specific feat that says so, like Polearm Master, the game only cares about moving out of your reach.

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    \$\begingroup\$ “The game really has no concept of ‘engaged with another creature’.” Sure it does. Ranged attacks have disadvantage when a hostile creature is within five feet of you. Sneak Attack triggers when an ally is within five feet of the target. (But it’s not a game term). \$\endgroup\$ Oct 31, 2022 at 10:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov 'exclusively engaged with another creature' would be a better phrasing \$\endgroup\$
    – Caleth
    Oct 31, 2022 at 10:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov That is fair critique, I updated the wording. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 31, 2022 at 10:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ (And I suspect it’s the ranged attack thing that is the source of the confusion, so it’s probably a worthwhile mention). \$\endgroup\$ Oct 31, 2022 at 10:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ +1. You might mention also the assumption of the fluidity of action in a 6 second combat round \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Oct 31, 2022 at 14:50

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