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I'm playing a melee rogue (Arcane Trickster). I'm looking to multiply my sneak attack damage by taking the Sentinel feat to increase the odds of getting to make attacks on someone else's turn.

Pro: When I make an out-of-turn attack, with advantage or a nearby party member, I do a lot more damage than the Sentinel attack normally does.

Con: I'm pretty squishy; with 20 Dex and Studded Leather, I'm AC 17, significantly lower than the typical tank, which means enemies have comparatively little reason to attack someone else or run away (well, the many sources of advantage I collect to ensure sneak attack might make them run away eventually, but until then, I'm definitely the softest frontliner in the party, both on AC and HP).

My goal: Find some way for my fellow front-liners to make themselves fatter targets despite being less dangerous, harder to hit, and tougher. They can't use Sentinel (which synergizes poorly with itself; if all of us have Sentinel, the special attack for attacking someone else without Sentinel never occurs, so a third of the feat is wasted). Obviously I can do other stuff to help eventually (multiclass Bladesinger to boost my AC, get magic armor, get a fighting style through multiclassing or Fighting Initiate, etc.), but all of those will take awhile to come online (my Int is only 14, so even Bladesinger would only bump my AC by 2, and slow my Rogue advancement by two levels).

So my question is: What class features, spells, magic items, etc. could other party members take/learn/acquire to get tank features (defined as "anything that penalizes or punishes an opponent for attacking me instead of them") that would take the heat off me, a squishy Rogue who is staying in melee range? Ideally passive abilities that stack (where multiple abilities that require your reaction are effectively "Choose one").

We stumbled on one option by accident; the party Armorer Artificer's Thunder Gauntlets mean that, assuming they hit, their target will have Disadvantage on attacks against me (enough to make it meaningfully harder to hit my AC 17 than their AC 20). Originally I'd planned to take Mobile instead of Sentinel and retreat to cover/hide between turns, but with that disadvantage alone (plus a party full of casters who can force rerolling successful attacks, for effectively triple disadvantage), he can protect me enough to make the extra Sneak Attack damage attractive. Are there other things (especially things that can stack with Thunder Gauntlets, but any source of "attack no one but the tank" is useful) that would have similar synergy with a Sentinel Rogue?

Current party make-up

  • Arcane Trickster 5 (Wood Elf)
  • Armorer Artificer 5 (Plasmoid)
  • College of Spirits Bard 5 (Owlin)
  • Chronurgy Wizard (Fairy)

The non-frontliners are really off the frontline (damn flying PCs) so I'm totally dependent on the Armorer as the tank to draw attacks off me (though I plan to pick Mirror Image soon, and between Uncanny Dodge and Silvery Barbs I can defend myself a bit if they decide to attack me anyway). We're all level 5, this is planning ahead for level 8, so multiclassing is a possibility.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The synergy with casting Mirror Image on myself was another draw here; attacks that don't hit me and trigger penalties? Amazing. But that's about the limit of what I can do to protect myself in ways that make me get bonus attacks from Sentinel, so after that it's up to my party members to make themselves more hittable, or me less hittable. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 10, 2023 at 21:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ Oh! Can you add level/race and any magic items that might be relevant? \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Jan 10, 2023 at 22:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch: Aww, but I wanna know all the tankiness features! (I did remove the note on possible new party members, but the fact that we've got three levels until I get Sentinel does mean multiclassing is a reasonable thing to allow for). \$\endgroup\$ Jan 10, 2023 at 22:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ Gotcha - I still thinking asking our group what they might to do and then adding that is reasonable. Keeps it focused on what you actually need the narrower bounds might get you better answers. Great question, though! \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Jan 10, 2023 at 22:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch: I added precise race/level for each (none of us have multiclassed yet, so it's level five in a single class across the board). We're playing with rules from any rulebook, and with a single houserule: At character level 4, we got to pick a feat of choice (separate from the regular ASI at class level 4); that's how I'm already Dex 20 using point buy (started with 17, took Elven Accuracy and a Dex ASI at level 4). We only just started getting magic items, I don't think any do anything special for this scenario. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 10, 2023 at 22:28

2 Answers 2

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Disguise Self

Nearly everyone in your party should be able to cast this if they want, not only your team mates, also you. And all of you can look very different from how you are actually armored. The tanky armor Artificer? Looks like a flimsy rogue elf now. You? Clearly wearing full plate, to all appearances. It's not a crunchy mechanical approach, but our rogue has used it with good success — obviously there are other good uses for it, too.

There are a few downsides: it depends a bit on how your DM handles it when they get hit by weapons, and the duration of only one hour means you cannot all have this up all the time, but it's good enough for an extended sortie.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I use Silvery Barbs over Shield because it does roughly the same job (my reaction + a level 1 slot is roughly equivalent to applying disadvantage after the fact, it stacks with actual disadvantage, unlike Shield it can be used to undo a crit, and as a kicker, it gives me advantage for a subsequent sneak attack if I can't get it any other way). Plus it's not even off-school! My off-school spell is Find Familiar, because Owl familiars are the bomb. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 10, 2023 at 22:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ I do love the idea of all of us running around looking like other party roles. I don't have Disguise Self, but I was planning to retrain away from Sleep anyway (it's losing effectiveness), so that's easy enough for me, and I think one of the other party members might have a Hat of Disguise, or something else that provides Disguise Self on a recurring basis (X times per day or the like), not just one-off potions or scrolls, so we wouldn't even have to sacrifice too much in the way of spell slots. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 10, 2023 at 22:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm confused by your last statement, "if you are getting attacked, you don‘t need your reaction to sentinel-stab someone". Being attacked does not preclude you from also using Sentinel on a different foe walking within range. In fact one of the bullet points states that "[w]hen a creature within 5 feet of you makes an attack against a target other than you," you can make an attack. So if the enemy is attacking the thief AND attacks someone else, the thief can get a Sentinel attack, so long as they haven't used up their reaction with shield. \$\endgroup\$
    – MivaScott
    Jan 10, 2023 at 23:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MivaScott: I get it (because I'd already thought about it). If they pass up the tank to stab me, in a lot of cases, I wasn't going to be able to use Sentinel anyway. Sure, if multiple adjacent foes adjacent to both of us, I might get attacked by one while the other attacks my buddy, but it's going to be relatively uncommon (getting bunched up makes me twitchy). Especially since, the more dangerous the enemy (and therefore more important it is to sneak attack repeatedly), the more likely there are to be a smaller number of them. Groody is overstating "don't need" a bit, but I get the idea. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 10, 2023 at 23:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ShadowRanger, you don't need two adjacent enemies, just another party member attacking a single enemy. At level 5, multiattack starts kicking in, so having a single beast attack two different people is not out of the question. Or even a single attack that goes to someone else engaged with the enemy is enough for (a) sentinel and (b) sneak attack. \$\endgroup\$
    – MivaScott
    Jan 10, 2023 at 23:25
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There's the "protection" fighting style

A fighter (or a paladin, or someone with the Fighting Initiate feat) can take the "protection" fighting style, which lets them spend their reaction to give disadvantage to someone attacking an ally, if the ally is within five feet. They must be wielding a shield.

In most cases, this is not particularly good mechanically: reactions are precious, and the aoo granted by the Sentinel feat is just better. I would hesitate to ask another player at the table to spend their resources picking up this feat just to protect my character. But this does seem to be the sort of thing you're asking for, and it has a decent interaction with Sentinel.

Your allies can deliberately provoke attacks

If the artificer stands next to you and then walks away, he will provoke attacks from anyone in front of you. The rules say that this attack occurs "right before [the artificer] leaves [the enemy's] reach", meaning that the artificer still counts as being next to you for purposes of your sneak attack.

There's synergy with the battlemaster fighter's commander's-strike maneuver

...but it's probably not worth trying to get your allies to pick up three levels of fighter to enable. If you got a new party member, it might be worth mentioning this to them.

You could get someone to pick up the Martial Adept feat, which gives one use of that maneuver per short rest, but honestly that still doesn't seem super worth it.


There's also the artificer's Thunder Gauntlets, as you mentioned. Your question indicates you already know about this, but I'm including it here for completeness.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, Protection fighting styles are only useful if they failed to hit the enemy (so the Thunder Gauntlets aren't doing their job; if they are, disadvantage doesn't stack), and costs their reaction, which is a big ask even if it didn't cost feats or multiclassing, especially when I've got Silvery Barbs and Uncanny Dodge to achieve similar effects (Silvery Barbs double for Protection, Uncanny Dodge for Interception). Commander's Strike is also great, but yeah, probably only worth it if they want to be a Fighter anyway. Thanks though! \$\endgroup\$ Jan 10, 2023 at 23:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ For battle master fighter, I would recommend the Goading Attack, which gives disadvantage on attacks not against the fighter. \$\endgroup\$
    – MivaScott
    Jan 10, 2023 at 23:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MivaScott: Indeed, great option for "tanking". Artificer (Armorer) Thunder Gautlets from the "guardian" armor choice are mechanically identical to a Goading Attack. (With unlimited uses, but lower damage (1d8 thunder, plus Str because it counts as a simple melee weapon) instead of adding damage to a normal weapon attack). I hadn't looked at Thunder Gauntlets before, and nobody quoted it. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 11, 2023 at 14:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PeterCordes: Yep. Also, it's 1d8+Int thunder, not +Str, for most users, because Armorers are allowed to use Int instead of Str or Dex when using their special weapon (and since they have heavy armor proficiency and ignore armor Strength requirements, they have little motivation to sink points in Str or Dex, aside from levels 1-2 before they become Armorers, where they're probably better off just living on cantrips rather than wasting a ton of ability points on stuff they won't need soon; we started our game at level 3, so that never came up). \$\endgroup\$ Jan 11, 2023 at 17:06

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