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Monks get the Deflect Missiles feature at 5th level.

How many times can a monk use Deflect Missiles in a round?

One of my players and I got into a debate. I contend that it is for one successful attack per round, while he maintains that it is more of a reaction and can be done as often as needed. Could someone please set us straight?

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Deflect Missiles is a reaction:

Starting at 3rd level, you can use your reaction to deflect or catch the missile when you are hit by a ranged weapon attack.

You can only use one reaction per round.

From the PHB, page 190:

When you take a reaction, you can't take another one until the start of your next turn.

So he can do it once between each of his turns. Note that this also means he can't take any other reaction, such as an attack of opportunity.

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Once and only once

Deflect Missiles: Starting at 3rd level, you can use your reaction to deflect or catch the missile when you are hit by a ranged weapon attack. When you do so, the damage you take from the attack is reduced by 1d10 + your Dexterity modifier + your monk level. - PHB p.78

PCs only have one reaction per round.

Reactions: Certain special abilities, spells, and situations allow you to take a special action called a reaction. A reaction is an instant response to a trigger of some kind, which can occur on your turn or on someone else’s. The opportunity attack, described later in this chapter, is the most common type of reaction. When you take a reaction, you can’t take another one until the start of your next turn. If the reaction interrupts another creature’s turn, that creature can continue its turn right after the reaction. - PHB p.190

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The way I resolve this is I allow the damage reduction to apply against as many arrow hits in 1 round as possible until the number of points is used up. (die roll + level + dex mod) As many objects as the damage reduction represents can be thrown back. So if 3 arrows hit the monk for 12 points total and his damage reduction is 10, he takes 2 points and can throw 2 back. I use the innate damage of the item thrown back. The reason is it makes sense that if the item is say, a poison tipped arrow for example, that's what the attacker gets back in his face in return. I dont like the ruling that it only applies to 1 item max because you only get 1 reaction. I think the 1 reaction can apply to multiple items. Otherwise you have a scenario where a 20th level monk still cant fend off 2 arrows from say, goblins. Lame. I'm not a big fan of "realism" arguments. Ever see live action Mulan? she karate kicks the arrows back. badass move. or how about Jedi. I know its star wars not D&D but same concept. deflecting like 10 laser shots a round. a 20th level monk should be able to stand in against a hail of arrows and throw, kick , whatever that shit back en masse. That's whats cool.

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    \$\begingroup\$ While your perspective and experience is valuable here, you are required to answer the question asked first, before editorializing. Is your claim that the official rules work this way? You could make that clearer, and should perhaps expect downvotes since that seems to be incorrect. Is your claim that this way works better than the official rule? If so, that’s ok, but you need to be clear that isn’t the official rule—and be clear about what is. Otherwise this answer us likely to be judged harshly, which is a shame because it sounds like a good idea to me. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Mar 6 at 20:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sorry, didn't realize that was a parameter. The rule is vague, and this is my interpretation of it and the reason I interpret it that way. If the rule were to be written more clearly, I would change the mechanic to represent that. If a rule is going to have wiggle room, I'm going to generally rule in favor of what makes the PC cooler. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 6 at 21:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ @BillCrider What is vague about “ When you take a reaction, you can't take another one until the start of your next turn.”? \$\endgroup\$ Mar 6 at 23:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ A reaction is a specific, well-defined game term in 5e. There is nothing ambiguous here. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 7 at 4:31
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You can use Deflect Missiles as much as you want, because it dosent have any costs. But you can just use it as an reaction, and normally you have just 1 reaction every turn. So you only can use it once.

If you homebrewed something or gave him an magic item which allows him more reactions per turn he of course can use it more than one time.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG stack exchange! Using a reaction for the feature is a cost, so saying there is none is somewhat contradictory. Your answer would be improved if made this more clear. \$\endgroup\$
    – Anagkai
    Dec 6 '20 at 13:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ Seems a bit obfuscatory to say “you can use it as much as you want” and then “but actually you can only use it once per turn”. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 6 '20 at 13:48
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Perhaps a role playing argument might fall on deaf ears, but the monk's introduction in the player's handbook (p76)- literally the first sentence-

"Her fists a blur as they deflect an incoming hail of arrows..."

Now this seems to cast the Deflect Missiles (emphasis on the plural) feature as a more "always on" defense. Considering how the Monk's entire class is built on speed, dexterity, and zen awareness of their environment (in exchange for no armor), it seems pretty reasonable to allow them this constant defensive feature.

Perhaps, if debate is overly heated, a fair compromise would be the Monk can only attack with an intercepted missile once per round. Thus they would maintain reasonable defense while not being overpowered in attack.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It would be overpowered if unlimited. You consume your reaction as Joshua says in his answer and you have only one. Also, you can use a Ki point to send the missile back to the sender / another target. So it's not just defensive. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 15 '16 at 3:57

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