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For this scenario, assume a level 11 Monk with the Mounted Combatant feat (and riding a mount).

If a creatures attacks the Monk, and the attacker fails his/her save, the next eligible target (assuming no other enemies within 5 feet) would be the Monk's mount. If the Monk decides to use Mounted Combatant to force the attack to target himself instead of the mount, what happens?

Does the situation change if the Mount is targeted first, then the Monk's Sanctuary spell takes effect after?

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    \$\begingroup\$ This opens a new question. Does the monk must make a saving throw after targetting himself instead of the mount? \$\endgroup\$
    – Trolleitor
    Mar 27, 2017 at 0:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Escroteitor - By the wording of sanctuary, very probably yes. It says "...any creature who targets...", meaning the Monk is targeting himself as you pointed out. So the Monk would have to pass their own saving throw to make him/herself a viable target for the enemy. It's important to note that it specifies targeting, and with mounted combatant, the monk is the one doing the targeting. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 28, 2017 at 14:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ @LinoFrankCiaralli - "Until the spell ends, any creature who targets the warded creature with an attack or a harmful spell must first make a Wisdom saving throw." Using Mounted Combatant is not making an attack or harmful spell against yourself, so no, you don't have to make a saving throw. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 28, 2017 at 15:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ @THiebert - Read the second bullet of Mounted Combatant. The person using the feat is the one doing the targeting. It specifically states that you force the creature to target you instead. It's like the shield of missile snaring, except you can elect to do it. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 28, 2017 at 16:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ @LinoFrankCiaralli - "force the creature to target you". "any creature who targets the warded creature". They're still doing the targeting, not you. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 28, 2017 at 16:56

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The attack is wasted if there are no other creatures nearby, assuming the saving throw against sanctuary is failed.

If you're attacked first, then sanctuary activates. Assume the creature fails its save, because if it passes, the question is moot. The only available target is your mount, which it then chooses to attack. Mounted Combatant can then be used to force the attack to target you again. If the creature fails again, the attack is wasted, as the attack is forced to target you instead of your mount.

If your mount is attacked first, you can use Mounted Combatant to force the attack to target you instead. Sanctuary then activates, and the creature fails. It's unable to attack the mount again, because you've forced it to target you instead, but it's also unable to target you, so it's attack is wasted.

In both cases, after you've used Mounted Combatant, the mount is not a valid target, because the feat "force[s] an attack [...] to target you instead". Since this is the same attack, and it's been forced to not attack the mount because of this feat, it cannot be re-targeted, even after sanctuary applies.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Interesting. Except the feat doesn't say you can't target the mount. It says it forces you to target the rider instead. This doesn't make the mount an invalid target, it just makes you a valid one again. If this was specific trumps general, sure. But it's specfic vs specific on trigger effects that endlessly continue until the sanctuary save passes or the monk stops redirecting the attack. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 28, 2017 at 16:51
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At most two saves can be attempted on this specific attack

Sanctuary says (emphasis mine):

Until the spell ends, any creature who targets the warded creature with an attack or a harmful spell must first make a Wisdom saving throw. On a failed save, the creature must choose a new target or lose the attack or spell.

The consequence that a failed save against sanctuary requires the selection of a new target for the attack means that the saving throw can be attempted at most twice (in this case, of two creatures in reach of the attack). Regardless of who is attacked in what order, at the point in time when the attack has already targeted both the monk and his mount, there are no new targets available and the attack is automatically lost. Cf. If 2 creatures in range have the Sanctuary spell cast on them, can you repeatedly switch targets between them until you succeed on the save?

If the monk is attacked first, and the save is failed, the spell forces the attacker to either select a new target (the mount) or lose their attack. Targeting the mount will trigger the Mounted Combatant Feat, permitting the monk to force the attack on the mount to target1 them instead. When the monk is again targeted, a second failed save means the attacker must either choose a new target or lose the attack, but now there are no targets that have not already been subjected to the attack, so the attack must be lost.

If the mount is attacked first, the attack triggers the Mounted Combatant Feat, permitting the monk to force the attack on the mount to target1 themselves instead. When the monk becomes the target, a failed save means the attacker must either choose a new target or lose the attack, but now there are no targets that have not already been subjected to the attack, so the attack must be lost.


1 Trolleitor asks whether the monk must save against the sanctuary spell in order to use the Mounted Combatant feat. Sanctuary says "any creature who targets the warded creature with an attack or a harmful spell must first make a Wisdom saving throw". It is not clear whether this means [any creature who choses the warded creature as the target of their own attack] or [any creature who selects the warded creature as the target of any attack (including the attack of another creature)], and this is perhaps worth its own question. However, consider the consequence of a failed save; the creature attempting to target the warded creature must select a new target or "lose the attack or spell". It is not clear to me how I can "lose" an attack I am not myself making, even if I am permitted to select its target. Thus, personally, I would go with the first interpretation and not require the monk to save against sanctuary. If the DM favors the second interpretation, however, then the sanctuary spell could indeed force a third save, with the maximum then being two from the attacker and one from the monk.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Even more off with the last part, is if the monk fails the save then they have still tried to change target and have to select a new one, so they pick the horse, activate mounted combat again, and are back to not being able to select themselves so the attack is still wasted. Its just a pointless extra loop and it worries me that some people even thought of an interpretation where a character can screw themselves out of the protection of an important feat pick, spell choice and spell slot at the same time. \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Dec 21, 2023 at 17:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SeriousBri If the monk is using the MCF then the mount has already been a target of the attack. If the monk fails the sanctuary save then there is no new target - they are the current target and the mount has already been one. So if the monk fails the first save that ends the attack. In terms of a wasted spell choice and spell slot, nothing in the question assumes that it is the monk who cast the sanctuary spell; more likely, it was cast on them. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Dec 21, 2023 at 18:20
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This will make an endless loop

If you force the creature to target the monk, he will trigger the condition for sanctuary again, so the creature will make another saving throw. Just like if it made another attack against the monk with multiattack.

Nothing on sanctuary prevents a creature targeting the monk after a failing saving throw in the same turn; the only trigger condition is "targets the warded creature with an attack or harmful spell". Also, the creature can't lose the attack, because the creature chose a new a target.

The spell will follow this sequence: Triggered by the attack > Roll saving throw (failed) > Choose new target or lose attack (choose the mount). At this point, sanctuary ends for that creature, the attack continues unaffected, and a new trigger happens (an attack targeted my mount) with the sequence: Triggered by the attack > Target the monk instead ... And repeat.

Because there is no limitation on how many times sanctuary or Mounted Combatant can be used on a turn, the order is also irrelevant.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It could be worth pointing out that the only possible outcomes of this loop are either a) the opponent succeeds on their saving throw, and is allowed to attack the Monk, or b) the Monk elects not to invoke Mounted Combatant, and the opponent is allowed to attack the horse. Therefore, effectively, the Monk should just choose to use Mounted Combatant or not. (Unless it's impossible for the opponent to make their saving throw, in which case it really can be an inifinite loop.) \$\endgroup\$
    – Miniman
    Mar 27, 2017 at 1:04

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