How does Disengage in 5e work?
Disengage only has one official line in the Player’s Handbook:
If you take the Disengage Action, your Movement doesn’t provoke Opportunity Attacks for the rest of the turn.
Supremely unhelpful. Let’s engage a bit more with Disengage.
Disengage 5e FAQ
What is Disengage in 5e?
Disengage in 5e is an action that saves you from your opponent(s) Attacks of Opportunity. Attacks of Opportunity are extra attacks enemies can perform as a reaction when you move out of their melee range.
Opportunity Attacks are ways to spice up the game, maintain battle authenticity, and keep players honest. It makes sense that someone would be vulnerable to an attack when they flee from so close by. It also makes sense that a player would have to use an action to “disengage” safely.
How do you use Disengage in 5e?
Disengage is mostly used to avoid opportunity attacks. You can also use Disengage in 5e to:
Escape when you’re in danger. If you’re low on HP, disengage can come to your aid.
Place your characters strategically. Some players are optimal at certain ranges. Disengaging lets you stay in your favorite spot without fear.
Strike the frontlines, and get back to safety. Rogues, Monks, and Hobgoblins can use Disengage as a bonus action in 5e. This means you can run in, attack, use Disengage, then run away again scot-free.
Get close to instill status individual effects. Spells like Fear or Spirit Guardians can give enemies fits, but you have to be pretty close to pull it off. Disengage lets spellcasters concentrate on their craft.
Break through to backline attackers. It’s hard to get close to those annoying spellcasters in the back row. Disengage to bide your time and sneak on by.
Provoke and lure away monsters safely. Characters with high Constitution or damage reduction can bait monsters away from more fragile party members.
How does the Disengage action work?
If you are within an opponent’s reach, you are in their melee range and must use Disengage as a main action to get away safely. A reach of 1 extends 5 feet (or 1 square), a reach of 2 extends 10 feet (or 2 squares), and so on. After using Disengage, you can move as normal without fear of an Opportunity Attack.
Who can use Disengage in 5e?
Anyone can use disengage, but it’s more useful for certain characters. Disengage as a bonus action in 5e is a core mechanic for Rogues, Monks, and Hobgoblins. Disengage as another action in 5e is also doable for Fighters, College of Satire Bards, and Sorcerers.
A disengage bonus action in 5e is a powerful privilege, so don’t squander it. Stick and move!
Disengage 5e with Rogue
Starting at level 2, a Rogue’s Cunning Action can use Dash, Disengage, or Hide as a bonus action.
Disengage 5e with Monk
Starting at level 2, a Monk’s Step of the Wind can use Disengage or Dash as a bonus action.
Disengage 5e with Hobgoblin
A Hobgoblin’s Nimble Escape can use Disengage or Hide as a bonus action.
Disengage 5e with Fighter
Starting at level 2, Fighters can use Action Surge once per short rest to gain an additional action, which they can use to Disengage.
Disengage 5e with College of Satire Bard
Starting at level 3, a Bard from the College of Satire can Tumble as a bonus action which gives ALL the benefits of both Dash and Disengage PLUS a climbing speed equal to current speed AND half damage from falling.
Disengage 5e with Sorcerer
A Sorcerer can use a Quicken Spell to increase the spell level by three and change the casting time to 1 bonus action. You can then use Disengage for your main action.
When to use Disengage in 5e
The Disengage action is perfect for when you need to run away or get out of melee range immediately.
When characters try to move when in melee range their enemies will get an Opportunity Attack against you. If you’re surrounded by 5 or 6 Goblins and decided to simply walk away from the fight or retreat, all the Goblins will be able to attack you for free.
Clearly, that’s not a good situation to be in, so you can sacrifice your action that turns to Disengage. This prevents those opportunity attacks and allows you to move.
That’s the simplest reason you’d want to use Disengage, but there are plenty of other reasons to use it as well. Simple positioning, high-value targets, and skills and abilities could all be reasons why it’s necessary to Disengage and reposition yourself.
If a high-value target is fleeing and they send some goons your way, it may be more beneficial to break contact with the frontline guards to move past them and attack the high-value target. This is also another way to get at the back line of a fighting force.
A Barbarian that runs past defenders and finds themselves amongst squishy spellcasters is going to do a lot of damage before they can bring them down.
Another reason why Disengage may be a better choice than your standard action is your own personal abilities.
Depending upon your class you may have AOE attacks, auras, or other abilities that work best when surrounded by opponents or allies.
A Glaive Master with the Polearm Master & Sentinel feat can typically stand 10ft away from everyone and gets an opportunity attack whenever someone gets within that 10ft. If they place themselves correctly everyone moving is going to get hit.
In this situation, if someone manages to get close enough to attack it may be more beneficial for them to sacrifice their attack action to reposition.
How to avoid Opportunity Attacks without Disengage in 5e:
If you’re high in Strength you can try using Shove as an action to push an opponent in front of you 5 feet away. You roll Strength (Athletics) and your target rolls either Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics). If you win, you shove.
GameCows Tip: You can also dramatically Shove an ally out of harm’s way if you want to play the hero!
Avoid opportunity attacks with class perks, feats, and spells too.
How to avoid Opportunity Attacks in 5e with class abilities
- Fighter: Battlemaster – Pushing Attack. – Push a creature up to 15 feet away from you if they fail a Strength check.
- Monk: Way of the Open Hand – Open Hand Technique. – When you hit with Flurry of Blows, you can choose from 3 additional effects, one which stops opponent reactions (like Opportunity attacks).
- Rogue: Swashbuckler – Fancy Footwork. Lets you strike and slip away without provoking an opportunity attack.
- Sorcerer: Storm Sorcery – Tempestuous Magic. As a bonus action after casting a spell, fly up to 10 feet away on a gust of wind without provoking opportunity attacks.
- Warlock – Repelling Blast Invocation – When you hit a creature with Eldritch Blast, you can push the creature up to 10 feet away from you in a straight line.
How to avoid Opportunity Attacks in 5e with feats and spells
- Mobile feat. Does not provoke opportunity attacks from a creature you attack with melee.
- Telekinetic feat. If an enemy fails a Strength saving throw 5 feet, move them 5 feet…with your mind!
- Shocking Grasp spell. Shock an opponent to stop their reactions (including opportunity attacks or readied actions).
- Misty Step spell. Teleport 30 feet as a bonus action.
- Greater Invisibility spell. If they can’t see you, they can’t do an Opportunity Attack against you!
Spells like Blindness, Incapacitation, or Paralysis also induce conditions that prohibit Opportunity Attacks.
Positioning is a huge advantage in DnD. Being isolated and away from allies usually means a quick death and that’s true for both player characters and NPCs.
Instead of using the Disengage action, there are plenty of other abilities and spells that can also help you move people away from your character or move your character. Typically these will be better options, but the Disengage action will always be available, unlike some spells.
If you have a strength-build character and only 1 enemy is nearby, you can simply try to shove them out of the way. Shove is another generic action that anyone can use and can either push enemies away or knock them to the ground.
There are a lot of new spells, abilities, and classes that grant telekinetic powers. Most of them allow the user to deal damage as well as move their targets around the battlefield. Instead of trying to Disengage with an enemy simply picking them up with your mind and flinging them 30ft in the air is much more effective.
Certain classes and spells can cause fear effects which basically force an opponent to move as far away from you as possible. This is another great way to get enemies out of your way.
Levitate & Gravity
There are spells like Levitate that simply float characters away and gravity-altering spells that can pull enemies and allies in different directions.
Why make enemies when you can make friends?… for a little while anyway. Charm spells and abilities can temporarily turn enemies into allies or at the very least nonaggressive. This will give you the opportunity to move away and regroup without using the Disengage action.
5e Disengage tips for DMs
If you’re a DM, you should be aware of these feats and traits to wreak optimal havoc.
Sentinel feat. This feat allows an Opportunity Attack even if you Disengage. Beware!
Polearm Master. – This feat provokes an Opportunity Attack if you enter melee range. But, Disengage states that it prevents Opportunity attacks for the rest of your turn. That means if you Disengage before rushing a Polearm Master, you negate their Opportunity Attack!
Flyby. – The Flyby trait avoids Opportunity Attacks when leaving a creature’s reach. It also ignores the Sentinel Feat, since Sentinel only ignores Disengage, not Flyby. Annoy your players with a flying swarm, without fear of reprisal!
These 5e monsters have flyby:
From Eberron: Rising from the Last War
- Expeditious Messenger
From Guildmasters’ Guide to Ravnica
- Arclight Phoenix
- Battleforce Angel
- Deathpact Angel
- Firemane Angel
From Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual
- Flying Snake
- Giant Owl
- Spined Devil
From Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes
- Elder Tempest
From Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything
- Beast Of The Sky
- Bestial Spirit (Air)
Disengage 5e FAQ
Can you Disengage multiple enemies in 5e?
Yes, Disengage disengages you from all enemies you are currently in reach of. This means if you are in the thick of battle, you can use Disengage in 5e for multiple enemies at once and get away without a scratch.
Can you Disengage and then Dash in 5e?
Normally Dash and Disengage both take a main action so you can’t use them both in the same turn. If your character can use Dash or Disengage as a bonus action, you can Disengage and then Dash in 5e.
Can you Disengage and then attack in 5e?
It depends. Disengage and Attack both normally take a main action. But some characters can Disengage as a bonus action in 5e, and some can Attack as a bonus action. If you can Disengage or Attack with another action, then you can Disengage and then attack in 5e on the same turn.
Can Monks Disengage as a Bonus Action?
Yes. It costs 1 Ki point to for Monks to use Disengage as a bonus action.
When should you Disengage?
Players should disengage when their character is at low health and there is a risk of being hit with the enemy’s Opportunity Attacks.
We hope you’re more engaged with the Disengage mechanic now. Get even more engaged with our articles on Athlete Feat 5e, Cover 5e, Shove Action 5e, and Alignment 5e.
Kendra has always been a hardcore fantasy nerd. Growing up in the worlds of Tolkien, Sanderson, Jordan, and Abercrombie, DnD & board games just came naturally. She and her husband, Bryan, started GameCows.com in 2018 as a fun passion project that just took over their lives. An avid board gamer since childhood and chronic DnD chronicler for more than two decades, she loves to play, write, travel, and learn dead languages.