Smug sorcerers think they’re invincible with all their fancy (and scary) spells, but the Mage Slayer feat can cut their swag down to size.
“The Paladin tenses and awaits the next horror to emerge from the wretched Wizard’s wizened fingertips—this time he’ll be ready. The illuminated manuscripts foretold this moment: the blood-red lightning, the undead horde, the widening chasm swallowing fellow soldiers, and…there, the flex of finger telegraphing the Archmage’s next sickening spell. The Paladin grips his Moon-touched great sword and leaps into the warlock’s blind spot, all those long nights of study unraveling into one fearless moment. He sinks a shoulder blow, deep, and retreats like the wind. The shock of seeing his own blood breaks the wretched Wizard’s concentration and halts the spreading chasm, if only for a moment…”
Mage Slayer Feat in DnD 5e
The Mage Slayer feat offers practiced techniques in melee combat against spellcasters, gaining the following benefits:—Source: Player’s Handbook)
- When a creature within 5 feet of you casts a spell, you can use your reaction to make a melee weapon attack against that creature.
This technique keeps spellcasters in check and makes them think twice about abusing their powers. Wizards like to keep their distance, but if you have high movement speed, Dash actions, or nifty teleportation spells like Misty Step, you can cut through crowds to stay within striking distance and give them fits.
- When you damage a creature that is concentrating on a spell, that creature has disadvantage on the saving throw it makes to maintain its concentration.
Distracting a spellcaster from their most potent spells can be a battle-breaker, but it’s easy for a spellcaster to pass their CON saving throws—unless you give them disadvantage. This technique lets you do so if you can roll high enough damage and survive being so close to such a powerful foe. Classes like Rogues that are fast and sneaky can offset the threat.
- You have advantage on saving throws against spells cast by creatures within 5 feet of you.
This boost offers increased insurance while you’re struggling with a shaman and letting the Mage Slayer feat do its work. Races high in mental saves like Gnomes can already weather a lot of magical attacks. Adding an additional saving throw against spells can keep you in the saddle and make you any wizard’s worst nightmare.
Most Useful Classes for the Mage Slayer Feat
The Mage Slayer feat may sound like a no-brainer, but many campaigns are not mage-heavy. Mage Slayer is a waste of ASI if you don’t encounter mages often, or if the benefits of your character class cancel out the benefits of Mage Slayer. Rogues and Fighters have the most ASI slots, so they are safe bets with Mage Slayer.
Monks are quick and mobile with high damage resistance; all things you want when going toe to toe with mages. Flurry of Blows lets you attack multiple times, which when mixed with Mage Slayer’s melee bonuses makes your newly frustrated foe pass CON saving throws each time.
At level 5, you get Stunning Strike which forces even more CON saving throws, and at level 7 you get Evasion to dodge certain spells. If you go the Shadow Monk route, you can teleport for a sneak attack, become invisible to negate spells requiring visible targets, and even get Silence and Darkness spells to put a muffle on mages before you give them a pounding.
Barbarians (Bear totem attunement)
Barbarians choose a spirit animal that guides their path. If you choose the Bear totem, you will resist all damage (except psychic) while raging, starting at level 3. Mixed with Mage Slayer’s advantage to saving throws, this makes you a Mage Slaying tank.
At level 14, any creature within 5 feet of you gets disadvantage on attack rolls to your friends, which makes an even greater combo. Other spirit animal paths are not as useful as Barbarian.
At level 6, the Aura of Protection gives a saving throw equal to your Charisma modifier, and if you take the Oath of the Ancients everyone with 10 feet gets resistance to damage from spells!
Misty Step at level 5 lets you easily chase after any cowardly mage trying to escape, and Divine Smite deals extra damage after melee hits—which makes a brutal one-two punch with Mage Slayer. Hardy and light without sacrificing power, plus tons of buffs, Paladin is a well-balanced Mage Slayer.
Least Useful Classes for the Mage Slayer Feat
Artificers are more of a support class and aren’t well-suited to get up close and personal with your unfriendly neighborhood sorcerer. Mage Slayer is best for classes that can get down in the trenches.
A good Mage Slayer requires melee aptitude, and most Ranger builds are… built for range. To get the benefits of Mage Slayer’s abilities you have to be within 5 feet of your enemy, which negates the ranged weapons bonuses Rangers make use of. The obvious exception here is melee-based rangers, but even so, another class is probably better suited for the Mage Slayer feat.
A source of contention for Mage Slayer’s effectiveness is spellcaster classes. On the one hand, they aren’t really built for melee, but on the other hand, they can nerf mages with spells of their own while getting the benefits of Mage Slayer. Perhaps the best of both worlds is optimal.
Some swear by the Eldritch Knight Fighter build with Mage Slayer, which not only has high ASI, melee prowess, and high INT that scales with wizards but also offers the spell-interrupter Counterspell at level 3.
We hope this guide helps you slay mages wherever they may roam. As always, adventuring and exploring for yourself is the best way to decide! While you’re here, why not check out some of the others including Sharpshooter 5e Feat, Sentinel Feat 5e, and Alert Feat 5e?