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As per the latest playtest packet, Bull Rush is a martial feat with the following text:

Effect: Choose a Large or smaller creature within 5 feet of you. Contest your Strength against that creature’s Strength. If you succeed, you push the creature up to 20 feet, provided you move with the creature along the same path. Doing so uses none of your regular movement, but you must be able to move.

As near as I'm able to tell, a Strength Contest has neither an action type or a limit to how often it can be repeated.

What limitations then, are there on Bull Rushing? Is there some reason I can't continually bull rush against the same target? (Other than that would be silly, because I realize that is not RAI)

How is Bull Rushing supposed to work, or how can it be made playable and more sensible?

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The contest is part of the effect line of the feat, so it only triggers once per use. How often can you use the feat? If it takes an action or similar, there's your answer. – SevenSidedDie Jun 9 '13 at 23:23
@SevenSidedDie That's just it - that's the entire text. I can't find anything about how often one can use feats, and it has no listed action. – Raven Dreamer Jun 10 '13 at 0:36
This has motivated me to get the playtest packet. Their signup is much easier and less buggy than when they first launched… – SevenSidedDie Jun 10 '13 at 2:02
up vote 2 down vote accepted

This has changed considerably since the playtest version. In the published D&D 5e rules, there is no "Bull Rush" option defined as a feat or action, in either the Basic Rules or the Players Handbook.

However, you can achieve much the same effect through grappling, as described on pg 195 of the player's handbook. In fact, the mechanics entirely surpass the rules you listed.

  • You may only grapple a target no more than one size larger than you.
  • The grapple contest is Strength (Athletics) against either Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics).
  • While you have another character grappled, you can still move, although your speed is halved and the character you have grappled moves with you.
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Two things. Grappling is really not the most direct way to get to a "bull rush" style effect. The next section down "shoving a creature" is the equivalent action. – wax eagle Aug 23 '14 at 16:44
I think there is a feat to allow really good shoving somehow (maybe using a shield?) but I don't have the PHB handy. – Mag Roader Aug 23 '14 at 20:05

Reading through the Combat section, there is no explicit description of an action economy, but my understanding is that it's intentional so the system is more flexible and less hide-bound and interlocking. The boxed text in Improvising an Action (How to Play, p. 14–15) in particular clinched that impression, saying that the only limits to actions are "your imagination and your ability scores". So anything that you do in combat is an action. There aren't bonus actions (unless it says so) and no "partial" or "swift" actions (again, unless it says you can take another action).

Since Bull Rush is "doing something", it's an action. It explicitly says it doesn't consume your movement, but otherwise it's an action like any other. You can do it once in a turn instead of whatever other action (e.g. swinging a sword, flipping a table, casting a spell) that you would have taken.

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