The answer to my previous question (Does the Knight's Bladed Step require the shift to gain CA?) was based on the claim that you can shift 0 squares and still be considered to have shifted. However, the player who inspired the original post found that claim questionable, and I've been hard-pressed to disagree.

While we accept that you could simply choose not to make a shift granted by a power or feature, we couldn't find anything that explicitly allowed a 0-square shift that would still trigger other benefits you gain from shifting, such as the Knight's Bladed Step or the property on the Boots of the Fencing Master (both reprinted below). Do rules explicitly allowing a 0-square shift exist? This can be either the Shift basic action, or a power that allows shifting as part of using it, but if the rules only apply to one of these, please specify.

Bladed Step

Benefit: After you use power strike with a heavy blade, you can immediately shift 1 square to a square adjacent to an enemy. You then gain combat advantage against that enemy until the end of your next turn.

Heroes of the Fallen Lands, pg 136

Boots of the Fencing Master

Property: When you shift, gain a +1 item bonus to AC and Reflex defense until the end of your next turn.

Adventurer's Vault, pg 127

Note: While the description of the Walk action states "The creature moves up to its speed," implying a minimum of 0, the Shift action has no similar qualifier, simply stating "The creature moves 1 square," without the "up to."

  • \$\begingroup\$ Related: rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/15154/… (Not duplicate; only refers to teleports, while this only refers to shifts) \$\endgroup\$ Jan 10, 2018 at 2:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ It's worth noting that Bladed Step has nothing to do with the Shift action, only with the shift movement type. \$\endgroup\$
    – Oblivious Sage
    Jan 10, 2018 at 2:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ObliviousSage True, but I couldn't even find a description of the shift movement type outside of the definition of the Shift action. Pointing where to find that would probably be helpful for the answer. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 10, 2018 at 2:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ObliviousSage To clarify, I'm quite aware that the Shift action and the Shift movement type are different things, but I couldn't find anything in the rules that actually said so, and would quite appreciate a reference to rules that would help with that. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 10, 2018 at 3:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ Unfortunately, the difference between shifting as a move action and shifting via the effect of a power can best be described as "wildly under-specified". Forced movement explicitly allows zero-distance movement (even without the phrase "up to") as noted on page 212 of the RC, but it always occurs as the result of a power so it was apparently more in need of such clarification. \$\endgroup\$
    – Oblivious Sage
    Jan 10, 2018 at 3:49

1 Answer 1


Under the section Three Basic Rules on PHB 11:

Specific Beats General If a specific rule contradicts a general rule, the specific rule wins

Under the description of the Shift action on PHB 292 is a very general rule:

Movement: Move 1 square.

So, a Shift is moving exactly 1 square unless something else specifically says otherwise (for example, a power description). That is, there is no ambiguity or choice as in the phrases "up to one square" or "may move one square". Conversely, if you didn't move 1 square then you didn't Shift.

Thematically, suppose you're fighting in a narrow hallway and use Power Strike on an opponent. If you can't shift to the side and still be adjacent because of the walls, then the terrain has boxed you in and you can't use the technique to its fullest advantage.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't really understand the logic used in this answer. I'm asking whether or not a shift can be 0 squares, not whether it can be any value other than 1 square. The only sentence that seems related to that is "Conversely, if you didn't move 1 square then you didn't Shift," which simply makes the claim without explanation. Can you please clarify? \$\endgroup\$ Jan 10, 2018 at 21:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Michaellogg I argued that a shift can't be any number of squares other than one, and that includes zero. I admit I'm a bit unsure how I didn't make that clear enough, but I took a stab at an edit anyway. Let me know if I can improve this further. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 11, 2018 at 12:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think I see the problem. You seem to be mostly addressing the Shift basic action, while I'm also interested in the Shift movement type, as granted by some powers and features. Some of those say "up to," some of them don't, including ones that let you move more than 1 square. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 16, 2018 at 6:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Michaellogg Except for any specific-beats-general rules specified in the power, Shifting as an action and Shifting as a rider on a power are identical. If they were not, there would exist a second definition of Shifting somewhere else that applied to powers. Those specific-beats-general exceptions can and do include shifting more than one square, but they don't generally allow you to break other Shifting rules, such as the rough terrain limitations. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 16, 2018 at 12:37

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