In our current D&D 5e game, one of the players created a Variant Human Monk that gains one feat in exchange of only having two ability score increases. The player chose the Martial Adept feat, which lets the player choose two maneuvers from the Battle Master class.

One of the maneuver that the player chose is the Pushing Attack maneuver, which has the following interesting bit:

...you push the target up to 15 feet away from you...

Now, I know that spells (or feat in this case) simply do what they do and nothing more, but in our table, I encourage the players to get creative, and inevitably, this player will try to push their enemy into a wall, as such I plan to give the player some sort of damage to the pushed creature (in addition to the normal damage given by the maneuver), seeing as they have to expend a resource that they need to take a short rest to recover anyway.

As such, my question is, what would be a good damage dice for "creature being pushed forcibly to a wall"?


1 Answer 1


It is best not to give any extra damage

First, Pushing Attack is already part of an attack which does damage, and the maneuver already adds extra damage to the maneuver by adding the combat superiority die to it:

When you hit a creature with a weapon attack, you can expend one superiority die to attempt to drive the target back. You add the superiority die to the attack's damage roll [...] On a failed save you push the target up to 15 feet away from you.

So this maneuver already includes damage coming from the maneuver itself which presumably models a variety of different things that can happen during the maneuver including the force of the push itself. Adding damage to this for pushing a creature against a wall or barrier seems redundant.

Rewarding clever play is one thing, but there are almost always going to be walls and enemies to push into them so this isn't just going to be a one-off addition. You are effectively giving the player a very consistent way to add damage to an ability that wasn't intended to do that damage. So, you need to consider how you are affecting the balance of this feature for the entire rest of the campaign.

It is worth noting also that anybody can shove instead of taking an attack, this means that, if you follow the logic in your ruling to its logical endpoint, your ruling should apply to those players that don't have the feature as well meaning that you would now be adding damage to a move that didn't have any damage added to it at all.

It is up to you how much you want to affect the balance of the ability

Again, I don't think you should, but if you have your heart set on trying this out, some considerations:

In the end, you are making this ability more powerful than the designers intended. Only you can decide what level of power you are comfortable adding to the ability.

By adding damage to the ability you are going to make the ability more powerful and make the balance change. The less damage you add, the less of a balance change it will be. Starting with a d4 or low amount of static damage (eg 2) should be your first step in investigating this. This would be on par damage-wise with giving a free unarmed attack with every successful shove into a wall.

A good thing about adding static damage is that it will not get multiplied on a critical hit which means that it becomes slightly less of a balance concern than if you rolled dice.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ For some reason, I did not remember that you can shove for the better part of the day. Thank you for this answer, very throughout and also gave me advice for future table rulings. \$\endgroup\$
    – heerkitten
    Feb 21, 2019 at 16:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree with the main body of your answer and I think it's worth noting that a regular shove is five feet while this shove is fifteen. That is a huge difference in applied force. If the GM were to allow extra damage with the Pushing Attack maneuver into a wall that would not necessarily translate to damage from a regular shove into a wall. \$\endgroup\$
    – lightcat
    Feb 21, 2019 at 18:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @lightcat: While I agree that IRL that logic would be entirely sound, I disagree in D&D. If you make that argument, would a shoved gnome get more damage then because they have less mass and thus accelerated greater as well? In D&D a shove is a shove. Distance is not tied to a concept of force and making that assumption greatly complicates things if you start applying it mechanically. I firmly believe that once you start talking about physics in D&D you've gone way far past where a simpler ruling should have just been made. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 21, 2019 at 18:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Rubiksmoose My point is that if the extra damage were allowed for the Pushing Attack that is homebrew/physics territory and open to player/GM interpretation. If that decision is made the player/GM also have the freedom to make the decision about the regular shove, which I think should clearly be different than the Pushing Attack. I agree that additional damage shouldn't be allowed in the first place, but if you are allowing the damage you're already basing your decision on physics and you would not have to allow damage by regular shove to maintain consistency. \$\endgroup\$
    – lightcat
    Feb 21, 2019 at 18:46

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