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The minotaur playable race has the Hammering Horns trait, which says (Guildmasters' Guide to Ravnica, p. 19):

Immediately after you hit a creature with a melee attack as part of the Attack action on your turn, you can use a bonus action to attempt to shove that target with your horns. The target must be no more than one size larger than you and within 5 feet of you. Unless it succeeds on a Strength saving throw against a DC equal to 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Strength modifier, you push it up to 10 feet away from you.

I am thinking that this is similar to the Shield Master feat (Player's Handbook, p. 170), the first benefit of which says:

If you take the Attack action on your turn, you can use a bonus action to try to shove a creature within 5 feet of you with your shield.

I am fairly certain Jeremy Crawford has ruled that you can knock prone after an attack, which I am fine with. Would this same ruling apply to Hammering Horns?

The rules in the PHB/basic rules on shoving a creature state:

Using the Attack action, you can make a special melee attack to shove a creature, either to knock it prone or push it away from you. If you’re able to make multiple attacks with the Attack action, this attack replaces one of them. The target of your shove must be no more than one size larger than you, and it must be within your reach. You make a Strength (Athletics) check contested by the target’s Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics).

It seems to be that Hammering Horns references these rules and just adds specifics to note that the target makes a saving throw instead, the push option pushes it 10 feet, and it uses a bonus action instead of one attack in the Attack action. All the rest still would apply, including the option to shove prone instead of pushing the target.

Can Hammering Horns knock the target prone? Or am I misinterpreting the rules?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Related to the Shield Master ruling: Shield Master - Can the shield push be taken before an attack? \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast May 18 at 6:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's usually not a good idea to add additional questions after answers have been submitted because it means there is now something they haven't answered. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch May 18 at 20:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ I wouldn't consider it a new question, more of just rewording the question to be more specific \$\endgroup\$ – Wartowel May 19 at 15:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's not so much that it's new, but if it's adding something else that an answerer hasn't put in, that's kind of unfair to those who already provided answers. It's moving the goalpost. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch May 19 at 17:55
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Hammering Horns is its own specific action with its own rules

As you've quoted, the Hammering Horns trait of the minotaur player race is specific in how it works and what it does. It unequivocally states that you start with 'unlocking' the ability by taking the Attack action (my emphasis):

Immediately after you hit a creature with a melee attack as part of the Attack action on your turn, you can use a bonus action to attempt to shove that target with your horns.

After you've unlocked the ability, you can now attempt the Hammering Horns trait, which states:

Unless it succeeds on a Strength saving throw against a DC equal to 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Strength modifier, you push it up to 10 feet away from you.

Yes, it's called a shove, but it is not the standard PHB shove. It is Hammering Horns, which gives you a bonus action to push someone up to 10 feet away from you.

So is this the Shove listed in the PHB or not?

Well, it's not. It's close, but it's inherently a different action because the results are different.

A standard shove is only a 5-foot shove. Hammering Horns lets you push someone up to 10 feet. As I've noted above, it also doesn't state you can knock prone.

But the real difference is in that pushing distance. If this was an error, it would be much more likely that the push distance would be the same 5 feet.

In this, the ability gives you greater range for shoving, but at the expense of no option for prone.

But that's not all. It's also not an opposed contest, but a Strength save.

In all, it's a different mechanic than the PHB attack shove.

But that's silly! Why wouldn't I just use one of my attacks in the Attack action to shove?

Well, you can! But you're giving up a weapon attack to do it. Hammering Horns allows you take all of your normal weapon attacks you have in the Attack action and then grants you a bonus action that you normally don't have. And that bonus action only can shove 10 feet away as the ability states.

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Unfortunately, Hammering Horns can't knock the target prone

Firstly let's observe the Minotaur's Hammering Horns trait from the Guildmasters' Guide to Ravnica (p. 19; emphasis mine):

Immediately after you hit a creature with a melee attack as part of the Attack action on your turn, you can use a bonus action to attempt to shove that target with your horns. The target must be no more than one size larger than you and within 5 feet of you. Unless it succeeds on a Strength saving throw against a DC equal to 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Strength modifier, you push it up to 10 feet away from you.

Then let's look at the rules on shoving a creature from the basic rules (emphasis mine):

Using the Attack action, you can make a special melee attack to shove a creature, either to knock it prone or push it away from you. If you're able to make multiple attacks with the Attack action, this attack replaces one of them.

The target must be no more than one size larger than you and must be within your reach. Instead of making an attack roll, you make a Strength (Athletics) check contested by the target's Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics) check (the target chooses the ability to use). You succeed automatically if the target is incapacitated. If you succeed, you either knock the target prone or push it 5 feet away from you.

Then let's look at the most important piece of information from the basic rules - Specific Beats General (emphasis mine):

This book contains rules, especially in parts 2 and 3, that govern how the game plays. That said, many racial traits, class features, spells, magic items, monster abilities, and other game elements break the general rules in some way, creating an exception to how the rest of the game works. Remember this: If a specific rule contradicts a general rule, the specific rule wins.

Exceptions to the rules are often minor. For instance, many adventurers don’t have proficiency with longbows, but every wood elf does because of a racial trait. That trait creates a minor exception in the game. Other examples of rule-breaking are more conspicuous. For instance, an adventurer can’t normally pass through walls, but some spells make that possible. Magic accounts for most of the major exceptions to the rules.

From this, we must observe that the specific rule of the Minotaur's bonus-action shove from the Hammering Horns trait overrides the general rules on shoving a creature. The Minotaur trait utilizes a bonus action, and doesn't explicitly reference the shoving rules. Instead, it describes the exact mechanics for its own race-specific shove, using a bonus action taken after the Attack action.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This answer somewhat misses the mark, this is not a "specific beats general" situation. There is a feature that uses somewhat similar terms to another, completely unrelated, action. No rules are broken, there is no contradiction, there is no "specific" case nor a "general" case, they are completely unrelated! \$\endgroup\$ – gszavae May 18 at 7:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ I obviously agree that specific beats general, but I believe that the specific in this case is the 10 ft over the 5ft of Shield master. \$\endgroup\$ – Wartowel May 18 at 13:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Wartowel No, it isn't just "shove+". Hammering Horns isn't shove, and does not define itself by referencing any characteristics of shove-- HH clearly details what it does. Things do what they say they do, and HH doesn't list all of the same properties as shove does, nor does it say that it replicates shove plus certain modifications. They're different actions, usable in different situations, with different details. \$\endgroup\$ – Upper_Case May 18 at 15:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ I thought it was specific beats general because Minotaur have a bonus action to 'shove a creature' and there's an action to 'shove a creature'. Agree to disagree. \$\endgroup\$ – David Hunsicker May 19 at 5:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hammerimg horns literally says "shove" a foe... how is that not referencing shove?? \$\endgroup\$ – Wartowel May 19 at 15:12
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No, the shove from Hammering Horns can't shove the target prone

Rules do what they say they do. Nothing in the rule says you can knock a target prone, so sadly you can't.

As far as the timing goes, Hammering Horns is much more specific than the Shield Master feat. You must make the shove attempt immediately after hitting a creature, not before. Unlike Shield Master, the trigger for Hammering Horns is a successful attack.

The Shield Master feat is not a good comparison to make, because its trigger is different. The feat states, "If you take the Attack action on your turn, you can use a bonus action to…" Hammering Horns must be done immediately after a successful hit, not after taking the Attack Action.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Agreed. Although there is an action called "Shoving a Creature", however, it seems clear that this is just something similarly worded. \$\endgroup\$ – gszavae May 18 at 4:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ Note that Shield Master's bonus-action shove can also only be done after you take the Attack action (this ruling's also in the Sage Advice Compendium now). Crawford also clarified in an unofficial 2019 tweet: "The simple by-the-book way (RAW) to determine whether you've completed an action is to finish the whole action. Yet you fulfill our design intent (RAI) with the Attack action if you make at least one attack with it, since that is how we define the action in its basic form." \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast May 18 at 7:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes the hammering horns would also be as an add-on to an attack action, thus coming afterwards. Usually to the aid of other melee allies. \$\endgroup\$ – Wartowel May 18 at 14:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ Why does the timing or trigger of a feature make comparing them a bad idea? Note that they do include incredibly similar wording: "you can use a bonus action to try to shove a creature" vs "you can use a bonus action to attempt to shove that target". I think I"m just unsure what type of comparison you're saying is not a good idea \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 May 18 at 23:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Medix2: ...To be fair, I also didn't understand the querent's explanation of why they made the comparison to Shield Master in the first place; their logic also seems to reference the timing: "I am fairly certain Jeremy Crawford has ruled that you can knock prone after an attack, which I am fine with. Would this same ruling apply to Hammering Horns?" I don't really see how that timing is relevant to whether the Hammering Horns trait can knock the target prone, since whether one game element has the same timing as another has no bearing on whether they use the same rules. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast May 18 at 23:39
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It's not the best wording, but I believe the shove in Hammering Horns is separate from the Shove detailed elsewhere

Let's look at the Shield Master feat

[...] If you take the Attack action on your turn, you can use a bonus action to try to shove a creature within 5 feet of you with your shield. [...]

Here what it means to "shove" a creature is not explicitly detailed and so it falls back to the general rules on shoving:

Using the Attack action, you can make a special melee attack to shove a creature, either to knock it prone or push it away from you. If you're able to make multiple attacks with the Attack action, this attack replaces one of them.

The target must be no more than one size larger than you and must be within your reach. Instead of making an attack roll, you make a Strength (Athletics) check contested by the target's Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics) check (the target chooses the ability to use). You succeed automatically if the target is incapacitated. If you succeed, you either knock the target prone or push it 5 feet away from you.

Every aspect of this applies to Shield Master's shove except those that are overruled by the more specific Shield Master feat:

You don't need to use the Attack action, you can knock your target prone or move them, the size restrictions still apply, it is still a check contest, and you still automatically succeed against incapacitated targets.


Let's look at Hammering Horns

Immediately after you hit a creature with a melee attack as part of the Attack action on your turn, you can use a bonus action to attempt to shove that target with your horns. The target must be no more than one size larger than you and within 5 feet of you.

The entire first sentence is nearly identical to Shield Master which means there is a rather compelling argument that this also refers to the standard shove detailed above.

Note that Hammering Horns then explains the size restriction which would've have already been covered by the typical shove requirements. This isn't really evidence of anything though since this wouldn't be the first instance of the technically unnecessary reiteration of rules.


Hammering Horns then mentions new mechanics

Unless it succeeds on a Strength saving throw against a DC equal to 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Strength modifier, you push it up to 10 feet away from you.

If this were about the traditional shove, then both the typical check contest and this saving throw would occur; this would all happen in addition to the effects of a regular shove. This description mentions nothing about replacing the check contest, only that when using this shove a saving throw also occurs. This means there are two possible interpretations:


Hammering Horns either replaces the typical shove or happens in addition to it

If Ramming Horns was done in addition to the pre-existing shove mechanic, it would have to be exactly that, an addition and not a replacement. This means that you would have two options: push the target 15 feet away, or push them 10 feet away and knock them prone (or mixing depending on how the contest and save go).

And if Ramming Horns was a replacement for the pre-existing shove mechanic, it would mean your only option when using Ramming Horns is to shove your target 10 feet away.

I believe the latter of the two is the case despite the similar wording to Shield Master. I can't really give a good rules reason why but if anything else were the case I would have expected the feature to say something along the lines of "In addition to the typical effects of a shove..." or "If you choose to shove your target 5 feet with this action, you instead shove them 10 feet".

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You can't shove prone with Hammering Horns, according to the developers

Rules designer Jeremy Crawford mentions in this unofficial tweet from November 2016:

The first benefit of the Shield Master feat relies on the shove rule (PH, 195), which lets you knock a creature prone or push it away.

This might lead you to believe that Hammering Horns is similar to Shield Master in this way, but it is not.

In the May 15, 2018 episode of Dragon+, Jeremy Crawford and Bart Carroll start by talking about the 2015 UA minotaur's Hammering Horns text, which references the general shoving rules, but explicitly states you cannot knock prone. Crawford then explains that this was confusing for players, and that in the next 2018 UA minotaur version of Hammering Horns, they chose to omit the reference to the PHB meaning it does not knock prone because it does not reference the PHB anymore. See the excerpt below:

Crawford: The original Hammering Horns relied on you looking up the shove rules in the Combat chapter of the Player's Handbook. Those shove rules, which allow you to either knock someone prone or push them back 5 feet. Yet Hammering Horns said, "Hey, go use those shove rules, but you can't knock the person prone." So...

Carroll: So, "look up this rule", but there's a caveat to it right there.

Crawford: So that for me, in rules writing, is a no-no. Don't - basically, don't make somebody go look something up, but then tell them, "Oh, but ignore - ignore part of what you're reading." [...] But if you're taking half the thing away, why not just tell the person how their ability works right here. And so that's what we did [...] with the new version of Hammering Horns, where we don't make you go look up the shove rules in the Combat chapter. We just tell you, "Immediately after you hit somebody with a melee attack as part of the Attack action on your turn, you can attempt to shove that creature with your horns using your reaction. That creature must be no more than one size larger than you and within 5 feet of you." And then we tell you right here, "It must make a Strength saving throw against this DC, and if it fails, you push it 5 feet away from you."

Finally, on November 20, 2018, the minotaur race was officially published in the Guildmasters' Guide to Ravnica. For the Hammering Horns trait, the only changes from the 2018 UA to the published version were that the published version uses the character's bonus action instead of a reaction, and pushes the target 10 feet on a failed save instead of 5 feet. The fact that the Hammering Horns trait pushes the target away (instead of knocking them prone) has not changed; the trait intentionally gives you all the rules necessary to understand how it works in the trait itself.

The rules intent from the very start has been explicitly stated by the developers to be that with the minotaur's Hammering Horns trait, you cannot shove/knock an enemy prone.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the feedback updated to clarify the distinction between the UA 2018 and Ravnicas final release. \$\endgroup\$ – Esu-Tantei May 18 at 23:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ Looks good! I added a clarification about the final release (i.e. what did and didn't change in the trait from the 2018 Unearthed Arcana version to the final published version), and clarified the ambiguous "RAI" acronym (see this meta: Please avoid using the RAI acronym, or use it carefully & be clear in context). \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast May 18 at 23:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ Again, the wording is 'up to 10 feet away'. If you can shove it 10feet, why could you not just shove it straight down. \$\endgroup\$ – Wartowel May 19 at 15:27

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