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I wanted to include a Poltergeist in one of my encounters but I'm not entirely sure how to handle one thing in its stat block.

The Poltergeist can use its Telekinetic Thrust ability to toss a creature up to 30 feet, and that creature takes 1d6 damage per 10 feet moved if it hits a "hard surface or heavy object". It also says it can hurl objects at creatures and they take 2d4 damage on hit. The text is below:

Telekinetic Thrust. The poltergeist targets a creature or unattended object within 30 feet of it. A creature must be Medium or smaller to be affected by this magic, and an object can weigh up to 150 pounds.

If the target is a creature, the poltergeist makes a Charisma check contested by the target’s Strength check. If the poltergeist wins the contest, the poltergeist hurls the target up to 30 feet in any direction, including upward. If the target then comes into contact with a hard surface or heavy object, the target takes 1d6 damage per 10 feet moved.

If the target is an object that isn’t being worn or carried, the poltergeist hurls it up to 30 feet in any direction. The poltergeist can use the object as a ranged weapon, attacking one creature along the object’s path (+4 to hit) and dealing 5 (2d4) bludgeoning damage on a hit.

The Monster Manual reads that the Poltergeist is more driven by rage than anything else, and I was planning on playing it as blindly attacking the party by flinging objects at them or pushing them away. That said, it seems at least possible that it could throw one PC into another. How should I rule this? Should only the tossed creature take damage? The PC that was hit? Both?

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    – Eddymage
    Oct 30 '20 at 8:52
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Neither creature takes damage

The thrown creature only takes damage if it “comes into contact with a hard surface or heavy object” - another creature is neither of those things.

Similarly, the Poltergeist can only cause damage by throwing “an object that isn’t being worn or carried” - a creature isn’t an object.

However, allowing a poltergeist to throw a creature for either but not both effects is thematically cool and doesn’t allow the monster to do more than it could normally.

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The creatures do not take any damage, but you can come up with some nice options.

The description says that the target of Telekinetic Thrust can be a creature or an object: in the former case the creature takes damage if and only if hits an hard surface or an heavy object, not another creature.

Nonetheless, throwing a creature towards another one may produce some consequences. I list some of them that come up in my mind, as examples.

  • You can rule that the two creatures should do an Ability check (STR or DEX, at your choice) to avoid being knocked prone.

  • You can consider also the difference in size of the two creatures: a halfing thrown against a half-orc in full plate may be different from two skinny human mages clashing.

  • If behind the creatures there are stairs going down (or something similar), they (or one of them) should do an ability check to avoid falling down the stairs.

  • After the clashing one of the creature (or both) may loose the weapon or the object that it is holding, after failing a DEX (or STR) Ability check.

There is no general rule, but you can come up with some good (and funny!) consequences of this usage of Telekinetic Thrust: it depends on the creatures, on the environment and mainly on your interpretation.

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