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The feat says that "the target must succeed on a Strength saving throw (DC 8 + your proficiency bonus + the ability modifier of the score increased by this feat) or be moved 5 feet toward or away from you."

Case 1: The Push

"But they can't move 5 feet downward from you if they are standing on the ground," you say.

"Ah," I say. "But they can move 5 feet downward from you if they become Prone."

I would contend that this actually fits the RAW as a satisfaction of the requirement "the target must...be moved 5 feet...away from you" as going Prone is a valid form of 5 feet of movement (albeit one that doesn't usually consume any of your Speed). But I can see someone arguing against this reading. Either way, it's a niche enough usage that I think many DMs might choose to allow it.

Extra benefit: If you have the movement available, you could fly down and attack with advantage.

Case 2: The Pull

This is just funny. Let's say you're flying 15 feet off the ground (10 feet above your target). You pull the target 5 feet up with your bonus action, then hit them with an attack. I can't think of a RAW reason this would confer advantage, unless maybe through flanking (if you have an ally who is in one of the 9 squares below your target). But I might rule it granted advantage regardless, because the target would have a hard time defending in midair.

Extra benefit: When the target falls back down, they might re-trigger certain persistent AoE spells or environmental hazards.

Thoughts? Particularly on the application of RAW to force going Prone in Case 1, or to create flanking conditions (or some other form of advantage, if you can think of one) in Case 2?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Do you want to know the RAW answer to your title question, or do you want answers to focus on the rulings described in the body of the question (whether they're balanced, whether they will likely lead to fun games, etc.)? \$\endgroup\$ – A_S00 Dec 24 '20 at 20:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm open to both! I think this is one of those cases where the RAW is not crystal clear, because it requires the reader to interpret what "move" means. I'm looking at the section on movement from the PHB: Combatants often find themselves lying on the ground, either because they are knocked down or because they throw themselves down. In the game, they are prone, a condition described in appendix A. You can drop prone without using any of your speed. To me, that suggests that "throwing yourself down" is a form of movement that takes you 5 feet away from someone flying overhead. \$\endgroup\$ – whenpushcomestoshove Dec 24 '20 at 21:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already, and check out the help center for more guidance. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Dec 25 '20 at 8:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ @whenpushcomestoshove "What does the RAW say about this?" and "are there balance problems with these options (compared to XXX)?" are two different questions. Which one are you asking? You can open one for both if you want answers to both. \$\endgroup\$ – Cubic Dec 25 '20 at 14:29
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You'll never know if you don't try

Everyone plays D&D a bit differently, sometimes more than a bit. The books certainly aren't going to define every single detail. It's the exact thing why we do need a DM. Only your DM knows for sure, how does magic work in their world.

The rules are intentionally silent regarding many corner cases:

"The rules don’t account for every possible situation that might arise during a typical D&D session. For example, a player might want his or her character to hurl a brazier full of hot coals into a monster’s face. How you determine the outcome of this action is up to you"

DMG Part 3, "Master of Rules"

That doesn't mean players can't do such things. It's the DM's job to adjudicate the outcome, including any possible magic side effect. The DM also decides if any side effect does take place at all. The rules only describe the basics a.k.a. "the only thing the spell does":

A spell's text details the spell's effects—the only thing the spell does. Any additional effects are up to the DM.

RAW the target "is moved 5 feet"

The basic effect of Telekinetic feat is just moving the target:

be moved 5 feet toward or away from you

And by "moving" rules imply changing position (like, a grid square you're in), not applying a condition (being prone). In other words, dropping prone is not movement, neither is standing up.

It worth mentioning that the feat allows you to "shove one creature":

As a bonus action, you can try to telekinetically shove one creature you can see within 30 feet of you.

It probably should work similar to the Shield Master feat from the PHB:

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

So it basically allows you to telekinetically shove the target. Someone can argue that "shoving" implies horizontal movement (when you launch something up in the air you do not "shove" it, but "throw" or "toss"). The rules are very scarce regarding 3d movement unfortunately, so DMs have to improvise. Usually they allow vertical forced movement, so probably you can "shove up" with the Telekinetic feat.

Related questions:

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I would rule that if the target fails the Strength save on the push, that being pushed prone would be the result. That's not strictly RAW, but it seems right and reasonable.

I would not give advantage on the pull scenario. Maybe if set up right with a flanker, it could, but I don't use the flanking rules, so that doesn't apply. It's still a pretty cool maneuver, to lift him up, take a swing, and drop him. He doesn't get a swing back (unless he had a readied action for that), may take a bit of damage, if so, might end up prone, and possible environmental effects (depending on how those are worded on voluntary movement vs. being moved -- some will and some won't).

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