My table is considering the following house rule:

A creature suspended above the ground and unable to move on its own (e.g., under the effect of the levitate spell) is especially susceptible to forces that would push or pull it. When you successfully target a suspended creature with an effect that would move it, you can choose to move it an additional number of feet equal to 5 times your relevant ability modifier (e.g., your Strength modifier if you shoved the creature with a special melee attack, or your spellcasting ability modifier if you used a magical effect, such as the gust spell or the shove effect of the Telekinetic feat). The additional movement must be in the same direction as the normal movement caused by the effect you used.

A creature with a flying speed is not affected by this rule.

The logic here should be obvious -- a creature hanging in mid-air, with no ability whatsoever to stop itself from being moved, should be easy to move. But what are the implications of such a house rule from a balance standpoint? Are we setting ourselves up for headaches?

(For context: this might seem like a corner case, but we're playing a heavily psionics-themed campaign, and so maximizing players' opportunities to embody the tropes of telekinesis even at low levels is important. It isn't inconceivable that someone else in a similarly-themed campaign might have similar ideas.)

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    \$\begingroup\$ Fair question, but there is nothing that I particularly want to include in the analysis here. To wit, we do have a cinematic rule permitting effects that would target creatures to also target objects and vice versa -- but explicitly subject to common sense (so, e.g., objects can't be charmed, poisoned, or subject to psychic or poison damage, and creatures can't be effected by, say, animate objects or purify food and drink) and DM discretion. We know it has the potential to lead to unexpected weirdness/brokenness, so we self-police. I'd rather not factor that into this question. \$\endgroup\$
    – screamline
    Commented Feb 8, 2021 at 21:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you including any additional rules around other mechanics, especially dealing damage (like from slamming into a will, for example)? Or is this only about movement and positioning in combat? \$\endgroup\$
    – Upper_Case
    Commented Feb 8, 2021 at 21:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ Nope, no slamming or other damage-dealing with this. It's solely about movement. \$\endgroup\$
    – screamline
    Commented Feb 8, 2021 at 21:58

1 Answer 1


Specifically. The way you have worded the ability, it works too broadly.

A creature suspended above the ground and unable to move on its own

This would for example, describe a creature under the effects of telekinesis. Even though the description of the spell clearly indicates the target is being held tight in mid air (hence restrained).

Fixing that. The particularly troublesome interactions would be any ability which easily allowed forced movement. A Genie warlock with crusher, grasp of hadar, repelling blast, and +5 modifier could move a target 5+25(crusher), +10+25(grasp), +10+25(repel), +10+25(repel) feet with their two blasts. At level 11, just repelling blast is going to be over 100 ft of forced movement (well, until it knocks them out of range of the spell anyways). I prefer yanking them toward you, then launching them 30ft up with crusher, then launching another 70 ft up with the repelling blasts ending them 100ft in the air. A spell sniper / eldritch spear warlock might be able to float a target out of their range of any attacks and slowly plink them off or just let them fall.

Even without such crazy optimization, just the crusher feat would allow you to uppercut someone in the air 30 ft (and then the person can drop concentration) to deal an extra 3d6 and knock the target prone (for advantage on follow up melee attacks).

Environmental hazards are always a concern, however with such powerful forced movement abilities, fighting within 50 feet of a pit is almost certainly going to result in a fall.

But I think most of these concerns are rather the POINT of the rule rather than a drawback. If you let people play pinball with floating targets, they can play pinball with floating targets.

I would probably instead of being a formula which favored short distance moves so much, instead make it allow any forced movement to be doubled. Simplifies it and benefits short and long forced movements a proportionately equal amount.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I agree, moving them [ability score mod] x 5 is definitely a bit much, and disproportionately empowers things that normally only inflict small movement changes. Doubling is probably the most balanced means. This would be especially egregious when the Warlock hits level 9 and can cast Levitate at will, then hit themselves with EB for an effective (and mildly painful) fly speed of 70' per round. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 8, 2021 at 21:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ "Mildly painful," eh? If the warlock wants to spend two actions and suffer 2d10+10 force damage to enjoy one round of moving 70 ft. in a straight line, I'd allow that. And that's assuming it makes sense to let the warlock move herself "away from" herself. \$\endgroup\$
    – screamline
    Commented Feb 8, 2021 at 21:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Daveman, I don't read telekinesis to say anything about absolutely locking the target into in place. The target is restrained, so its speed is zero. It can't move under its own power. But the spell doesn't say it can't be moved by another external force. I'd permit the target of telekinesis to be physically shoved, moved by a battlemaster's Pushing Attack, etc. \$\endgroup\$
    – screamline
    Commented Feb 8, 2021 at 22:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ This Genie warlock example gets especially problematic when you start gaming opportunity attacks, or if you start with crusher and use repelling blast to knock them higher up for more falling damage \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 8, 2021 at 22:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ Would the problem of multiplying the distance be solved just by specifying "you can only apply this additional distance once a turn"? \$\endgroup\$
    – screamline
    Commented Feb 8, 2021 at 22:21

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