An interesting situation happened last night during our 4th-level party's exploration of Chult, where wandering monsters really don't care about your party level or whether or not they are an appropriate CR. I'm not sure whether this specific encounter set-up was put together by the DM or comes from the adventure we are in, Tomb of Annihilation, so I will spoiler it:

We chanced upon a small group of zombies that appeared to be feeding on the carcass of a T. rex. We have a lot of ranged PC's, so several zombies we can handle. As soon as we attacked, however, the undead T. rex got to her feet and charged us, disgorging more zombies as it came.

We were thus facing a medium-sized group of low CR undead (hereafter minions) and one huge high-CR undead (hereafter boss monster). The boss monster was easily capable of taking any one of us down with a single hit. Trying to protect the rest of the party, the Crown Oath paladin used his Channel Divinity: Champion Challenge class feature on the boss:

Champion Challenge. As a bonus action, you issue a challenge that compels other creatures to do battle with you. Each creature of your choice that you can see within 30 feet of you must make a Wisdom saving throw. On a failed save, a creature can't willingly move more than 30 feet away from you. This effect ends on the creature if you are incapacitated or die or if the creature is more than 30 feet away from you.

The boss monster failed its save and obligingly charged the paladin. However, the minions came streaming in as well, threatening to take down the paladin even if he withstood the boss. The party cleric then moved behind the paladin and used her Channel Divinity: Turn Undead class feature on the entire group, boss and minions:

Each undead that can see or hear you within 30 feet of you must make a Wisdom saving throw. If the creature fails its saving throw, it is turned for 1 minute or until it takes any damage.

A turned creature must spend its turns trying to move as far away from you as it can, and it can't willingly move to a space within 30 feet of you. It also can't take reactions. For its action, it can use only the Dash action or try to escape from an effect that prevents it from moving. If there's nowhere to move, the creature can use the Dodge action.

Fortunately for us, most of the minions failed their saves. The boss made her save, which was good because it meant we did not have to stop the combat and figure out how to rule the two effects. However, I am still unsure what should have happened had she failed, and been simultaneously compelled to do battle with the paladin and flee from the cleric standing just behind him.

According to Champion Challenge, the boss could not willingly move more than 30 feet away from the paladin - but fleeing the turn effect is not willing movement, it is compelled. According to the Turn Undead, it must try to move away, and can't willingly move to a space within 30 feet of the cleric - but again, moving toward the paladin is not willing, it is compelled.

As far as I can make out, on a failed save the boss should have begun to move away from the paladin, but stopped when it was 30 feet from the paladin and 35 feet from the cleric, and then been forced to remain there, simultaneously unable to move further away or return closer. But I would appreciate independent confirmation or alternate explanations.

Champion Challenge is similar to Compelled Duel in that (as this question notes for Duel), it says it compels the target to attack the caster, but then never provides any mechanism for this to happen, and instead only explicitly affects the target's movement. If your interpretation of what would happen to the boss monster in this question depends on whether or not it is forced to attack, you should make that point explicit.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Heavily related : rpg.stackexchange.com/q/77459/77044 \$\endgroup\$
    – Matthieu
    Commented Apr 6, 2023 at 9:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ so...how many of your party ended up undead at the end of the encounter? :P :D \$\endgroup\$
    – dsollen
    Commented Apr 6, 2023 at 15:43
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @dsollen Amazingly, none. It was a Holy Tuesday miracle. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Commented Apr 7, 2023 at 0:44

2 Answers 2


The key words here are willingly and must.

Champion's Challenge:

a creature can't willingly move more than 30 feet away from you

Note that Champion's Challenge does not mandate that the target must move toward the paladin, just that they can't willingly move away.

Turn Undead:

A turned creature must spend its turns trying to move as far away from you as it can

A turned creature is not willingly moving more than 30 feet from you; it has been compelled to do so. (In an enormously pedantic reading, if it were willingly moving, the turn effect would not work as written, as moving from 5 feet away to 10 feet away would still require the target to "move to a space within 30 feet of you".)

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    \$\begingroup\$ I think the fact you point out, that a creature 5 feet away could not move to 10 feet away, is a good proof that it is not willing movement. Thank you for the emphasis on must - that is helpful. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Commented Apr 6, 2023 at 17:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Kirt: I think the intent of the can't willingly move to a space within 30 feet of you. wording in Turn Undead is that if you walk down a dead-end hallway or alley and encounter some zombies at the end, Turning them won't force them to run past you to ultimately get farther away; they'll just cower at the end of the alley/hall. Unless it's a wide alley, and you step to one side, letting them get by while staying 30 feet away at all times, then they'll run around you and flee down the open end of the alley/hallway. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 7, 2023 at 3:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ So I think the intent is that if they're within 30 ft, they can't get any closer at all (like the Frightened condition), but if farther they can temporarily get closer on the way to getting a clear escape route. Being Turned interestingly does not impose the Frightened condition, which would stop them from ever getting any closer. But yeah, the rule is not formally precise in its wording, and could have said "can't willingly move closer to a space within 30 feet of you [on the way to getting farther away]." Although that could be misread as "(closer to a space)" not "(closer to you)"... \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 7, 2023 at 3:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PeterCordes Yes, does "to a space" mean at each 5' increment, or as the final destination of your move? I would lean toward the former but can see the other interpretation. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Commented Apr 7, 2023 at 4:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Kirt: Good question; I was assuming each 5' increment until you pointed out the possibility of the other interpretation. That doesn't solve the problem, though, so agreed there's little support for it; difficult terrain and/or a slow or prone undead could make it unable to end its move more than 30' away from the cleric even moving directly away, in which case it couldn't satisfy that rule? Then you could argue that being compelled to dash away would still override the "willingly" part, but then what's the point of having it at all? I think "willing" still applies to choosing a route. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 7, 2023 at 5:00

The effects aren't at odds

Champion Challenge does not mandate a specific course of action it just forbids willingly moving away.

Turn Undead does mandate a course of action:

A turned creature must spend its turns trying to move as far away from you as it can

This Action is not prevented by the other effect (must means it is not willingly) so Turn Undead takes precedence.

Now, one could argue, that Champion Challenge does mandate a course of action because it says that it:

compels other creatures to do battle with you

but this is very vague compared to the wording of Turn Undead and specific beats general.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I think you have the right of it, but I'm not sure about your use of specific beats general. I don't think it is supposed to mean 'clear beats vague'. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Commented Apr 6, 2023 at 17:41

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