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This is related to this question, where it was a second question of mine.

Let's say my party wants to walk across a narrow, straight, 5 ft wide bridge, but a pesky foe blocks the way

A still from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom crossing a narrow bridge with enemies in front of and behind him

RAW, I can use an attack action to make a Shove attack that allows me to push a creature away from me. If I play on a (square) grid, would that - by RAW - allow me to push a creature not just to the square directly behind it, creating a 5ft wide gap, but alternatively to a diagonally adjacent square, pushing it off the bridge?

Illustrated in wonderful ASCII, the bridge consists of '#'s over the chasm of 'o's and is blocked by Jones J, and my adventurer A wants to get past him somehow. Can I shove him off the bridge into the chasm or just repeatedly shove back until the end of the bridge?

oo#oo
ooJoo
ooAoo
oo#oo
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2 Answers 2

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There is an optional rule in the DMG to shove to the side! If your group is only using the PHB, RAW, then the short answer is no.

The DMG p272 lists the action "Shove Aside". It functions the in the same way as the Shove action, but allows the attacker to move the target 5 ft to a spot in the attacker's reach. Additionally, the attacker has disadvantage on this attempt.

My group has simply ignored the disadvantage, but we often give the target a chance at a mixed failure/success. For example in your image, the bridge has a pretty high "railing". In my group, if the shove were to succeed, the target would be provided the opportunity to make some sort of save at a relatively low DC to catch themselves and hold onto the railing.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It should be noted that this is an optional rule and must be discussed with the DM beforehand. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 10, 2023 at 15:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov You're right. I've added some more context to clarify that. \$\endgroup\$
    – Shadomew
    Oct 10, 2023 at 17:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ It should also be noted that if the DM is going to allow this to you, then you should be prepared for them to have your opponents use it, too, when the circumstances warrant. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 11, 2023 at 2:24
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Yes, you can

The rule for Shoving says that if you win the roll against your target, you can "push it 5 feet away from you". Pushing the target back and to the left is still 'away from you'. (My group sometimes refers to this as "putting a little English on it".)

To use your little chart, the Adventurer can push the wicked Dr. Jones into any of the X'd squares, two of which will send him tumbling into the turbulent river below.

~xXx~
~~J~~
~~A~~
~~#~~

Now a DM could very reasonably give the target advantage on their check if you're trying to throw them over (or through) a railing, which is clearly more difficult than shoving them across flat ground. In this case, with the rope bridge, I'd give Jones advantage if you push him to the left or right (the lower-case x's), but not if you shove him straight back onto the bridge surface (X).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Given the existence of the optional rule in the DMG mentioned by Shadomew, I think that clarifies that the standard push rules meant "directly away from you", a shove along the line between the creatures, not a judo throw to a different angle which requires pulling. If you hadn't noticed that DMG optional rule, even the fact that it's a push not a pull is a pretty strong hint about the direction of a "shove". So this sounds to me like an intentional tweak to the rules at your table, which is totally fine, but twists the rules text pretty far. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 11, 2023 at 20:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ Oh, when you say "back and to the left", I think you mean away from you and left (to their back-left), not throwing them over your shoulder to your back-left; my previous comment was based on that misreading of your answer. So for medium creatures on a grid next to each other (not diagonally), you'd allow pushing them to any of 3 spaces: straight back, or back-left or back-right. Yeah that seems reasonable and probably a valid reading of RAW. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 11, 2023 at 20:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ Can you push someone upwards into the air? quotes Crawford as saying that diagonal pushes are allowed (but not straight up if you're both standing on the ground), supporting this reading. And narratively it makes sense: if you move around within your 5ft square, you can line up on an angle to shove. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 11, 2023 at 20:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ Correct, I was talking about pushing them striaght-back, back-left, or back-right. All target spaces are in the monster's direction and 5 feet further away than the monster currently is. I'll add a little chart to clarify. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 11, 2023 at 20:19

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