During the last session, one of my allies was standing on a dangerous square (inside a swarm to be exact). He asked (well, begged), me to get him out of there.

Since I was 2 size categories larger, it made sense that I could pick him up and put him somewhere else, but this would take 1 move action to reach him, and 2 more to pick him up and put him down. Not fast enough.

Then we came up with the idea that I could bull rush him out of danger. My side of the equation was simple, str+size*4+d20. The question is, how do you calculate the opposing roll? We argued he was willing, so we would do str+size*4+d1, but our dm insisted on a d20 or a take 10.

Well, we got the guy out of danger, my +12 str and +8 from size was more then enough even with the worse possible roll. It still feels wrong that pushing willing target away is equally hard as a enemy.

Also, was there another option to move my ally that we forgot?


This is a common problem - I always have players wanting to pick someone up and carry them along, or push them out of the way of a closing door, or hit them with a rope or something while they're falling or in the water near a ship, or trip them so a trap passes overhead, or disarm them of a magic gem they're holding when they just realized might melt their face off, or they need someone to stab them to activate their Kewl Blood Powerz (tm). And these actions all have the same root problem, which is that attack rolls/CMB checks aren't technically opposed, unlike skill checks and saves, so it's not clear how someone decides to fail the check.

RAW is silent on this, so let's try out common sense, as is our God-given right as GMs and players. Should it be a lot easier to hit/move/disarm/trip someone who's not resisting it? Yes, totally. Should it be automatic? No, certainly not - even if the person isn't resisting, there's sheer physics in play.

Here's how I usually rule.

First, the target decides whether to resist or not. If PC#1 comes lumbering towards PC#2, maybe he trusts him to bull rush/trip/stab/touch him and maybe he doesn't - in intrigue-rich games this is a nontrivial decision (he's reaching out to touch you while you're in melee... A Cure Light Wounds spell, or his long-awaited betrayal?). If they resist, normal rules apply.

Second, if they're the trusting sort, then if it's a to-hit roll I use flat-footed AC (touch and flat-footed if it's appropriate, like tossing a rope to someone). If it's vs. a check, like with 3.5e bull rush, that's harder. I normally play Pathfinder, where it's a little more straightforward, so I'll reverse-engineer from there.

In Pathfinder, there's the somewhat cleaner CMB/CMD mechanic that covers all combat maneuvers.

CMD = 10 + Base attack bonus + Strength modifier + Dexterity modifier + special size modifier + miscellaneous modifiers

Part of CMD is, in theory,"active opposition", because it's factoring in your BAB and STR and DEX, all of which are under your control. So in these cases I assume you can willingly fail the part that's in your control (BAB + Dex + Str), leaving CMD = 10 + special size modifier + miscellaneous modifiers.

IMO this strikes the right balance of "not automatic" and "not way super hard in an unrealistic way".

So for 3.5e, that means the person can't just fail the opposed check, but they don't have to roll it, they can just set a passive DC of 10 + relative size. So the wizard is going to have a tough time bull rushing his ogre buddy out of the swarm, while vice versa should be a cinch unless something goes really wrong.

  • \$\begingroup\$ All answers are good. I'm accepting this one because it has the most interesting house rule. \$\endgroup\$ – Dorus Aug 4 '13 at 9:32

Since Okeefe answered the first part of the question, my question is to answer the second part: Any options you forgot.

There is an amount of spells/items/feats that could make this easier, but I will not adress them as I conclude you had no acces to them.

Since i was 2 size categories larger, it made sense i would pick him up and put him somewhere else, but this would take 1 move action to reach him, and 2 more to pick him up and put him down. Not fast enough.

In this case, my solution is not putting him down, but dropping him, as a free action. He would land in one of your squares, where, I think, he could fit, possibly prone (correct me, as I haven't found the right rules for this). He might take some fall damage, (I don't know your sizes), but I guess still better than the swarm if he was so keen to get out of it.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ That is interesting. Well, the biggest problem with dropping him was I would still be in range of the swarm. BUT, i had a magic item that gives 10ft teleport as a swift. If i use that before dropping him, it could work. \$\endgroup\$ – Dorus Aug 3 '13 at 18:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ Dorus Well, you could also just hold him until your/his next turn comes or something. Not like it's a big deal, since if he is melee, he will jump down, if he is range, he can stay, and if he is mage, it wouldn't matter, besides possibly a Concentration check. \$\endgroup\$ – kravaros Aug 3 '13 at 18:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also, if you occupied more than one square, you get to choose which one to drop him on, and that might get him out of range. \$\endgroup\$ – kravaros Aug 3 '13 at 18:36

A bull rush is pretty straightforward.

  1. Use a standard action to bull rush.

  2. Enter target's space. Take an attack of opportunity from the swarm (and probably not your ally).

  3. Contested Strength check: your +STR plus +4 for each size larger than Medium + d20 versus ally's +STR + d20.

  4. If you beat the defender’s Strength check result, you push him back 5 feet. If you wish to move with the defender, you can push him back an additional 5 feet for each 5 points by which your check result is greater than the defender’s check result. You can’t, however, exceed your normal movement limit. (Note: The defender provokes attacks of opportunity if he is moved. So do you, if you move with him. The two of you do not provoke attacks of opportunity from each other, however.)

    If you fail to beat the defender’s Strength check result, you move 5 feet straight back to where you were before you moved into his space. If that space is occupied, you fall prone in that space.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I disagree. I am not opposing your strenght check, I should automatically fail it, at least that's the way I see it. Or, at the very least, remove my strength modifier from the equasion. Rammimng anyone bodily is pretty okay in real life - my strength is probably around average, but I am pretty sure I could move someone across the room if he was willing. \$\endgroup\$ – kravaros Aug 3 '13 at 17:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ There isn't a way to fail a check, as far as I can tell. Having the target roll to determine the check is just as fair/arbitrary as any other way, except that it fits within the scope of the rules. I wouldn't want it to be automatic, for example. \$\endgroup\$ – okeefe Aug 3 '13 at 18:07

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