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I'm trying to determine how the shove Attack action and Reach weapons interact. In particular, can you use shove on a creature 10' away?

The shove description says:

Using the Attack action, you can make a special melee attack to shove a creature, either to knock it prone or push it away from you. If you're able to make multiple attacks with the Attack action, this attack replaces one of them.

The target of your shove must be no more than one size larger than you, and it must be within your reach.

The rules for Reach weapons read:

This weapon adds 5 feet to your reach when you attack with it.

As I interpret it, the validity of shoving a creature from 10' hinges on whether the shove action involves using your weapon or not.

Shove is an attack. Reach weapons add 5' to your reach when you attack with them. The shove rules don't mention anything about weapons, but neither do they mention using your arms or legs. Obviously, you must be shoving with something, but what exactly is never stated.

So how should these rules be interpreted? Are there any other qualifiers I've missed? Is there a clear "yes" or "no" answer, or does this require a GM ruling? If the latter, how would you rule it?


Bonus Questions (feel free to remove these if secondary questions are discouraged):

  1. If you're able to make multiple attacks during with Attack action, can you attempt multiple shoves in place of multiple attacks? The line "this attack replaces one of them" leaves me slightly unsure.

  2. Can I use a shove in place of an opportunity attack? The wording seems to indicate it can only be used during the Attack action, not during any other (lowercase) attack. Is this correct?

  3. The Polearm Master feat grants the following:

When you take the Attack action and attack with only a glaive, halberd, or quarterstaff, you can use a bonus action to make a melee attack with the opposite end of the weapon.

Can this bonus attack be replaced with a shove?

  1. Can the bonus attack granted by Polearm Master be made before the attack(s) granted by the Attack action? That is, is the following sequence of events valid: {begin Attack action} -> {receive bonus attack} -> {make bonus attack} -> {make Attack action attack(s)} -> {end Attack action}?
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So this question sort of ultimately comes down to "does shove use my weapon?" - the answer to which is unfortunately clouded and probably up to your DM more than it is governed by the rules.

I think in my games, I'd probably not allow it, as "shove" seems more like a body to body effect (or shield if you're using one) rather than a weapon push, but I'd be open to arguments to the contrary (so consult your DM on this one).

For what it's worth, the 5e rules czar, Jeremy Crawford, agrees with my interpretation (HT to Doval for finding this):

Does Shove qualify you to use the bonus attack in Two Weapon Fighting or Martial Arts?

The shove and grapple options don't involve an attack with a weapon or an unarmed strike, so no.

On to the bonus questions!

  1. "replaces one of them" just allows you to insert it into the action sequence. I don't see a problem with shoving several times in an attack action.

  2. No shoving during an opportunity attack. It's only available as part of an attack action.

  3. You can't replace the bonus action with a shove, see above for why, it's only available as or as part of the attack action. Bonus action attacks are special, they aren't "attack actions"

  4. This should probably be a separate question, but since it's here, no, much like the bonus actions for TWF, you can only take it after taking the attack action first. You also can't insert it into the middle of an attack action.

Hope that helps answer you questions, in summary, shove probably doesn't use your weapon, but you might be able to sway your DM to let you use your extended reach, and bonus questions are fun! (though do watch out to make sure you don't go off on too much of a tangent).

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My opinion is that RAW is clear on that you can use your Attack action to a shove. Since it doesn't limit it unarmed attacks it is done with whatever you are making an attack with. Note that in other areas of rules, like the Monk attacks, the rules does limit an ability to unarmed attack. My feeling is that it is not an oversight.

Remember also 5e explicitly states that specifics beats general. Which has the implication that is nothing specific is stated then the general case is the rule.

Page 4 Version .2 D&D 5e Players rules.

Remember this: If a specific rule contradicts a general rule, the specific rule wins.

With this interpretation, the answer is yes you can shove with a weapon that has Reach.

This is also supported by what we know of real life medieval fighting, particularly the 15th century German art of fighting with a two handed sword. Much of the techniques not only involves thrusts and cuts with the sword but pushing, shoving, locking blades/arms, etc.

As for the bonus question, I largely agree with Wax Eagle.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for answering. Your arguments make sense to me, but I feel it's a bit too roundabout to be conclusive. Hence I'm accepting wax eagle's answer. I liked your examples, though; they're exactly what I had in mind. \$\endgroup\$ – stphven Nov 21 '14 at 14:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ I am so gonna push my next opponent with the added reach of my whip! \$\endgroup\$ – Lexible Nov 21 '14 at 20:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Lexible while the rules technically allow a whip to push. I would not allow any shift in position away from the wielder of the whip as this doesn't make sense given how the weapons works. I would allows movement to the sides or towards the wielder as that does make sense. My guess that many referees would rule the same ways so be prepared for yours to do so as well. \$\endgroup\$ – RS Conley Nov 24 '14 at 13:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ @RSConley I completely agree... my comment was intended as absurdist irony. RAW seems to plainly mean one could push with a whip, but indeed I will not be allowing my players to shove for movement that way. OTOH, tripping with a whip seems reasonable (how many western films show exactly that :). \$\endgroup\$ – Lexible Nov 24 '14 at 17:38
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A reach weapon adds 5 ft to your reach only "when you attack with it." An shove is "a special melee attack." Note that it is not a "special melee weapon attack." No weapon is involved in shoving, just as no weapon is involved in melee spell attacks. Therefore, a reach weapon does not add 5 ft to your reach when you shove.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Ah, Much clearer. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Dec 2 '16 at 19:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ Adding in direct quotes from the relevant sections (with links) would help improve this answer. I do believe this to be the correct answer \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Aug 20 at 20:34
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Earlier posters have supplied excellent answers, so this one is very narrow in scope. The rules for the shove mechanic are a little unsure, and probably fall onto the GM's shoulders, but a case could definitely be made for being able to shove with weapons if they are rigid. This would mean it would be possible to use items like polearms to shove (perhaps with a disadvantage due to high moments of inertia), but not something like a whip.

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The Charger feat states "...use a bonus action to make one melee attack or to shove a creature." Shield Master feat also grants the ability to shove as a bonus action if you attacked that round. This implies that for bonus actions at least, shoving is disctinct from a melee attack and can only be granted in special circumstances.

The Shove attack action specifically states it replaces the "attack action", and "If you're able to make multiple attacks with the attack action, this attack replaces one of them," so only one attack of multiple can be replaced by shove. Thus I read it that you can only make one shove action per attack action (unless you have a feat that allows more in a bonus feat). I don't agree with it, but that certainly seems to be the intent of RAW.

So a shield master could presumably attack with his weapon and attempt to shove, then use a bonus action to shove with his shield, but a fighter with 2 attacks per attack action could only attmept to shove with one of the two attacks.

Thematically a reach weapon very much could trip (knock prone) or push a target, so certainly a reach weapon can shove. While it is not RAW, I do allow shove attacks during opportunity attacks and for the polearm mastery feat this would allow someone to shove an opponent away as the opponent approaches, which seems thematic enough that I would allow it. Think of (and I'm gonna date myself here :) Zula (Grace Jones) in Conan the Destroyer, swinging her staff around in the village, keeping everyone at bay. A reach weapon + Polearm Mastery + allowing shove as an AoO can replicate that ability, at least until the AoO is used. Or think of a line of pikes "shoving" horses away in Braveheart (or real life).

Since shove either moves a target (by force or making it jump back) or trips it (knocks prone) I don't think it really breaks anything to allow shove to be used in an AoO or bonus attack. But multiple shove attempts, if successful, could move a target out of reach of a follow-up melee attack (which is probably why the shove description says "replaces one of them") so be aware of that. Multiple attempts to knock a target prone (presumably so another character can melee attack with advantage) is a risk, as the first character could just choose the "help" action and give the same benefit to the other PC without the risk of failing the shove attempt.

I like "push your luck" player decisions, and trying to figure out which attack a player is using (attack action, an action surge, a bonus action) is tedious, so I just allow shove attempts for any melee attack in my game.

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