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I want to trip an enemy so he falls prone because our DM made a house rule about prone.

In 5e, trip attack is a specific maneuver that only a Battle Master Fighter (or someone with the Martial Adept feat) can learn. There is also the option to shove someone with a Strength(Athletics) vs. Strength(Athletics) or Dexterity(Acrobatics) check.

Assume a non-fighter without the Martial Adept feat and Strength: 8.

What ways are there to make someone prone with a reasonable success rate? Anything a player can control is fine. Things like magic items that are handed out by the DM are not what I am looking for.

A good answer explains the best ways and quickly discusses the pro and cons of each.

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    \$\begingroup\$ If you're an untrained weakling, what makes you think there's ANY method that will "with reasonable success" knock prone another person? (Especially one who is likely stronger, better trained, and better equipped than you are?) \$\endgroup\$
    – Erik
    Commented Jan 12, 2015 at 21:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ You should probably edit that information into the question. \$\endgroup\$
    – Erik
    Commented Jan 12, 2015 at 21:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ Harsh language sometimes works \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Jan 12, 2015 at 22:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ Voting to close - this appears to be looking for a list of every spell or ability that can render an opponent prone. \$\endgroup\$
    – Miniman
    Commented Jan 12, 2015 at 23:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ you could always try seducing them... \$\endgroup\$
    – Nacht
    Commented Jan 13, 2015 at 1:14

3 Answers 3

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Get creative with improvising during combat.

Fifth edition codifies a list of actions you can take in combat, but these are explicitly non-exhaustive:

The only limits to the actions you can attempt are your imagination and your character's ability scores. [...] When you describe an action not detailed elsewhere in the rules, the DM tells you whether that action is possible and what kind of roll you need to make, if any, to determine success or failure. (PHB, p. 193)

To handle everything else that a character can do, 5e provides DMs with rules for Contests (DMG, p. 238), to be used by the DM as needed to resolve such declarations. The exact two Attribute Checks to make as an opposed roll, and the stakes to be won or lost, are entirely under the DM's adjudication, but based on what you improvise.

So get creative. This edition busts combat options wide open, but it's up to each player to take advantage of that.

But doesn't this step on the Battle Master's toes?

Not at all. The Battle Master's Trip maneuver is strictly superior to just tripping an opponent as it also does weapon damage. It's also much more likely to work than an opposed Attribute Check, as it's an attack roll vs. AC using a Fighter's attack bonuses.

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    \$\begingroup\$ A perfect answer. Also loved the explanation as to why it does not step on someone's toes. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kveld Ulf
    Commented Jan 13, 2015 at 20:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ I down-voted this answer because it explicitly ignores the paragraph in the question stating that the asker is only interested in options that are entirely dependent on player agency: "What ways are there to make someone prone with a reasonable success rate? Anything a player can control is fine. Things like magic items that are handed out by the DM are not what I am looking for." Because this answer's proposal requires DM cooperation in order to be viable, it clearly does not fit the question as it was asked. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 14, 2015 at 11:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Dyndrilliac That's just 5e for you. None of it, including even PC builds, are exclusively under player control. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 14, 2015 at 14:58
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Paladin Thunderous Smite leaps to mind:

The first time you hit with a melee weapon attack during this spell’s duration, your weapon rings with thunder that is audible within 300 feet o f you, and the attack deals an extra 2d6 thunder damage to the target. Additionally, if the target is a creature, it must succeed on a Strength saving throw or be pushed 10 feet away from you and knocked prone.

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Clerics, Paladins, and Warlocks (those who chose the Fiend patron) all have access to the 1st-level spell Command. Additionally, you could get access to the spell from any other class using the Magic Initiate feat though you would only be able to cast it once per day.

The Command spell has many example commands, but the one we are most interested in for the purposes of this answer is Grovel. Commanding a creature who fails its Wisdom save to grovel causes it to immediately go prone during it's next turn and forbids the target from doing anything else until the following turn, meaning it is forced to remain prone for an entire round. Note that in order for Command to work, the creature must be able to understand (but not necessarily speak) your language.

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