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Shoving a Creature:

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.... You make a Strength (Athletics) check contested by the target's Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics) check (the target chooses the ability to use). If you win the contest, you either knock the target prone or push it 5 feet away from you.

From the description of Bigby's Hand, one of the options:

Forceful Hand. The hand attempts to push a creature within 5 feet of it in a direction you choose. Make a check with the hand's Strength contested by the Strength (Athletics) check of the target. If the target is Medium or smaller, you have advantage on the check. If you succeed, the hand pushes the target up to 5 feet plus a number of feet equal to five times your spellcasting ability modifier. The hand moves with the target to remain within 5 feet of it.

The Forceful Hand is similar to, but clearly not the same as, a Shove attack. (For instance, in a Shove, the opponent can choose to use Dex to oppose, and the Hand can push a creature much farther (5+5m feet where m is the caster's spellcasting ability modifier) than another creature can (5 feet) using the regular Shove action.)

The question is: for Bigby's Forceful Hand, can "in a direction you choose" include "earthward"?

Are there any developer rulings on this, and if not, how would you rule this at your table, and why?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Bigby's also has grasping hand. in melee combat attack, shoves, and grapples are all semi-interchangeable. That might be a better way to approach it as far as getting a DM to make that call for allowing knocked prone. \$\endgroup\$ – Quiescat May 10 '15 at 7:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Quiescat The plan was actually to grapple first, then knock prone. \$\endgroup\$ – PurpleVermont May 10 '15 at 15:20
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By the rules as you have quoted, no.

Certainly a DM could rule that it's possible, but in 5e a shove to knock someone prone means (attempting) to impose the 'Prone' condition on them, and nothing in the spell says that it can do that. The conditions are some of the few reserved words within 5e, and they are only applied in two circumstances: When a mechanical effect in the game says so, and when the DM says so :-)

Your question is whether the mechanical effect allows it, and that's a clear "no". But 5e is all about rulings. Do you (or your DM) think it's better to allow it? Then do so (or convince them).

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    \$\begingroup\$ basically the argument is "if a regular character can knock prone with a shove that would otherwise only move the creature 5 feet, surely the giant hand can do it with its stronger push that could move the creature 30 feet" \$\endgroup\$ – PurpleVermont May 10 '15 at 15:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ The counterargument is that it is a constant flat force - it's not controllable enough to try to overbalance someone. \$\endgroup\$ – ccooke May 10 '15 at 18:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ @PurpleVermont that alone might open up things like Eldritch blast doing the same which seems like a slippery slope bit of power creep- though clearly an edge case. \$\endgroup\$ – Quiescat May 10 '15 at 18:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ @PurpleVermont in that we would agree. though i run with munchkins so i would get arguments such as. "i am going to hit him in the leg so he loses balance and that's what knocks them over". so i tend to assume the worst. \$\endgroup\$ – Quiescat May 10 '15 at 18:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ @PurpleVermont I would personally not allow it at my table, since the spell does not allow imposing the Prone condition and I feel that would be too powerful - unless there were some situational effect that would justify it. Rough terrain, something slippery, an edge to fall over - that sort of thing. \$\endgroup\$ – ccooke May 10 '15 at 18:48

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