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One of my players wished to "trip" an opponent with his quarterstaff attack, so at the time I allowed to play out as a "shove" but using dexterity instead of strength, as that was how he was attacking due to martial arts. Upon later examination of the RAW it seems this isn't specified anywhere.

I am planning to house rule that with Martial Arts a monk may choose to substitute acrobatics for athletics when making a "shove". I'm curious what others think about this. Does it imbalance things or does it seem like a sensible house rule.

The one possible conflict I've considered is the Open Hand Technique, but that is still far more powerful as it requires no contest on the part of the monk and allows the monk to force a saving through of her choice on the opponent. So it feels quite different to me.

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PHB page 175 Variant: Skills With Different Abilities At the DM's discretion (if it makes sense), you can use skills with alternate abilities.

Intimidation (Strength) is another good example.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Ah yeah, intimidation would be another good one circumstantially. \$\endgroup\$ – Chris Nicola Sep 8 '15 at 16:26
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I think that replacing the STR (Athletics) with DEX (Acrobatics) for Knock Prone is an acceptable house rule but I'm not sure how acrobatics enables you to move a foe 5 feet away from you (a Shove). As always, begin with the fiction and ask the player, "What is your character doing? Describe it to me please."

I don't think it will break the game but it does make DEX even more attractive, something it doesn't really need. If characters can Shove and Knock Prone using DEX then you have to consider why would anyone play a high-STR character.

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  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ I'm not allowing any character to use DEX, but specifically a monk martial artist. I guess I just don't want to imagine a world where a monk can't knock down or throw their opponent by using superior agility and their opponent's strength against them ;-). Essentially he is using his quarterstaff, which is a monk weapon, to attempt to trip up his opponent and knock him prone. I would also allow an unarmed attack, like a martial artist throw. \$\endgroup\$ – Chris Nicola Sep 8 '15 at 16:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ Why play a high strength character? Strength is still good for carrying a lot of loot, using heavy armor and breaking stuff. Also, it's fun to play the dumb jock/raging barbarian type every once in a while. Constantly playing the same DEX character all of the time (just because you get better numbers by Munchkin-ing the rules) gets boring. \$\endgroup\$ – LeHill Aug 5 '16 at 18:27
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If you specifically limit this to just monks then yes, it is unbalanced. This is because the player's monk is probably the only monk in the campaign so it becomes a benefit just for that player.

If applied generally it is less of a problem as it becomes an option for high Dexterity monsters to use against the players. Overall I would say it is not overpowered as it can be used only once per turn and replaces an attack, generally the attack would be more effective but shoving someone over a 1000' cliff, into a pool of lava or into a Cloud of Daggers spell could be better. Knocking someone prone is similarly situational.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ So the fact that the Monk has the martial artist ability doesn't enter into this? Not every player can use their Dex for melee attacks the monk's martial artist abilities allow this and only when unarmed or when using "monk weapons". I am only allowing this in those situations. \$\endgroup\$ – Chris Nicola Sep 8 '15 at 16:29
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I would let the monk set up a reaction to try and knock the opponent prone when attacked. Since using martial arts to knock someone prone usually utilizes their own forces against them, this would make the most sense and it would force them to use their action AND reaction in trade for doing something not in the rules.

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