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In close combat I often want to flip or trip enemies across my body. For instance last night I wanted to flip an enemy that was in front of me into a fire that was burning behind me. This seems in the realm of possibility, but all the rules allow is for me to either grapple/hold the enemy and walk both of us into the fire or to move behind the enemy and shove them into the fire.

Obviously I don't want to walk into the fire, and moving away and back takes a while and allows opportunity attacks.

How do I deal with this type of action? Basically the action is either a shove that is not in the direction I am facing, or it is a grapple and move where I am releasing the enemy in an adjacent square.

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Your character can do things not covered by the actions in this chapter […] The only limits to the actions you can attempt are your imagination and your character's ability scores. (PHB, p. 193)

Melee isn't limited to or defined by a list of mechanical actions. Creative maneuvers in combat are not only possible, they're expected by the game and it provides rules for them. Flip to page 193 and read the sidebar — it's a core rule, notice, not marked as a variant or optional rule.

To reposition an enemy by flipping them, you just need your DM's buy-in that it's possible or reasonable (because ruling on that sort of thing is the DM's job), and then they and you will use the Improvising an Action rule to resolve it. It's a simple process:

  1. Describe what you're attempting
  2. The DM decides if it's possible
  3. If so, they tell you what to roll

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.

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You grapple the enemy on one turn, then on the next, you turn (either bring the enemy into your space as you do so or you two switch spaces using some of your movement) and use the shove action to push the enemy the appropriate distance into the fire pit. Therefore it consists of two consecutive grapple checks.

This isn't necessarily how it happens (grab, turn, push) if the combat is being viewed; you could still be raising the opponent over your head and throwing them in, or spinning and launching them in. This is just how it would be treated as per the rules/mechanics.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Don't have the PHB handy, but I believe that you get advantage on the Shove against the Grappled creature? \$\endgroup\$ – Gates VP Nov 9 '15 at 2:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ @GatesVP : I believe that there is no such advantage. You might be confusing the Grappled condition with the Restrained condition. \$\endgroup\$ – Pitzy Nov 16 '15 at 11:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ Even if we were speaking of Restrained condition, that only gives you ADV against attacks, not ability contests \$\endgroup\$ – Ghilteras Dec 13 '16 at 2:56
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All you need to do is grapple and move. ^_^

Grappling

Moving a Grappled Creature. When you move, you can drag or carry the grappled creature with you, but your speed is halved, unless the creature is two or more sizes smaller than you.

I am assuming two Medium characters, and that the PC is between the Fire and the Enemy.

This is basically a two-step process:

  1. PC grapples the Enemy as an Attack action. Follow the standard rules of grappling.
  2. PC turns as a movement, spending his half-speed to drag the Enemy into the Fire. Essentially, the PC is moving in his space, but counts his half-speed in the distance that he moves the Enemy.

If the PC has Extra Attacks, then he can shove the Enemy farther into the Fire's area (if it's a big fire). Otherwise, he can just hold the Enemy in place without endangering himself, or simply end the grapple since the Enemy is already in place. Remember that, when grappling in 5E, you no longer join spaces with your target. The PC might as well be holding the Enemy by the neck over the Fire. Unless the Fire has special rules governing it, the PC should be generally safe just by grappling the Enemy into the Fire's space.

Now, this gets contentious in Step 2. Dragging the Enemy involves 10 feet of movement at least, and this is easily within bounds of even the Halfling's half-speed (12 feet). But if the DM is picky about the Enemy entering the PC's space, then we'd have to look at the distance involved in dragging the Enemy in an arc around the PC. On a grid, this might take anywhere from 10 feet (diagonal movement is 5 feet) to 20 feet (no diagonal movement at all), depending on which side of the bed the DM woke up on. As DM, I generally wake up on the bright and sunny side of the bed. ;)

"Obviously I don't want to walk into the fire, and moving away and back takes a while and allows opportunity attacks."

I just want to mention that OA's are triggered only by leaving the opponent's reach, so moving around the Enemy while staying within his reach is perfectly safe for the PC. But take note that the shoving tactic takes either more time (2 rounds, one 5-ft shove each) or more Attacks (two 5-ft shoves) to accomplish getting the Enemy into the Fire.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I believe OP was worried about opportunity attacks not from the enemy they wished to put in the fire, but from its allies in adjacent squares as OP used their movement to travel behind it so as to deliver a Shove. \$\endgroup\$ – Kirt Jun 14 at 13:56
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You can do this in one turn provided you can Shove twice

I agree that this could be accomplished through a grapple or an improvised action.

However, my reading of the "Shoving" and other movement rules would also allow this to be accomplished through Shoving alone, by first entering their space and then Shoving them twice toward the fire. This would take two separate shoves and thus to achieve in one turn would require that you have Extra Attacks. You would also need to move 5 feet and expend 10 feet of movement. You would not provoke opportunity attacks (assuming enemies with 5' reach) unless there were enemies behind-diagonal to you (on either side of the fire).

In order to accomplish what the OP desires - moving a creature in front of them to the space behind them, the PC must first enter the space of the opponent as part of their movement.

From PHB Chapter 9:

Moving Around other Creatures. You can move through a nonhostile creature's space. In contrast, you can move through a hostile creature's space only if the creature is at least two sizes larger or smaller than you. Remember that another creature's space is difficult terrain for you. Whether a creature is a friend or an enemy, you can't willingly end your move in its space.

Notice what is prohibited by this rule - you cannot move through the space of hostile creature of similar size. The standard English use of 'through' would imply that you are entering the space and then leaving out the other side. However, you are not going to do that. Instead, you are simply going to enter the space of the hostile creature and remain there, and nothing in this rule prevents that, other than requiring you to have enough movement remaining so that you are not willingly ending your movement in the space even after you have considered the extra cost of the difficult terrain. Remember that you are allowed to break up your movement and attacks throughout your turn.

Once you have entered the opponent's space, you then figuratively adjust your positioning so that you are facing the opposite way as when you entered. Note that while the 'combat on a grid' system is very particular about how far you move (space to space) and which spaces you enter and leave, you are nonetheless free to change your facing any direction within a space, both during and out of your turn, as well as your positioning within the space itself (unless you are using the optional facing rules from DMG 252). Thus, this isn't even a 'step' as far as RAW are concerned, it is just something you can declare for clarity.

Now you make your first Shove attack.

Instead of Making an Attack roll, 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.

If your Shove is successful, you will have moved them to the space you occupied at the start of your turn. You will have effectively traded places with them. They will have been moved from the same space you are currently in to the adjacent space by means of your Shove, having gone from 0 feet from you to 5 feet from you and thus fitting the standard English use of having moved them "5 feet away from you".

Finally, you will attempt to Shove them again. If successful, you will move them to the space behind where you were at the start of your turn, the space where the fire is, as desired by the OP.

[Note that if both your Shoves are unsuccessful, you must then move yourself out of your shared space with them, as you would otherwise be willingly ending your movement in their space, which is not allowed]

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You may be overthinking this.

First it says on p. 195 of the PHB:

Contests in Combat

Battle often involves pitting your prowess against that of your foe. Such a challenge is represented by a contest. This section includes the most common contests that require an action in combat: grappling and shoving a creature. The DM can use these contests as models for improvising others.

However, I don't think it is needed to invoke this; the Shoving a Creature attack says:

If you win the contest, you either knock the target prone or push it 5 feet away from you.

Where the creature starts is irrelevant - it ends "5 feet away from you"; in front, behind, left, right, even up or down if you like.

Edit re definition of push

A comment has been made that "push" necessitates that all force must be away from you i.e. that it is solely the antonym of "pull". Several definitions of push that I have examined do not support this. If you Google "push definition", the first that comes up is:

exert force on (someone or something) in order to move them away from oneself

This only requires that you exert force to move them away from you, pushing directly away would qualify but so would swinging them around or even pulling them initially towards you in order to push them away. Just because we have "go to" words like pull or throw to describe these does not mean that they do not also fall into the wider definition of push.

Synonyms of push include shove · thrust · propel · impel · send · press · drive · plunge · stick · force · shoot · ram · bump · knock · strike · hit · jolt · butt · prod · poke · nudge · elbow · shoulder · bulldoze · sweep · jostle · bundle · hustle · hurry · rush · manhandle

Pull is an antonym, however, there are multitude of ways of pushing someone so they end up on the opposite side of you without having to pull them.

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    \$\begingroup\$ No “natural language” understanding of “push” includes pulling it 5 feet towards you into your space and then pushing it 5 feet away from you in a new direction, which is what “behind” would involve. Pushing has to be away from you — it doesn't mean place them wherever you like within a 5ft radius of your space. Apart from that bit at the end though, it's a fine answer. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Nov 9 '15 at 0:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie Really? Push: 1.exert force on (someone or something) in order to move them away from oneself. Where is the implication that this must be directly away? \$\endgroup\$ – Dale M Nov 9 '15 at 0:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ Pushing them away to the left, right, or forward fits that definition. You're going to have to quote something else to justify pushing “towards” yourself (usually known as “pulling”, a word that 5e does use) to get them directly behind or to either side behind you though. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Nov 9 '15 at 0:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ You appear to have described "pulling then pushing" and claimed that because the eventual result is pushing, the whole process is pushing. Your dictionary result says that pushing is moving them away, not moving them around in some way as long as it ends with them away. \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Nov 9 '15 at 1:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree that moving or pulling would be required to "push" something that is in front of you, behind you... Dale M seems quite right that we obviously can & do push things sideways, though. Seems a fair point, though I still prefer the other answers \$\endgroup\$ – ProphetZarquon Mar 18 at 6:36

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