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I had a circumstance come up in the 5E Campaign I am running where a PC (Paladin) came across several (3) goblins that all stood up and advanced on him as he came around a corner in a dungeon. He asked if he could, since they were lined up, use his shield and bash through them all. I wasn't sure how to play this.

My questions are:

Would this be an initial charge with 3 consecutive shield bashes each in turn having a reduced effect to knock prone?

Or, is there another way to go about playing this out?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ What level is your player's Paladin? What feats do they possess? It sounds like it is your player's turn in the initiative and that he's attempting to make a charge at/through the goblins; Is this true? \$\endgroup\$ – Jason_c_o Apr 21 '16 at 20:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ The PC's are brand new lvl1. Right off the bat, about 2 hours into our first adventure and at the first encounter of a dungeon I built is when this happened. \$\endgroup\$ – Eddie Studer Apr 21 '16 at 20:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, he had initiative on them. \$\endgroup\$ – Eddie Studer Apr 21 '16 at 20:05
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The rules for this are a bit scattered through the PHB, but here are the rules relevant to your player's situation:

If your player is attempting a shield bash, he must have the Shield Master feat. This allows you to use your bonus action along with an melee weapon attack action to attempt a 5 ft. shove, or knock an enemy prone, using your shield. (PHB, pg.170)

The rules for Shoving a Creature are found on pg.195 of the PHB.

If your player is attempting a charge, they must have the Charger feat, which allows them to use their bonus action to attempt a melee weapon attack or shove along with a Dash action. (PHB, pg.165)

The rules for Breaking up a Move, specifically Moving Between Attacks, are found on pg.190 of the PHB.


If your player is level 1 the only way they could make a charge is if they were a race, such as Human, that allowed a bonus feat at first level. At level one, they also do not have access to Extra Attack. Here is how this scenario could play out:

With the Charger feat

The player has the option to take the Dash action and move towards the goblins and use their bonus action to make melee weapon attack or shove. They may only attack one goblin as they do not have any feature that allows them to attack more than once or more than one target. They have also already spent their bonus action for the turn.

With the Shield Master feat

The player takes the Move action, moves towards the goblins, and takes the Attack action. After their melee attack is resolved, the player may use their bonus action to attempt to shove a goblin or knock them prone. The player may target a new goblin, or the same goblin, with each attack.

Without either feat

The player takes the Move action, moves towards the goblins, and takes their attack action. They may either make a melee weapon attack, or substitute this attack for a shove, using the rules found on page 195. They may only target one of the three goblins as they are only making one attack.

The player also has other options available to them that do not involve attacks, such as Moving Around Other Creatures (PHB, pg.191) or using the Acrobatics skill to jump over the goblin's space. You could also rule the shield is an improvised weapon (or just a weapon if your Paladin proficient) and allow them to attack with it as a melee weapon. As usual, this is 5e; Many things are purposefully left to DM discretion.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Awesome, thank you for the answer. So just to make sure I have this straight. At first level there is no way a PC, other than a Human, could pull this off in any way. Then, even a Human PC, at best, would be able to charge one goblin then shield bash the next but would in no way be able to think of affecting the 3rd goblin. Right? \$\endgroup\$ – Eddie Studer Apr 21 '16 at 20:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ He might also be able to use the shield as an improvised weapon and bash with it without the feat. Also worth noting that in 5e, only the variant Human (an optional rule) gets a feat at level 1 and feats in general are entirely optional rules. \$\endgroup\$ – LegendaryDude Apr 21 '16 at 20:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ As far as I understand it, yes. There is no general rule allowing it, so unless you PC has a specific feature that allows it, they can't do it. @LegendaryDude I mention that in the answer. You may shove in place of a melee weapon attack, or may attack with the shield itself as a weapon (though it's stats as such would be up to house-rule). \$\endgroup\$ – Jason_c_o Apr 21 '16 at 20:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Jason_c_o Thank you, yes I will wait a day or 2 before accepting an answer so others can give it a shot. \$\endgroup\$ – Eddie Studer Apr 21 '16 at 21:59

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