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When you interact with an object, kicking away a dropped or disarmed weapon should be an obvious choice, landing somewhere between 'pick up a dropped axe' and 'kick a small stone,' however, there are no rules indicating how far one can kick an object. This can be fairly important. The difference between kicking a sword five feet and fifteen feet away is very significant. How is the distance any item can be kicked adjudicated?

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Effectiveness of such an action should be resolved by an Ability Check.

While you are right that kicking a small object is a Free Action in combat, that doesn't mean you always succeed automatically. Sure, simple, trained actions like drawing a sword are not rolled for, but if you want to achieve a specific advantage with such action, you have plenty of interesting skills to choose from.

Most obvious would be to use a Strength check (Athletics) or Dexterity check (Acrobatics?), depending on your players description of the action. You could then place appropriate modifiers reflecting the terrain (mud, wooden floor, grass?), difficulty (Sword of Spiky Mistakes or Club of Harmlessness?) and other factors. Then, depending on whether the outcome is high medium or low you can adjudicate an appropriate distance.

Don't overthink this

Of course, the rules say little about such situations, but how many times do you imagine your players will kick something in combat? Stick to well-known simple systems and invent house-rules only if they don't work. It's more important to give a quick ruling and move on rather than ponder on what would be an accurate simulation. Treat it like a "miscellaneous" situation it is and go forth with the adventure. If your players complain, talk about the matter between sessions and decide on some rules that work for everyone.

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    \$\begingroup\$ And remember that in the end, all you want to know is "Is the weapon kicked further than the distance the creature can cover back and forth in one turn to pick it up?" I wouldn't bother thinking beyond. \$\endgroup\$ – Meta4ic May 28 '16 at 13:12
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Other than the interaction of "kicking a small stone" in the free interactions section, the system is fairly quiet about the distances of kicking objects.

In keeping with the simplicity mandate of the rules, a good rule of thumb would be half the throwing distance of a thrown similar object, which is usually 20/60. So if someone wanted to kick away a weapon, 10 feet would be a reasonable distance for a heavy weapon, and 30 feet for a light one. You could halve the distance again for difficult terrain. In no case should the kicking distance exceed the throwing distance for a similar object, unless the object is designed to be kicked (such as a football).

This really falls into the realm of a DM call, though, since the rulebook does not dwell on too many fringe cases.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Any experience using this rule? \$\endgroup\$ – Premier Bromanov May 27 '16 at 15:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think it's be useful to stress that the 20/60 might be best used to place an upper bound on the proposed action. Certainly we shouldn't be able to kick the dagger skittering across the ground farther than we can wind up and throw it.... \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 May 27 '16 at 15:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PremierBromanov - No. Just how I would handle it, extrapolating from the current rules. I don't think any given answer is a game breaker, and it would come up so infrequently that I don't think much more detail is needed. \$\endgroup\$ – keithcurtis May 27 '16 at 16:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ @nitsua60 - I have already halved the distance for a kick. Should I re-word the answer for clarity, or am I missing something? \$\endgroup\$ – keithcurtis May 27 '16 at 16:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ Oh, so sorry. I've seen your name around here so much, and have apparently mis-read it every time! \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 May 27 '16 at 19:59
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This situation is not covered explicitly by the rules, but comes up quite often in one of the games I run due to a fighter with the Disarming Strike maneuver. I use a "degrees of success" roll using Strength (athletics). See the DMG for a description of this type of roll.

I set the DC as 5 + distance kicked. Since things like reach are measured in 5 ft increments and I often play using a grid, I also use increments of 5 on the distances, so the distance kicked is rounded down.

This results in a DC of 10 to kick a weapon out of an opponent's square into an adjacent one, or if not using a grid, out from under the opponent's feet, but still within reach, assuming a typical, medium sized creature. Rolling 15 or higher would result in the weapon being out of the opponent's reach or two squares. A roll of 25 would move it 20 ft or 4 squares.

In the end, a roll of at least 15 is needed to require the opponent to do more than just reach out and pick up their weapon using their object interaction, forcing them to choose between risking an opportunity attack or continuing to fight without that weapon. At low levels, this allows a PC with proficiency in athletics to successfully hamper their opponent about 1/2 the time, with the success rate rising as they gain levels. This makes disarming strike on par with other maneuvers.

For those without proficiency or high strength, the success rate is going to be closer to 1/4. However, kicking the weapon 5 feet does allow an ally to pick up the weapon from 10 ft away from the opponent, which said non-proficient PC should be able to successfully complete about 1/2 of the time.

At my table, this method has been a success. It is very simple, easy to remember, and allows the player to succeed often enough to want to attempt this, while failing often enough that they feel tension when they roll.

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There's too many variables to make a simple rule. A long sword will move much further on the polished marble floor of the throne room that it will when kicked with the same force in a muddy forest clearing.

So it falls under rule 0 - the DM makes the rules.

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    \$\begingroup\$ and rule 1 is what? \$\endgroup\$ – Premier Bromanov May 27 '16 at 19:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ I meant rule 0. I'll go edit that. \$\endgroup\$ – yinzanat May 31 '16 at 12:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ And rule 0 is what? \$\endgroup\$ – Premier Bromanov May 31 '16 at 14:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/22715/… \$\endgroup\$ – yinzanat Jun 1 '16 at 13:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ I was more or less trying to nudge you to add it to your answer \$\endgroup\$ – Premier Bromanov Jun 1 '16 at 14:15
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Use the rules for throwing an object. The goal is the same (using a limb to cause an object to traverse a distance), there is no reason for the mechanic to be different.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I can think of plenty. For one, try throwing a fire poker as far as you can. Now try kicking it as far as you can \$\endgroup\$ – Premier Bromanov Jun 1 '16 at 15:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've actually done it with a sword. It goes farther with the kick than the throw (by a good 5 feet or more), you just have to get your toes under it. \$\endgroup\$ – Theo Brinkman Jun 1 '16 at 15:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ That will have to go under anecdotal evidence. I too have kicked and thrown swords (8 years of stage fencing, where kicking a sword is something that actually happens). I have found the reverse to be true, and I'm a lousy throw. :) \$\endgroup\$ – keithcurtis Jun 1 '16 at 16:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ This answer would be improved by showing how to apply this idea, practically. For example, does this mean that kicking a sword always places it exactly 60' away, or does it go 20'? What is the player rolling to determine success/failure—an attack roll (vs. what AC?) or an ability check (vs. what DC?) or no roll at all? Does the PC get to target a specific location—and if they miss, where does it go (or does it stay in place)? Etc., etc. Sharing your experience using this solution, and how it solves the details the question is asking for help with, would help others use it successfully. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jun 1 '16 at 16:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ Every last one of those questions is best answered by looking at the rules for throwing objects. Seriously, though, in nearly 30 years of running games, there has never been a problem using the rules for throwing an object somewhere, regardless of system, to handle the scenario of kicking an object somewhere. \$\endgroup\$ – Theo Brinkman Jun 1 '16 at 16:51
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This is a complex situation and the results would depend on

  1. the weapon itself: weight and configuration. Think flail versus club
  2. terrain: grass, mud, stone
  3. orientation of the weapon: sword pointing right at you versus 90° and anything in between (random chance)
  4. the battle: is the opponent focused on you or are others fighting it/him/her? Certainly might open the character to a free hit when he/she decides to play kick ball in the middle of a battle.

If you really wanted to explore this, I would probably make up a table with weapon types versus distance with modifications for items 2 and 3 (and 4 if you're rushing).

Thinking this through, let's say,

Final Distance = distance from table divided by four sided die roll (rolled by player) times orientation (0 to 90° rolled by GM)/90 * terrain factor

No, I have not tested this system as I've never had a player try to kick a weapon.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Reasons for downvotes are appreciated. perhaps the formula is too specific? \$\endgroup\$ – Premier Bromanov Jun 1 '16 at 15:14

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