I have Shield Slam and play a sword and board style fighter. If I knock a target prone and I attack with my shield while that target is still prone, can I still Bull Rush a prone target? My DM asked me, "How does that work?" We had a discussion with visuals drawn out, and he was sincere in asking that question. The rules (or lack thereof) seem to indicate it is possible, but that doesn't help the logic of it.


  1. Are there any rules that we are not aware of that supports Bull Rushing prone targets?

  2. Also, I have Improved Bull Rush, do I add that bonus to CMB from the feat to my attack roll, since Shield Slam uses an attack roll in place of CMB on the free Bull Rush maneuver?


2 Answers 2


Yes, you can Bull Rush prone targets, driving them backwards as normal. This is because nothing says it can't.

While you conceive a bull rush as a charge with a shield that is not necessarily the case. Prone doesn't mean lying on the ground - it can mean on hands and knees: if so it is easy to see how a bull rush of kicks and punches could drive someone back.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Or better yet, you simply use your legs to lunge forward from being on all fours, leaping at the opponent. \$\endgroup\$
    – Shalvenay
    Jan 28, 2017 at 22:12

If you're old enough, watch some of the Showtime series Sparticus. It's not the most realistic combat, but neither is Pathfinder so it evens out. There are a few times in the series that characters use shields to bash opponents away, even when they've been knocked down.

Typically, they are leaning on their hands and knees to get up, so you could say that's why it works but, more generally, if you're a Fighter (or similar) with that much effort put into shield use, you find ways to make what you want work.

Functionally, you can Bull Rush a Prone target because there is no point in the rules that says you can't:

Bull Rush

You can make a bull rush as a standard action or as part of a charge, in place of the melee attack. You can only bull rush an opponent who is no more than one size category larger than you. A bull rush attempts to push an opponent straight back without doing any harm. If you do not have the Improved Bull Rush feat, or a similar ability, initiating a bull rush provokes an attack of opportunity from the target of your maneuver.

If your attack is successful, your target is pushed back 5 feet. For every 5 by which your attack exceeds your opponent's CMD you can push the target back an additional 5 feet. You can move with the target if you wish but you must have the available movement to do so. If your attack fails, your movement ends in front of the target.


The character is lying on the ground. A prone attacker has a –4 penalty on melee attack rolls and cannot use a ranged weapon (except for a crossbow). A prone defender gains a +4 bonus to Armor Class against ranged attacks, but takes a –4 penalty to AC against melee attacks.

Standing up is a move-equivalent action that provokes an attack of opportunity.

Nowhere in Prone does it indicate that you can't inflict other conditions or that they can't be moved (or move for that matter, but that's another question).

As to whether Improved Shield Bash works, it does not.

However! Any attack bonus to shields (including their -4 AC from being Prone) does. And that can be just as good if not better. Taking Weapon Focus(type Shield) or investing in a magic shield spike allow you to take a feat that is constantly useful for your build, or spend money to increase your success rate.

Source: From Shield Slam

..substituting your attack roll for the combat maneuver check...

This indicates that the entire CMB check is replaced, not just the die roll. You use your rolled chance to hit instead of any Maneuver bonuses.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Sorry I'll try to rephrase. I intended the anecdote to support OP's questioning the image of Bull Rush on a Prone target. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ifusaso
    Jan 29, 2017 at 1:30

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