Last Updated on November 13, 2023
When a creature tries to move through a hostile creature’s space, the mover can try to force its way through by overrunning the hostile creature.
As an action or a bonus action, the mover makes a Strength (Athletics) check contested by the hostile creature’s Strength (Athletics) check. The creature attempting the overrun has advantage on this check if it is larger than the hostile creature, or disadvantage if it is smaller.
If the mover wins the contest, it can move through the hostile creature’s space once this turn.
Source: Dungeon Masters Guide p. 272
What is the Overrun Action?
The overrun action is an optional combat action from the Dungeon Master’s Guide.
The overrun action isn’t an attack. Instead, it’s a way to use your Athletics skill to maneuver better on the battlefield. This action calls back to a similar action players could take in earlier editions of D&D.
With 5e’s attempt to make the game more straightforward, this rarely used action got moved to the DMG.
Because this combat action is an optional rule, it might not be available at all tables. You’ll have to check with your Dungeon Master and see if they allow it.
When to Use the Overrun Action
If you’re lucky enough to play the table that uses the overrun action, then you’ve got another great tool and the tool belt for combat. This is especially true if you play on a map with miniatures.
Because so many adventures take place in cramped dungeons, you’ll eventually come to a point where an enemy is blocking the path.
While most games would make it impossible for you to get behind your opponent, in this case, tables that allow for the overrun action mean players have some options for squeezing through tight quarters in a scrap.
A common house rule that many tables will use is flanking. With this rule, creatures that end up on opposite ends of a foe will have advantage on their melee attacks thanks to this positional advantage.
With the overrun action, a successful Athletics check could let you get into a flanking position. With that position, you can really lay down the hurt!
It’s also worth noting that positioning options matter for more than just damage. In the tight spaces adventures often find themselves in, enemies could cut players off from their allies.
The overrun action could make it possible for one of the stronger characters to push past that foe and towards their ally.
Anybody who’s ever played with a rogue or somebody who has taken the Mobile feat has seen the benefit of this mobility. Both of these characters can move about the battlefield and get themselves into positions enemies might not expect.
While the overrun action doesn’t guarantee anything, it gives more characters ways to get around and if light.
The overrun action is great when you need to get around a foe and you’ve got enough muscle to do it.
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Rich is an avid D&D player and DM. He has been playing since the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st and 2nd editions. He has run campaigns of various editions with family and friends for over 20 years. Playing DnD 5th Edition in person at local game stores and online with VTT’s over the past 10 years has provided a consistent connection to how the game has grown. He strongly believes in understanding the source material, but catering the games to your individual players. Feel free to ask anything in the comments or drop him an email: [email protected].