[RPG] If a Shadow sorcerer’s Hound of Ill Omen “can use its action only to attack its target”, what exactly is it allowed to do


I have a few questions regarding what falls under the category of "attack[ing] its target" for the Shadow Magic sorcerer's Hound of Ill Omen feature, which summons a hound to target a single creature. The relevant part of the feature description states (XGE, p. 51):

On its turn, [the hound] can move only toward its target by the most direct route, and it can use its action only to attack its target.

So the hound is limited to using its action to attack its target. But does "attacking its target" specifically mean taking the Attack action to make an attack roll? Or are there other things that qualify as an attack?

  • For example, could the hound use the Attack action to attempt to
    shove or grapple a creature?
  • Or, stretching it a bit further, could it take an action (that is not
    the Attack action) to attempt to damage its target (for example,
    using the special action granted by the Dragon's Breath spell)?
  • Or if attack were impossible given the hound and the target's
    positions, could the hound take the Dash action to be able to make a
    future attack possible?

Furthermore, would a hound be free to use its bonus action however it wants?
For example, if something granted it a bonus action to do something other than attack, could it take that bonus action?

I would appreciate answers that include some sort of RAW citation that makes clear whether "attack[ing] its target" and taking the Attack action are either distinct or the same thing.

Best Answer

Shoves and grapples count as an "attack" for Barbarian rage, so they also count for the Hound

If a Barbarian does nothing but attempe a grapple or shove, they maintain their rage, since grapples and shoves are "special melee attacks".

Grappling a foe requires an action (the Attack action, upper-case "a") and it is an "attack" (lower-case "a"), so it is covered by the restriction "…can use its action only to attack its target."