Use an Object Action 5e: Our Quick Reference Guide

What is the Use Object Action in DnD 5e?

From the Rulebook:  

Use an Object:   You normally interact with an object while doing something else, such as when you draw a sword as part of an attack. When an object requires your action for its use, you take the Use an Object action. This action is also useful when you want to interact with more than one object on your turn.

Some objects require more time and attention to use. For those items, we have the Use an Object action.

This action takes the place of an attack, and it covers anything you would need to do with an object or a tool that isn’t part of an attack or a movement. While drawing a weapon is necessary in order to attack, anyone who has ever picked up a stick and swung it can accomplish the simple task of pulling a weapon and striking within the 6 seconds of a round.

It is less possible to, for example, pop a cork on the vial of a Heal Potion and chug it down while moving or swinging a sword. For actions like that, we require the Use an Object action.

(We cover all the Actions in DnD by the way)

Interacting with Objects Around You

This can get a bit confusing as you start to wonder which items require an action and which don’t. This is an especially important difference to know for Thief Rogues, whose Fast hands ability allows them to Use an Object as a bonus action.

To that end, here is a short, by no means exhaustive, chart for object interactions that do and do not require the Use an Object action.

Interactions on the left side of the chart can be accomplished while moving before or after an attack. Interactions on the right side of the chart require you to forgo attacking and Use an Object (possibly more than one).

Things which do not require an actionThings which do require the Use an Object Action
draw or sheathe a swordActivating a magic item (this includes scrolls and potions!)
open or close a doorPoisoning a weapon
withdraw a potion from your beltUsing a healer’s kit
pick up a dropped axTying/untying a knot in a rope
take a bauble from a tableSetting a trap’s trigger
remove a ring from your fingerDigging in your backpack
stuff some food into your mouthStowing something in your backpack
plant a banner in the groundLocking or unlocking a door or chest
fish a few coins from your belt pouchCounting money
drink all the ale in a flagonReading or writing
throw a lever or a switchStarting a fire
pull a torch from a sconcePlaying an instrument
take a book from a shelf you can reachGrabbing an item from someone’s possession
extinguish a small flameClimbing a rope
don a maskStringing a bow
pull the hood of your cloak up and over your headRemoving a barbed arrow
put your ear to a doorThoroughly Wiping a fluid from your clothing, hands, or face
kick a small stoneThoroughly dusting a powder from your clothing, hands, or face
Kick off your shoesRemoving or donning an article of clothing or armor
Dropping anythingEating or drinking something
Catching something easily tossedWashing an object

When to Use an Object

If you are primarily the damage dealer of your party, using an object is something you should do whenever you feel like such an object would prepare to make better use of your attack in the following turn.

Sometimes it is worth sacrificing a chance to do damage on one turn if it will either help you do more damage over consecutive turns or help you stay in the fight longer.

Other times, your attack may be limited in some way, such as against a creature with resistance to the type of damage you use. If you take an action to switch weapons or use a magic item or ability that can get around that damage resistance, you have just made yourself more effective over the course of the entire battle.

If you are not the primary attacker, and you often find yourself in a support role, Using an Object can add variety to the types of support you offer. Buffs and debuffs are important tools in a combat situation that can up the efficacy of any other attackers overall DPS (damage per second).

Finally, there are often other objectives that can be managed during combat. Perhaps there is a puzzle or a McGuffin that needs to be worked out. Using an Object will often be the key to handling these secondary objectives.

How to Build the Best Object Using Character

If you like the idea of maximizing the gear and helping the entire party get kitted out, consider the following the build:

LevelClass/subclassReason why
1RogueThis will give you the best skill loadout and combat capability.
2RogueCunning Action will give you an extra bonus action to use on utility and movement, allowing you to Use an Action while not sacrificing movement and stealth.
3Rogue – ThiefThe Fast Hands ability will give you the option to Use an Action as a bonus action, allowing you to engage in combat with the items you are using.
4ArtificerNow you will get more Items and magical options to use during that Fast Hands bonus action.
5ArtificerSpell increases and Infusions will boost the Items you use.
6Artificer – AlchemistNow you can use your Fast Hands bonus action to start switching potions, applying oils, and lobbing bombs with full action economy.

Literally, any choice you make after that is up to you, though I recommend staying within the Artificer and Rogue classes.

If you had to take a third class, Monk would be a good option so that you can fully give in to the Ninja Tool – Jutsu flavor, but do not forget that Rogue and Artificer are your primary power sources. 

You might also be interested in these other Actions if you’re looking for more:

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