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Related: usable objects with Fast Hands


The Healer feat states:

[...] As an action, you can spend one use of a healer’s kit to tend to a creature and restore 1d6 + 4 hit points to it, plus additional hit points equal to the creature’s maximum number of Hit Dice. The creature can’t regain hit points from this feat again until it finishes a short or long rest. (emphasis mine)


Fast Hands (Thief subset of Cunning Action) states:

Starting at 3rd level, you can use the bonus action granted by your Cunning Action to make a Dexterity (Sleight of Hand) check, use your thieves' tools to disarm a trap or open a lock, or take the Use an Object action. (emphasis mine)


The Thief can already use the a healer's kit to stabilize a creature using Fast Hands, as well as the special healer version where they get 1 hp back.

Would it harm game balance to allow a Thief to use their Fast Hands ability with the special use of the object Healer's Kit granted by the Healer feat?

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I don't believe allowing this would even be a house rule, the rules support it as-is.

The action enabled by the Healer feat is just a new use for an object and, therefore, is still technically the Use an Object action to execute, and would be usable with a bonus action by someone with Fast Hands as a result.

See also the description of the Use an Object action itself:

[...] When an object requires your action for its use, you take the Use an Object action. [...]

This is backed up by Jeremy Crawford, lead rules designer of D&D5e:

@mikemearls @JeremyECrawford Can a thief with the healer feat use healing kits as a bonus action? Can it drink potions as a bonus action?

[@edge2054, 10:08 AM - 24 Oct 2014]


@edge2054 @mikemearls Yes, a thief could use a healer's kit as a bonus action. But the DMG clarifies that magic item use is its own thing.

[@JeremyECrawford, 11:25 AM - 24 Oct 2014]

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    \$\begingroup\$ @DavidCoffron Specific beats general. There's already a more specific Attack action covering the use of weapons, so you cannot use the more general Use an Object action for attack-related purposes of those. \$\endgroup\$ – CTWind May 18 '18 at 15:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ Then why does the specific healer action not supersede the Use an Object action? \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron May 18 '18 at 15:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ Agreed with David. The specific rule for Healer explictly states As an action. If the wording was simply "You can use the healer's kit to..." or something in these lines, ok, you would be right, as it would be still the Use an Object action. The wording used clearly specifies that it is not. It can be seen as "using an object", but it is not an Use an Object action. \$\endgroup\$ – HellSaint May 18 '18 at 15:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ By that logic, Fast Hands applies to nearly no items, as they all describe using themselves "As an action". See Caltrops: "As an action, you can spread a bag of caltrops to cover a square area that is 5 feet on a side.". The Healer feat describes the new use of an item the same way, so Use an Object applies. \$\endgroup\$ – CTWind May 18 '18 at 15:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ Looking at the actions section of the 5e SRD we can see that "Use an object" is considered an action; thus "As an action" doesn't specify what type of action so "Use an object" is a reasonable conclusion for using the kit, whereas attacking is specifically classified as an attack action. \$\endgroup\$ – Doktor J May 18 '18 at 17:22
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This is a tough one to check the balance for, because nothing else quite like it exists in the game. I'll compare the power of this relative to a Celestial Warlock with Cure Wounds, because that is also a touch-ranged heal with a short-rest recharge rate. Keep in mind, however, that Cure Wounds takes 1 action, so the opportunity cost of using it is much higher, but Cure Wounds can be used on the same target many times.

How do they compare at level 3?

At level 3, a Warlock with 16 Charisma can cast Cure Wounds twice as a 2nd level spell per rest, for a total of 2*(2d8+3) HP healed. The average is 24 HP.

A level 3 Thief with the Healer feat (presumably by being a variant human) will presumably have companions with 3 hit dice, so will be healing 1d6+4+3 HP, or an average of 10.5 HP, per party member, per rest.

So if the Thief is using it on three party members per rest, it is already surpassing the Warlock in terms of total HP healed, and the Thief gets to do it using its bonus actions.

What about at higher levels?

At 17th level, the Warlock hits its spellcasting peak, being able to cast Cure Wounds as a 5th level spell 4 times per rest. With 20 Charisma, that's a total of 4*(5d8+5) HP, or an average of 110 HP.

The Thief heals its level 17 companions for 1d6+4+17 HP each, an average of 24.5 HP. Now, the Thief needs to heal 5 companions per rest to outpace the Warlock. At level 20, the Thief is healing an average of 27.5 HP, and with 4 companions the Thief heals 110 HP- exactly the same as the full-powered Warlock. 4 PCs is the recommended party size in 5th edition, for reference.

How does it compare to other healing spells?

As another comparison, take Mass Healing Word, a spell that heals up to 6 creatures for 1d4+spellcasting modifier each, as a bonus action. It's similar in many ways to the Thief's use of the Healer feat, in that it heals every member of the party just once, and the bonus action makes it useful in combat. It's a 3rd level spell. Being generous and giving the 5th-level caster a 20 in their spellcasting stat, that's an average of 7.5 HP per creature.

On the other hand, the Thief can heal each of those creatures 1d6+4+5 HP (average 12.5) every short rest. Sure, Mass Healing Word delivers all the healing at once, but the caster forgoes a spell slot and can't cast any spell other than a cantrip on the same turn.

But...?

There are some caveats for the Thief. There's the object interaction needed to pull out the healer's kit, but that's fairly minor. A bigger cost is the literal gold cost of healing kits, which might limit usage of the healing enough to not make it ridiculously overpowered at low levels.

Finally, there's the limit of one heal per creature per rest. Having the option to concentrate the healing on one creature would make the option significantly more powerful, since normally it's just one PC who needs healing. Also, sometimes the Thief won't be able to get the full potential of their healing, when a party member manages to get all the way to a short rest without taking damage. This does put a major damper on the Thief's potential.

The verdict

To conclude, allowing Fast Hands to work with makes the Thief a healer stronger than a Celestial Warlock at low levels, and comparable at high levels, and it's stronger than Mass Healing Word, a spell designed for the same purpose (whole-party, in-combat healing). The Thief gets to do all this with only minimal cost.

In optimal situations, this seems somewhat overpowered, particularly at low levels. But, the power of this option takes a big hit if healer's kits are less available, if damage is concentrated on particular PCs, or if some PCs aren't taking damage at all. If these mitigating circumstances are likely to happen in your game, it may be balanced, though still useful and powerful.

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    \$\begingroup\$ No, it's not more powerful than mass healing word; it only does one creature at a time. MHW does it all at once on a turn. Your answer does not, IMO address the time domain sufficiently. (though it's not a bad effort all in all). MHW during combat and this skill do not compare on the same basis.... \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast May 18 '18 at 17:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ Don't forget that the character in OP's question also invested an ASI/Feat into Healer. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch May 18 '18 at 18:56
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Probably not, considering that someone can't be healed by the Healer feat more than once per rest, which would limit the utility of being able to use the feat twice per round.

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