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What action is it to use a Goodberry?

As with many things in 5e, the devil is in the details.

Considering that a Thief Rogue’s Fast Hands (using objects as a bonus action instead of an action) work with “Use an Object” but not “Use Magic Device” action, I wish to know what’s the kind of action that you do when you use a Goodberry (either for self use or to feed an ally with), and therefore, if a Thief Rogue could benefit from his Fast Hands ability with said Goodberry.

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It requires an Action to use, as specified in the spell description:

A creature can use its action to eat one berry.

Fast Hands does not come into play here as Goodberry has more specific rules for its use. While it is an object, but so is a shortsword, for example, and Use an Object doesn't let you swing the sword as an attack using a Bonus Action, because there are more specific rules for attacks in the game.

This is the same line of thinking here: Can a character grab a potion from a pack and drink it without using their action?- Where drinking a potion requires a more specific action than Use an Object.

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    \$\begingroup\$ A berry is an object in normal English. This isn't a bad answer, but your saying that it isn't an object defies the description of the goodberry itself. Consider revising. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 22, 2018 at 0:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think a comparison that would address KS's comment there ^^ would be with, say, a potion of healing which says that one can use an action to use or administer a potion of healing. Goodberry lacks such verbiage. \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60
    Jun 22, 2018 at 0:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ Fast Hands doesn't work with a potion of healing either, because it only lets you do the Use an Object action as a bonus action; according to Crawford, "magic item use is its own thing", not the Use an Object action. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Jun 22, 2018 at 3:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ @GaelL Up to ten berries appear in your hand and are infused with magic for the duration. A creature can use its action to eat one berry. Eating a berry restores 1 hit point, and the berry provides enough nourishment to sustain a creature for one day. The berries lose their potency if they have not been consumed within 24 hours of the casting of this spell They are indeed conjuration, as they still exist as objects after the magic wears off, and they are indeed, for 24 hours, magically infused objects. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 22, 2018 at 16:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ Also, "Fast Hands" does not translate to "Fast Mandibles" or "Fast Digestion". You might be able to pop it in your mouth faster than anyone else, but presumably its the mastication and esophageal digestion that takes an action rather than the act of popping it into your maw. Not RAW, just a noteworthy observation on how to explain this in world. \$\endgroup\$
    – cpcodes
    Jun 22, 2018 at 16:29
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Due to the fact that the spell describes the berries as "infused with magic", I take their consumption as the equivalent of using a magic item. Magic item usage has specific rules governing this case:

Activating some magic items requires a user to do something special, such as holding the item and uttering a command word. The description of each item category or individual item details how an item is activated. Certain items use the following rules for their activation.

If an item requires an action to activate, that action isn't a function of the Use an Object action, so a feature such as the rogue's Fast Hands can't be used to activate the item.

(From the DMG & SRD's Magic Items -> Activating an Item section)

As such, I would rule that no, goodberries could not be consumed as a bonus action via Fast Hands.

Were it not for this rule and the berries being described as magical, then I would say yes, the action to consume them would be subsumed into the "Use an Object" action type as per that action's description:

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

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RAW, Yes

Eating a goodberry is covered by the Use an Object action and subject to Fast Hands

The rules covering this interaction are quite simple.

  • Fast Hands allows you to use the bonus action granted by your Cunning Action to ... take the Use an Object action.
  • The Use an Object action is defined by: When an object requires your action for its use, you take the Use an Object action.
  • Goodberry describes the action economy of using the berries: A creature can use its action to eat one berry.
  • A goodberry is an object whose use requires an action. Thus, taking a goodberry falls under the Use an Object action, and is subject to the Fast Hands feature.

However, there is one condition that always applies when using general rules.

...unless a more specific rule overrides it

The only rule that might conceivably override this is the rule for using magic items. The rules on magic items state:

If an item requires an action to activate, that action isn’t a function of the Use an
Object action, so a feature such as the rogue’s Fast Hands can’t be used to activate
the item.

So the issue is reduced to a single question.

Is a goodberry a magic item?

A goodberry is created by a spell, is described as infused with magic for the duration and has a magical effect if used within 24 hours. However, that is not sufficient to indicate a magic item. One place this is made clear is the identify spell, which specifically refers to a magic item or other magic-imbued object, clearly indicating the two are not equivalent. There is nothing in the rules to indicate that such a spell-created item is classified as a magic item.

Unfortunately, no clear definition of magic items is given, but the DMG does give a list of magic item categories:

Each magic item belongs to a category: armor, potions, rings, rods, scrolls, staffs,
wands, weapons, or wondrous items.

Goodberries don't belong to any of these categories.

Xanathar's has rules for crafting items:

Creating a magic item requires more than just time, effort, and materials. It is a
long-term process that involves one or more adventures to track down rare materials
and the lore needed to create the item.

Certain consumable items are exceptions, but they are listed explicitly and do not include spell-created items like goodberries.

Potions of healing and spell scrolls are exceptions to the following rules.

Neither these rules nor the DMG section on magic items ever states or even hints that there are additional types of magic items created by casting spells.

Finally, note that when a spell is used to magically enhance a weapon, the spell will always explicitly state that the weapon becomes a magic weapon for the duration. For instance, magic weapon (Until the spell ends, that weapon becomes a magic weapon...). This would be unnecessary if any item infused with magic were automatically a magic item. The goodberry spell notably does not state that the berries are magic items for the duration.

Since goodberries are not stated to be magic items and nothing suggests they qualify as such, and since it would not be consistent with the rules on magic items categories and creation, I have to conclude that goodberries are not magic items and thus rules for activating magic items do not override the normal rules. Eating a goodberry is therefore covered by the Use an Object action.

references

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