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In the rules for Darkness spell it states:

Completely covering the source of the darkness with an opaque object, such as a bowl or a helm, blocks the darkness

So my question basically boils down to this, does completely covering the object count as "Using an Object" for the purposes of actions in combat?

For a little more context, I have a character concept where I have cast Darkness on an object either worn or carried by my character then during my turn I completely cover the object, take the attack action, and then uncover the object with Darkness cast upon it before the end of my turn, so that on enemy turns the character remains in darkness, however it depends on whether covering/uncovering the object counts as an Using an Object.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It's the same version of abusing turn-based mechanics using the Darkness spell (not sure if it's a duplicate though). \$\endgroup\$
    – enkryptor
    Commented Nov 22, 2022 at 18:16

4 Answers 4

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The plan would count as two object interactions, so it doesn't work.

The rules for object interactions state:

You can also interact with one object or feature of the environment for free, during either your move or your action. For example, you could open a door during your move as you stride toward a foe, or you could draw your weapon as part of the same action you use to attack.

If you want to interact with a second object, you need to use your action. Some magic items and other special objects always require an action to use, as stated in their descriptions.

Additionally, the rules feature a "Interacting with objects around you" sidebar that gives numerous examples of the types of activities that count as one of these free object interactions:

Here are a few examples of the sorts of thing you can do in tandem with your movement and action:

  • draw or sheathe a sword
  • open or close a door
  • withdraw a potion from your backpack
  • pick up a dropped axe
  • take a bauble from a table
  • [...]

And there are many more. It seems quite straightforward that either covering the object or uncovering the object is one of these things. However, doing both is two of these things. Since covering and unconvering are both object interactions, it would require the use of your action to do both.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This is more or less what I figured, thanks for the answer even if it is not what I wished :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Tyscribz
    Commented Aug 25, 2022 at 19:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Tyscribz you can be a Thief Rogue to have one additional object interaction for this plan to work. \$\endgroup\$
    – justhalf
    Commented Apr 6 at 15:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ Note the plan might still be somewhat salvageable even under a DM that rules this way. You can cover the source of darkness it at the start of your turn and uncover it at the end of the next one. That way you can attack normally and still be in darkness for other creatures turn 50% of the time. Since many characters don't have a useful object interaction in their turn you might even do something somewhat better coordinating with someone else. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kvothe
    Commented May 30 at 13:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ On the other hand many plans like this don't work well for another reason. Namely that people don't realize how darkness works. When neither party can see this just gives both advantage and disadvantage on attack rolls canceling it out. See rpg.stackexchange.com/a/135133/45342. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kvothe
    Commented May 30 at 13:15
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Generally, that sort of thing is up to the DM

As stated at the beginning of Actions in Combat:

When you take your action on your turn, you can take one of the actions presented here, an action you gained from your class or a special feature, or an action that you improvise. Many monsters have action options of their own in their stat blocks.
When you describe an action not detailed elsewhere in the rules, the DM tells you whether that action is possible and what kind of roll you need to make, if any, to determine success or failure.

Since "covering and uncovering an object" is not one of the predefined Actions, it's up to the DM to say if it's "Use an object", a whole Action, a Bonus Action, or Other activity on your turn (sometimes referred to as a "Free action").

As a rule of thumb, you can do one thing as your Action. In your case, this would be your attack. So the covering and uncovering all on the same turn is asking a lot. A DM might say you can either cover or uncover (as a free action) and still get an Attack in, but not both.

Depending on how you cover/uncover they may also rule that it is an "Use an Action" Action taking up your whole turn. Such as taking it out and putting it in a Bag of Holding.

It also depends on if both of your hands are full with weapon(s), shield, arcane focus, components, holy symbol, and what-have-you.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ "A lenient DM might say you can either cover or uncover and still get an Attack in, but not both." Doesn't have to be a lenient DM to let you do one of them, the rules explicitly allow it. Doing one of them clearly falls under the "interacting with objects around you" sidebar. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 25, 2022 at 19:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov Lenient in that covering/uncovering doesn't use your whole "Use an object" Action. You can't use the "Use an object" Action AND "Attack" Action on the same turn without a feature like Action Surge. \$\endgroup\$
    – MivaScott
    Commented Aug 25, 2022 at 19:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MivaScott you get a free object interaction on your turn: Does 5e have a free item interaction? So you could do one of those and still attack. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jason_c_o
    Commented Aug 25, 2022 at 19:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Jason_c_o, I state that in my 2nd paragraph, "A DM might say you can either cover or uncover (as a free action) and still get an Attack in, but not both." But I also had to bring up HOW the object is covered/uncovered is a factor. In my example of a Bag of Holding, "Retrieving an item from the bag requires an action." So that nullifies being a free action. If the object is fragile, a DM might say that unless you take a full Action to cover/uncover there is a chance of breakage. While Thomas's answer is correct, it's not the whole picture. \$\endgroup\$
    – MivaScott
    Commented Aug 25, 2022 at 21:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ It occurs to me you could game the system here. Have the object you plan to use to cover the darkness tied to your body via string/rope. Throw it over the darkness enchanted object and make your attack. Then move away from the darkness enchancted object and the covering item will come with you. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 26, 2022 at 0:52
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You might be able to pull this off with a lenient DM

While lifting a cover from the darkness-ensorcelled object will cost you your free object interaction, the intent of the rules is that just dropping an item is free and does not cost an object interaction. This was confirmed by Jeremy Crawford on twitter:

The intent is that letting go of something requires no appreciable effort. But picking it up does.

Now, Crawford's missives are not official Sage Advice rulings anymore. But considering he is one of the game's rules authors, and his intent was for dropping to be free, you may use this as an argument to convince your DM that it should be.

You then could have your darkness emitting object, for example, on a string over your shirt, pull up the shirt over it with your free object interaction to remove the darkness around yourself, use your action to attack, and then let go of the shirt for free, which due to gravity will slip back down exposing your darkness bauble yet again.

I personally would probably not be so lenient, as I think this is to some extent an exploit, and unfair to players who invest into abilities such as the blind-fighting feat to be able to operate in magical darkness. The DM might rule that holding the shirt up while attacking is hampering you and imposes disadvantage on your attack, making this more symmetrical. On the other hand, you do not benefit from advantage during your attack as someone with blindsight does against a blinded opponent, so maybe it is not that bad, and the DM might be OK with it. It does cost you a casting of darkness, after all.

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You don't need an object interaction for this.

Cast darkness on the tip of your tongue. When it's not your turn, stick your tongue out.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Your tongue is not an object that you are wearing or carrying, it's a body part, making it part of a creature, which darkness can't target. If you cut your own tongue off first and then hid it in your mouth after casting darkness on it, I'd give it to you...but as a caster I don't think you'll find the toll worth it. >.> \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 6 at 5:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ This probably won't work. \$\endgroup\$
    – enkryptor
    Commented Apr 6 at 8:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TheFallen0ne usually the proper idea for this is to cast it on a tongue piercing instead of on the tongue itself. \$\endgroup\$
    – justhalf
    Commented Apr 6 at 15:50

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