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In the PHB, on page 193, the Use an Object action is described:

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

But what exactly is considered an object?

More specifically:

Is an arrow an object? Are weapons, armors, and shields objects?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Related: Is a dead creature's body considered an “object”?, and the answer there seems enough to answer your question as well \$\endgroup\$ – Sdjz Feb 24 '17 at 12:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ Also Related: What does Use an Object cover? and this is starting to look like a duplicate, I think. \$\endgroup\$ – Sdjz Feb 24 '17 at 12:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Rizzit Typically, "related" comments are made to create a tightly-woven web of linked questions on the site. If you look to the right hand side of the page you will see there are now two "linked" questions which are directly related to the subject. There is no need to disagree yet, as no one has cast a vote to close this Q as a duplicate of either of those two questions. \$\endgroup\$ – LegendaryDude Feb 24 '17 at 14:57
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An object is any physical thing that is not a creature:

... targets creatures, objects, or a point of origin for an area of effect...

Chapter 10. Spellcasting, pg. 204 of PHB

The above description lists creatures, objects, and points in space as the 3 distinct, mutually exclusive types of targets. Note that spell effects are not physical things, and so are not objects, creatures, or points in space, though spell effects can affect, create, or share space with one or more of them.

A creature is anything that can take any (or at least most) of the general actions. All creatures fall into the categories of either Player Character or Monster:

A monster is defined as any creature that can be interacted with and potentially fought and killed... the term also applies to humans, elves, dwarves, and other civilized folk who might be friends or rivals to the player characters.

Introduction, pg. 4 of MM

So, you can also say that anything besides the PCs that isn't covered by the MM is an object.

This means that arrows, weapons, armor, and shields are, in fact, objects. NOTE: using some objects have more specific actions, so the "Use An Object" action you quoted does not apply. This is case for arrows (ammunition property of weapons and the attack action), weapons (the attack action), and armor and shields (donning and doffing and armor class). If you do something unconventional with one of these objects, such as using a sword as a lever to crank a wheel, the "Use An Object" action would apply.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This answer is the most straight answer. Action Economy has been deeply explained, however the scope of the question was what defines as an object for general purpose, not action economy. \$\endgroup\$ – Rizzit Feb 25 '17 at 20:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ This isn't right for multiple reasons. Swarms are multiple creatures, but use one stat block (1, 2). Spell effects aren't objects but you can target them with Dispel Magic. The DMG also restricts the definition of object to a discrete, tangible thing of reasonable size. Fog and bodies of water fail that definition. \$\endgroup\$ – Doval May 4 '17 at 15:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ My point is that there's nothing in the rules that supports "An object is anything that is not a creature". You quote chapter 10, but those are only the typical targets for spells. As for the DMG's definition, Jeremy Crawford disagrees that the definition is only relevant for breaking objects. Even if you reject the DMG's definition, you're going to run into problems as soon as you start treating spell effects as objects. Should Telekinesis affect Spiritual Weapon? Should Catapult affect Earthen Grasp? \$\endgroup\$ – Doval May 4 '17 at 15:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ @DerekStucki What do you mean by "3 distinct, mutually exclusive"? The text you are quoting says "...creatures, objects, or a point of origin for an area of effect". Are you trying to say that creatures & objects cannot serve as a point of origin for an area of effect spell? I do not agree with that statement. \$\endgroup\$ – Vladislav Martin May 4 '17 at 17:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ A creature might be standing in the middle of a point of origin, but a creature is not a point in space, it is a creature. That creature/object's location is the target, not the creature or object. \$\endgroup\$ – Derek Stucki May 4 '17 at 22:32
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From DMG p. 246 (which, by the way, is where Crawford tells us to look at if we want to see "What counts as an object in D&D") or here in the DM's basic rules:

For the purpose of these rules, an object is a discrete. inanimate item like a window, door, sword, book, table, chair, or stone, not a building or a vehicle that is composed of many other objects.

All the items listed are objects, as an arrow is a discrete inanimate item, as well as a weapon, an armor or a shield.

This definition gets fuzzy when taking into account magical items with sentience, as they are not inanimate any more (but they are still objects), but we do not have a canonical answer then.

I would also like to note that, while this is the game definition of the term, it doesn't seem a good one, and sometimes relying on common sense would be better. As mentioned in the responses to the linked Crawford's tweet, a book consists of many other objects (pages, cover), as well as clockwork toys...

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    \$\begingroup\$ Note: sentient and animate are two different things. A magic sword could be sentient and inanimate. But +1 for the excellent answer. \$\endgroup\$ – ravery Oct 11 '18 at 4:16
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ob·ject

noun

ˈäbjekt

  1. a material thing that can be seen and touched.

The term "object" has no special meaning in the rules. 5e D&D's rules use plain English and they try not to infer special meaning beyond the regular English definitions of words.

5e D&D's rules are also exception based: a general rule always applies until a more specific rule applies. This can be applied to all objects. Since "object" is a class that encompasses all things, "Use an Object" is the generic action you take when you want to interact with an object that doesn't already have some other rule for interacting with it.

For example, you wouldn't Use an Object to attack with a weapon, because weapons have a more specific action for their use, the Attack action. You could, however, Use an Object to interact with a weapon in a non-attacking manner, such as drawing it from a sheath. To clarify, the rules do specify that you get one free "object interaction" per turn,

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.

which, as stated, can be used to draw one weapon as part of a move or attack action, but if you were to draw a second weapon in the same turn, that would require the use of the Use an Object action.

Note that this only applies to the generic Use an Object action, and is limited to things you could reasonably do in "less" amount of time than a regular action. Drawing a weapon or opening a door while you move is reasonable. Tying a rope around something is probably not. This will likely vary from DM to DM.

Using a magic item, similarly, has its own rules associated with it and does not normally use the Use an Object action.

Arrows, weapons, armors, and shields are all objects, but if you read the rules for these specific types of objects you will find they all have specific rules for how they are used. To "use" armor (that is, to wear it), you must take time to put it on, and that time varies from armor type to armor type.

Shields are actually a type of armor, and all armors have rules for donning and doffing: it takes one action to don a shield, and 10 minutes to don heavy armor. Donning armor is not Use an Object because it has a specific rule on how to use it.

Arrows have their own rules as well:

Ammunition: ... Drawing the ammunition from a quiver, case, or other container is part of the attack (you need a free hand to load a one-handed weapon)...

So when you use an Arrow, you're doing so for free as part of your attack (unless you're not using it to attack with, in which case, you guessed it, it's Use an Object).

All this to say that the Use an Object action is a catch-all that should be used generically when no other rule or action can be taken to interact with or otherwise use an object.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Object does indeed have a specific meaning in 5e. Your definition would include creatures, which are specifically not objects in 5e. \$\endgroup\$ – Derek Stucki Feb 24 '17 at 15:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Derek More precisely, creatures are objects, but there are more specific rules for interacting with creatures which override every possible way of interacting with them as mere objects. (That's why they revert to being treated as mostly mere objects after death.) \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Feb 24 '17 at 15:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ No, dead bodies are objects, but living creatures are not. If something can target an object, a living creature is not a valid target. If something can target either, then both creature and object are always specified. They are mutually exclusive. \$\endgroup\$ – Derek Stucki Feb 24 '17 at 17:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ In the targeting context they are presented as mutually exclusive options — a specific rule. Generally in terms of English nouns the game uses to communicate, creatures are also objects. The rules for targeting would be one of the many specific rules that override the general case, yes. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Feb 24 '17 at 17:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie not according to Jeremy. twitter.com/jeremyecrawford/status/823995293792243712 That aside I still contend that referring to living beings as objects is not idiomatic. \$\endgroup\$ – Doval Feb 24 '17 at 19:07
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Arrows, weapons, armor, and shields are all objects in this sense.

If you want to do something with them that (a) isn't part of another action, (b) isn't an attack, or (c) other rules say requires an action, the you need to take the Use an Object action.

During combat, on your turn, you can interact with one object "for free" as part of your movement or action:

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.

(PHB, p. 190, emphasis mine)

This covers many cases where arrows and weapons would be "used" in conjunction with an action.

If you want to interact with a second object, you need to use your action.

(PHB, cont'd)

So if you've already drawn your sword as part of your attack action, you can't draw a second weapon to make an off-hand attack on the same turn. Arrows and weapons would again be 'objects' for the purpose of this rule.

Some magic items and other special objects always require an action to use, as stated in their descriptions.

(PHB, cont'd)

Shields, per the Donning and Doffing Armor table on p.146 of the PHB, take an action (the Use an Object action) to put on or take off. Armor of any kind takes much longer, and each round a character is putting on armor, they would take the Use an Object action.

Use an Object doesn't include attacking with arrows or weapons, of course; that's what the Attack action is for.

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An object is a non-living, non-thinking thing, that can clearly be separated from its environment, has its own statistics, and lacks separate statistics for any of its vital parts.

Dungeon Master's Guide, chapter 8, Objects section, pages 246-247 gives us the majority of what we need: a definition, examples for Armor Class and Hit Points, a suggestion for fairly large things, details related to damage types, and details on Damage Thresholds.

The definition for Objects reads (emphasis mine):

For the purpose of these rules, an object is a discrete, inanimate item like a window, door, sword, book, table, chair, or stone, not a building or a vehicle that is composed of many other objects.

Discrete generally means that something is easy to identify as separate from what is around it. So this would mean that you can readily tell where the thing in question ends, and everything around it begins. An example would be individual bricks in an uncovered wall, or a wall compared to its roof.

Inanimate simply means possessing no life, but due to the sometimes fuzzy nature of that in 5e, I think it would be logical to extend this to also possessing no choice. Basically, the inability to do anything without action of an outside force.

As for examples within the definition, I chose to highlight the book, because it is an item in the Player's Handbook, and we know that it, though made of multiple parts, has statistics only for itself as a whole, even though both parchment and paper are separate items themselves. Indicating that complexity doesn't matter.

Lastly, from the definition, we are told of buildings and vehicles, but specifically that they are not objects only if they are composed of other objects. If they were always not objects, nothing would be needed after the word vehicle. We even have an example of them as objects directly for the Objects section, as a cart is listed within the Object Hit Points table, and a cart is a drawn vehicle, as shown in the table Tack, Harness, and Drawn Vehicles on page 157 of the Player's Handbook.
Further, there is a table on page 119 of the Dungeon Master's Guide called Airborne and Waterborne Vehicles which features a number of vehicles with Damage Thresholds, something listed as present on some objects. Of note, the vehicles as listed here, or in the Player's Handbook, only have statistics for themselves as a whole, not for any parts.

Finally, there are 3 examples of items that can help us narrow down what it means to be composed of other objects.

The first is the magic item Daern's Instant Fortress (Dungeon Master's Guide, page 160). When deployed, this is a building where the roof, the door, and each wall, has its own hit points. These are all vital parts of the whole, without them, the building isn't a functional building, thus it is composed of these parts. So this building is not an object itself. The parts themselves are objects.

The second is the Keelboat as listed in Ghosts of Saltmarsh (page 188). This item not only features statistics for itself as a whole, but also for each vital part of its structure: the hull, helm, oars, sails. It also lists a ballista, but that isnt vital. If any of the vital parts is destroyed, the vehicle ceases to function, thus it is composed of them. So, the keelboat, as listed in Ghosts of Saltmarsh, is not an object. But each part is.

Last is the Demon Grinder from Descent into Avernus (page 219). Like Daern's Instant Fortress and the Keelboat as listed in Ghosts of Saltmarsh, this item has parts listed. Unlike those other items however, the listed parts are not vital to the existence of this item, so their loss would not operationally destroy this item. Thus, this item is an object.

Sorry for the long-winded response, here is an easy step-by-step checker to determine if something is an object or not:

  1. is it alive or capable of acting independently? if so, not an object.
  2. is it difficult to separate from its environment? if so, not an object
  3. is it lacking statistics from the Dungeon Master or another source; or is clearly not intended to be interacted with? if so, not an object.
  4. do the vital parts of it have their own statistics? if so, not an object.

If the answer is negative to the above questions, then the item in question is an object.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ "Lacking statistics from the Dungeon Master or another source" seems pretty arbitrary. You're suggesting that if I wash my pants and hang them up to dry, and a troublesome goblin wants to set them on fire with fire bolt, they might be unable to cast the spell at the pants because the DMG doesn't have stats for pants? \$\endgroup\$ – Mark Wells Mar 25 at 22:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MarkWells no, that is not what I said. I said the Dungeon Master or another source, not the Dungeon Master's Guide. Basically, if statistics are not present from a book, adventure, or the DM, then the thing in question is not an object, per the rules. \$\endgroup\$ – Journer Mar 25 at 22:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MarkWells I just realized your confusion regarding step 3, so have edited it to be clear, sorry. \$\endgroup\$ – Journer Mar 27 at 12:59

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