Free object interaction as part of an action – ‘in tandem’

The "free" in "free object interaction" means without cost – the object interactions you are permitted to have without having to spend your action on "Use an Object". In "Other Activity on Your Turn" (PHB190)

Your turn can include a variety of flourishes that require neither your action nor your move…. 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. (emphasis mine)

And in "Interacting with Objects Around You" (ibid)

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

My question here is Rules as Intended, how much emphasis to place on the phrases "as part of" and "in tandem with"?

It could be that you are allowed to interact with one object regardless of your action, and anything of roughly the complexity of everything listed under the second citation above is fair game, regardless of whether it thematically fits your main action.

Or, it could be that your free object interaction can only be used if it "fits" as part of your main action.

So, for example, if I want to draw a sword and attack with that sword, that clearly is part of my attack action and would be allowed under either interpretation.

Likewise, if I wanted to pull out a focus to use in spellcasting, that would be allowed as part of my cast a spell action.

But what if I began my turn with a sword in hand and wanted to put it away so that I had the hand free to perform the somatic component of a spell?

A generous interpretation of the free object interaction would say that "sheathing a sword" is specifically on the list of free interactions, so it is allowed as part of any action.

A more restrictive interpretation would say that sheathing a sword is not, strictly speaking, something that could be considered part of the casting a spell action so that while I could drop the sword (as when I change weapons before an attack), I could not carefully sheathe it.

Aside from the actual PHB rules (which I consider vague), the only guide to interpretation I have found comes from Sage Advice of 3/2015:

[A cleric] likes to wade into melee combat with a mace in one hand and a shield in the other…If [she] casts cure wounds, she needs to put the mace or the shield away, because that spell doesn’t have a material component but does have a somatic component. She’s going to need a free hand to make the spell’s gestures. If she had the War Caster feat, she could ignore this restriction.

Unfortunately "put the mace or shield away" doesn’t provide a lot of guidance on whether this means carefully stowing as part of her cast a spell action.

A good answer will not just rehash the cites I gave above and argue for one specific interpretation of the words over another. Rather, it will find other citations, either in official publications or designer intent tweets and such, and explain how they specifically favor one interpretation over the other.


Related: Drawing and sheathing weapons as one item interaction

Can you use your free object interaction while restrained

If a character is restrained, like being in the gullet of a froghemoth, and they attempt to pull out a different weapon, I assume they could drop what they were holding, but since their speed is zero, can they pull out another item for free?

For instance, a character drops a dagger and pulls out a magical wand to use. If they used the dagger, I can see that it was in their hands and the disadvantage imposed would be the crap windup in the stomach of a monster. Can they simply drop the weapon and pull out the wand for free?

What is the interaction between mold earth and create bonfire?

If I cast create bonfire in a 5 foot unoccupied space. Then next round cast mold earth to excavate that same area creating a 5 foot pit underneath the fire; Does the bonfire fall or stay at ground level?

This came up in game. The bonfire is magically created and does not need to burn fuel. So it could float. But does it? Is there a precident?

What is the interaction between Green-Flame Blade and Absorb elements

Green-Flame Blade States:

…you must make a melee attack with a weapon against one creature…

…On a hit, the target suffers the attack’s normal effects, and green fire leaps from the target to a different creature of your choice that you can see within 5 feet of it. The second creature takes fire damage equal to your spellcasting ability modifier…

Absorb Elements States:

…the first time you hit with a melee attack on your next turn, the target takes an extra 1d6 damage of the triggering type…

Since Green-Flame Blade is a single attack that affects 2 targets at the same time. Does the Absorb Elements extra damage affect both the 1st and 2ndary targets as per RAW?

How does the interaction between Final Sacrifice and Nonlethal Spell work?

Final Sacrifice ( targets one minion, slains it and does damage to everyone close to it.

Nonlethal Spell ( can make a spell nonlethal, which means it "knock creatures unconscious instead of kill them".

What would happen to my minion if i cast a nonlethal final sacrifice on it? Would it die or not?

What’s the historical interaction between the Wish spell and increasing ability scores?

I vaguely recall Wishes in 1e affecting ability score increases going something like this:

  • a single Wish spell could increase any ability score to 16
  • you needed another Wish spell to get to 18
  • then it was one Wish spell per point over that (with like 5 Wishes needed to get to 18/00 STR)

But now, looking through the 1e DMG, I can’t find any of this. Ideally, I’d like information on how a Wish spell would interact with ability score increases for each edition of D&D.

What’s the historical interaction between the Wish spell and increasing ability scores?

How does it work the interaction between Magic jar and Find Steed?

Find steed spell describes:

…While mounted on your steed, you can make any spell you cast that targets only you also target your steed.

And, the spell Magic Jar is a "Self" range spell. How would this interaction work? Both your souls would go to the same container? Could you leave the container ending the spell on itself and keeping the steed on the container? Could you use two diferential container, one for you and one for the steed?

What is the interaction between Empowered Spell and Booming Blade or Green-Flame Blade?

Can you reroll the damage dice that come as part of the melee weapon attack? That is, is the melee weapon attack part of the damage for the spell?

Empowered Spell reads:

When you roll damage for a spell, you can spend 1 sorcery point to reroll a number of the damage dice up to your Charisma modifier (minimum of one). You must use the new rolls.

Booming Blade and Green-Flame Blade read:

As part of the action used to cast this spell, you must make a melee attack with a weapon against one creature within the spell’s range, otherwise the spell fails.

Interaction between Subtle Spell, Iniciative and Alert Feat

I’m running a game and I’m trying to gank a few of my players with a Sorcerer with Subtle Metamagic. However, one of the players has the Alert feat which states he cannot be surprised.

My question here is: can I cast subtle hold person with the sorcerer without any interference from the player with the Alert feat? Or does that person has the opportunity do so something about it since he cannot be surprised? Let’s say the Sorcerer is hiding in his hand his arcane focus (a small pearl).

Can I do this without asking my players to roll for initiative?