So, we know how this works: potions are listed as magic items in the DMG, and to use a magic item, one must use activate magic item, which costs one action and, to the best of my knowledge, there’s no way to relieve such cost (a thief’s fast hands don’t apply since, again, this is a magic object and for some reason it’s wholly different).
Now, I’m sure most of us can relate to this this situation" you find yourself in the midst of a bloody battle, half-dead and surrounded by enemies, when a hope shines through the perils: your bag full of refreshing healing potions, which beg to be savored by your dusty lips. You extend your empty hand (or drop whatever you were holding since only one free interaction is allowed per turn and tidily stowing your sword consumes it… the ancients would say junky lex, sed lex), grab a delicious 4d4+4 health potion and prepare to consume your action in the process… "But wait" I hear you say, "Doesn’t it heal an average of 14Hp?" Indeed. "And don’t my enemies dish out an average of -whatever number higher or equal to 14-"? Right on the money. "So I can’t move or I’ll trigger free opportunity attacks – and the hostile creatures will still be able to reach me (if they have at least my speed) – but I can’t disengage or do any evasive meneuvers or I won’t be able to drink… So I can only chug and deplete my precious potions while they gank on me till they’ll inevitably reduce me to a pulp?" Bingo.
Healing potions are scarcely useful in battle, even compared to healing spells: despite being limited -to the number of spell slots left-, they also offer several ductile options: most are available from level 1 (healing word, cure wounds) and therefore ever more plentiful, they can be upcast (while one cannot chug more than one potion per turn), some cost a bonus action (healing word), and the strongest have an AoE healing (mass cure wounds*). The scale is so tipped in favor of spellcasters that even in campaigns with regular supplies of cheap, high level potions, they rarely compare to the dreaded healbot. How can we houserule more versatility and usefulness out of potions and rely less, possibly not at all, on healers?
Most common solutions I found were:
- Drink healing potions as a bonus actions, which definitely helps and resembles healing word, but, seems e bit too much and inconsistent (I mean, what about other potions?);
- Dodge&drink, a solution Hipsters&Dragons came up with, which lets you take the dodge action freely when you drink a potion (https://www.hipstersanddragons.com/drinking-a-healing-potion-in-combat/), which is neat, but won’t save you from any save-throw imposing moonbeam;
- If you retrieve a healing potion this turn and drink it the next one (with two separate free interactions), you don’t need to waste any action since drinking only takes a free interaction". Crawford debunked this possible solution (https://twitter.com/JeremyECrawford/status/805197509127598080), and didn’t the DMG establish that potions are magic items and you need to, somehow, activate them? Inconsistencies aside, this interpretation doesn’t really help in the heat of battle, does it?
So, what do you suggest?