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Multani, Yavimaya's Avatar's activated ability doesn't require having to declare any targets, and it only cost {1}{G} and returning two lands to hand. The ability doesn't say Multani has to be in the yard. Is there any rule or thing I'm missing that prevents me from activating the ability, returning the lands, and then the ability doing nothing?

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You won't be able to active Multani on the battlefield. See Comprehensive Rules 113.6k:

113.6k An ability whose cost or effect specifies that it moves the object it's on out of a particular zone functions only in that zone, unless that ability's trigger condition, or a previous part of that ability's cost or effect, specifies that the object is put into that zone.

Example: Reassembling Skeleton says "{1}{B}: Return Reassembling Skeleton from your graveyard to the battlefield tapped." A player may activate this ability only if Reassembling Skeleton is in his or her graveyard.

Multani states:

(1)(G), Return two lands you control to their owner's hand: Return Multani from your graveyard to your hand.

Since it says it is returning from your graveyard, you can't active unless it is in your graveyard.

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Generally, abilities of permanent cards and tokens only work on the battlefield.

113.6. Abilities of an instant or sorcery spell usually function only while that object is on the stack. Abilities of all other objects usually function only while that object is on the battlefield. The exceptions are as follows:

The exceptions can be summarized as follows: Characterstic-defining abilites work everywhere, and abilities that are obviously intended to work in other zones only work in those other zones.

The ability in question is obviously intended to work from the graveyard — to be able to return Multani from the graveyard, Multani must be in the graveyard — so it only works from the graveyard.

113.6k An ability whose cost or effect specifies that it moves the object it’s on out of a particular zone functions only in that zone, unless its trigger condition or a previous part of its cost or effect specifies that the object is put into that zone or, if the object is an Aura, that the object it enchants leaves the battlefield. The same is true if the effect of that ability creates a delayed triggered ability whose effect moves the object out of a particular zone.

Example: Reassembling Skeleton says “{1}{B}: Return Reassembling Skeleton from your graveyard to the battlefield tapped.” A player may activate this ability only if Reassembling Skeleton is in their graveyard.

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