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Yes, you can use the standard layout options to show modal forms for any related item.
UI Action will not be able to open any modal dialogs. You can create new child objects, but that would be handled in new tabs.
Here you can see a modal form is being shown for Incident when I double-click on an item in the 'Related Incidents' tab configured on the Incident object. The same can be applied to any other object.
The form you see is set by the child tab configuration for the desired item.
So that functionality is baked into the default UI and can't be 'tricked'. Long story short I was trying to have certain knowledge articles pop up on screen when a button was pushed. I'll see what I can do with this. Thanks
Given that context, this wouldn't work in the same way.
You won't be able to open modal dialog using buttons. You can, however, open linked items using child panel functionality.
You could open a KB using a button, but it won't be modal.
You should be able to pass the RecID of a KB article to open it using UI action, via a button. Again, in a new tab and not a modal dialog.
That's actually what we ended up doing, but we can always strive for better