Do you let Eldritch Knight or Clerics cast while using a (real) shield?

Do you let spellcasters cast with weapon & shield in hand?

  • Yes

    Votes: 42 57.5%
  • No

    Votes: 17 23.3%
  • Let me explain...

    Votes: 14 19.2%

S'mon

Legend
There was an Eldritch Knight IMC who used sword & shield. I would let him cast 'Shield' as a reaction. Pretty sure that's not RAW - but per RAW he could just have dropped the weapon then resummoned it, so it was more that the visuals looked better than any mechanical advantage.

In general, I was wondering how strict people are about letting spellcasters cast spells while equipped with weapon & shield?
 

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There is a special feat (War caster) that allows casters to cast with stuff in their hands (i.e. weapons, shield). So, I am usually pretty strict about this, because not being strict means you give the player a feat for free.

I'm much easier when a caster is just carrying something that isn't useful in combat (i.e. a sandwich). Then I cannot be bothered to roleplay that they put it in a pocket and pull if out again after combat is resolved.
 

S'mon

Legend
There is a special feat (War caster) that allows casters to cast with stuff in their hands (i.e. weapons, shield). So, I am usually pretty strict about this, because not being strict means you give the player a feat for free.

Might be worth mentioning that the campaign I'm thinking of does not use the Feats optional rule, so this is not an issue - the Cleric & Eldritch Knight PCs can't access War Caster or any other feat.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
I didn’t want to say “no,” because there is nothing about having a sword and shield in hand per se that prevents a character from spellcasting. But I didn’t want to say “yes,” because having a sword and shield in hand will, in most circumstances, prevent you from meeting the requirements to cast a spell. So, my vote is “let me explain...”

In order to cast a spell with verbal components, a spellcaster needs to be able to speak.
In order to cast a spell with somatic components, a spellcaster needs either a free hand or a spellcasting focus in at least one hand.
In order to cast a spell with material components, a spellcaster needs either a component pouch and a free hand, or a apellcastong focus in at least one hand.

A spellcaster wielding a weapon and a shield can perform the verbal components of spells with no issue, therefore they can easily cast spells like Thaumaturgy and Command, which have only verbal components. Somatic and Material components can be more complicated. Essentially, either the weapon or shield needs to be usable as a spellcasting focus, or the caster needs to be able to put one away. Since a cleric or Paladin can use a holy symbol as a spellcasting focus and a holy symbolcan Be emblazoned on a shield, they should have no trouble casting spells with material and/or somatic components, so long as they have a shield equipped with a holy symbol emblazoned on it. A Druid can use a wooden staff as a spellcasting focus, and likewise an Arcane caster can use a staff. Personally, I allow either to be used as a quarterstaff, so if that’s their weapon, they’re good to go. A Bladesinger Wizard can also use a sword they’re proficient with as a spellcasting focus, IIRC. Another option might be to keep a component pouch on hand and sheath your weapon (so you have a free hand to perform somatic components and interact with the material components) when you need to cast a spell. You only get one free object interaction on your turn though, so you couldn’t sheath, cast, and unsheath on the same turn.

I am also willing to accept spellcasting foci that are integrated into weapons or shields. For example, a crystal is a possible Arcane spellcasting focus, and if a holy symbol emblazoned onto a shield counts, then I see no reason a sword with a crystal in its pommel shouldn’t count as well. A cossguard on a traditional medieval European sword is meant specifically to resemble a cross, so I’m more than happy to accept other holy symbols worked into the hilts of swords. Heck, why not let a Druid have a scimitar specially made with a hilt designed to incorporate their totem while we’re at it?

So, I don’t disallow spellcasters to cast with sword and shield in hand, but not do I allow them to cast when they don’t meet all the requirements. Meeting all the requirements while wielding a sword and shield may require some special effort, such as using a particular weapon or commissioning a specially made weapon or shield that can also be used as a spellcastinh focus, but it is entirely possible for most characters.
 

S'mon

Legend
I guess my biggest issue around this is that RAW requires one hand free to use (S) spells, but RAW also allows a caster to drop their weapon for free, cast spell, then pick up weapon from the floor as their Object Interaction - and the visuals of this happening repeatedly are so silly that I would rather just ignore the whole thing. :)
 

S'mon

Legend
I didn’t want to say “no,” because there is nothing about having a sword and shield in hand per se that prevents a character from spellcasting. But I didn’t want to say “yes,” because having a sword and shield in hand will, in most circumstances, prevent you from meeting the requirements to cast a spell. So, my vote is “let me explain...”

In order to cast a spell with verbal components, a spellcaster needs to be able to speak.
In order to cast a spell with somatic components, a spellcaster needs either a free hand or a spellcasting focus in at least one hand.
In order to cast a spell with material components, a spellcaster needs either a component pouch and a free hand, or a apellcastong focus in at least one hand.

A spellcaster wielding a weapon and a shield can perform the verbal components of spells with no issue, therefore they can easily cast spells like Thaumaturgy and Command, which have only verbal components. Somatic and Material components can be more complicated. Essentially, either the weapon or shield needs to be usable as a spellcasting focus, or the caster needs to be able to put one away. Since a cleric or Paladin can use a holy symbol as a spellcasting focus and a holy symbolcan Be emblazoned on a shield, they should have no trouble casting spells with material and/or somatic components, so long as they have a shield equipped with a holy symbol emblazoned on it. A Druid can use a wooden staff as a spellcasting focus, and likewise an Arcane caster can use a staff. Personally, I allow either to be used as a quarterstaff, so if that’s their weapon, they’re good to go. A Bladesinger Wizard can also use a sword they’re proficient with as a spellcasting focus, IIRC. Another option might be to keep a component pouch on hand and sheath your weapon (so you have a free hand to perform somatic components and interact with the material components) when you need to cast a spell. You only get one free object interaction on your turn though, so you couldn’t sheath, cast, and unsheath on the same turn.

I am also willing to accept spellcasting foci that are integrated into weapons or shields. For example, a crystal is a possible Arcane spellcasting focus, and if a holy symbol emblazoned onto a shield counts, then I see no reason a sword with a crystal in its pommel shouldn’t count as well. A cossguard on a traditional medieval European sword is meant specifically to resemble a cross, so I’m more than happy to accept other holy symbols worked into the hilts of swords. Heck, why not let a Druid have a scimitar specially made with a hilt designed to incorporate their totem while we’re at it?

So, I don’t disallow spellcasters to cast with sword and shield in hand, but not do I allow them to cast when they don’t meet all the requirements. Meeting all the requirements while wielding a sword and shield may require some special effort, such as using a particular weapon or commissioning a specially made weapon or shield that can also be used as a spellcastinh focus, but it is entirely possible for most characters.

Good analysis, thanks.

There is a Forge Priest dwarf Cleric IMC, I think he ought to be able to use his warhammer as his holy symbol/focus - and if not then having a symbol (anvil?) on his shield seems ok.

Re Eldritch Knights, per RAW they don't appear to be able to use their bonded weapon as their spellcasting focus, but to me this makes sense as a house rule. What do you reckon?
 

CapnZapp

Legend
Yes of course.

As you say, all saying "no" means is stupid visuals.

5E is a great simplification of d20, but for some reason it has the same convoluted and stupid rules for hand use and object interaction.

They're convoluted because they're complex and difficult. (Just try to keep in mind which spells require which components!)

They're stupid because they seem to restrict characters but really doesn't. Just as you say, if you impose the rules as written you end up with videogamey garbage where characters drop and pick up items every round.

5E deserves better. 5E deserves a complete overhaul of these rules, that focus on your role in the party.

If you play a "magic warrior" like Eldritch Knight or Paladin, simply say "you can cast your spells with your hands full" instead of making up lots of niggly rules that in the end amount to nothing.

Then say "as an arcane caster, you need one hand for components or focus".

And then just enforce that. So if you need one hand, that means no greataxe.

Get rid of nonsense like "I only need both hands on the axe when I'm making my actual attack".
 

Horwath

Hero
I guess my biggest issue around this is that RAW requires one hand free to use (S) spells, but RAW also allows a caster to drop their weapon for free, cast spell, then pick up weapon from the floor as their Object Interaction - and the visuals of this happening repeatedly are so silly that I would rather just ignore the whole thing. :)

this!

I don't see any problem with a character gripping his one hander with the same hand he holds his shield for a moment or two, while he is casting spells.

I go with this; Verbal components, available unless gagged, punched on the throat or inside some kind of silence spell/effect.

Somatic, available when you can reasonably let go of a grip for a second or two without any danger, you cannot use somatic/material if you carry something heavy with both hands, tied down, being in a joint lock, etc...
 

Clerics can have their Holy Symbol on their Shield, allowing them to cast S,M spells without difficulty. I have house ruled that spells with just S can also be cast with a hand wielding a focus, because of the complications of determining which spells require a free hand or not was problematic (not just for clerics, but everyone).

Everyone else in my campaign would require the War Caster feat. If I was running a game with no feats, I would probably be more lenient with it, since there is no other option.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Good analysis, thanks.

There is a Forge Priest dwarf Cleric IMC, I think he ought to be able to use his warhammer as his holy symbol/focus - and if not then having a symbol (anvil?) on his shield seems ok.

Re Eldritch Knights, per RAW they don't appear to be able to use their bonded weapon as their spellcasting focus, but to me this makes sense as a house rule. What do you reckon?

No problem.

By RAW, an Eldritch Knight can’t use any sort of spellcasting focus, and are stuck using a free hand and a component pouch (which means sheathing their weapon when they want to cast a spell). This is also true of an Arcane Trickster, by the way. Personally, I would enforce this because I kind of like the idea that as a mere dabbler in the arcane, an Eldritch Knight (or Arcane Trickster) doesn’t have the know-how to make use of a spellcasting focus. I also like that at least someone has to use a component pouch, cause I find them cooler than spellcasting foci, personally. And it keeps the War Caster Feat relevant for the characters most likely to want it (I know you’re not using Feats, but I do.)

That said, your game won’t be harmed in the slightest if you do allow Eldritch Knights to use their weapons as Arcane Foci, especially if you’re not a stickler for object interactions on one’s turn. It’s 99% just an aesthetic preference.
 

jmartkdr

First Post
I allow it IF the EK spent the money/time/whatever to make their weapon a spellcasting focus. The Ruby of the War Mage is the quickest way, but weapons that cost +100 gp and also count as foci are available wherever fine weapons are sold.

It's a small change, and doesn't really affect much, but it creates an in-universe solution, which help make it look right. It also means that being disarmed is a slightly bigger issue, since it would interfere with spellcasting as well.
 

I generally don’t bother with making them declare that they drop a weapon, cast a spell, then pick it back up again. I totally get the argument for it, but I don’t care to micromanage a game that much.

However, if it’s the PC is already doing something like holding onto a rope or something, yeah, you only have so many hands to work with in a situation like that.
 

5ekyu

Hero
Within the rules, there are lots of ways around it.

Free drop weapon leaving trail of weapons.
Common magic item ruby valued at iirc less than 100gp.
Feat war caster where this is one of the benefits out of three?
For other spellcasters, a staff (d6 v d8) can be an arcane focus anyway.

Way too much of an inside baseball finicky bit for my taste to not make the sword an impediment but just make there be a few hoops to jump thru to get there.

Besides, ditch the shield, go for 2H sword or axe and it all goes away plus you open up GWM etc. Or PAM.

Its not like these hoops are "reigning in" a powerhouse.

Imo 5e needed to rethink its "components" a bit more.
 

Oofta

Legend
According to the PHB "A spellcaster must have a hand free to access a spell's material components -- or to hold a spellcasting focus -- but it can be the same hand that he or she uses to perform somatic components."


I allow a shield (or weapon) to be a spellcasting focus, therefore the hand holding the shield can be used to perform somatic components.
 
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DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
I handwave the Component system except as fluff if the player wishes to do so for their character. The only reason I see to use components is so that at some point I as the DM can take away the component use so a caster character can't cast. But as I find that gimmick to be incredibly lame as a repetitive obstacle, I don't bother with it. Same reason why I don't have my monsters disarming weapon-users all the time.

If I'm going to have the PCs unable to cast or use weapons, it'll be an actual adventure that causes the situation, not kinda-written game mechanics.
 

Yunru

Banned
Banned
I voted "No."
But that's a bit inaccurate, as there are several special cases, such as holy symbols on shields, and staves.
I also let Arcane Knights use weapons as spellcasting foci.
 

Satyrn

First Post
I guess my biggest issue around this is that RAW requires one hand free to use (S) spells, but RAW also allows a caster to drop their weapon for free, cast spell, then pick up weapon from the floor as their Object Interaction - and the visuals of this happening repeatedly are so silly that I would rather just ignore the whole thing. :)

Yeah, my table ignores the whole thing. (And we use feats)

We also allow someone to switch out their "weapon load" ( like go from using a bow to sure and shield) without spending an action simply because we've found it unfun to nitpick these things.
 

Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
This is a “let me explain.” My ruling is that momentarily shifting your weapon to your shield hand while you cast with your weapon hand and then shifting it back is interacting with a single object, and so takes up the same amount of the action economy as the much sillier drop and pick up routine.
 

Dausuul

Legend
I guess my biggest issue around this is that RAW requires one hand free to use (S) spells, but RAW also allows a caster to drop their weapon for free, cast spell, then pick up weapon from the floor as their Object Interaction - and the visuals of this happening repeatedly are so silly that I would rather just ignore the whole thing. :)

I concur (although note that, by the book, this trick does not work for reaction spells like shield). In general, I really do not want to devote table time to this kind of thing. Besides, playing a gish in 5E is hard enough already.

I'm aware of the concern around War Caster, but I don't think that's a good enough justification to keep this rule. War Caster is primarily about advantage on Concentration saves and being able to cast spells as OAs. If all you get is those two things, it's still a solid feat for a caster.
 

Henry

Autoexreginated
I'm more along the lines of Charlaquin, in that I play it fairly strictly for that (VSM components + Warcaster), though I haven't had anyone yet ask for investing in some kind of special equipment or "painting their holy symbol on their weapon/shield" kind of stuff. Mostly, spellcasters in our games just don't use shields, usually only the fighters or barabrians. (We had a Paladin who did the two-handed weapon thing, and could have dropped his grip, but he almost never cast his spells, he used them for smite-fuel. :))
 

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