D&D 5E How many hands does a fighter-mage type need?

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
Hello

(I know this was sort of discussed with in a bard thread but the issue got tangled with all sorts of weird bard-specific issues that I feel aren't relevant to the discussion. There is also the "shield as holy symbol" thing that I'll ignore for now).

So Lu-Po, the slugman eldrich knight, has been fighting with a halberd for a while. It's very convenient, whenever he wants to cast a spell he holds on to the halberd with the left hand and cast with his right. But Lu-Po has been getting hit a lot lately, and he's switched to a shield and talwar style. This is where it get a bit complicated.

The table on "interacting with object" in the combat chapter indicates that you can combine sheathing *or* (not both) drawing a weapon with an action or a move. So the following would be legal:

Round 1: Lu-Po draws his talwar and attacks the goblin chief three times, killing him.
Round 2: Lu-po sheathes this talwar and cast fireball on the fleeing goblins.

So far so good. But what about bonus actions and reactions?

Round 1: Lu-po sheathes his talwar to cast minor image to distract the goblins
Bonus action: Lu-po draws his sword to strike at the goblin chief
Reaction: the goblins are not fooled by the illusion and pelt Lu-po with arrows. To protect himself, he draws his sword and cast shield.

So, I think the *fundamental* question her is "can a character draw (or sheathe) a weapon as part of a bonus action/reaction". Because if he/she can, then weapon and shield is a valid style of fighting for a "gish". If he or she cannot, then unless you are "cheating" by having your shield be a focus, this style is *not* flexible enough and the character is better off with a 2-handed weapon, or a weapon in one hand and the other hand empty.

This is a bit sad because it would lessen the argument that the EK is good because of superior defensive potential.
 

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Zardnaar

Legend
Nope RAW you need to use a two handed weapon or take the warcaster feat to enable easy casting. Two weapon feat also lets you draw/sheathe two objects.
 

trentonjoe

Explorer
I don't think you can sheath a weapon as part of a bonus action. I am pretty sure you cant as a reaction.

Your options are:

Take Warcaster
Cast spells that are verbal only
Keep a hand free
 


Yep, sheathing or drawing a weapon can only be done as part of your Move or your Action.
You can't do either as a Bonus Action or as a Reaction.

I'd suggest that the Arcane Focus for this would be the better solution than the component pouch. Build your spell casting focus into the hilt or pommel of your tulwar (wizards qualify for Arcane Foci, so EK's would too, as they follow the Wizard spell casting tradition). That way you are accessing it whilst holding your weapon.

The rules describe a wizard being able to have her arcane focus being an orb embedded in her staff - I think we all imagine that as "gesture with staff you're holding in the middle of its length, point the tip at the bad guy, orb glows magically, pow" rather than "rub orb". If so, the same principle applies to a sword.

Problem solved, for your EK anyway. Shield - check. Sword - check. In contact with Arcane Focus - check. No sheathing required.

For dual wielding EKs, same thing.

If Multi-Classing to obtain your 'Gish', so long as you're a Sorc, Warlock, or Wizard - or even possibly a Druid (though I can't imagine anyone sees a Druid as the best spell casting side to a 'Gish' character), you're good.

Edit: thought occurred that the EK's Weapon Bond fits perfectly with the concept of their bonded weapon containing their Arcane Focus. It's THAT important to them. Also almost demands that your bonded weapon gets a name, too.

Edit#2: Make sure your Arcane Focus pommel is a 50gp diamond and you're also good to Chromatic Orb it up. Someone steals it 'cause it's a shiny shiny diamond? Weapon Bond teleport. Boom.
 
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Prism

Explorer
Warcaster doesn't help fighter-mages that much. Too many good spells need a material component and therefore you still need to sheath your weapon often to cast. I am playing a fighter-mage type and a melee cleric both without warcaster and its fine. Sometimes you cant make an opportunity attack but otherwise it works well enough
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
The pommel of a sword is not just a "chunk of metal" - its shape and weight have significant impact on the performance of the sword.

However, if there are students of magic who would have figures out how to make an orb "just right" as a sword pommel, it would be the EKs... And you are completely right that it does fit with the EK theme. It's not strictly RAW but I would allow it.

*adds to "house rules" folder*
 

Kobold Stew

Last Guy in the Airlock
Supporter
I'd suggest that the Arcane Focus for this would be the better solution than the component pouch. Build your spell casting focus into the hilt or pommel of your tulwar (wizards qualify for Arcane Foci, so EK's would too, as they follow the Wizard spell casting tradition). That way you are accessing it whilst holding your weapon.

The rules describe a wizard being able to have her arcane focus being an orb embedded in her staff - I think we all imagine that as "gesture with staff you're holding in the middle of its length, point the tip at the bad guy, orb glows magically, pow" rather than "rub orb". If so, the same principle applies to a sword.

Problem solved, for your EK anyway. Shield - check. Sword - check. In contact with Arcane Focus - check. No sheathing required.

Shenanigans like this wouldn't fly at my table. If a gimmick like this were allowed, then there's no point in having the rules about the focus at all -- with this "solution" you are simply providing a workaround to the rule. (Which is fine -- to each her own, rulings not rules, etc. -- but it is obviously not the intended result.)

Why "obviously"? Because it means that there's a different mechanical consequence for a wizard who uses a crystal as a focus and one who uses a rod. It also makes the second bullet point in the War Caster feat meaningless.

As it is, the focus rules are weak and inconsistent enough already, and so I understand the desire to go around them. I still wouldn't allow it.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
You are definitely right that it's not RAW.

I will note however, that swords *have* been used as magical focus in Europe in the past (well yes it didn't actually work, but some people believed it did). I guess that the game designers didn't have access to the same Hermetic texts I have :)

In an old 3e game I was involved in oh, 15 years ago, my battle cleric would briefly tuck his mace under his left arm, cast with his right hand, then grasp it again. But I guess that too would count as shenanigans...
 

Prism

Explorer
You are definitely right that it's not RAW.

I will note however, that swords *have* been used as magical focus in Europe in the past (well yes it didn't actually work, but some people believed it did). I guess that the game designers didn't have access to the same Hermetic texts I have :)

In an old 3e game I was involved in oh, 15 years ago, my battle cleric would briefly tuck his mace under his left arm, cast with his right hand, then grasp it again. But I guess that too would count as shenanigans...

Well technically you could drop your weapon, cast the spell and then pick it up again which creates the same desired effect so I'd probably allow a character to tuck it under their arm. Also in 3e light shields left your hand free so there is some precedence there too
 

Problem may be solved. You just need some bling headwear.

image.jpg

Mearls himself reckons that while the intent is to touch it, he would allow this solution.
 

BoldItalic

First Post
Thri-kreen have it easy :D

Seriously, though, an Eldritch Knight's Weapon Bond feature is there for a reason. You can drop your weapon to cast a spell, then call it to hand again with a bonus action.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
Thri-kreen have it easy :D

Seriously, though, an Eldritch Knight's Weapon Bond feature is there for a reason. You can drop your weapon to cast a spell, then call it to hand again with a bonus action.

Ah, but then you lose your bonus action, which hopefully you could have used for something better.

I think even worse though is losing the flexibility of having options for a reaction. If your setup is "flexible", then your reaction can be cast a spell or do an attack of opportunity. If your setup is not, you lose that flexibility.
 


Ganymede81

First Post
I'm with Mearls on this one.

I'd be inclined to allow any caster to use a simple melee weapon they are proficient in as their focus (whether it is a quarterstaff, a pact dagger, a holy mace, or a ritual sickle), as long as they pay some extra gold to properly modify the weapon for casting. On that same token, I'd allow any gishy caster (rangers, paladins, blade warlocks, valor bards, war/tempest clerics, etc.) to do the same with martial weapons.
 

Kithas

First Post
Eldritch knights cannot use arcane focuses.
They lack the class feature that allows it. They choose spells from the wizard list but they do not cast as if they were a wizard. Rangers, arcane tricksters, eldritch knights and even barbarians do not have the ability to use a spellcasting focus. In each class that can under the spellcasting feature it tells you that you may. If it's not there you need a component pouch!
 
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Oofta

Legend
I've always ignored the requirement for a free hand for clerics and eldritch fighters in my campaigns. As others have posted, you could always drop your weapon and pick it up for free. I suppose it's theoretically possible the eldritch knight might have to use a bonus action to retrieve their sword but in most cases the weapon will be at your feet when you're done casting.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
I've been thinking about this more. There is the RAW, but perhaps more importantly it this question - how *should* it be? I believe there are two ways of looking at it, and it depends what you consider most important.

If you believe that
1: To make the most out of of the "ghish" combat style, a character must make sacrifices and limit him/herself to the most convenient fighting style AND
2: the great weapons fighting style is limited and denying it this "extra utility" would make it even weaker

Then you should follow RAW and not allow a character with a weapon and shield (or 2 weapons) to switch back and forth.

however, if you believe that:
1: The ghish style is somewhat limited and the players who use it should be free to choose the fighting style they want without limiting their effectiveness

Then you should allow the gish to use his weapon as an arcane focus.
 

Kithas

First Post
I dont really see it as an issue because quite a few of the spells you wont to cast dont require materials anyway. The ones that do it's worth tho cost to cast, it makes that choice more interesting and it even makes weaponless gistes an interjsting option. That said even if you are allowing your eldritch knights to use focuses and you allow their weapon to count as one they still cannot cast several important spells because they are v.s. and no m. They still kinda need warcaster. That's not a bad thing. Im really not sure why most gish builds that even I make I dont want to take warcaster because it feels like I have to, but if I'm making say a xbow user I have no problem with xbow expert. :/
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
I should note that upon further thought, the 2 weapon style comment I made was wrong. All the Gish has to do is carry 2-3 spare "off hand weapons" and discard them if needed to get a free hand. At the end of the fight, pick them up again. If for some reason the party has to flee the fight, well he lost 2-3 short sword or hand axe or whatever, no big deal.

Still doesn't work with the weapon and shield style though :/
 

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