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D&D 5E Spell focus needs an errated rule

If it is a focus based ability it only works on spells with a material component. This makes sense for the Bard even if there are no healing spells with a material component on the Bard list because all spells in the game are eventually available to Bards. Some abilities are more limited than others. If this ability was meant to override how spell focuses normally work it should say so. I won't be shocked if it is errataed to say so, but I don't think one can read the intent for it to work as such into the rules.

Play it as you like at your table. I don't find it a terribly compelling ability either way because direct damage dealing and healing are both rather secondary parts of the Bard's repertoire and it's only a 1d6 difference even when it does apply.
 

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pukunui

Legend
That is what started this stuff. Not some obsessive philosophy focus on semantics. It was WOTC stating that as a rules clarification. And a lot of people wondering why, since it doesn't seem to make a lot of logical sense. Which causes a lot of people to wonder if this is similarly an odd rule which runs contrary to what we think would be logical with the focus rules.
The way I make sense of it is to imagine that spells with somatic components but not material components require more intricate hand / finger movements than spells with both components (where you might just have to hold the material component and wave it around in the air without necessarily having to wiggle your fingers or whatever).
 

Leatherhead

Possibly a Idiot.
In case people were still wondering if this is even a thing: We know for a fact you aren't supposed to be able to use a focus on spells that don't require them, because of a Sage Advice clarification.

Sage Advice Compendium 2.6 Nov. 2020 said:
What’s the amount of interaction needed to use a spellcasting focus? Does it have to be included in the somatic component? If a spell has a material component, you need to handle that component when you cast the spell (PH, 203). The same rule applies if you’re using a spellcasting focus as the material component.

If a spell has a somatic component, you can use the hand that performs the somatic component to also handle the material component. For example, a wizard who uses an orb as a spellcasting focus could hold a quarterstaff in one hand and the orb in the other, and he could cast lightning bolt by using the orb as the spell’s material component and the orb hand to perform the spell’s somatic component.

Another example: a cleric’s holy symbol is emblazoned on her shield. She likes to wade into melee combat with a mace in one hand and a shield in the other. She uses the holy symbol as her spellcasting focus, so she needs to have the shield in hand when she casts a cleric spell that has a material component. If the spell, such as aid, also has a somatic component, she can perform that component with the shield hand and keep holding the mace in the other.

If the same cleric casts cure wounds, she needs to put the mace or the shield away, because that spell doesn’t have a material component but does have a somatic component. She’s going to need a free hand to make the spell’s gestures. If she had the War Caster feat, she could ignore this restriction.

How characters can hold and use things has been one of my personal gripes with the system ever since the ammunition property errata (which was intended to remove dual-wielding hand-crossbows) that made the traditional sling & shield style mechanically impossible.
 

In case people were still wondering if this is even a thing: We know for a fact you aren't supposed to be able to use a focus on spells that don't require them, because of a Sage Advice clarification.

Sage Advice Compendium 2.6 Nov. 2020 said:

What’s the amount of interaction needed to use a spellcasting focus? Does it have to be included in the somatic component? If a spell has a material component, you need to handle that component when you cast the spell (PH, 203). The same rule applies if you’re using a spellcasting focus as the material component.

If a spell has a somatic component, you can use the hand that performs the somatic component to also handle the material component. For example, a wizard who uses an orb as a spellcasting focus could hold a quarterstaff in one hand and the orb in the other, and he could cast lightning bolt by using the orb as the spell’s material component and the orb hand to perform the spell’s somatic component.

Another example: a cleric’s holy symbol is emblazoned on her shield. She likes to wade into melee combat with a mace in one hand and a shield in the other. She uses the holy symbol as her spellcasting focus, so she needs to have the shield in hand when she casts a cleric spell that has a material component. If the spell, such as aid, also has a somatic component, she can perform that component with the shield hand and keep holding the mace in the other.

If the same cleric casts cure wounds, she needs to put the mace or the shield away, because that spell doesn’t have a material component but does have a somatic component. She’s going to need a free hand to make the spell’s gestures. If she had the War Caster feat, she could ignore this restriction.

How characters can hold and use things has been one of my personal gripes with the system ever since the ammunition property errata (which was intended to remove dual-wielding hand-crossbows) that made the traditional sling & shield style mechanically impossible.

Well, I'll be. According to JC's ruling here, it seems the the College of Spirits Bard ability is nearly useless for healing (at AL tables anyway).
Last update to SA Compendium was 11/20 -- did I imagine that they've announced a stoppage to the Compendium updates from here on out or was that a real thing?
 

In case people were still wondering if this is even a thing: We know for a fact you aren't supposed to be able to use a focus on spells that don't require them, because of a Sage Advice clarification.



How characters can hold and use things has been one of my personal gripes with the system ever since the ammunition property errata (which was intended to remove dual-wielding hand-crossbows) that made the traditional sling & shield style mechanically impossible.

They didn't think through spell components at all when they wrote 5e. It's a patchwork of ad-hoc rulings to try and make various things not be broken and ends up being incoherent. And in this case, they didn't even bother to check if any bard healing spells use material components.
 


Azzy

KMF DM
How characters can hold and use things has been one of my personal gripes with the system ever since the ammunition property errata (which was intended to remove dual-wielding hand-crossbows) that made the traditional sling & shield style mechanically impossible.
Agreed, my dude.
 

Agreed, my dude.
It is safe to ignore Sage Advice sometimes.
There are a few rulings that are very restrictive...
... but...
having the more restrictive rulings in place strengthens the DM's position when arguing with a munchkin. It is a lot easier to say: I still allow the sling amd shield style, but dual wielding crossbows is out than doing the opposit.
 

The way I make sense of it is to imagine that spells with somatic components but not material components require more intricate hand / finger movements than spells with both components (where you might just have to hold the material component and wave it around in the air without necessarily having to wiggle your fingers or whatever).
That works until you consider the Warcaster feat, since that specifies that it only works with weapons and shields, not other objects such as wands.

So you need a set of gestures so intricate that you'd need special training to use them with a flail in your hand, but there's no way to learn to do them with a wand.
 

There are no heal spells requiring a focus. But yes, depending on the reading, the usage of those things as focuses could imply that you may use them on ay spells. But I think that needs more clarity. And this would make spellcasting a lot less annoying.
Regeneration requires a focus. Also, a bard can acquire spells from other lists that may work. I don't find an inherent problem with the ability, though I might have made it for all spells and said that if a spell requires a focus or material component, then you must have it. It's limited, but it works.
 

Regeneration requires a focus. Also, a bard can acquire spells from other lists that may work. I don't find an inherent problem with the ability, though I might have made it for all spells and said that if a spell requires a focus or material component, then you must have it. It's limited, but it works.
Sorry. But no.
 

That works until you consider the Warcaster feat, since that specifies that it only works with weapons and shields, not other objects such as wands.

So you need a set of gestures so intricate that you'd need special training to use them with a flail in your hand, but there's no way to learn to do them with a wand.

What they should have done from square one is systematize it:

V = no hands
VS = 1 hand free
VSM = 2 hands free

Then, as you write spells to think about if you want somebody to be able to cast it while wielding a weapon, or carrying a shield, or possibly both. It's really obvious they didn't think about any of this.
 

What they should have done from square one is systematize it:

V = no hands
VS = 1 hand free
VSM = 2 hands free

Then, as you write spells to think about if you want somebody to be able to cast it while wielding a weapon, or carrying a shield, or possibly both. It's really obvious they didn't think about any of this.
I'd go the other route: you need some kind of focus (so you can be disarmed and thrown in jail by non-idiot npcs), but what counts as a focus should be both class-dependent and forgiving.
 

What they should have done from square one is systematize it:

V = no hands
VS = 1 hand free
VSM = 2 hands free

Then, as you write spells to think about if you want somebody to be able to cast it while wielding a weapon, or carrying a shield, or possibly both. It's really obvious they didn't think about any of this.
Warcaster feat enables doing somatic components with a weapon or shield in one hand, or both hands. A focus replaces a material component and takes a hand to hold, so, yes, that would limit it further. If you have a focus in one hand and a shield or weapon in the other, your hands are full so no somatic components. That does limit what you can do unless your focus is on the shield like a cleric or paladin' holy symbol or if your weapon is your spell focus.
 

I think the rule in the PHB should have been something like:

“If a spell requires a hand free to supply a somatic component, a material component, or both, you may instead wield a spellcasting focus in that hand, unless the material component has a listed cost.

If a spell does not require a somatic or material component, but a special spellcasting focus would provide a benefit, you may choose to wield the focus and gain that benefit.”

That’s how most people are doing it anyway.
 

Warcaster feat enables doing somatic components with a weapon or shield in one hand, or both hands. A focus replaces a material component and takes a hand to hold, so, yes, that would limit it further. If you have a focus in one hand and a shield or weapon in the other, your hands are full so no somatic components. That does limit what you can do unless your focus is on the shield like a cleric or paladin' holy symbol or if your weapon is your spell focus.

...which is precisely what I am talking about. The fact that the "holy symbol" casting focus scrambles the hierarchy from

V -> V/S -> V/SM
to
V -> V/S/M -> V/S

is utterly moronic. Not only does it not make any sense whatsoever that it is easier to cast a more complex spell with my hands full, it also means that game designers have no consistent rubric to follow. The most restrictive spells, i.e., the ones you can't cast with your hands full, should be the most powerful. But which are those? The answer, "it depends on what type of casting focus your class uses," is a terrible answer, and when the 5e team realized that's what they had done, they should have realized, "wait, the rule that you can do somatic components if you're wielding a focus is really really stupid."
 

I think the rule in the PHB should have been something like:

“If a spell requires a hand free to supply a somatic component, a material component, or both, you may instead wield a spellcasting focus in that hand, unless the material component has a listed cost.

If a spell does not require a somatic or material component, but a special spellcasting focus would provide a benefit, you may choose to wield the focus and gain that benefit.”

That’s how most people are doing it anyway.

The rule in the PHB should be, "you cannot do somatic components without a free hand." No "unless that hand is wielding a focus." Spells that should be castable with your hands full simply should have the S component, why was this so hard for WotC?

Magic wands and the like:
"If you can use this doodad as a focus, you get a +1 bonus to the save DC of all spells you can cast as that class." Not "using this focus."
 

The rule in the PHB should be, "you cannot do somatic components without a free hand." No "unless that hand is wielding a focus." Spells that should be castable with your hands full simply should have the S component, why was this so hard for WotC?

Magic wands and the like:
"If you can use this doodad as a focus, you get a +1 bonus to the save DC of all spells you can cast as that class." Not "using this focus."
I‘m not actually sure what the pattern is you’re proposing. It sounds like you are saying that you shouldn’t be able to use a focus in your spellcasting hand, so you would need two free hands if you wanted to use a focus.
 

I‘m not actually sure what the pattern is you’re proposing. It sounds like you are saying that you shouldn’t be able to use a focus in your spellcasting hand, so you would need two free hands if you wanted to use a focus.

Correct. V/S/M should be a more restrictive set of conditions than V/S. This would make logical sense, as it orders things by restrictiveness:

V - No hands
V/M - need a focus in one hand
V/S - need one hand free
V/S/M - need one hand free, one hand with focus

This should be the rubric used to balance spells/classes/features etc. Instead, it seems like they realized at the last minute they made it impossible for clerics to cast spells and smack people with most of the spells they wrote, so they hacked in a rule that basically changes it to:

V: No hands
V/S - need one hand free
V/M, V/S/M: Need one free hand unless your casting focus is your shield or weapon and then you can basically do V/S/M and V/M with no hands but not V/S because reasons.

which is stupid.
 

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