How would it unbalance gameplay to remove the limitation “requires a free hand to load” for hand crossbows?

Crossbow Expert: hand crossbow & shield

I’m working on stats for royal guards of a homebrew capital – using Guard Captain as template. I gave them a hand crossbow and the Crossbow Expert feat, thinking it would allow them to wield a shield in one hand and a hand crossbow in the other.

Crossbow Expert mentions on PHB p. 165:

You ignore the loading quality of crossbows with which you are proficient.

• Being within 5 feet of a hostile creature doesn’t impose disadvantage on your ranged attack rolls.

• When you use the Attack action and attack with a one-handed weapon, you can use a bonus action to attack with a hand crossbow you are holding.

At first I thought that would be enough to be wearing a shield while attacking with a hand crossbow, but the Loading property actually says:

Because of the time required to load this weapon, you can fire only one piece of ammunition from it when you use an action, bonus action, or reaction to fire it, regardless of the number of attacks you can normally make.

So “loading” refers to loading speed, and the feat makes you faster. It’s the Ammunition property that, by RAW (PHB p. 146), doesn’t allow wielding a shield while attacking with, and reloading, a hand crossbow:

[…] Drawing the ammunition from a quiver, case, or other container is part of the attack (you need a free hand to load a one-handed weapon). […]


  • Extra Attack, Crossbow Expert, and hand crossbow: 4 shots per turn?
  • How do you load a hand crossbow?
  • How do you load a crossbow?


How would it unbalance gameplay to remove the limitation “requires a free hand to load” for hand crossbows? Thematically, it makes sense, because in my setting this city is rich enough to have such fancy technology as “semi-automatic” hand crossbows (however that would work). Since my world setting allows it, it would be only fair if it’s also an option for the PCs – if they happen to acquire such a weapon and/or training. I’m mostly interested in the shield & hand crossbow combination, but if I’m overlooking other potential exploits that would unbalance gameplay please inform me.

I’m fine with allowing it for NPCs (for my guards) because I can just calculate the new CR, based on increased DPR and AC. As DM I have enough control to keep that balanced at the table. When allowing it for PCs as well though, I’m not sure which unbalanced exploits I might be overlooking. A good answer includes an analysis of mechanical costs and benefits for PCs when removing the limitation “requires a free hand to load”.

To remove this limitation, I’m thinking of three possible ways:

  1. Tweaking the Ammunition property of hand crossbows specifically.
  2. Adding a feature to the Crossbow Expert feat.
  3. Solve it through magic by making the fancy crossbows of the royal guard uncommon magical weapons that can be reloaded without having a free hand.

An amazing answer includes a game balance analysis on these possible solution as well.

Can one use the Bigby’s Hand spell as part of the War Caster reaction opportunity attack?

My friend and I are having a debate about this. The war caster feat says:

The spell must have a casting time of 1 action and must target only that creature.

I believe this is to eliminate AoE spells. Can I use my reaction to cast Bigby’s Hand with the War Caster feat?

My friend’s argument is that the spell itself summons the hand, which you can then use one of its effects, and these effects don’t necessarily target a creature (example, interposing hand just provides half cover). My argument is that, since as part of the casting you can choose an effect and certain effects only target one creature, that you’d be allowed to use one of those effects only.

Also, if it’s already cast, using one of Bigby’s hands’ effects is only a bonus action, whereas the War Caster feat says that you can cast a spell with the casting time of one action. Technically, the spell does have the casting time of one action, but it’s already been cast, and the attack would only be a bonus action. Would one of the effects of Bigby’s Hand be allowed on the War Caster’s opportunity attack if it were already cast?

What are the advantages to fighting with a 1-handed weapon and a free hand?

So, in a melee combat situation in D&D 5E, I am to understand that there are 4 options as to the variants of weapon-wielding a person can use.

  1. Two-handed. A character wields a single, usually heavy/two-handed/versatile weapon with two hands. The advantage of this is increased damage per hit.
  2. Dual-wielding. By default (ie. no feats), a character can wield a light weapon in one hand, whilst wielding another light weapon in their offhand. They can use their bonus action to attack using the aforementioned offhand, without applying their ability modifier to the damage.
  3. One-handed with a shield. Easy to understand – foregoing damage for a shield to give a +2 bonus to AC. Moreso if the shield is magical, etc etc.
  4. One-handed. Here is where my question lies.

Now, as far as I can see, every option has a strength that makes it more attractive than the others for various reasons. All except #4: one-handed. Two-handed allows more damage, dual-wielding allows more damage/versatility, shield allows extra AC, but what does plain old one-handed give?

What I have found so far: classes like ranger can give a +2 damage bonus if you pick the dueling fighting style. You also have the freedom of a free hand during the fight (for grappling, though a two-handed fighter can reasonably take one hand off their weapon to grapple), as well as the ability to use your bonus action for something other than attacking with your offhand. Still, this feels weak.

So, what is there that one-handed fighting offers that other styles do not?

how can i gain access to texts if i dont have the phone in hand

So let’s just say I dont trust my husband, and I want to access his calls and texts on my computer. I dont have his phone right this second, but I am the account holder for both phones and they are linked by gmail and yahoo accounts. Is there a way I can remotely gain access to these?

I have tried calling my cell carrier, I have tried different applications, not sure what else to do.

Does War Caster allow you to cast the Shield spell with a rod in one hand and a wand in the other?

By default, you must have a completely free hand to cast a spell that has somatic components but does not have material components. That free hand may not even be holding a spellcasting focus.

A common way to avoid this problem is to take the War Caster feat (PHB, p. 170). The second bullet of the feat reads (emphasis mine):

  • You can perform the somatic components of spells even when you have weapons or a shield in one or both hands.

This will allow you to, say, cast shield (which requires only somatic components) while wielding a longsword in one hand and a shield in the other.

Using the War Caster feat, could a Hexblade warlock still cast shield if they were holding a +1 rod of the pact keeper in one hand and a wand of lightning bolts in the other? Does the answer change if you use the rod as an improvised weapon? Can a forest gnome wizard with War Caster and a wand in one hand really cast more spells by holding the barbarian’s greataxe in the other hand rather than another wand?

Under seat hand luggage storage width on Boeing 737-800

I’m planning a flight on a Boeing 737-800 and need to consider the width of the under seat space for hand luggage (and this is for a specific reason so no answers/comments about over head bins please). This is for an American Airlines flight but it is probably the same for any airline flying a 3+3 configuration on that plane.

Specifically what I am interested in is if a window seat, the middle seat and the aisle seat have the same width for hand luggage under the seat in front.

My gut feeling says that that side of the plane curls in a bit at floor level for the window seat, but I don’t know if this curling continues under the seat in front. I also have a feeling that the aisle seat has a narrower under seat width, but as I rarely fly in an aisle seat I can’t clearly picture it.

How seriously should I take size and weight limits of hand luggage?

I’ll soon do my first intercontinental flight. Due to price, I decided to travel with hand luggage only. There are specified weight and size limits, of course – in my case it’s 7kg and 53x38x20cm on a WestJet flight from London (LGW) to Calgary (YYC).

As these limits are quite restricting for me, I want to at least fully utilize them. So from this angle, how seriously should I take these values?

  1. Weight: Weighing is easy and quick so I suppose they will do it every time? How much “overweight” would be tolerable as a rule of thumb, if any?

  2. Size: This seems a bit more complicated to me. If I give them a perfectly cuboid-shaped cardboard box, the surely can measure it without trouble, but what about a object with the irregular shape and elasticity of an overstuffed backbag? How do they determine if it’s small enough? Do they have something like a 53x38x20cm sized box, and if the bag can be squeezed in it’s fine?

Can a Bladesinger Wizard use Bladesong with a Hand Crossbow?

I am asking for research to determine many class options and how I want to build a potential character. This concept has interested me for a while and I’d like to know. However, I could not help but notice that it doesn’t say anything about it. As worded here:

Bladesong Starting at 2nd level, you can invoke a secret elven magic called the Bladesong, provided that you aren’t wearing medium or heavy armor or using a shield. It graces you with supernatural speed, agility, and focus. You can use a bonus action to start the Bladesong, which lasts for 1 minute. It ends early if you are incapacitated, if you don medium or heavy armor or a shield, or if you use two hands to make an attack with a weapon. You can also dismiss the Bladesong at any time you choose (no action required).

This would mean that it isn’t exactly limited to melee weapons, but also certain ranged weapons such as the hand crossbow, the dart, and the sling. But, a problem I could not help but notice was that this ability is a bit hindering.

Song of Victory Starting at 14th level, you add your Intelligence modifier (minimum of +1) to the damage of your melee weapon attacks while you r Bladesong is active.

Thus, would it be viable for one to just use a hand crossbow, or would it be better to take thrown melee weapons?

Can I touch something with a hand that is holding a shield?

This question might seem kind of stupid (and it might be), but let me explain. In real life, a shield isn’t specifically held, but rather strapped to someone’s arm, and although it renders the arm (and with it the hand) of the wielder mostly useless, but you could still touch something with it, hence my question. Can you touch something with a hand that is holding a shield?

To hopefully clarify this a bit, lets say we have a Paladin, his name is Brian. Brian is holding a Shield and a Longsword, and he wants to use lay on hands on his buddy Bob the Fighter. However, Lay on Hands requires Brian to touch Bob, but Brian doesn’t want to have to put either his sword or his shield away (for any of various reasons, but let’s ignore that), would Brian be able to touch Bob with his shield-hand?

Do you need a free hand to present your holy symbol?

When channeling energy, it says that you must present your holy symbol. But does this take a free hand? Do I have to put down a weapon/shield if both hands are holding something?

A cleric must be able to present her holy symbol to use this ability.

This was prompted by a question in the body of this answer.

Does “present” mean the use of a free hand?