I had a player recently come to me about playing an Eldritch Knight character, and they had questions about their ability to cast spells while holding a weapon (or two), and were debating taking the Warcaster feat (PHB, 170) to mitigate specifically those issues. At my table, I try to take the somatic/material component requirements of spells seriously, so I want to make sure I have a grasp of what can or cannot be done when a spellcaster holding weapons tries to cast a spell, or return to attacking after having cast a spell.
One thing I’m especially interested in is the degree to which the character can "comfortably" do the actions listed. "Comfortably" in this context means that the character isn’t taking certain actions which might be technically legal according to the rules of the game, but which might inconvenience them under common circumstances. A common example is a Two Weapon Fighting character who drops a weapon to the ground to grab their spellcasting focus for casting; if they have to move, they risk leaving their weapon behind on the ground, so from my perspective, this wouldn’t qualify as a "comfortable" maneuver.
So, for the following builds, under what conditions is the character able to cast spells, and to what degree does the Warcaster feat improve their ability to do so?
- Holding a one-handed weapon
- Holding two one-handed weapons
- Holding a one-handed weapon and Shield (neither Cleric nor Paladin)
- Holding a one-handed weapon and Shield (Cleric or Paladin)
- I’m separating these two out because Clerics and Paladins both get the ability to affix a Holy Symbol to their shield and therefore use their Shield as they would a Material Component. So I think the answer to this question is necessarily different depending on whether the spellcaster is a paladin or an Eldritch Knight, for example.
- Holding a two-handed weapon
The Guardian model described in the Arcane Armor feature of the Armorer Artificer includes "Thunder Gauntlets":
Each of the armor’s gauntlets counts as a simple melee weapon while you aren’t holding anything in it…
If the Artificer holds tools for a material component of a spell, the description above doesn’t apply. However, if the armor itself is used as the focus (assuming it’s an Infused Item), the Artificer is effectively holding a weapon in each hand.
To deal with this, must the Artificer have taken the Warcaster feat (to allow performing the somatic component of a spell while holding a weapon)? Or can the Thunder Gauntlets be considered "sheathed" when not attacking with them?
(Note: All Artificer spellcasting requires a material component, so performing a somatic-only spell is not an concern.)
We have a player who is playing a Fighter with a level of Warlock, wielding a polearm, and they say they should be able to get the initial opportunity attack from Polearm Master when a foe enters their reach, then if the foe continues to move in they proc the Tunnel Fighter opportunity attack, which the character uses for an eldritch blast with the Repelling Blast invocation, knocking them back 10 feet…and then could hit them with Polearm Master again if they continue to advance.
Is this legal? I know the Polearm Master feat specifies (according to Mearls) that the opportunity attack from it has to be with the same weapon being used when the opportunity attack procs, but there seems to be no such limitation on Tunnel Fighter.
I’m playing a Warlock in 5e and I’m trying to make him a front line fighter/tank because we…don’t have any and our healing sucks. Thus, I’m trying everything I can to avoid being hit altogether. Mirror Image is helping, but I think some feats would really round out the character. One of these would be Medium Armor Prof. The other…Warcaster, because how can I use a shield and my Pact Weapon if it stops me from casting spells, right? So, here’s my question…
If I take Warcaster, that allows me to perform the somatic components with my hands full of weapon and shield. Does it also allow me to benefit from my Arcane Focus? Even though I can’t touch it because I have my hands full? If not, how can I cast spells at all that have material components? You have to pull the component out of your pouch to use the spell if it has a material component. If my hands are full I can’t use EITHER my focus OR my pouch!
Seeing as I’m doing this in Adventures League, I want a really clear answer. I know I have to talk it over with my DM and see if they agree, but I need a good argument. What I’m saying is, I can’t accept a house rule for this cuz it’s sanctioned. I’m really hoping there’s some kind of clarification out there for this. Rules As Intended, either focus or pouch should work if I have that feat, but Rules As Written, there is no provision, so technically, this feat is only useful for a person with their focus in one hand and a shield or weapon in the other…which makes the feat pointless. (at least this part of it)
So my question is this: If I take the warcaster feat which allows me to use my weapon or shield as a spell casting focus. If my weapon or shield is a +1 then when I use it was a spell focus would it act as a +1 wand or rod focus?
In our next campaign I want to play a Hexblade – Vengeance Paladin multiclass.
The campaign will eventually reach the high levels. I want my final level split to be 14 levels in Hexblade and 6 in Paladin. I want to play this, both so that we don’t die all the time, and for story reasons. I can post the backstory later, if that is helpful.
I want my character to be the tank for our group, so I want to use heavy armor, and a shield with a longsword. However, I have noticed, that I can not really cast spells this way. With the holy symbol and improved pact weapon, I can ignore material components eventually, although a bit late for my taste.
What worries me more are the somatic components of spells. Many of the spells I want to use, such as hold person, mirror image and shadow of moil require somatic components.
I want my character to be a half elf, so I want to take elven accuracy at level 4. My next feat would be at level 10. At that point, I can take the warcaster feat. That is very late though.
Is there any way to cast spells with somatic components for me, without using warcaster, or do I have to give up my shield?
How would you build the character?
The general consensus on this site is that the Warcaster feat does not grant the ability to cast spells with material components when wielding two pieces of equipment because the caster needs a free hand to interact with their arcane focus or pouch.
Assuming the spellcaster is using an arcane focus, would there be significant balance ramifications to lifting this limitation?
This would essentially amount to saying that the Warcaster feat grants the spellcaster the dexterity to interact with their arcane focus when wielding two pieces of equipment.
In my experience, I’ve found that material components are functionally equivalent to somatic components in every case except those where GP-equivalent components are consumed. So right now I can’t see any immediate negative effects of lifting this limitation. Am I missing anything?
For additional context, the spellcaster in question is a Warlock in my campaign that’s using a combination of the Warcaster and Polearm Master feats while wielding a shield and spear.
Additionally, my group tends to be very flexible and lax with components, typically treating them as little more than “flavored” somatic components, except in the case where the components are consumed.
Many of the spells that an Eldritch Knight can cast have a somatic component. If I am playing as an Eldritch Knight with a two-handed sword or weapon/shield combo, would I require the Warcaster feat?
The way I see it is that the Warcaster feat’s intention was to allow those with two-handed weapons, dual wielding or sword/shield setup to cast spells, meaning that by default, Eldritch Knights shouldn’t be able to cast spells with somatic components without the feat.
Assume that I’m a wizard, with both
Polearm Master feat:
While you are wielding a glaive, halberd, pike, quarterstaff or spear, other creatures provoke an opportunity attack from you when they enter the reach you have with that weapon.
and War Caster feat:
When a hostile creature’s movement provokes an opportunity attack from you, you can use your reaction to cast a spell at the creature, rather than making an opportunity attack. The spell must have a casting time of 1 action and must target only that creature.
and I’m holding a staff of power (It’s basically a quarterstaff).
Can I use a 1 action spell, as a reaction when a creature enters my quarterstaff reach, that targets only that creature?