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I'm planning on building a Gish for the next game I play in, and I was wondering how to best plan the build. I want power attack so I can do damage in combat, and I want to wield the weapon two-handed to get the most out of it. However, I need a free hand to cast spells.

The plan is to get a Scimitar (love the crit) and wield it in battle. One round, cast a spell (Glitterdust! you're now blind and I shall hit you!), and next, move up and smack him hard across the face with the sword. Again, I just need clarification on how/when I'm able to switch from holding the sword one-handed (so I can cast) to holding it two-handed (so I can kick $%%), so if crazy things like opportunity attack come into play, or immediate/swift spells, I know how to maximize my power attack.

I am looking for RAW (Rules as Written).

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You ask a great question in your title but your question body totally loses sight of it. Try to focus more tightly on the single question at hand. –  dlras2 Dec 3 '12 at 7:18
Welcome to the site! You might want to focus on a specific, answerable question instead of a discussion. Agreed with Dan Rasmussen. Also, check out the FAQ rpg.stackexchange.com/faq here for what to ask and not to ask. –  LitheOhm Dec 3 '12 at 7:48
Thanks for the Bolding to clarify my exact question, and for adding the "looking for RAW" statement, which is EXACTLY what I am looking for! Also, thanks for the welcome! –  twicetested Dec 3 '12 at 20:37
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3 Answers

up vote 13 down vote accepted

Well, looking at the description of a Not Action from the rules, under combat;

Not an Action: Some activities are so minor that they are not even considered free actions. They literally don't take any time at all to do and are considered an inherent part of doing something else, such as nocking an arrow as part of an attack with a bow.

I would think that it would fall in this category, so it shouldn't be an issue at all. That said, you should probably ask your DM. Different people see it as a different action, and the difference between a No Action and a Swift Action can really kill you, especially if you plan on using Quickened spells, or using the Arcane Armor training feats.

I once played an Eldritch Knight (six levels wizard, one levels fighter, three levels EK) who two-hand wielded an Elven Curve blade. The DM in that campaign said that while I could simply hold the two handed weapon in one hand to cast, switching between 'holding' and 'wielding' would be a swift action. So, I ended up needing to break everything into two turns: one to cast, one to attack. This limited me, since I couldn't do both in the same round, but I was able to work around it. My character was actually a transmutation specialist anyway, so I generally cast all my spells before combat, but before long I found that the Still Spell metamagic feat was quickly becoming my best friend.

EDIT: I found a ruling from James Jacobs, the creative director, on a similar issue: It's for two hand weapons, but I think it would apply.

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It is a free action:


Two-Handed Weapons: What kind of action is it to remove your hand from a two-handed weapon or re-grab it with both hands?

Both are free actions. For example, a wizard wielding a quarterstaff can let go of the weapon with one hand as a free action, cast a spell as a standard action, and grasp the weapon again with that hand as a free action; this means the wizard is still able to make attacks of opportunity with the weapon (which requires using two hands).

As with any free action, the GM may decide a reasonable limit to how many times per round you can release and re-grasp the weapon (one release and re-grasp per round is fair).

—Pathfinder Design Team, 03/01/13

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Changing a weapon's grip is a move action, but a character can combine it as part of a move action (for free) if they have at least +1 base attack bonus. The quickdraw feat can make this a free action


3.5 (which Pathfinder is based on) has a non-standard feat that allows the changing of weapons from hand to hand as a free action. This immediately implies that doing so, therefore, is not.

Furthermore; in the 3.5 wiki there is the following line (emphasis mine)

Drawing a weapon so that you can use it in combat, or putting it away so that you have a free hand, requires a move action.

So, if you are moving a two handed weapon (such as a bastard sword) from a two handed to a single handed grip then this is a move action.

And, by extension, the opposite - changing a weapon from a single to two handed grip is also a move action.

But the quickdraw feat allows you to make this a free action.

Benefit: You can draw a weapon as a free action instead of as a move action. You can draw a hidden weapon (see the Sleight of Hand skill) as a move action.

Note: There is a considerable amount of debate about this on the Pazio forum here where I have determined most of this.

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Both of those feats are for changing from one weapon to another, specifically. The OP isn't putting the weapon away, he's letting go with one hand. If anything, this would be similar to dropping a held item, which is a free action. –  Zach Dec 3 '12 at 10:34
The feat is also for "shifting them from hand to hand". Dropping a weapon really just involves opening your hand, changing a weapon grip involves getting your hand back into grip to wield the thing correctly, which takes a little more effort. (imo) –  Rob Dec 3 '12 at 10:43
The feat is for multiple weapons/items, this discussion is about one. Letting go of a weapon with one hand just involves opening your hand. I could potentially agree with you on the other point, but at best it would be a swift action instead of a free action, and only when re-gripping the weapon (which I could only see being an issue for something like a rapier, which has a hand guard). That, of course, would be up to your DM, and whether or not he thinks someone trained to use a sword would have difficulty gripping one correctly. –  Zach Dec 3 '12 at 10:49
I'm playing devil's advocate here as much as possible I happily concede the point, I want this answer here marked incorrect as a counterpoint to yours. :) –  Rob Dec 3 '12 at 11:02
Must agree with @Zach here. Wearing my fencer hat for a moment: Not only is it extremely quick and easy to change grip on a two-handed weapon, it's routine. There are a few basic moves with a longsword that require you to let go with one hand for a couple of seconds, for example. This is even more true with polearms. –  Tynam Dec 3 '12 at 22:06
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