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The PHB (pg. 151) states that a Cleric may use a shield with a holy symbol as a spellcasting focus:

A cleric or paladin can use a holy symbol as a spellcasting focus, as described in chapter 10. To use the symbol in this way, the caster must hold it in hand, wear it visibly, or bear it on a shield.

And a Warlock may use an arcane focus in the form of a staff. This staff can be treated as a quarterstaff based on what I've gathered, and even applying the description of an improvised weapon, one could deduce that this could double as a quarterstaff for melee attacks.

In many cases, an improvised weapon is similar to an actual weapon and can be treated as such. For example, a table leg is akin to a club. At the DM’s option, a character proficient with a weapon can use a similar object as if it w ere that weapon and use his or her proficiency bonus.

In combination with this prior question and it's answer: Can the arcane/druidic focus staff double as quarterstaff?

Now, could said multiclasser wield a holy symbol shield in one hand, and an arcane focus staff in the other and still be allowed to attack with said staff, and cast spells with both foci without taking up the Warcaster feat? I haven't found any RAW stating that this would NOT be possible, but I'm curious to see if anyone else has.

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Can a shield with the caster's holy symbol emblazoned upon it be used to cast a divine spell while holding a weapon in the other hand?

Sage Advice

The intent is that the shield hand can be used for a somatic component if the holy shield is used to cast the spell.

Sage Advice

I'd say yes if the holy symbol is being used as the material component of the spell, so yes if "S, M," but no if only "S."

Yes you can cast if the spell requires both a somatic and a material component, as you use the shield both as the material component (a focus) and to perform the somatic component, i.e. you can wave your shield around to cast the spell.

No if the spell requires a somatic component but not a material component, you can't as you do not have a free hand to perform the gestures required, i.e. you can't wave your shield around to cast the spell.

No you can't if the value of the material components means you can't use a focus to cast the spell, i.e. you can't wave your shield around to cast the spell.

This will apply generally when any kind of focus for the spell type is held in one hand and a weapon (or anything else not allowing spell casting) in the other, not just the emblazoned shield used in this case.

Quick summary of this:

----------------------------------------------------
| Components required | Can cast with focus in one |
|                     | hand and weapon in other?  |
----------------------------------------------------
| S, M                |             yes            |
----------------------------------------------------
| S, M (have a cost)  |             no             |
----------------------------------------------------
| S                   |             no             |
----------------------------------------------------

The Warcaster feat (PHB p.170) makes this all go away.

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Yes, but you need Warcaster if you use a spell with a (S) component (explained below)

Most spells require you to use Somatic (S) components: (PHB 203)

Somatic(S) Spellcasting gestures might include a forceful gesticulation or an intricate set of gestures. If a spell requires a somatic component, the caster must have free use of at least one hand to perform these gestures.

If you have a shield in 1 hand, and a staff in the other hand: you don't have any free hands.

The Warcaster feat specifically states the following: (PHB 170)

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

According to Sage advice, it is situational allowed:

I'd say yes if the holy symbol is being used as the material component of the spell, so yes if "S, M," but no if only "S."


Yes:

If the spell has a material (M) component in it like (S,M), the holy symbol or spellcasting focus can be used.

No, only with Warcaster:

If the spell has Somatic and a material cost ("S,M worth xxx") or uses only Somatic (S), the Warcaster feat is needed.

Of course, the DM may just allow it as well.


Side note: yes, it is possible to use a staff as a melee weapon.

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