I am building a spellcasting character using the Spheres of Power rules and one of the casting drawbacks I have taken is focused casting.

Focused Casting

Your magic requires you to use an item such as a wand, holy symbol, ring, or staff to create magic. Using magic without your focus requires you to make a concentration check (DC 20 + 1/2 the caster level) to produce the desired effect. Failure means time (and any spell points) are spent, but no effect happens. If a focus is lost, stolen, or broken, the caster must create a new focus by securing the necessary item and spending 8 hours bonding with it. At the GM’s discretion, however, another caster’s focus may be used instead.

Using a focus is unclear, even under normal rules. I have always played that the focus must be presented in order to work. Now after looking closely I see no such requirement. Only that it must part of the casting. I'm not sure if just thinking about the one you own and are carrying, or just touching it is allowed.

Can anyone clear up if a focus needs to be brandished under SoP rules or what the requirements would be?


3 Answers 3


A very similar situation to this I can think of is the Arcane Bond for a Wizard;

Wizards who select a bonded object begin play with one at no cost. Objects that are the subject of an arcane bond must fall into one of the following categories: amulet, ring, staff, wand, or weapon. These objects are always masterwork quality. Weapons acquired at 1st level are not made of any special material. If the object is an amulet or ring, it must be worn to have effect, while staves, wands, and weapons must be held in one hand. If a wizard attempts to cast a spell without his bonded object worn or in hand, he must make a concentration check or lose the spell. The DC for this check is equal to 20 + the spell’s level. If the object is a ring or amulet, it occupies the ring or neck slot accordingly.

This looks very similar to focused items to me.

In the absence of any clarity elsewhere and especially because of this key part of the wording:

Your magic requires you to use an item such as a wand, holy symbol, ring, or staff to create magic.

To my mind having a ring stuffed at the bottom of a backpack isn't "using it" and it is certainly how I'd rule it; the item would have to be in it's appropriate slot or held and waved, etc.


Focus is a term defined on the Magic chapter, and must be manipulated for the spell to work. Under Components:

Focus (F)

A focus component is a prop of some sort. Unlike a material component, a focus is not consumed when the spell is cast and can be reused. As with material components, the cost for a focus is negligible unless a price is given. Assume that focus components of negligible cost are in your spell component pouch.

Under Casting Spells:

To cast a spell, you must be able to speak (if the spell has a verbal component), gesture (if it has a somatic component), and manipulate the material components or focus (if any). Additionally, you must concentrate to cast a spell.

There is no clear definition of manipulating under the rules, so we have to use common sense (and a dictionary) and see how the rest of the game plays about this. This answer suggests that you need a free hand to be able to manipulate components and material focus.

Unless the GM can be convinced that the PC can manipulate the material or focus components with his mouth, the PC'll likely need an empty hand to manipulate any of the spell's material or focus components.

  • \$\begingroup\$ So do I just need to touch it. Do I need to see it just for myself or would I have to make it visible? \$\endgroup\$
    – Fering
    Dec 5, 2017 at 15:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you looking for the definition of manipulate under the rules? You will not find it. But from dictionary.com: to handle, manage, or use, especially with skill, in some process of treatment or performance . Doesn`t sound like touching and manipulating are synonyms. \$\endgroup\$
    – ShadowKras
    Dec 5, 2017 at 15:51

This is not an official answer, but in the more lenient games that I have played in which a player had the Focus Casting drawback, the focus in question had to be easily accessible (you have to be able to touch it). So while having your focus be in a bag (even a haversack) wouldn't work, but hanging it on your belt or holding it in your hand would.

In the more strict games that I played in which a player had the Focus Casting drawback, the focus in question had to be in-hand to use it.

  • \$\begingroup\$ My DM is considering having me wear the remains of some shackles, and I really dont want to advertise that which is what started me looking into this \$\endgroup\$
    – Fering
    Dec 4, 2017 at 16:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ Get some big wizardy robed sleeves to cover the wrists and then rebond to something else asap! \$\endgroup\$
    – Rob
    Dec 5, 2017 at 10:22

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