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The text of the Clairvoyance spell says:

When you cast the spell, you choose seeing or hearing. You can use the chosen sense through the sensor as if you were in its space. As your action, you can switch between seeing and hearing.

However, the material component is:

a focus worth at least 100 gp, either a jeweled horn for hearing or a glass eye for seeing

Baesd on this, logically, if I only had the glass eye, I would not be able to choose hearing when I cast the spell, nor would I be able to switch to hearing as an action after the initial casting. However, the spell's text doesn't explicitly mention any such limitation, especially for the "switch as an action" feature. So what would be the correct ruling? Is this limitation implied by the description of the material components?

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Yes

The RAW seems pretty clear-cut. You need a jewelled horn for hearing and a glass eye for seeing.

But this is a minor matter. Ask your DM if you can get a combined focus to avoid the need to swap foci. This could be a jewelled horn with an inset glass eye, for example. It would cost 200gp if you have a strict by-the-books DM (though I really cannot see a glass eye costing as much as a jewelled horn, so a more lenient DM may be willing to give you a cheaper cost).

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    \$\begingroup\$ I think you're exaggerating DM benevolence. The spell indicates that you need 'a focus worth at least 100g' and gives you two separate focus choices, depending on use. This implies that each focus must be worth 100g. These costs were intended to be a 'buy-in' cost to the spell, not trivialized. Typically foci are considered to be more decorated than just a glass eye or exceptionally well-made to accommodate the price indicated. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ifusaso
    Feb 28, 2018 at 17:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Ifusaso Edited to account for this. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tenryu
    Mar 1, 2018 at 0:44
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The rule is vague on that, and surprisingly, there is no clarification (that I can find).

In that case, the go-to is the RAW interpretation that you come to, so it could go either way. You could use your action to change the focus of the spell (from the eye to the horn), or simply use the same focus to switch the sensory effect of the spell, using the same focus (from seeing to hearing).

Obviously though, the choice between those two options isn't much of a competition.

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Earlier editions had two separate spells - one used a 100 gp silver horn (consumed) and one used a pineal gland, not consumed, and no cost given (pineal gland, also called "the third eye" by some).

Of course, it will be up to your DM.

Honestly, having one spell instead of two, and components that are not consumed, is a step up, so if you need both components and have to pay (once) 200 gp, you're still doing better in 5e than earlier editions. However, you have the option to pay for just one component if you're happy with using just one function and sticking to it. But if you want to freely change between seeing and hearing, you'll need both components, IMO.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm not quite sure how this discussion about earlier editions is helpful here. Can you clarify and connect it to why it's applicable to answer this for 5e? \$\endgroup\$
    – NautArch
    Nov 6, 2019 at 20:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ It often helps track intent and might provide insight since what came before was the basis for what is now. Also, it might seem more reasonable to have to buy both foci to make both functions work knowing the one spell was two spells before. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 7, 2019 at 21:13

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