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The Raven Queen Warlock in my group got a Sentinel Raven, as per the Lvl1 Class Feature. This raven is now attuned to a magic ring and wields a magic wand. The wand is not that big of a problem, but the ring allows the raven to cast Earthen Grasp and Wall of Stone, amongst others. (Both are homebrew items.) This has led so far to some pretty awesome moments, but also to problems. That's because this Sentinel Raven cannot be targeted by harmful effects or spells and can't take damage while perched on the warlock's shoulder.

While perched on your shoulder, the raven can’t be targeted by any attack or other harmful effect; only you can cast spells on it; it can’t take damage; and it is incapacitated.

So it just flies off the shoulder, does some magic, then lands back on the shoulder in the same turn. This makes it (virtually) impossible for me as the GM to break concentration on spells like Earthen Grasp. That's really annoying sometimes and it makes balancing encounters rather difficult.

Previous answers seem to agree that familiars can indeed attune to and use magic items (Can a familiar attune and wear or use a magic item?). Plus, the magic items in question can be used by a spirit that assumes the form of a raven, as they don't have any constraints that would restrict their usage and the spells cast from them do not require any components.

Is this an intended feature of the Sentinel Raven? Am I overlooking something? How can I solve this problem in the game and/or at the table?

The warlock player really likes the raven and is a huge fan of the versatile magic it can do now with the magic items he gave it. I don't want to punish anyone, just find out if this is legit and what to do if it is not.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Note that the Sentinel Raven is not a familiar, so you may want to be careful when applying rules for familiars to it. That's not to say that the linked answer is irrelevant or incorrect - the logic there does seem applicable to the Sentinel Raven as well - just that, in general, rules for familiars don't necessarily apply to the Sentinel Raven. \$\endgroup\$ – 8bittree Jun 20 '18 at 20:21
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Yes, you are missing something; an incapacitated creature cannot maintain concentration:

Being incapacitated or killed. You lose concentration on a spell if you are incapacitated or if you die. (PHB 203)

Once the Raven lands on the Warlock's shoulder, Earthen Grasp ends as it becomes incapacitated.

While perched on your shoulder, the raven can’t be targeted by any attack or other harmful effect; only you can cast spells on it; it can’t take damage; and it is incapacitated.


The conversation with the Warlock player

Hey Bob, I previously allowed your Raven familiar cast Earthen Grasp the way it does with the magic items. It was fun for some time but I found it was too strong an interaction. So I dug around to see if I ruled correctly, and it turns out your raven cannot keep concentration while on your shoulder. It can still fly around while concentrating but it can now take damage.


Obligatory warning about UA. Unearthed Arcana is playtest material, just as the UA content requires a DM's nod, it also requires the DM to balance the content in their game when they see something too powerful, so you are well within your power to disallow any weird interactions with UA. You might even want to send feedback to WotC about it.

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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 for feedback to WoTC. The concentration vs incapacitated thing could easily be highlighted in the text for future revisions, if being able to cast is even balanced at all. \$\endgroup\$ – SeriousBri Apr 23 '18 at 9:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ You should probably add-in that the ability to have the Raven is still very powerful, since it means that enemies have to choose to target the Raven if they want to break Concentration, and not the player. Of course, this isn't nearly as bad as a Raven flying around with a Wand of Fireballs or a Wand of Magic Missiles. That would be insane. \$\endgroup\$ – SeraphsWrath Apr 23 '18 at 14:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SeraphsWrath That would be the D&D equivalent of a Reaper Drone... \$\endgroup\$ – Joe Bloggs Apr 23 '18 at 15:20
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daze413's answer covers the raven side of your question well, but there's another issue that needs to be touched upon: the homebrew magic items.

Most magic items that grant the ability to cast powerful offensive spells require attunement by a spellcaster. This prevents abuse by limiting powerful spells to the few characters that are already capable of casting them; it'd be difficult to balance encounters if every single player (and their pets, mounts, and NPC hirelings) could cast high level wizard spells just by getting their hands on the right magic items.

You should consider limiting who can attune to your homebrew ring and any future homebrew items you design that provide spellcasting.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The homebrew magic item is NOT the problem. The actual problem was adressed by daze413. If the homebrew magic item were the problem, I would have mentioned the exact details of the item. Answers like this are the reason why I at first didn't mention that the item was homebrew. That's why I posted on Meta. \$\endgroup\$ – hohenheim Apr 24 '18 at 7:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ Sorry, but I disagree. Without a magic item that lets a non-spellcaster cast a concentration spell you wouldn't be asking this question, so it obviously contributes. If you dislike my answer, feel free to downvote it and move on. \$\endgroup\$ – Doval Apr 24 '18 at 13:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ Look up the "Wand of Magic Detection" in the DMG. It's a magic item a non-spellcaster can use to cast a concentration spell. So yeah, it doesn't matter if the magic item is homebrew in this case, because there is an official item, that would lead to the exact same question. It's not that I don't like your answer. I just think it's an answer to a question nobody asked. \$\endgroup\$ – hohenheim Apr 24 '18 at 13:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ @hohenheim The fact that the item is homebrew is highly relevant. Homebrewers frequently do not take balance and existing precedents into account. The fact that you're citing the "Wand of Magic Detection" actually reinforces it - Detect Magic is not nearly so powerful as the spells your homebrew item allows, so the comparison is not valid. \$\endgroup\$ – T.J.L. Apr 24 '18 at 14:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ If I had wanted to ask a question about balancing magic items, I would have done so. This isn't about magic items, as balance and existing precedents were taken into account by the person who created the magic item. I did not suggest that Detect Magic is as impactful as, for example, Earthen Grasp or Wall of Stone. I gave an example for a magic item that let's a non-caster cast a concentration spell, because doval was under the impression that such magic item can only be homebrewed. \$\endgroup\$ – hohenheim Apr 25 '18 at 6:57
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Use Ready action to initiate when "the raven begins to cast a spell" or "when the raven takes flight" and let the bad guys pound on it prior to / during spell casting. With the game stats of a raven, it likely won't last long.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This is a good idea from the viewpoint of an enemy, because it deprives the group of that additional edge. This is not a good idea from DM's viewpoint because instead of dealing with actual cause (misunderstanding of the rules) it just deprives the player of something that is "too fun". \$\endgroup\$ – Daerdemandt Apr 24 '18 at 15:47

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