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I'm designing a monk/warlock character and am wondering how the Kensei's Shot ability interacts with spell attacks:

Kensei’s Shot. You can use a bonus action on your turn to make your ranged attacks with a kensei weapon more deadly. When you do so, any target you hit with a ranged attack using a kensei weapon takes an extra 1d4 damage of the weapon’s type. You retain this benefit until the end of the current turn.

If my kensei weapon is my spellcasting focus, does a spell that includes a ranged spell attack count as "a ranged attack using a kensei weapon"?

In that case do I just deal 1d4 damage of the weapon's type with the spell?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ @daze413 spells that require ranged attacks (ones that make ranged spell attacks) \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron Apr 25 '18 at 0:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ You have not identified what kensei weapon you are using. This question suffers for that, since you do specify ranged attack. Please explain how your weapon becomes your spellcasting focus. There is a magic item in XGTE that does that, but you fail to specify that. Is that what you are using, or are you using another game feature? \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Apr 25 '18 at 1:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast that method would work, or the invocation Improved Pact Weapon, or a Fighter multiclass (the method shouldn't make a difference, nor should which kensei weapon) \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron Apr 25 '18 at 2:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ Is this a theory-crafting question, or an actual issue that has come up at the table? \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Apr 25 '18 at 2:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast As my question states: "I'm designing a monk/warlock character." I'm deciding on what archetypes to use \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron Apr 25 '18 at 2:32
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No. It only affects weapon attacks.

I assume you're using the Improved Pact Weapon invocation from Xanathar's Guide to Everything to use your pact weapon as your spellcasting focus, and also choosing that type of weapon as a kensei weapon for the Path of the Kensei feature.

The description of Improved Pact Weapon:

You can use any weapon you summon with your Pact of the Blade feature as a spellcasting focus for your warlock spells. In addition, the weapon gains a +1 bonus to its attack and damage rolls, unless it is a magic weapon that already has a bonus to those rolls. Finally, the weapon you conjure can be a shortbow, longbow, light crossbow, or heavy crossbow.

However, Jeremy Crawford has stated (and Mike Mearls has agreed) that the pact weapon bonus only applies to its weapon attacks, not to spell attacks that use it as a focus:

The bonus to attack rolls conferred by Improve Pact Weapon applies to the weapon's attack rolls, not to a spell's attack rolls.

Similarly, only the ranged weapon attacks made with your kensei weapon itself would count for the Kensei Shot bonus damage - spell attacks that use the weapon as a focus (substituting for a material component) wouldn't qualify. Crawford essentially confirms this here in response to a question about making a spell attack with an Improved Pact Weapon as a focus:

Using a weapon as a material component for a spell, including as a spellcasting focus, doesn't count as attacking with that weapon, unless the spell explicitly says you attack with it.

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Using a weapon as a spellcasting focus doesn't count as attacking with the weapon. You're channeling magic through the weapon; you're not striking with it.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The wording of those two features are dofferent. One says "attack with a ranged weapon." The other says "the weapon gains" \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron Apr 25 '18 at 1:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ Crawford's response still applies: "Using a weapon as a spellcasting focus doesn't count as attacking with the weapon." \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Apr 25 '18 at 2:00
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I argue that no, making an attack as part of a spell that was cast using a focus does not count as making an attack with the focus.

For it to count, the spell text would need to dictate you make a ranged attack with your focus, otherwise you are simply making a ranged attack (with no weapon). This is based on the understanding that spells will do only what their text says, and nothing else. Such a spell, if it did exist, would be fairly unusual considering a focus is not a required tool for spellcasting.

With that in mind, if the focus was intended to work that way, I would have expected a general note stating so to be in the description of the focus along with the rules text explaining its use. Since there is nothing like that there, I assume it does not affect the casting of the spell at all expect to act as a substitute for material components.

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