A Flame Tongue sword is a magic item that requires attunement.

You can use a bonus action to speak this magic sword's command word, causing flames to erupt from the blade. These flames shed bright light in a 40-foot radius and dim light for an additional 40 feet. While the sword is ablaze, it deals an extra 2d6 fire damage to any target it hits. The flames last until you use a bonus action to speak the command word again or until you drop or sheathe the sword.

It is clear that you have to be attuned to the sword in order to set it ablaze.

However, if you unattune to it afterwards while still holding it in your hand (not dropping or sheathing it), does it stay ablaze ?

  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm curious - how do you unattune to a sword while still holding it? \$\endgroup\$ – Greenstone Walker Sep 17 '18 at 22:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ @GreenstoneWalker "A creature's attunement to an item ends if the creature no longer satisfies the prerequisites for attunement, if the item has been more than 100 feet away for at least 24 hours, if the creature dies, or if another creature attunes to the item" You could lose prerequisites or attune to another item while still holding the sword. \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron Sep 17 '18 at 23:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ @David Coffron, if you are still holding it then I'm presuming you haven't died or been 100 ft away from it. Another creature can't attune to it because they would need to hold it (attuning to a weapon requires practice with the weapon). I guess you could spend an hour unattuning to it manually, or attuning to another item, but while holding a flaming sword for 60 minutes? \$\endgroup\$ – Greenstone Walker Sep 18 '18 at 3:02

No, that's part of the sword's magical abilities, only available to attuned creatures

Per DMG pg 138:

Without becoming attuned to an item that requires attunement, a creature gains only its nonmagical benefits, unless its description states otherwise.

So, once you lose attunement, the magical abilities no longer function for you, and the sword will become an ordinary sword in your hands.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Doesn't the "The flames last until ..." count as the description stating otherwise? \$\endgroup\$ – GcL Sep 18 '18 at 19:54
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Grosscol No. That's referring to items like Hazirawn, which have magical capabilities even when unattuned. \$\endgroup\$ – T.J.L. Sep 19 '18 at 12:39

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