Suppose a spellcaster wishes to use a heavy shield, or even a heavier shield like a tower shield. Divine, so arcane spell failure doesn’t apply, but they are using a weapon. Since heavy (and heavier) shields use the hand, you cannot simply pass the weapon into your other hand like you could with a light shield (and certainly cannot perform somatic gestures with the shield hand, as you could with a buckler).

Complete Mage has the Somatic Weaponry feat that gets around this, but a feat seems like an awful lot to expend for what amounts to a +1 to +3 additional shield bonus to AC. Particularly considering that characters with two-handed weapons, already better off, don’t have to do anything at all; they can just let go of the weapon and cast the spell.

Anything that requires a non-free action in combat is useless, so dropping or sheathing the weapon is not a good answer (unless you can somehow cheaply make these approaches free actions, but I think that is impossible). But long-term buff spells (especially those that are wand-able), magic items, mundane item alterations, etc. are all great. Particularly efficient dips might be ok, especially if it’s just one level that is also doing other things for you (double particularly if it progresses spellcasting). Feats that allow this and also do other things are good, too.

Please cite sources, and in particular note any materials coming from third-party sources. Material must have been published for D&D 3.5e and/or Pathfinder to be considered.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Before anyone thinks about it (and it's probably the very first thing to come to mind), Weapon Cords were errata'ed to be a Move Action (down from a swift). \$\endgroup\$
    – ShadowKras
    Oct 2, 2018 at 21:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ShadowKras Ultimately, the way the question’s currently worded, even pre-errata weapon cords wouldn’t qualify, since they require a non-free action (i.e. a swift). Also, they’re dumb, though nerfing them was even dumber, and the reasoning for the nerf was just the dumbest thing. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Oct 2, 2018 at 21:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ pre-errata, you could drop the weapon as a free, and grab it back as swift, which was plenty for most characters. \$\endgroup\$
    – ShadowKras
    Oct 2, 2018 at 21:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ShadowKras Yes, I realize that: what I am saying is that while that may have been plenty for “most characters”[citation needed], it wouldn’t be good enough here. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Oct 2, 2018 at 21:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'd argue that even the feat Somatic Weaponry is insufficient for this divine caster: even if she has that feat, for many spells that divine caster must still manipulate her divine focus, a task that's likely supposed to occupy the hand that would normally be satisfying the somatic components. In other words, don't forget the armor and shield extra sanctified (Du 30, 34) (50 gp; 0 lbs.). \$\endgroup\$ Oct 2, 2018 at 23:12

2 Answers 2


Glove of the master strategist: (3.600 gp, Ghostwalk pg 71). As a free action, store shield inside the glove or make it appear in your hand. It depends on the table if a retrieved shield is considered donned or simply held when it gets out of the glove. As an overpriced alternative, Glove of storing has the same effect.

Arms of the Naga: (56.000 gp, Savage Species pg 55). Two extra arms that can carry your shield for you, but they are expensive.

Girallon's blessing: Spell from the spell compendium that gets you two extra arms. It's a 3rd level spell, so it is wand-able if you do not mind spending 11250 gp on a wand. Decent duration too (10 minutes/level).

I would also mention Shielded mage feat, from Pathfinder. It's a poor candidate because it has Shield focus as prerequisite, costing two feats for the same effect as Somatic Weaponry plus a measly +1AC. The only redeeming point is that you can have it as early as level at level 1 if you don't mind a 1 level dip in fighter (which you need anyway if you ever want to use a tower shield).

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ While the gloves of storing are traditional, in 3.5 even better is the glove of the master strategist (Gh 71) (3,600 gp; 0 lbs.), a straight improvement over the gloves at less than half the price. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 2, 2018 at 22:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ If anybody else but me wondered, what "Gh" means: "Ghostwalk" supplement. \$\endgroup\$
    – Giorin
    Oct 3, 2018 at 15:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ How come these gloves can be cheaper than gloves of storing? \$\endgroup\$
    – Giorin
    Oct 3, 2018 at 15:54
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @Giorin In 3.0e, gloves of storing cost a lot, lot less. Ghostwalk was originally printed for 3.0, and so gloves of the master strategist were priced based on the 3.0e price. In 3.5e, the price of the gloves of storing was massively, unreasonably increased. Ghostwalk then received an update to 3.5e, but the price of the gloves of the master strategist did not change. It’s a bizarre situation that gloves of the master strategist are strictly superior to gloves of storing yet cost barely a third what gloves of storing cost, but few people “fix” it because 10k is way overpriced. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Oct 3, 2018 at 17:13

Ask whether you can gesture with a holy symbol.

Depending on how they're read, the spellcasting rules may allow somatic components to be performed using a hand that's also simultaneously fulfilling the spell's material, focus, or divine focus components. In my experience, there's a fairly strong player consensus in favor of this interpretation, but I don't believe it's explicitly spelled out in the rules of either 3.5 or Pathfinder (the most "official" answer I've found on the matter is Skip Williams' support for this interpretation in Rules of the Game, and that's far from an authoritative source). Considering the ambiguity, it's worth asking for your DM's ruling on whether you can use a hand holding a divine focus to perform somatic components.

If that's permitted, some much less expensive options open up. A Sanctified Shield (Dungeonscape pg 34) costs only an extra 50 gp, while a Reliquary Weapon will cost 250 gp. Either one will allow you to access a divine focus (and, by extension, somatic components) while still wielding your weapon and shield.

However, note that even with a favorable reading of the somatic/divine focus rules, this method will only work for spells that include a divine focus component. Spells that include somatic components without a divine focus requirement (e.g. bestow curse) will still require a free hand.


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