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I'm playing with the idea of combining an Ersatz Eye (XGtE, p137) with a spell focus. Since the Eye is stated as being irremovable "...by anyone other than you...", does it make the item unbalanced?

This is specifically in regards to a sorcerer, but I suppose it applies to any caster that can use a focus. It seems like it would generally be no big deal, but it ultimately means that the character could technically never be disarmed.

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    \$\begingroup\$ How often characters become disarmed in your games? \$\endgroup\$ – enkryptor Jan 18 at 18:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ Specifically, does your DM allow the optional Disarming rule? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jan 18 at 19:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ Related on Can a glass eye be an arcane focus? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jan 18 at 19:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ As it stands right now, it's not a duplicate (because it seems like you're not asking what you really wanted to know.) I'd probably leave it as-is and let folks answer. Up to you if you want to select an answer. But does the focus holding question really answer what you're looking for? If not, then you can try and...focus...a new question that clarifies what you're asking and how it's different. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jan 18 at 20:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ Here is a question about disarming in 5e - but it's important to consider that if your table decides to allow it, then enemies can do it to you, too. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jan 18 at 20:11
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Unlikely, but may depend on your table

I've played a paladin whose focus was tattooed on his face for precisely this reason. At my table, component tracking isn't something we've really focused on, so we haven't seen any balance issues. However, if your table tracks components more closely it may be less balanced.

Sword and Board/ both hands occupied

There are also relatively few instances where the material component becomes a hindrance. If your character is wielding a sword/board combo, then this can be more of an issue. My paladin was a heavy weapon specialist and the rules do allow for a hand to come off the weapon which minimizes the mechanical requirements there.

But a character whose hands are each occupied with two different things may tip the balance of this. If not, then it's of minimal impact from my experience.

Disarming/taking from other characters

If your DM allows the Disarm optional rule or if they allow a mechanic for taking items from other characters there is more of a concern here - but that's easily circumvented by multiple pouches/foci.

Downsides

One downside to my decision to tattoo myself and mark my armor is that I'm quite recognizable. At times it's been a benefit, at others we've had to figure out a way to conceal me.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Paladins are probably a bad example; along with clerics, their focus items function simply by being worn. \$\endgroup\$ – T.J.L. Jan 18 at 19:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @T.J.L. Yes, but the action economy issues are still pretty minor for other classes given that as long as you have the ability to release a hand (so every build but one that has two hands occupied by two different things), you can always access your component pouch/focus. Disarming is an issue, but that's very table dependent on that optional rule. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jan 18 at 19:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ While I think the argument @Magua makes in his answer is the easy, conversational one that I will likely use when discussing this with my DM, I feel your response best answers the original spirit of the question by examining the rules and the potential ramifications of the decision. Thanks for all your help \$\endgroup\$ – G. Moylan Jan 18 at 20:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ @T.J.L. Especially for Paladins, since their focus can literally be their shield. \$\endgroup\$ – Captain Man Jan 18 at 21:50
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Not unbalanced, since the Ersatz Eye requires attunement.

Since attunements are quite limited, that is a significant price to pay to make a focus non-removable. (You could use the Ersatz Eye as a focus without attuning it, but then you would not be able to see out of it, and it would still be removable, as those are its magic features.)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ You make a good point and I think this is a fair trade. Ultimately it will still be up to the DM, but I think this argument makes it a solid pitch. TY \$\endgroup\$ – G. Moylan Jan 18 at 19:54
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The view from experience

I had a warlock in my game, that I DM, who had his arcane focus be a gem stone that was inset into their forhead by their patron. I breifly thought about whether or not this was an issue for me/had the player taken it to far. I decided it wasn't.

In-game there has never been a time (so far) where someone has been disarmed of their arcane focus, that doesn't mean there wouldn't be. In theory my player received a greater benefit but in my opinion it was a small one.

I don't believe it unbalanced the game at all, at any point, and that character lasted a good few months. In all the games I have played in the arcane focus is very rarely roleplayed out as well as it should be anyway.

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