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I'm playing a Bard and was given a Lute of the Battle Ready at level 1. However, I haven't been really able to use it because I focus on Performing instead of fighting.

Is it possible to maintain a performance with this Lute when it is transformed?

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No, the magic item's description notes that the lute transforms into a weapon, with no mention of still being used as an instrument. However, it's important to note that bards are not required to actively play an instrument in order to start or maintain a bardic performance, they simply have to take some sort of free action each round on their turn. Someone using a Lute of the Battle Ready can use it as their performance if they really want to, but they could also use it to fight and instead perform via singing, poetry, mime, dance or anything else they care to. Unless you are using Countersong or Distraction the type of performance you are using is mechanically irrelevant.

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