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Xanathar's Guide to Everything includes the spell shadow blade, which seems intended to be used only by the caster. It creates an actual weapon (XGtE, p. 164):

You weave together threads of shadow to create a sword of solidified gloom in your hand.

However, the spell also says:

If you drop the weapon or throw it, it dissipates at the end of the turn.

Instead of dropping or throwing the sword, what happens if the caster hands it to an ally? Can that ally attack with the sword on subsequent turns (in particular, without either party using Ready to act on the same turn)? Would the sword dissipate if an ally was the one who dropped or threw it?

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I hazard to guess that the Rules as Intended is that it would dissipate; but the Rules, as they are currently written, don't say that if it is outside of your possession or hand it dissipates. All we have is what is in the shadow blade spell:

If you drop the weapon or throw it, it dissipates at the end of the turn. Thereafter, while the spell persists, you can use a bonus action to cause the sword to reappear in your hand.

Note, this literal reading has drawbacks and a few problems. The drawback is that you wouldn't be able to summon it back unless you drop or throw it, and the other character couldn't gain the proficiency benefit from the spell, nor the advantage from dim light or darkness.

It counts as a simple melee weapon with which you are proficient. ... attack a target that is in dim light or darkness, you make the attack roll with advantage.

The issues with this literal reading are that a player you passed it would be able to drop or throw it, and it wouldn't be able to be called back to you. These issues are likely an artifact of the intent of the designers not matching the words they wrote. So, ask your DM before you try it, or try it in game before a fight so you're not caught off guard.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Of note: the advantage and Proficiency bonus would only apply to the caster as the spell description uses the word "you" when describing them. Also the ally dropping the blade would not make it disappear and you cannot resummon the blade until it has disappeared \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Aug 17 at 22:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ I just caught the latter, I missed the prof bonus. \$\endgroup\$ – J. A. Streich Aug 17 at 22:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Medix2 They wouldn't gain proficiency in the weapon, but it's still a simple melee weapon, which they may already have proficiency in, right? \$\endgroup\$ – Red Orca Aug 17 at 23:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @chrisstarnes oh wow, I believe that is correct \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Aug 17 at 23:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ Other characters could not gain the advantage from being in dim light as well \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Aug 17 at 23:12
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No, an ally can't use it

Giving the shadow blade to a different character would be the same as throwing or dropping it. Changing the words you describe the action with doesn't change the fact that you are either throwing the weapon to them or dropping it into their hands. You could give it to them, but it would vanish as soon as your turn ends.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Finding another example of text that uses "drop" but more clearly includes passing it would help your answer \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Aug 17 at 22:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Medix2 I know, but I can't find one. Dropped does seem to be primarily used to refer to items which have been released from being held as opposed to handed which means giving it to someone else. I'm pretty sure RAI is that the blade is meant to dissipate at the end of your turn if you are no longer holding it specifically to stop someone else from using it. \$\endgroup\$ – Allan Mills Aug 18 at 0:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ I certainly agree on the intent. Just the RAW seems particularly odd. flame blade uses the phrasing "if you let go". I'm unsure what other spells summon things into your hand like these... \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Aug 18 at 0:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Medix2 Flame blade is different since it is a melee only weapon. You can't throw it so the phrase "if you let it go" works fine. For shadow blade you can throw it so they had to come up with a different phrasing. Presumably they didn't consider the possibility that the caster might contemplate handing it off to someone. \$\endgroup\$ – Allan Mills Aug 18 at 6:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm with @Medix2 on this one - drop and sheathe are mechanically distinct, so it's entirely possible that drop and give/have taken are as well. That said, there may be evidence that I'm missing somewhere, hence the question. \$\endgroup\$ – Red Orca Aug 18 at 21:55

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