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Reading the War Caster feat again, I'm having a doubt about the following sentence:

You can perform the somatic components of spells even when you have weapons or a shield in one or both hands.

I'm trying to figure out the implications of this feat when using a hand to grapple an opponent. It looks like wielding a shield would be enough to perform somatic components, but wielding a single weapon would not - the plural suggesting you must hold 2 weapons (potentially, in one hand...) to do so.

Am I reading this correctly, or am I paying my lack of involvement during english lessons ?

More context: I'm considering spells such as Primal Savagery, Shocking Grasp, Inflict Wounds, Vampiric Touch to deal reasonable damage to a grappled, prone opponent, while wearing a shield. Double-checking RAW here, and adding the "weapons" issue for the sake of completeness.

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To cast a spell with somatic components you need at least one hand free:

If a spell requires a somatic component, the caster must have free use of at least one hand to perform these gestures.

Warcaster amends this rule::

You can perform the somatic components of spells even when you have weapons or a shield in one or both hands.

If you have a weapon or shield in one or both hands, you can still use somatic components. You can parse the sentence as: (weapon or shield) in (one or both) hands. The sentence is a bit funky because it says plural "weapons" and singular "a shield". This leads to a bit of a weird situation:

Weapon in one hand? Fine.

Shield in one hand? Fine.

Weapon and shield? Fine.

2 weapons? Fine.

2 handing a weapon? Fine, and perhaps useful because you don't have to let go of the weapon.

2 shields? Not fine, since it says "a shield"

1 shield held in two hands? Fine but weird.

Grappling uses at least one hand:

Using at least one free hand, you try to seize the target by making a grapple check instead of an attack roll ...

If you are grappling with one hand, and holding a weapon or shield with the other, then since you "have a weapon or a shield in one or both hands" you can still use War Caster to perform somatic components.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Genuinely never noticed that you couldn't do this if you wield two shields, though that would rarely ever come up, good to know. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 24, 2019 at 13:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Medix2 honestly, the intent is probably that you could do it with a shield in each hand, but the rules always assume that you don't wield two shields at once - all the rules are written as if you'll never hold more than one shield, but this being DnD, a dual-shield subclass is bound to come out soon.... \$\endgroup\$ Dec 24, 2019 at 13:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ @gatherer818 i agree. Also one the reasons it says shield in the singular is may be because multiple shields do not stack in the AC, therefore they didn't mention the possibility. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 24, 2019 at 14:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ That plural really puzzles me. If you have 2 shields in 2 hands, you also have 1 shield in 1 hand, don't you? I don't get how it doesn't qualify... \$\endgroup\$
    – Bash
    Dec 24, 2019 at 18:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Bash It's a ridiculous situation. YMMV, your DM has to decide whether dual wielding shields is "a shield in one hand" (qualified), or "two shields in both hands" (not qualified). I think this is a rare case of terrible wording. Your DM would need to be quite petty to deny that you can cast while dual wielding shields. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 25, 2019 at 10:06

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