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From Core Rulebook (p. 303):

Focus: A focus is an object that funnels the magical energy of the spell. The spell gains the manipulate trait and requires you to either have a free hand to retrieve the focus listed in the spell or already be holding the focus in your hand. As part of Casting the Spell, you retrieve the focus (if necessary), manipulate it, and can stow it again if you so choose.

And from Compoment Substitution section, on the same page:

If you’re a cleric Casting a Spell from the divine tradition while holding a divine focus (such as a religious symbol or text), you can replace any material component the spell requires by using the divine focus as a focus component instead. Unlike the normal rules for a focus component, you can’t retrieve or stow the focus when making this substitution.

I am having trouble understanding why the "retrieve", "manipulate" and "stow" verbs are mentioned separately and what do they mean in this specific context. Also, why is it explicitly mentioned that you can't do those things ("retrieve" and "stow") if you are a cleric and you use your holy symbol as substitution? Does this somehow affect you, your religious symbol, your spell or anything else?

Could anyone provide some clarification or point me to a related page from the rulebook?

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Manipulate

Manipulate is easy to explain if we look at the rules for spells. Under Focus Components, we see:

The spell gains the manipulate trait and requires you to either have a free hand to retrieve the focus listed in the spell or already be holding the focus in your hand.

If we then look at the manipulate trait, it says:

You must physically manipulate an item or make gestures to use an action with this trait.

This means your physically interacting with the component as part of the spell, something you do for a focus as well as a divine symbol.


Retrieve and Stow

These are a little more difficult to explain, since it requires looking in other sections. If we go to the equipment chapter, we see under Wielding Items a table listed for changing equipment.

\begin{array}{|c|c|c|} \hline \textbf{Change} & \textbf{Hands} & \textbf{Action} \\ \hline \textbf{Draw, stow} \text{, or pick up an item} & \text{1 or 2} & \text{Interact} \\ \hline \textbf{Retrieve } \text{an item from a backpack or satchel} & \text{2} & \text{Interact} \\ \hline \end{array}

Normally it takes an interact action to draw or retrieve an item, and another action to stow it away again. However, Focus Components say this:

As part of Casting the Spell, you retrieve the focus (if necessary), manipulate it, and can stow it again if you so choose.

This changes it from being a separate action to retrieve or stow the focus component, to one done at the same time as casting the spell. This means that you don't need to draw the component ahead of time, nor take your time afterwards to put it away.


Divine Focuses

Unlike focus components, if we look at the sidebar for Component Substitutions, we see that it says:

If you’re a cleric Casting a Spell from the divine tradition while holding a divine focus (such as a religious symbol or text), you can replace any material component the spell requires by using the divine focus as a focus component instead. Unlike the normal rules for a focus component, you can’t retrieve or stow the focus when making this substitution.

This means that the actions of having a divine focus in hand are separate from the actions of casting a spell. Therefore you would have to retrieve the divine focus before casting the spell, and it would remain in your hand after casting it.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you William, now it makes perfect sense. \$\endgroup\$ – Courage Mind Mar 31 at 22:04

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