As with all Paladins, mine has a holy symbol. What is its purpose? Does it being inscribed on my sword hilt have any bearing?
2\$\begingroup\$ Just as a heads-up, I've undeleted this question for a couple reasons: once a question gets an answer, we like to see a very good reason for deleting the question, otherwise it looks like "I've got my answer so I'm going to delete the question now" which is not how this site works. Another reason is that this question seems like it could be useful to others and the answer appears to be good and helpful to others. \$\endgroup\$– RubiksmooseJun 5, 2020 at 14:36
2\$\begingroup\$ Also watch out because deleting too many of your own posts can lead to system post bans and you are asking some good questions so I would hate to see that happen! Let me know i f you have any questions :) \$\endgroup\$– RubiksmooseJun 5, 2020 at 14:37
\$\begingroup\$ Thanks. I've tried to only delete questions when there has been no response/I've found the answer myself later. In the case of this one, the initial comments centered on the roleplaying aspect of the question (as in, paladins have them because they are paladins...) rather than the purpose they served; I found this unhelpful and just decided to delete... The answer provided looks like it was submitted 3 minutes before the deletion, so it's entirely possible I didn't spot it. Thanks for undeleting! \$\endgroup\$– jonnybolton16Jun 6, 2020 at 12:46
Your holy symbol is your spellcasting focus
In addition to being, you know, a symbol of your beliefs and tenets which define your character as a Paladin.
The last subfeature of your Spellcasting feature reads:
You can use a holy symbol (see chapter 5, "Equipment") as a spellcasting focus for your paladin spells.
Said spellcasting focus can be used to provide non-costed, non-consumed material components for your spells. (See Chapter 10 of the PHB; Spellcasting > Casting a Spell.)
Excatly how it will work being engraved on your sword hilt you'll have to ask you DM about (I personally would expect "yeah, that's fine". The issue is that the two options discussed by the rules are discrete items, or on a shield, but not on a weapon. The relevant rule for the DM:
To use the symbol [as a spellcasting focus], the caster must hold it in hand, wear it visibly, or bear it on a shield.
— Player's Handbook, p. 153
If that's valid as holding in your hand, or as a simple flavour mod from having it on your shield, it's a no problem spellcasting focus for you.
1\$\begingroup\$ As an additional note, the holy focus is being used as a "badge" ("Stop, in the name of my god!"), so the intention is that it should be readably sized. From what distance? Up to GM, but probably at least two sword lengths, and longer is better (which is why a shield works so well - the symbol will be quite large). But this may mean that the hilt may be too small.... on a simple crossguard, there is likely more space on the blade itself. Another possibility is if the weapon itself is recognizable as a symbol, like one with a beam of light. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 6, 2020 at 0:05
\$\begingroup\$ Ok that makes sense, thanks. I wasn't entirely sure on the ins and outs of spellcasting. So the symbol replaces the "M" requirement of a spell (as long as it's not consumed)? In response to it being on my sword hilt, I think that's a flavour mod given by my DM (he helped create a lot of the character's flavour, since this is my first character), since the character wields an extra sword instead of a shield. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 6, 2020 at 12:55