I'm playing in Curse of Strahd module, and there is an item named the holy symbol of ravenkind. This item hides behind the paladin’s shirt. When the paladin is in the a middle of the combat and has their sword and shield in his hands, and wants to take out the Holy Symbol of Ravenkind, does he need to sheathe or drop his sword before he can pull the necklace out? I tried to consult with this spellcasting in combat clarifications and restrictions article but it got me more confused.

And if you need to sheathe the sword, does he need 2 turns for taking the item out, using it and release it on the neck since it need to be presented, or does it take only 1 turn. Here is an example:

  • 1st turn attack and then sheathe the sword.
  • 2nd turn pull the necklace and use it.
  • 3rd turn wear the necklace on the neck and draw the sword.
  • 4th turn attack with the sword.

This is how my DM said it should be, considering the necklace as an item like a sword.

for clarification this item is not the paladin holy symbol, and he can't use it to cast spells. this is a magic item, that is on a necklace and I'm wondering about the free action that concerning pulling it out of the shirt for presenting it, like the item description required.


2 Answers 2


Interaction can be part of the action, but you will need a free hand

In the situation that you've described, one hand is equipped with a shield and the other is holding a sword. Your amulet is hidden inside your shirt and needs to be presented.

But how do you do that with no hands? The answer is you that you can't, or at least I'm using the rulings on how to use a focus/holy symbol/component pouch for spellcasting which utilizes similar language for presenting. Therefore, you need a free hand to present.

If you do not want to drop your sword in order to present the amulet, then you must use an action to doff your shield.

As it takes an action to doff a shield, that hand isn't going to be immediately available. Which leaves your sword hand, and that's where it gets tricky.

This question covers that you can drop an item at no cost. This releases the long sword, and then you use your object interaction to display the holy symbol and use one of it's properties.

Unfortunately, you are now out of actions and can't really pick up the longsword as you've used your object interaction and action for presenting and using the holy symbol An enemy could do something to your dropped weapon, or you just pick it up and attack as part of your next turn using the object interaction along with the attack action.

Order of events

The quickest way to utilize the Holy Symbol while using a shield. It will show how you can achieve this using with the action economy:

  1. Drop longsword (no action cost)
  2. Present Amulet (free action)
  3. Use Amulet (action)

Each turn, you have a free object interaction, and can use your action to get a second one, but that won't be necessary for what you're trying to do here. While casting a spell often involves manipulating your spellcasting focus and requires a free hand for the purpose, that doesn't require removing you holy symbol from your neck.

Holy Symbol. [...] A cleric or paladin can use a holy symbol as a spellcasting focus, as described in chapter 10. To use the symbol in this way, the caster must hold it in hand, wear it visibly, or bear it on a shield. (Player's Handbook, Equipment, p.151; emphasis mine)

A spellcaster must have a hand free to access these components, but it can be the same hand that he or she uses to perform somatic components. (Player's Handbook, Spellcasting - Components - Material, p.203)

You're simply touching it or presenting the holy symbol when you use it as a focus. Think of a priest grabbing his crucifix necklace and presenting it to Dracula -- he doesn't need to take it off his neck first, he's just lifting it off his chest a few inches. We can probably just assume holy symbols are commonly worn on a rather long chain to facilitate this sort of thing, but technically the rules don't require that. As long as it's visible and you can touch it with a free hand, you're able to cast.

Assuming you start out wearing the necklace but with it obscured by your shirt, you need a total of three object interactions: One to sheathe your sword (or otherwise free a hand), one to pull the holy symbol into view (still around your neck, but now visible), and one to draw your sword after you finish casting spells. You can take those three interactions in combination with three normal actions.

So, for example, you could:

  • 1st turn: Attack with sword, then sheathe it
  • 2nd turn: Pull necklace into view and use it to cast a paladin spell
  • 3rd turn: Draw your sword and attack with it

There's no real point to trading your turn 1 attack for another object interaction because it turns out you don't actually get to do anything sooner that way:

  • 1st turn: Sheathe your sword, then use your action to pull your holy symbol into view
  • 2nd turn: Cast a paladin spell, then draw your sword
  • 3rd turn: Attack with your sword

Assuming you don't re-hide the holy symbol, in subsequent rounds you can sheathe your sword and cast a spell in the same turn, then the next turn draw your sword and attack, so that makes it very nearly free to switch from melee to spellcasting and back.

You could drop your sword (not an interaction) in order to pull your symbol and cast without the preparation turn, and then picking your sword up still only takes an interaction, so that's an option if you weren't thinking ahead about needing to cast next time around and hadn't sheathed your sword.

  • \$\begingroup\$ The question is clear about what's in the OP's hands; they're wielding a sword and shield. The answer doesn't really change if it's about using the symbol's special powers, but I see your point there. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 8, 2020 at 14:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ FYI, OP has clarified the problem in that it's purely about how to present/use the holy symbol when holding a sword and board. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Oct 9, 2020 at 16:52

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