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Without the War Caster feat, I can't cast spells with somatic components if I have both a shield and a sword in my hands. Putting my sword away or dropping it is a free action; however, you can't do free actions outside your turn.

If I want to be able to cast Shield on myself as a reaction, do I need to always put my sword away at the end of my turn?

(This would also mean that I wouldn't be able to capitalize on opportunity of attacks.)

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    \$\begingroup\$ Could you clarify what you mean by your parenthetical "(This would also mean that I wouldn't be able to capitalize on opportunity of attacks.)"? \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Nov 27 '20 at 7:59
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You cannot cast shield without a free hand.

Shield has somatic components, and the rules for somatic components say:

Spellcasting gestures might include a forceful gesticulation or an intricate set of gestures. If a spell requires a somatic component, the caster must have free use of at least one hand to perform these gestures.

Without Warcaster, you must free up one of your hands somehow in order to cast shield, which have you have observed, probably means dropping your sword.

A generous (evil?) DM may allow you to drop your sword off-turn.

This answer cites an unofficial tweet from rules designer Jeremy Crawford that states that dropping a weapon is not intended to take any action. There are no rules for dropping a weapon, so a generous DM may rule that you can drop your sword to cast shield. But it is up to the DM to allow this or not.

As NautArch mentioned in the comments, this is probably a terrible idea since your enemy can pick up your sword. But maybe this isn't too big of a deal - if it is your weapon bond sword you can summon your sword back to your hand next turn, albeit at the cost of a bonus action.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Make sure the weapon you drop is something you bound to yourself as an Eldritch Knight so you can regain it in your next turn. :) \$\endgroup\$ – Kornél Regius Nov 25 '20 at 18:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KornélRegius very true! But that's still requires you to expend a resource to get your weapon back. A resource that could be used for something else. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Nov 25 '20 at 18:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's risky, but not that risky. This assumes that the enemy has a free hand in which to hold said dropped sword. If they're a sword + board as well, then there's no way for them to get the sword, as putting their own away costs their 1 item interaction, and if they drop theirs, then you just grab that. \$\endgroup\$ – RevanantBacon Nov 25 '20 at 20:39

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