5
\$\begingroup\$

I want to use both a "Staff of the Magi" and "Arcane Grimoire" at the same time receive the benefits of each while casting spells.

  • How can I cast spells with Somatic Components while both hands are occupied?

  • Can I use Mage Hand as a "third hand" hold the staff as I let go to do the somatics and then grab it back without it falling to the ground?


So a friend of mine is hosting a lvl 20 one shot game and gave us very broad liberties for character creation and I'm ending up with a staff of the magi and an arcane grimoire from Tasha's.

This brings me to the slight issue of how in blazes do I cast spells requiring at least 1 free hand? I understand the bonuses from each item only apply while holding them but if, for example, I want to cast something in which the spell attack bonus is irrelevant, could I have mage hand keep the staff from falling on the ground as I let go of it to do the somatic components and grip it back afterwards?

This is assuming the mage hand was cast previously and already gripping the staff. Do I have to keep using actions while moving to have the hand follow or can I have it passively grip the staff as I walk around and it just follows with no resistance?

Since the arcane grimoire can serve as an arcane focus and the PHB states the hand I use to retrieve my materials/focus can be the same as the one I use for somatics, do I even need to bother with all that juggling?

\$\endgroup\$
1
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ This is an XY problem. You have asked about solution Y to problem X, when you should rather just ask about problem X. Describe clearly the problem you are actually trying to solve and we will be able to give you better answers. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 3, 2021 at 21:58

2 Answers 2

12
\$\begingroup\$

For 5th edition all you need to do what you describe is the feat War Caster:

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

So you can hold your staff in one hand, your tome or whatever in your left. The staff is a weapon and rules as written, you can cast spells with somatic components, with or without material components if your other hand is holding a focus, as long as at least ONE hand is holding a weapon.

  • I am assuming that you are trying to cast a spell with somatic components, which requires at least one free hand, rather than a spell that requires a free hand as a part of its description.

Short Answer: No - Mage Hand Doesn't Work Like that.

  • Mage Hand is a separate entity - not an extension of the caster.
  • Mage Hand cannot be used to "hold" magic items for their benefits.
  • Mage Hand cannot be used cast or deliver spells on your behalf.
  • The action economy involved in placing or removing at item from the mage hands inventory is cost prohibitive, potentially costing you your entire turn.

Mage Hand, Action Economy, and other errata

Holding a weapon in one hand while holding your focus in the other, means you have no free hands and cannot cast a spell with a somatic component. The same hand that "Accesses" a focus in place of material components can be used to cast somatic components, but that assumes the spell requires a material component, if not it takes up a hand slot and prohibits casting.

What is often overlooked is that a caster is assumed to either be using a spell component pouch (Which is not required to be held) or they are automatically stowing their weapon as part of their action to cast their spell, effectively freeing up a hand and using their focus / pouch. (See use an object rule in the PHB). On their next round, if needed, as part of their attack action they redraw the object as part of the attack action to make their attack.

Fighters can stow two handed great swords into their inventory as part of their attack action; meaning there are no rules against you stowing your staff (a two handed weapon) directly into your inventory as part of your action.

In order to both stow and draw an object on the same round requires the a full use of your Action. You may however drop an object, draw an object and take an attack or cast a spell, but the dropped item is no longer in your inventory.

It takes your action to make a mage hand pick up an object for you or release an item, preventing you from using your action to cast a spell. If you "Drop" your staff while your mage hand is holding in order to free up a hand, its posession transfers to the hand's inventory. It is the only thing holding the object and by "Dropping" the staff you are explicitly ejecting it from your own invintory.

Mage hand and familiars are considered separate entities. Their "inventories" bonuses received and enchantments are not conferred to the caster who owns them. They also do not have class levels and cannot perform somatic actions on behalf of their owners. In order to use a magical device one must either meet the prerequisites to use that item or have an ability to emulate their use (Thief's Use Magic Item). And even if they did meet the requirements, they are the ones considered using the magical item, not the caster.

There are no explicit rules covering the idea of using an item in another entities inventory. The game does assume that any item you do use is either unattended or explicitly within your inventory (worn, or wielded).

The game assumes that you can only use magical items you have control over such as being worn or wielded, and an object can only be used by one person at a time. Meaning you cannot use an item being held by another entity, even if you can put your hands on it. To use an item being held by your mage hand, you would need to transfer it to your inventory first, then use the item.

The two examples of this concept of assumed ownership and what your allowed to do is the disarm rule (Whomever is holding the object at the start of the round, retains ownership at the end of the round if the disarm failed), and slight of hand (Which only allows you to pilfer unattended objects, not held ones.)

From the section regarding wearing and wielding magic items:

Using a magic item's properties might mean wearing or wielding it... A magic item meant to be worn must be donned in the intended fashion..

This evidence does not explicitly state - but rather assumes you have objects in your inventory before you use them appropriately. Object held by others must be disarmed or dropped before being placed in your inventory, and unattended objects must be transferred to your possession / control before you can use them (since slight of hand only allows you take unattended objects).

\$\endgroup\$
1
  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ There's also generally little risk in the drop dance. If you drop your item, cast, and pick it back up, the only risk you have is that an enemy has Readied an action to take it. And to do that, they'll need to know you were going to drop it, so this is fairly low-risk. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Apr 4, 2021 at 16:35
-4
\$\begingroup\$

So first, if the Grimoire can be your focus, then no juggling is required for spells with material components; you can just use the focus hand for somatics fine.

For spells with somatic components and no material, then RAW you do indeed have to free up a hand. It is already established that it doesn't even cost a free object interaction to take your hand off and put it back on a 2-handed weapon. I would rule the staff the same way, and thus 100% call it legit to have an already cast Mage Hand hold it while you cast.

Unfortunately, the Mage Hand does not follow you around; you have to spend an action to move it. So this only works if you stay in place; if you move, the staff will be left behind, hanging in the air, held by the Mage Hand (although if you end your move within reach of it, you could take it back).

The Mage Hand doesn't have to release the staff. It can only exert 10 lbs of force, and is two sizes smaller than the mage and thus can be dragged along at no movement cost. So the mage can just use the Hand to keep the staff from falling, then grab it and proceed. The Mage Hand can't even use the staff, so who gets the bonuses for holding it isn't even a question. If the mage is not holding it, he doesn't get the bonuses, and when he reaches over and holds it again, it is his item and he gets the bonuses. He's the one attuned to it.

Another way I have done something similar is to have my familiar take the form of an octopus, and ride on my shoulders, and he can pick up or hold things for me. (Plus, it's the only form on the FF list that is small, not tiny, so it can hold or carry a surprising amount. And having a 25+ pound octopus on your shoulders is fairly intimidating.)

\$\endgroup\$
3
  • \$\begingroup\$ Mage hand is a separate entity - and does not confer item effects to its caster. Caster Focuses are required to be held, material component pouches do not. (most Bard sling their lute on their back and gab the foci as needed). A familiar holding an item does not confer item benefits to its master either. He will not be able to hold both the staff and the grimoire without the use of the war caster feat. Mechanically, a character is assumed to put a weapon away in order to cast a spell and use a foci. They retrieve their weapon on their next turn as part of attack action. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 4, 2021 at 1:53
  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ Moving mage hand requires using your action. Also, as Patrice pointed out, mage hand holding the focus doesn’t confer the benefits to the caster. This answer is severely flawed. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 4, 2021 at 2:18
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ The Mage Hand doesn't have to release the staff. It can only exert 10 lbs of force, and is two sizes smaller than the mage and thus can be dragged along at no movement cost. So the mage can just use the Hand to keep the staff from falling, then grab it and proceed. The Mage Hand can't even use the staff, so who gets the bonuses for holding it isn't even a question. If the mage is not holding it, he doesn't get the bonuses, and when he reaches over and holds it again, it is his item and he gets the bonuses. He's the one attuned to it. \$\endgroup\$
    – PhilB
    Apr 4, 2021 at 21:36

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .