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Is it possible to use a Staff with Hand of the Apprentice Spell and do Two-Hand 1d8 damage?

Related Links:

I have included the "Material" Spell trait, as it includes

requires you to have a free hand

whereas "Somatic" says

You can use this component while holding something in your hand, but not if you are restrained or otherwise unable to gesture freely.

Hand of the Appprentice only has the "Somatic" trait. I conclude from this information that I can cast "Hand of the Apprentice" while holding a staff in two hands. Can you provide RAW proof that HotA can do Two-Hand damage?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I like Ifusaso's answer more and this is the way I would GM it / ask my GM to rule it. Ifusaso also provided the key information about Ezrens pregen char sheet (via @YopiLopi) first. But I see Ikegami's answer as technically correct because I asked specifically about RAW proof. Nevertheless, this issue should be errata'd or at least clarified by Paizo, since you can make strong arguments in both direction. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 12 at 14:34
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The damage die would be a d4 (RAW)

The spell has you throw the weapon, so you are not holding it all. You are definitely not holding it with two hands and ready to use it as required for the extra damage. Staves not held by two hands have a d4 damage die. (Explained in detail below.)

The damage die would be a d8 (RAI)

Paizo themselves have ignored the rules as written in favour of having the staff use a d8. A premade character sheet says

you deal the staff’s damage as if you had hit with a melee Strike (you can deal the staff’s two-hand damage)

This is not unbalancing since it's no different than a boring Longspear.


The two-hand trait changes a weapon's default damage when wielded with two hands.

This weapon can be wielded with two hands. Doing so changes its weapon damage die to the indicated value. [...]

This clearly means this isn't normally the weapon's damage. A staff only uses a d8 when wielded with two hands.

So is the character wielding it with two hands? About wielding, the rules say the following:

Some abilities require you to wield an item, typically a weapon. You're wielding an item any time you're holding it in the number of hands needed to use it effectively. When wielding an item, you're not just carrying it around—you're ready to use it.

Yet the spell says this:

You hurl a held melee weapon with which you are trained at the target. [...]

The staff is not even in the character's possession, so they are not wielding it with two hands. The description of Doubling Rings explicitly states that a weapon ceases to be wielded the moment it's thrown.

it ends as soon as you cease wielding a melee weapon in one of your hands. Consequently, the benefit doesn’t apply to thrown attacks

Even if the staff remained in their possession, it's unlikely to be considered wielded because you aren't ready to use it while casting the spell, especially since the spell require you to perform. But that's more subjective.


Do note that even if you consider the staff being wielded two-handed for the purpose of this spell, a literal reading of the spell implies it the character will be holding it with a single hand when it returns.

the weapon flies back to you and returns to your hand.

This means the character would no longer be holding it two-handed before using the Interact action to change their grip to hold it with two hands (as per the Changing Equipment table).

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    \$\begingroup\$ " You can use this component while holding something in your hand" and "You're wielding an item any time you're holding it in the number of hands needed to use it effectively." generally combine to mean that you can cast spells with Somatic components even if you're wielding a weapon 2-handed. This does not make this answer incorrect, as nothing about Hand of the Apprentice says it applies Traits. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ifusaso
    Jun 3 at 13:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Ifusaso Re "even if you're wielding a weapon 2-handed", The OP asked for RAW, not imprecise approximations \$\endgroup\$
    – ikegami
    Jun 3 at 14:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ Re "nothing about Hand of the Apprentice says it applies Traits." This makes no sense. A trait that sets the weapon damage die is pertinent whether HotA mentions traits or not. \$\endgroup\$
    – ikegami
    Jun 3 at 14:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well re-reading the Two-Hand trait, I agree with one of your comments. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ifusaso
    Jun 3 at 14:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ Do note that I'd be perfectly fine having it use a d8, but the question was about RAW. It would make thematic sense, and it would be the same as using the boring Longspear. \$\endgroup\$
    – ikegami
    Jun 4 at 0:26
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You can use Two-Handed weapons, including the Two-Hand trait, with HotA

You are able to wield your staff (or another weapon) in two hands while you cast Hand of the Apprentice.

  • Somatic requires that your hands are not bound.

You can use this component while holding something in your hand, but not if you are restrained or otherwise unable to gesture freely.

  • 'Wielding' a weapon is just holding it at the ready

You're wielding an item any time you're holding it in the number of hands needed to use it effectively.

You are able to provide Somatic components while your hands are full, even if what their full of happens to be a wielded weapon.


My first impression was still going to be that the answer is "No, for staves, but you can use actual two-handed weapons" because HotA does not apply most Traits (more on that in a moment) but a careful readying of the Two-Hand trait

This weapon can be wielded with two hands. Doing so changes its weapon damage die to the indicated value. This change applies to all the weapon’s damage dice, such as those from striking runes.

shows that it is a passive benefit as long as you have the weapon in two-hands (as opposed to benefits such as agile and forceful which apply to Strikes made with the weapon). Other Traits are not applied by Hand of the Apprentice because you only

deal the weapon's damage as if you had hit with a melee Strike

and are not "making a Strike" with said weapon. However, the damage di(c)e have already been changed, so the spell will deal that amount of damage.

A small note: (that you seem to be aware of, but to make sure the answer is complete) this does require that you are wielding the weapon two-handed if it has the Two-Hand trait which takes an Interact Action if you were only holding/wielding it one-handed.

The weapon being out of your hands isn't relevant

The fact that the weapon is not "in your hands" because of the spell is irrelevant because the specifics of the spell ("you deal the weapon's damage as if you had hit with a melee Strike") supersede the normal rules about wielding a weapon. Arguably, the weapon will return to only one of your hands (I'd allow both, as a GM), but the spell does not care that the weapon isn't in your hands when the damage is dealt.


"But using it with a two-handed weapon might be imbalanced?!" Unlikely, if you look at available 1st and 2nd level spells that don't require your focus point and continue to scale beyond 4 dice (by the time you have level 19 equipment, no less). It seems almost likely that it was intended to be used with a two-handed weapon to maintain any form of relevance.

Thanks to @YopiLopi whom pointed out that Ezren's official pre-gen sheet includes language about using his Hand of the Apprentice

you deal the staff’s damage as if you had hit with a melee Strike (you can deal the staff’s two-hand damage)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ You go on explaining how you can cast the spell while wielding the staff two-handed (which is true), but you seem to have missed the fact that "you hurl a held melee weapon with which you are trained at the target" before dealing the damage. You aren't holding the staff with two hands if you've thrown it! \$\endgroup\$
    – ikegami
    Jun 4 at 0:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ You also misquoted the definition of "wielded". You omitted the part that specifies that merely holding the weapon is not enough; you need to be ready to use it. \$\endgroup\$
    – ikegami
    Jun 4 at 0:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ikegami I don't feel like that's necessary to the question, but provided the link for anyone that wants to check my work. Although, the Paizo official character can do two-handed damage with their staff using HotA, so I don't think your concern about wielding it 'when it hits' is valid given that the ability does damage as though you'd hit them with a Strike (which, when the spell is cast, would be 1d8+striking dice). Because magic. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ifusaso
    Jun 4 at 0:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ Re "I don't feel like that's necessary to the question", It's definitely relevant to your answer, seeing as it's invalided through reliance on incorrect information. You say the staff is wielded cause it's being held by two hands. But that's not the definition of wielded. So your argument is invalid (i.e. it's conclusion doesn't follow from its premises). Not just in invalid but possibly incorrect. It's unlikely to be considered wielded cause it's not ready to use cause the character is busy doing something else. (And of course, cause it's not being held by two hands, or any hands at all.) \$\endgroup\$
    – ikegami
    Jun 5 at 22:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ By that logic, the spell doesn't work at all. So I'm sticking with the reading that makes sense. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ifusaso
    Jun 8 at 4:02

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