The PHB states:

Casting some spells requires particular objects, specified in parentheses in the component entry. A character can use a component pouch or a spellcasting focus (found in chapter 5, “Equipment”) in place of the components specified for a spell.

However, even when looking at the Spellcasting feature of the various casters, nothing seems to indicate that spells with no material components cannot be cast through an arcane focus.

From my understanding it seems to mostly be a widely accepted assumption that one cannot do so, but no rule really prevents you from doing so...

When an item/arcane focus says you gain a bonus when casting through it (ex. Artillerist Artificer's Arcane Firearm feature), are you really only limited to spells with an M component by RAW?


1 Answer 1


Generally taken that you can't, not a problem for Artificers as all their spells have M

You're right that there's no provision for using a spellcasting focus on spells without a material component. As the rules are generally taken as defined positively (ie. describing what you can do, as opposed to what you can't do), this is often taken to mean you can't use a spellcasting focus if the spell doesn't have a material component. This leads to some amount of dancing around getting a hand free, but (in my experience and as a DM) a lot of tables don't care too much about components unless it's actually interesting in the situation (silence, underwater, etc.).

When it comes to specific magic items, which is where getting to use focus on non-M spells starts really being a boon, it is worth noting that a number of magic items, eg. the Arcane Grimoire from Tasha's, boosts the DC from it being held, independently of whether you use it as a focus.

While you are holding this leather-bound book, you can use it as a spellcasting focus for your wizard spells, and you gain a bonus to spell attack rolls and to the saving throw DCs of your wizard spells.

And specifically for Artificers, this is simplified because of the specifics of their spellcasting feature. Artificers cast all their spells through their spellcasting focus, even if their normally don't have a material component (note that the clarifying parenthesis was added with the Tasha's printing):

You must have a spellcasting focus—specifically thieves’ tools or some kind of artisan’s tool—in hand when you cast any spell with this Spellcasting feature (meaning the spell has an “M” component when you cast it).

Feature's such as Arcane Firearm expand what you can use as a spellcasting focus (creating an exception to the general rule), you still need to use a focus, meaning it has an M component. (As a wand is not a tool, you presumably don't need to have the non-existent wand proficiency, as the feature wouldn't work if you had.)

  • \$\begingroup\$ I see, so as long as one considers the rules as being defined positively, then one COULD say that by raw you indeed cannot cast a non-M spell through a spellcasting focus since the rules dont say you can? Any lead or source supporting the rules being defined positively? Not that I don't believe, but it could be greately useful in providing answers to my players! \$\endgroup\$
    – Olivier
    Jul 14, 2021 at 18:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Olivier As far as I know they don't. Certainly not in those words. It's a concept applied to explain a ruling/reading and is generally used without needing to be addressed. Eg. the rules only say that you gain 9th level slots at 17th level, but it doesn't not say you can't have them at first, but I don't see how that would fly at any table. See also FWIW the whole English meaning of words if not defined by the game. It needs to be there for the rules to make sense, but isn't (and usually doesn't need to) be defined in game text. \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil
    Jul 14, 2021 at 19:10

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