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Picture this scenario: I am standing in front of an enemy, brandishing my massive, two-handed greataxe. I expect the enemy to flee, and am already salivating at the opportunity attack I shall unleash.

But then! Shock and horror! I am attacked by a dozen other opponents, for massive amounts of damage! Clearly the proper way out is to use the shield spell... but wait! It has a somatic component, and both of my hands are firmly on the haft of my axe. Is this the end of our greedy hero?

But no, clearly I should anticipate this course of action, and instead of readying my weapon, I should keep one hand free... but then! My quarry might flee, since I cannot attack with the weapon I have!

... of course, this is all moot if, in fact, I can change the way I hold my weapon if it is not my turn, but the crux of the question is, can I?

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