I’m playing in a D&D 5e Curse of Strahd campaign and we're strategizing about ways to deal with Strahd. Of the three important items we have to find, we have one so far: the Holy Symbol of Ravenkind. We're trying to strategize about how to use it most effectively.

Part of the text for the symbol reads:

Hold Vampires. As an action, you can expend 1 charge and present the holy symbol to make it flare with holy power. Vampires and vampire spawn within 30 feet of the holy symbol when it flares must make a DC 15 Wisdom saving throw. On a failed save, a target is paralyzed for 1 minute. It can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns to end the effect on itself....

Sunlight. As an action, you can expend 5 charges while presenting the holy symbol to make it shed bright light in a 30-foot radius and dim light for an additional 30 feet. The light is sunlight and lasts for 10 minutes or until you end the effect (no action required).

One strategy we're considering involves using the Holy Symbol's Hold Vampires property and then (if Strahd fails the saving throw) using Sunlight while he's held to do damage.

The text for the symbol doesn't explicitly say that only one property can be in use at the same time, but that doesn't mean there isn't a rule about it somewhere that we just haven't seen, so I wanted to ask here. Is a strategy that involves having two effects of a magic item going simultaneously workable according to the rules of 5e? (This question and this question seem to be relevant but ultimately asking about different things.)

Note: I'd love any answers to be free of spoilers about CoS. Thanks so much.


1 Answer 1


You can activate both effects

There is nothing in the language of the Holy Symbol of Ravenkind that states that one effect ends when you activate the other. There is also no general rule about magic items that states an item can only have one active effect ongoing. (In fact, many powerful items like a Belt of Dwarvenkind create a whole plethora of different effects that all are working at the same time).

One could maybe argue that the Holy Symbol of Ravenkind as a magic item is a game feature, and by the rule on Combining Game Effects (p. 252 DMG), only the most potent effect caused by game features with the same name would apply, but first, the two effects themselves have different, separate names, Hold Vampires and Sunlight, and second, they are entirely different effects and it is not clear which one would be the "most potent one" as they are not directly comparable. So I think that rule does not apply here.

If this tactic will be that useful is a different question. Without looking at Strahd's stats to avoid spoilers, I think there is a good chance that he will make his saving throw. It also is quite likely that he is legendary (really, if Strahd is not, who should be?), and thus has access to legendary resistance saves anyways. If he does he can just opt to make his save in case he fails. Even if he would fail, he gets to re-save every round. You might be better off to go to the Sunlight option right away, to scare him off, and continue adventuring for the time being until you are better equipped to deal with him directly.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks so much for such a helpful (both logistically and strategically) answer! As far as strategy goes, this is based on our understanding from a casting of Divination that Wisdom is Strahd's lowest save and our party's having a Divination Wizard (so he has Portent dice) and a couple folks with the Lucky feat, so we're pretty confident we can make him fail at least a few of the rolls, but of course legendary resistance does throw a big monkey wrench in that. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 4, 2022 at 12:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ @JoelDerfner don't know Strahd stats in 5e, but it could very well be that "Lowest" != "Low". Also I would suggest making sure that guy with the Symbol is protected from Charm, Domination and other mind-affecting effects: there is not much point in Sunlight, if vampire can just ask kindly to turn it off (and probably turn over Symbol to him) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 5, 2022 at 0:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Revolver_Ocelot Oh very smart about both of those things. Thanks for the advice. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 5, 2022 at 9:02

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