If a magic weapon or implement has a property that does not explicitly include the word 'wield', does a character need to wield it to gain its benefits, or is simply holding it sufficient?

Seems like holding it is okay.

The Rhythm Blade, from Adventurer's Vault, is an example of a magic weapon with a property that includes the word 'wield'.

Why would it include the conditional "when wielding" unless holding was normally sufficient?

Seems like you need to wield it.

The Holy Avenger, from the Player's Handbook, is an example of a magic weapon with a property that does not include the word 'wield'.

I noticed that on page 225 of the Player's Handbook it says

When you're wielding a holy avenger, all your radiant powers deal extra damage when you use the weapon to deliver them.

This isn't proof or anything. It doesn't say that this property doesn't apply when you're just holding it, but it does seem to imply that one needs to actually wield the weapon.

So which is it?

  • \$\begingroup\$ What's the difference between 'wielding' and 'holding'? It's taking up your hand either way, right? \$\endgroup\$
    – DuckTapeAl
    Commented Apr 17, 2015 at 1:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DuckTapeAl Not exactly. You need to wield a weapon to attack with it. You can hold a two-handed weapon in one hand, but you need two to wield it. This means you can hold two two-handed weapons, but only wield one. If you are wielding a light shield, then your hand is open and can carry things, like weapons, but you can't wield anything else in it. \$\endgroup\$
    – DCShannon
    Commented Apr 17, 2015 at 1:44

1 Answer 1


You need to be wielding a magic weapon or implement to gain the effects of its property.

This is more explicitly explained in the Rules Compendium, on page 280:

Unless otherwise noted, a magic item's property remains active for a creature only while it wears the item (in the case of a wearable item such as a suit of armour) or wields the item.

  • \$\begingroup\$ +1, Yep, there it is. I guess wielding a shield is not considered 'wearing' it, then. \$\endgroup\$
    – DCShannon
    Commented Apr 17, 2015 at 2:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's not the property, but sheathed weapons count towards set bonuses- nothing else, though (PHBR:Dragonborn 27) \$\endgroup\$
    – JLan
    Commented Apr 19, 2015 at 5:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ not completly right. there are certain implements (the rod of corruption for example) that DO give you their property bonus when holding the implement, but dont give you any other benefit when holding (not wielding) said implement. (source: 4e PHB FAQ) \$\endgroup\$
    – user30675
    Commented Aug 8, 2016 at 13:11

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