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I am currently using a Wizard and I just got my hands on a +4 dagger. More specifically the Rabbit Slayer from Dragonlance (ed.: a 2e item).

Question 1: According to official rules can it be used as a spellcasting focus

Question 2: If so how do I go about casting with a +4 focus in terms of modifiers

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No magic items above +3 exist in 5th edition

By design magic weapons and items can only add up to +3 at maximum within the system's bounded accuracy. I've searched through the whole of the DMG treasure section and even legendary weapons only have a +3.

Wizards can use Arcane Focus items as an Arcane Focus

They are defined as:

Arcane Focus. An arcane focus is a special item— an orb, a crystal, a rod, a specially constructed staff, a wand-like length of wood, or some similar item— designed to channel the power of arcane spells. A sorcerer, warlock, or wizard can use such an item as a spellcasting focus, as described in chapter 10.

As such I would not deem daggers in general, nor weapon enchanted daggers as Arcane Foci.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Magic items with a +4 bonus can exist in 5e; the DMG section on creating magical items (page 285) features a table listing the highest bonus an item should give for each rarity level. +4 is listed as legendary rarity, which the DMG suggests characters generally won't get hold of until around 17th level. I'd imagine that for balance reasons, items should only give a +4 bonus if they don't do anything else, which is why the DMG items are all +3 or lower. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 5, 2016 at 11:57
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It doesn't handle enhanced magical foci. In order:

  1. No, a normal dagger doesn't count as a spellcasting focus. (In theory a "dagger" specifically created to be a spellcasting focus could be made, but then it probably wouldn't function well as a dagger.)

  2. Spellcasting foci only remove the need to use material components. They don't enhance spellcasting. In theory, a dedicated magic item to enhance spellcasting might exist, and it might double as a spellcasting focus, but that is not what a dagger +4 does.

    If such a thing existed, the bonus would simply apply to your spell DC and your spell attacks.

  3. You're in house-rule territory anyway, since magic items don't go as high as +4 in D&D 5e in the first place. Since you're in house-rule territory, any and all questions about this item can only really be answered by one person: Your DM.


Aside, and I know you didn't ask this at all: Rabbitslayer should probably be converted to fit with D&D 5e's math. If your DM wants to do that (and it's possible they don't — they might have a handle on whatever houseruling they're doing), then it's as easy as changing it from +4 to +3, since it has no other abilities that would need altering to fit. That simple change would keep it as a very-high bonus weapon in D&D 5e, as befits its status in AD&D 2e.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I just wanted to point out in the 5th Edition Dungeon Master's Guide there exist a magical item called the 'Rod of the Pact Keeper' , it's a magical +1, 2, or 3 'Rod' (Arcane Focus) that grants the Warlock bonuses to magic attack and saving rolls the enemy has to make based on it's +1-3 . Sounds like a similar concept to what you're trying to brew up. \$\endgroup\$
    – Airatome
    Commented Apr 21, 2015 at 0:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ Not only that, there's also the "wand of the war mage", which works for all spellcasters. It grants them +1, +2, or +3 to spell attack rolls, and you ignore half cover. The Staff of the Magi is a quarterstaff that also gives you bonuses to spell attack rolls. \$\endgroup\$
    – xanderh
    Commented Apr 22, 2015 at 8:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yep. These are examples of the "in theory" I mentioned. I didn't want to get into them, because that's getting pretty far away from "can my dagger +4 do it?" and I didn't want the tangent (especially since it's not clear that they count as foci). \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 22, 2015 at 14:43
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No official rule lists a dagger as a spellcasting focus.

The various spellcasting foci are listed in the "Adventuring Gear" table (PH p.150):

  • Arcane focus: crystal, orb, rod, staff, wand
  • Druidic focus: sprig of mistletoe, totem, wooden staff, yew wand
  • Holy symbol: amulet, emblem, reliquery

In addition, a Bard can use a musical instrument as a focus.


The only enhanced magical foci in the official rules which you can use are the Wand of the War Mage, Staff of the Magi, or Staff of Power.

The Wand of the War Mage (DMG p.212) requires attunement by a spellcaster, and provides a bonus of as much as +3 to spell attack rolls.

The Staff of the Magi (DMG p.203) or Staff of Power (DMG p.202) require attunement by a Sorceror, Warlock, or Wizard, and provide a +2 bonus to spell attack rolls.

The best enhanced focus in the game at present is the Rod of the Pact Keeper (DMG p.197) which requires attunement by a Warlock, so your Wizard could only use this by multiclassing at least one level of Warlock. It provides a bonus of as much as +3, both to spell attack rolls and to the saving throw DC of Warlock spells.

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    \$\begingroup\$ There's also the Staff of the Magi, which requires attunement by a wizard, sorcerer, or warlock. \$\endgroup\$
    – xanderh
    Commented Apr 22, 2015 at 8:15

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