I'm playing a wizard in a D&D 3.5 campaign and I normally use the "shocking grasp" spell with unarmed attack (basically, touching the target). Occasionally tough were encounter enemies that it's not a good idea to touch (like lava creatures). The spell description simply says:

Your successful melee touch attack deals 1d6 points of electricity damage per caster level (maximum 5d6).

Where "touch attack" doesn't actually mean unarmed attack, but against what type of AC the attack is made. Also, while I can't find a reference in the player's rule book at the moment, it is acceptable in our campaign that a spell caster using such a spell can "hold the charge" (until an attack hits or the caster dismisses the spell, the caster can continue to attempt to deliver the spell).

It was suggested that the caster can deliver a shocking grasp spell using a simple metal weapon - such as a dagger - instead of doing an unarmed attack.

It's a bit more complicated because I'd need to cast, draw the weapon then attack - total of two standard actions and one move action, which will require 2 rounds, but is there a reason it wouldn't work - according to the rules, common sense or any other reason?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you a Daggerspell mage? This post / answer might be helpful to you in any case. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 25, 2016 at 23:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ Do you mean, while holding the charge, the caster touches a foe with the dagger to employ the shocking grasp (because he doesn't want to touch an icky ooze with his hand, for instance) or do you mean, while holding the charge, the caster stabs the crap out of some dude to also employ the shocking grasp (because he wants that dude deaddeaddead, for instance)? \$\endgroup\$ Jan 25, 2016 at 23:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ The first, though the second would be nice as well :-) \$\endgroup\$
    – Guss
    Jan 25, 2016 at 23:40
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ In that case, your DM may have to first answer this question. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 25, 2016 at 23:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ What do you mean with the phrase "it was suggested that the caster can deliver a shocking grasp spell using a simple metal weapon" - suggested by players in your group? By the rules? \$\endgroup\$
    – Giorin
    Jan 26, 2016 at 2:02

4 Answers 4


You can cast with any free hand; you don’t need two. So you can cast the spell in one hand and have the dagger in the other. And drawing a weapon is a move action anyway; if you have BAB +1 you can even do it while moving.

You cannot attack with the dagger to discharge shocking grasp however, simply because the rules allow you to discharge it with a touch attack, or with an unarmed strike, and with no other action. There is an ill-regarded and poorly-conceived line about unintentionally discharging the spell by touching anyone or anything. I strongly recommend ignoring it, as it conflicts the rest of the rules, and allows all manner of broken abuses.

As a form of circumstantial evidence, I point to all the variety of options for allowing weapon attacks to discharge spells: they all involve particular investment on your part. They would serve no purpose if you could do it without those investments. For examples, the spellsword class’s Channel Spell feature in Complete Warrior, the duskblade class’s Arcane Channeling as well as the Smiting Spell metamagic feat in Player’s Handbook II, and so on.


Responding directly to the last part of your question. I see one reason why it would not work (apart from the issue of making touch attacks with a weapon):

Holding the Charge: (...) If you touch anything or anyone while holding a charge, even unintentionally, the spell discharges. If you cast another spell, the touch spell dissipates. (PHB. p. 141)

Thus, if you draw your dagger after casting the spell, the spell discharges. This would probably mean it discharges on you, as your equipment is considered part of you.

The only way this might work is if you cast the spell while already touching the dagger. It is possible to cast with only one hand free. In that case you would have to cast with one hand but charge the other hand with the spell. Your DM would have to approve that.

There is evidence that this would be allowed by the rules in the PHB on how touch spells can be delivered.

Touch attacks come in two types: melee touch attacks (for touches made with, say, your hand) (PHB p.141)

Apparently charging other limbs - even tools or daggers? - with spells is acceptable for delivering touch spells.

Still, your DM would have to rule that holding the dagger while casting and charging the same hand with the spell does not qualifiy for discharging the spell immediately. Refering to the quote cited above he might even allow charging the dagger. But in that case he would have to answer first if weapons can be used for touch attacks.

  • \$\begingroup\$ In my games I allow it (electric damage through metal weapons already wielded) but demand a Concentration roll (spell fizzles if failed). \$\endgroup\$
    – Roflo
    Jan 26, 2016 at 16:59

In short being able to deliver shocking grasp with a melee weapon. yes, you can though through these means it is not considered a touch attack. still the means by which you can deliver a shocking grasp through a melee weapon are as follow (as far as i'm aware)

1:A spell storing weapon enchantment this enchantment lets you store a spell with a standard action that will be cast on the target when you successfully hit with the weapon (DMG,223-225).

2:spell channeling of a spellsword prestige class. A spellsword from complete warrior at level 4 gains the ability to channel a spell through his weapon 3 3 times a day (wouldn't recommend unless you like the idea of spellswords)(complete warrior,79-80)

3:then there is the dusk blade class (don't know source or origin) that is a class that i heard was a fix to make the spellsword prestige class idea viable but they have the same ability to channel spells into their weapon.

I would recomend just getting a spell storing weapon. But,yes it is possible to deliver a shocking grasp through a melee weapon.

I would reword the question a bit to encompass your idea but from a rule standpoint how to do what your asking is just poor wording of the touch attack the spell storing weapon would be the most viable for you.Without reworking your character.


If you take an imbued staff as your familiar you can deliver touch spells with it.


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