In my group, I have a Cleric 1/ Bard 1 character. He bangs on his engraved shield (cleric focus) to turn it into a war drum (bard focus).

What are the rules concerning if a player can have two different class foci, and if they can be the same thing?


3 Answers 3


They have to be different spellcasting foci if the classes require two types of spellcasing foci

PHB page 164.

Spells Known and Prepared

Each spell you know and prepare is associated with one of your classes, and you use the spellcasting ability of that class when you cast the spell. Similarly, a spellcasting focus, such as a holy symbol, can be used only for the spells from the class associated with that focus.

This is under Chapter 6 which deals with multiclassing. If you have two classes that require two types of spellcasing foci (a holy symbol and a musical instrument for a cleric/bard), he/she must have both foci handy.

A Components Pouch Can Be Used Across Classes

A component pouch acts mechanically the same as a spellcasting focus, but it has no restrictions about which classes can or cannot use it. A cleric/bard can use the same component pouch to cast cleric and bard spells.

  • 11
    \$\begingroup\$ I'm not sure if I am alone on this, but I think that the rule might be misinterpreted. I think it is just saying that you can only use a focus to cast your own spells. E.g. you cannot use your cleric focus to cast wizard spells. This however does not speak about having multiple focuses on a single object. Albeit I acknowledge that it could certainly go both ways. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 17, 2016 at 16:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Sh4d0wsPlyr I agree. The only explicit meaning to the rule quoted is that, for instance, a holy symbol must be used tor casting Cleric spells; a musical instrument must be used for casting Bard spells; etc. It doesn't say that the same item cannot be both a musical instrument and a holy symbol, as an example of one item being two different types of spellcasting foci. I haven't seen any rule that would outlaw using an engraved shield as a holy symbol for Cleric spells as well as being able to bang on it as if it were a drum to cast Bard spells. \$\endgroup\$
    – callahan09
    Mar 17, 2016 at 16:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Sh4d0wsPlyr You can have multiple foci on a single object -- eg, a necklace with a holy symbol and an arcane focus, for example. But a "holy symbol" and a "musical instrument" are two different items as the handbook defines them separately. \$\endgroup\$
    – user27327
    Mar 17, 2016 at 18:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ From a balance point of view, would there be any major issues in allowing a character to have a combined focus? \$\endgroup\$
    – Obie 2.0
    Nov 29, 2018 at 5:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ But what about the god of music and magic... couldn't he have a holy symbol that was a flute? \$\endgroup\$
    – Slagmoth
    Sep 12, 2019 at 17:55

Yes, you can have multiple spell-casting foci on a single object

I should make a distinction, yes you can have multiple spell-casting foci on a single object. However you cannot use a single focus to cast spells for the others (e.g. the clerics focus should be used to cast cleric spells). Also some are mutually exclusive.

As your example, a holy symbol definition can be found on pg. 154 of the PHB. It states...

Holy Symbol. A holy symbol is a representation of a god or pantheon. lt might be an amulet depicting a symbol representing a deity, the same symbol carefully engraved or inlaid as an emblem on a shield, or a tiny box holding a fragment of a sacred relic. Appendix B lists the symbols commonly associated with many gods in the multiverse. A cleric or paladin can use a holy symbol as a spellcasting focus, as described in chapter lO. To use the symbol in this way, the caster must hold it in hand, wear it visibly, or bear it on a shield. [PHB, Pg. 154]

So the important factor of the cleric focus is the symbol/emblem/engraving. The items becomes the focus once it has this attribute. There is some discussion in regards to having multiple foci on a single object, however the rule states the following...

Similarly, a spellcasting focus, such as a holy symbol, can be used only for the spells from the class associated with that focus. [PHB, Pg. 164]

This means that your cleric focus cannot be substituted as say a spellbook for a Wizard, or a musical instrument for a Bard. This however does not imply that a focus cannot have multiple foci on it. Some examples...

  1. A wizard whos staff has a symbol of his deity engraved could be used for Wizard and Cleric/Paladin spells.
  2. A musical weapon with an engraving for a deity could be used as a holy symbol (as well as a Bard's focus).

I do believe most of this is up to interpretation however, and it is probably best to ask the DM before you make this assumption. And one last point - a focus can be substituted for a components bag. So in reality, other then being a bit of flavor for your character, the only real difference is that you might save some gold not having to buy components.

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    \$\begingroup\$ @LegendaryDude [Citation Needed]. And if you have one, that’s a better answer than any posted here currently. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Mar 17, 2016 at 19:03
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @LegendaryDude - whatever is special about a holy symbol, and whatever is special about an arcane focus, couldn't those two different kinds of secret sauce be put into the same object? Perhaps by crafting the arcane focus specially and then having it consecrated to the deity. Slippery slope, though, maybe. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    Mar 17, 2016 at 19:04
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Just to clarify, the engraving is specifically mentioned as needing to be on a shield: the same symbol carefully engraved or inlaid as an emblem on a shield. \$\endgroup\$
    – user27327
    Mar 17, 2016 at 19:11
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ But then you could end up with a shield made from oak with a tambourine built into it with an amulet built into the handle with a holy symbol on front for a bard-cleric-druid-arcane focus. A sort of Swiss Army focus. Convenient, but somehow it seems too much. I guess you could make them work for it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    Mar 17, 2016 at 19:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ @markovchain The wording "it might be" suggests that those are just examples of possible holy symbols, and not an exhaustive list. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 17, 2016 at 19:23

No, you cannot do this. Spellcasting foci are discrete items in the rules.

The fact that Chapter 5, Equipment has discrete entries for each type of spellcasting focus -- arcane, bardic, druidic, and holy symbol -- indicates that each focus is a discrete object. The equipment chapter lists the various mundane weapons, armors, and other pieces of a gear an adventurer might come across or want to buy throughout the course of his or her adventures.

The equipment section has several sections. The one we are concerned with is the one titled Adventuring Gear.

The introduction for this section says:

This section describes items that have special rules or require further explanation.

As we read through this section, we see many different items listed, from alchemist's fire to ball bearings to potions of healing to 10' telescoping poles. We also see that for each type of spellcasting focus, there is a discrete entry.

Using the rules and information in the book as a basis, when a character in game goes to the store and buys a bag of ball bearings, he doesn't get to ask the shopkeep if his bag can be special and also include caltrops. Even though ball bearings and caltrops serve a similar purpose and are used in a similar way, you can't combine the two into a special bag of ball-bearing caltrops. They are discrete items described separately in the book.

Now, at this point you might say, "well, what's to stop me from mixing those two items together?"

The answer is, simply, nothing. The rules don't say anything at all about that, so if you want to it's up to you and your DM to determine how that works. Still, it's not something the rules say you can do with those items.

We can apply the same logic to spellcasting foci. Each focus type has its own discrete entry in the book. There is an entry for arcane focus, for bardic focus, druidic focus, and holy symbol. Each object is a specific type of adventuring gear that, according to this section of the book, [has] special rules or require[s] further explanation.

Furthermore, when we look at the table of adventuring gear, we see specific items (5e SRD or Basic Rules):

Arcane focus

Item Cost Weight
Crystal 10 gp 1 lb.
Orb 20 gp 3 lb.
Rod 10 gp 2 lb.
Staff 5 gp 4 lb.
Wand 10 gp 1 lb.

Druidic focus

Item Cost Weight
Sprig of mistletoe 1 gp
Totem 1 gp
Wooden staff 5 gp 4 lb.
Yew wand 10 gp 1 lb.

Holy symbol

Item Cost Weight
Amulet 5 gp 1 lb.
Emblem 5 gp
Reliquary 5 gp 2 lb.

Musical instrument

Item Cost Weight
Bagpipes 30 gp 6 lb.
Drum 6 gp 3 lb.
Dulcimer 25 gp 10 lb.
Flute 2 gp 1 lb.
Lute 35 gp 2 lb.
Lyre 30 gp 2 lb.
Horn 3 gp 2 lb.
Panflute 12 gp 2 lb.
Shawm 2 gp 1 lb.
Viol 30 gp 1 lb.

Notice that in the above list, the emblem does not list a weight. In accordance with the description of the holy symbol entry in this chapter, it could be an emblem on a shield, so in that case it has no weight of its own.

If the entries were not discrete -- if there was one entry that said "Spellcasting focus" and it had rules for each spellcasting type -- and there were not specific foci that you can actually purchase, with costs, then I can see a case for combining multiple foci into a single item. As it stands, the rules are clear -- one entry for arcane focus, one entry for druidic focus, one entry for bardic focus, and one entry for divine focus. They are discrete items by the rules and combining them into some other object not outlined in the rules is entering house rule territory.

  • 8
    \$\begingroup\$ The emblem entry in that list deserves special mention, since it does get combined with another item (though, as I recall, it must explicitly be a shield). The weight entry for that particular case is useful making your case about the rest of the options. Though I think your ball bearings and caltrops example is at once flawed and illuminating: it would be kind of absurd to say a character can’t buy both bags, and pour half the contents of each into two “mixed bags.” By the same token, affixing a holy symbol to a staff seems like it should work. I think you should address that. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Mar 17, 2016 at 20:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ As counter examples, it seems to me that a "Yew Wand" could be used as a focus for a Druid and a Wizard, though a "Wand" would only work for a Wizard. Likewise a "Wooden staff" could be so used, while a "Staff" was likewise limited. Expanding this, a flute made of Yew could be a focus for Bards, Druids and Wizards. An argument could be made that adding a holy symbol to the end of the flute would also allow it to be used by a Cleric. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 17, 2016 at 21:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan I tried to address the example of mixing ball bearings and caltrops, I'm not sure if it helped much but maybe it does. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 17, 2016 at 21:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MichaelRichardson My primary argument is not that the adventuring gear lists specific items under each category, but that the spellcasting foci are actually listed as separate items with their own rules. They are, in the rules, discrete objects, even if their general categories have overlap (your example of yew wand vs. wand). You have an arcane focus, or a druidic focus, or both as discrete items; in the rules they are still separate items. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 17, 2016 at 22:00
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @LegendaryDude That is true, but there is precedent for combining two separate items, where one item is a focus (Emblem + shield). It may at least be plausible for two different foci to be combined, if it can be done in a manner that doesn't damage the properties that make them foci. Or at the very least, for a DM to plausibly house rule it. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 15, 2018 at 1:20

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