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I have a Light Domain Cleric who gets, as part of the Light Domain, the Burning Hands spell. Can I cast this spell while carrying a shield?

I subscribe to the idea that one physically must touch one's thumbs together and spread one's fingers per the spell as the somatic component of the spell. Is it reasonable to think that a Cleric with a shield strapped to their arm is able to make such a gesture and not burn their own shield?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Size of shield you're expecting the Cleric to be wielding? \$\endgroup\$ – Drunk Cynic Jun 2 '16 at 5:11
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If a spell requires a somatic component, the caster must have free use of at least one hand to perform these gestures.

You do not have free use of a hand if that hand is holding a shield. If you rule that Burning Hands requires free use of two hands to perform its somatic component, then by default you cannot cast it while also holding a shield.

The War Caster feat, of course, allows casting while holding weapons and/or a shield.

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    \$\begingroup\$ "If you rule that Burning Hands requires free use of two hands"... It does. Check this answer by SSD rpg.stackexchange.com/a/46604/11402 \$\endgroup\$ – Mindwin Jun 27 '17 at 9:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mindwin If it wasn't a disputable issue, SSD wouldn't've taken 700 words to argue the point. I'm pretty comfortable with "If you rule..." as the most helpful phrasing. I will definitely add that link, though! \$\endgroup\$ – Sebkha Jun 28 '17 at 11:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ if word count was measurement of disputability, Fermat's last theorem would not be one of the greatest mysteries of XX century mathematics. \$\endgroup\$ – Mindwin Jun 28 '17 at 13:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ All in all, everything is fine. I'll delete my answer because yours is just fine. +1 \$\endgroup\$ – Mindwin Jun 28 '17 at 13:45
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There is actually an answer from Jeremy Crawford that might answer this question.

can a Cleric or Paladin cast spells requiring somatic components when wielding weapon + shield emblazoned with holy symbol?

I'd say yes if the holy symbol is being used as the material component of the spell, so yes if "S, M," but no if only "S." -J

Since the Burning Hands spell does not require a material, the shield cannot be used as the somatic component.

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