I know war caster negates the need of a free hand for somatic components, but it's not negating the need of an extra limb for manipulating materials! (I know you can use the same hand for both material and somatic components, and foci can be used instead of material components that are not valuable.) Since Arcane focus does not work like holy symbols (ex drawn on shields), how the hell is an Eldritch Knight supposed to use its war magic class feature with a shield without juggling weapons??

Is this a RAW problem? Or is the War Caster feat specifically better for divine casters? Or are Eldritch Knights not meant to use shields?

Sorry if this one is a duplicate, I just couldn't find the exact problem in any other topic.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Related, sort of a duplicate but not exactly. \$\endgroup\$
    – Miniman
    Commented Jul 13, 2016 at 15:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also related / sort of a duplicate. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jon
    Commented Jul 13, 2016 at 15:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, thx for that but the answers over there seems to implicate that you can actually cast with a shield if you habe warcaster, which i cant see how since it only negates the need for somatics \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 13, 2016 at 15:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ @jon yup if that one is legit, that means there is no way for shield EK utilising war magic without some stretching and also, it gets in the murky waters of dropping weapon free action mechanic, which may still mean you cant use war magic with a shield if you cant both drop and pick in same round \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 13, 2016 at 15:54

2 Answers 2


I don't know if it is awkward to answer my own question but after my last game, i now have a more plausible answer in general, just sharing it here for future reference :

Most of the spells that an Eldritch Knight uses in thick of battle, does not require material components thus making the need for a foci redundant and having war caster feat feasible for shield bearing EKs using war magic class feature without further mingling with RAW weapon switching or tiny/wearable foci etc.

A happy ending!

Edit : For a workaround to this problem Apocalisp's answer is better within RAW.
Those of you who like house-ruling can modify EK's bond with it's weapons to count as arcane focus to specifically bypass this problem.

  • \$\begingroup\$ It's fine to answer your own question. You might want to just delete that first paragraph. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tim Grant
    Commented Jul 14, 2016 at 23:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ Eldritch Knights can't use an arcane focus. The Sor/Wiz/Lock rules all explicitly say those classes can use a focus, but the EK rules don't. How does an arcane focus work with an Eldritch Knight? \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 17, 2020 at 18:29

An arcane focus can be a very small item. For a War Caster Eldritch Knight, I'd rule that you can wear your arcane focus, that you can hold it in your shield hand on the inside of your shield, that it could be a rune carved in your shield, or even that your weapon or shield could serve as the focus.

For example, in one campaign I'm running, we have a War Priest who is also a War Caster. He literally uses his sword as his holy symbol. I think that is very much in the spirit of RAI for War Caster.

If your DM is particularly picky on RAW, you could see if they allow you to have your arcane focus (e.g. a crystal or other small object) mounted on your shield or weapon. Work with your DM to figure out the cost of doing this. Strictly speaking a War Caster needs to be able to manipulate the arcane focus, but does not otherwise need to use their hands for spellcasting. So that might be a way around.

Do note that any character, War Caster or not, can sheathe their weapon, cast their spell, and then use the next turn's interaction to draw the weapon again. Failing that, a strict reading of RAW says you can drop your weapon for free. Then you can cast your spell as your action and use your "one object interaction" to pick up your weapon again on the same turn. For these reasons, I usually don't bother keeping track of item juggling for spellcasters in my campaigns, as it serves little purpose other than slowing the game down.

Then you ask "what is the point of the War Caster feat, since any spellcaster can manipulate the action economy in this way?" Well, besides the fact that the feat gives you an advantage on saving throws to keep concentrating on spells in the face of damage, and it grants the ability to cast spells as opportunity attacks, it lets you cast a somatic spell with both hands full of weapons/shields in circumstances where sheathing/dropping your weapon is not an option.

For example, War Caster Eldritch Knights can be holding a shield, draw their weapon, attack with that weapon, and then use an action surge to cast a somatic spell, all on the same turn. They can also use a reaction to cast a spell (opportunity attacks or prepared actions), with weapons in both hands. Quite a feat.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the answer, i am the dm of the game, i just didnt wanted to favor one of my npcs in a way that i wouldnt a pc. In my experience, players like consistency more than conveniency so we prefer explaining RAW in in-game manner than heading straiht for RAI. This issue is either something about balance of divine vs arcane , or just a plain oversight, a system with a fast paced rules such as 5e shouldnt be about workarounds like dropping and picking etc. Well we will find a suitable answer in game i guess. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 13, 2016 at 19:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ Note that RAW, an arcane focus is "an orb, a crystal, a rod, a specially constructed staff, a wand-like length of wood, or some similar item." The last entry there gives precedent to the notion of weapons as focuses, such as, e.g., a focus staff being a more expensive quarterstaff. Apart from that, a Ruby of the War Mage can be used to treat a weapon as a focus, providing a purely RAW option if @BeigeWillow allows XGtE. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 16, 2021 at 0:47

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .