Gaining a free hand

Using the rules as we are, you may find yourself desperate to free up a hand to grab a potion, cast a spell, etc. Here are a number of options that are actually straight from the 3.5e rules, but often overlooked:

  1. Drop your weapon. This is a free action. May not be practical if flying, swimming, on a ledge or bridge, waterwalking, etc. Picking it up again will provoke an attack of opportunity.
  2. If wearing a light shield, switch your weapon to your shield hand. I’ll allow this as a free action but you need to declare it. If you’re using a buckler the shield hand is already considered free for any action except wielding a weapon.
  3. Loose the shield. This is a move action*. It’s easy to find historical references to shields that had straps, allowing the shield’s weight to be borne across the shoulders. Strapping the shield back on again is another move action* that does not provoke an attack of opportunity.
  4. Keep your weapon sheathed. Drawing a weapon is a move action* or can be done as part of a move (see below) or with Quickdraw its always a free action.
*If you character has a base attack bonus of +1 or higher you can draw a weapon, loose or ready a shield as part of a regular move.
  • See Table 8-2 in PHB3.5 (p.141) for more combat actions

Gaining a free hand

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