Bigby’s Hand goes back to 3rd edition. Back then, it was simply called Bigsby’s Grasping Hand because that was all you could do with it at a higher level. Bigby’s Forceful Hand was a completely separate spell at a lower level.
The idea was that the better you got at controlling your magic, the better you could throw these hands. Like a pencil-thin Mike Tyson or a DC universe Ryan Reynolds.
Luckily, in Dungeons and Dragons 5e, they split the difference between the two versions of the spell and simply called it Bigby’s Hand, placing it squarely at 5th level.
In addition, they gave us more options on how to use it. In addition to grasping and forcing, it can also interpose and clench like a good friend with negligible boundaries and an exuberant personality.
This spell also made an appearance on Amazon Prime’s Vox Machina, where the bard Scanlan used this as his signature spell, often flying away into the night seated on this kingly palm.
As a bard, he would have had to wait until he gained the Magical Secrets ability to cast it, but the wait was clearly worth it.
My hope is that you will also find this spell worth the wait. In this post, we will discuss all of the considerations of Bigby’s hand before wrapping up with an FAQ section.
Straight up, this spell slaps.
- Casting Time: 1 action
- Range: 120 ft.
- Duration: 1 minute
- School: Evocation
- Class: Wizard, Artificer The Fathomless
- Level: 5
- Damage/Effect: Bludgeoning, Grappled, Shove
- Attack/Save: Special
- Components: Verbal, Somatic, Material
- Ritual/Concentration: Concentration
Spell Description: You create a Large hand of shimmering, translucent force in an unoccupied space that you can see within range. The hand lasts for the spell’s duration, and it moves at your command, mimicking the movements of your own hand.
The hand is an object that has AC 20 and hit points equal to your hit point maximum. If it drops to 0 hit points, the spell ends. It has a Strength of 26 (+8) and a Dexterity of 10 (+0). The hand doesn’t fill its space.
When you cast the spell and as a bonus action on your subsequent turns, you can move the hand up to 60 feet and then cause one of the following effects with it.
- Clenched Fist. The hand strikes one creature or object within 5 feet of it. Make a melee spell attack for the hand using your game statistics. On a hit, the target takes 4d8 force damage.
- Forceful Hand. The hand attempts to push a creature within 5 feet of it in a direction you choose. Make a check with the hand’s Strength contested by the Strength (Athletics) check of the target. If the target is Medium or smaller, you have advantage on the check. If you succeed, the hand pushes the target up to 5 feet plus a number of feet equal to five times your spellcasting ability modifier. The hand moves with the target to remain within 5 feet of it.
- Grasping Hand. The hand attempts to grapple a Huge or smaller creature within 5 feet of it. You use the hand’s Strength score to resolve the grapple. If the target is Medium or smaller, you have advantage on the check. While the hand is grappling the target, you can use a bonus action to have the hand crush it. When you do so, the target takes bludgeoning damage equal to 2d6 + your spellcasting ability modifier.
- Interposing Hand. The hand interposes itself between you and a creature you choose until you give the hand a different command. The hand moves to stay between you and the target, providing you with half cover against the target. The target can’t move through the hand’s space if its Strength score is less than or equal to the hand’s Strength score. If its Strength score is higher than the hand’s Strength score, the target can move toward you through the hand’s space, but that space is difficult terrain for the target.
At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 6th level or higher, the damage from the clenched fist option increases by 2d8, and the damage from the grasping hand increases by 2d6 for each slot level above 5th.
Who Can Cast Bigby’s Hand?
Wizards can cast Bigby’s hand. So can Artificers and Fathomless Warlocks.
Since Artificers are support characters almost like Arcane clerics, it would make sense for them to be able to cast this spell — more than, say, a sorcerer.
Sorcerer spellcasting lends itself “nuke-em-all” style magic, filled with big explosions and terrain-changing effects. Personally, I don’t believe this should be enough to exclude Bigby’s hand, however.
Another possible reason this spell is excluded from the sorcerer list is the fact that the spell was designed by Bigby, according to Dungeons and Dragons lore. Since Bigby was a wizard, he made a spell that wizards could reproduce. Sorcerers are all unique magicians.
But this leads to the greater debate of whether mechanics reflect canon or whether canon should reflect mechanics. There’s a whole metaphysical problem of breaking the 4th wall here by the designers that, frankly, is worth several posts.
Fathomless Warlocks can also cast this spell for some reason, but who knows why The Fathomless do anything they do. Maybe Bigby’s hand is shaped like a giant tentacle in this case. Either way, the restriction here doesn’t make sense to me, but there it is.
Who Should Cast Bigby’s Hand?
Bigby’s hand is versatile enough to fit nearly every type of magical caster. It can be supportive, like an open palm. It can be combative, like a fist. It can be protective, like a middle finger to your enemies. And it can hold you, like a python.
Support casters would want to make use of the interposing hand to protect the party. They could also use forceful hand to carry themselves or the party like a flying carpet.
Damage-dealing spellcasters will make use of clenched fist and grasping hand to go on the offensive. Fathomless Warlocks will use any of it to do whatever it is they do. And it will probably be slimy and involve giant tentacles.
When Should You Cast Bigby’s Hand?
Bigby’s hand is useful enough to cast at any time. Just make sure you use the various properties correctly.
Interposing Hand only works when it is between “you and a creature you choose,” so you can’t just use the hand as general cover, sadly. The hand focuses on one target in this case, but use this version of the spell to protect yourself from ranged attacks or from a charging monster.
If you are being grappled and you still manage to cast the spell, then you can manifest the hand right in between you two, forcing the target to release the grapple.
Grasping hand is for when you want to grapple back. Being a wizard, this will be a new experience for you, I’m sure. It will be good to refresh yourself on the rules for grappling. The main thing grappling does is stop a creature from moving. If you wish to drag a creature, you can only drag them at half the speed of Bigby’s hand, which is 30 feet as a bonus action. You can also give them a little squeeze to deal damage.
Forceful hand is when you use the hand to simply push or move things out of the way, including creatures. The obvious use here is to make a shove attack that can knock your enemies prone or push them into environmental hazards.
Alternatively, you can use this option to push furniture and other moveable terrain to create cover and difficult terrain or to remove such obstacles. This is also the option you will use when you want to move yourself or a party member. We will discuss this more in the FAQ section below.
Clenched fist is the simplest option. Sometimes, there is no cleverness required. You just need to monk up and punch something.
Common Questions About Bigby’s Hand
We have scoured the internet to find the most common questions cried into the ether-webs and corralled them all here for you because we love you.
Can You Use Bigby’s Hand To Fly?
Yes! You can use the forceful hand option to willingly fail your Strength check and fly uncontrollably for 5 feet + (5 x your ability modifier).
This is a dangerous way to fly, and you are probably better off casting the spell. That being said, for flavor’s sake, you can say that the fly spell manifests as a giant pink hand that you ride into the night, or whatever.
Can your whole party fit onto the hand and fly? No. It only targets one creature, regardless of how you try to work it. To have your whole party ride something like the hand, you will probably want to cast floating disk and make it look like a giant pink hand if you like.
Can You Throw Something With Bigby’s Hand?
Yes, you can, but depending on what it is you are throwing, you should consider the catapult spell instead. Otherwise, you will just be using the forceful hand version of the spell.
Can You Break Down Walls With Bigby’s Hand?
Yes. Simply look at the rules for smashing and breaking objects, and then use the clenched fist option of Bigby’s hand.
How Many People Can You Carry With Bigby’s Hand?
Only one at a time. If you want to carry more, you should cast floating disk.
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I played the game a lot as a kid, back in first edition. Over the past few years since 5e was released, I’ve really started getting back into it. Currently, I run a campaign online for some friends and my brothers, and we also play a side-sesh just to mix things up.