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The spectral hand spell creates a hovering hand that delivers touch spells you cast.
Purging the description from informations that are not useful to this question, this is the spell's description:

  1. A ghostly hand materializes and moves as you desire, allowing you to deliver low-level, touch range spells at a distance for as long as the spell [spectral hand] lasts.
  2. Attacking with the hand counts normally as an attack.

So, the hand delivers some spells. A DM of mine tells me that the hand must be directed to the targets as a move action according to this rule:

Redirect a spell

Redirect an active spell's effect at a specific target or targets. Redirecting a spell is a move action and does not provoke an attack of opportunity.

...while I believe the targets are the targets of the delivered spell, chosen with the act of casting the spell. On the same fashion, it's my understanding he also disagrees with me on 2. because to me it's the attack you get as part of casting the touch spell, to him it's a new attack you must spend a separate standard action on.

Except from "the DM is always right", is one of our interpretations surely wrong?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 7 down vote accepted

The Spectral Hand spell is notoriously unclear. Nevertheless, I'd say you're right regarding this particular point.

  1. You mentioned the real selling point yourself, "attacking with the hand counts normally as an attack". This gives it a place in the 3.5 action economy, the one of replacing an attack. Importantly, there is nothing suggesting the spell requires other actions.
  2. There is no mention of the Spectral Hand spell ever being directed. It is an effect that hovers near you, the act of using it to deliver touch spells is not referred to as "directing" it.
  3. Spells that require (re)directing say they do. Look at Spiritual Weapon or Flaming Sphere.
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I should downvote me for insufficient research...

There's a FAQ on this problem and it reads:

What kind of action is it to attack with a spectral hand spell?
Attacking with a spectral hand is part of the action of casting the touch spell to be delivered. If the initial touch attack misses, you can make additional attacks with the spectral hand in later rounds using the normal rules for holding the charge of a touch spell (PH 176).

Being the attack part of casting the spell, it excludes the standard action and arguably even the movement one.

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2  
The FAQ is very often wrong and is not considered a trusted source in the general 3.5 community; I wouldn't fault you for coming to the Stack before trusting its garbage. –  Lord_Gareth Jul 8 '13 at 16:26
    
I consider the FAQ to be ok when it does not contradict the primary sources. In this specific case, the primary source does not tell if the spell is subject to the redirect a spell rules so I'll trust the FAQ. - Stack Exchange is a great site but it's even more far from being official than the FAQs. –  Zachiel Jul 9 '13 at 10:59

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