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This question is similar, but not identical to: The Hand from Maximillian's Earthen Grasp - where can it move?

Whereas the aforementioned question is about whether the hand’s movement is measured from the hand’s point of view or from the caster’s, this question revolves around the total distance the hand can travel to reach its destination.

To illustrate, let me give an example: Two narrow stone pillars stand next to each other, 10 feet apart. They are several kilometers high and on top of each pillar stands a wizard. One wizard casts Maximillian's Earthen Grasp and lets the hand made from compacted soil rise from the ground on his own pillar. With another action, he wants to move the hand in order to restrain the other wizard, who is within range of 30 feet.

Would the hand retract into his own pillar, then rise again from the ground on the other pillar? Or would the hand move several kilometers down the first pillar, across the floor, then several kilometers up the second pillar? What if both pillars would float in the Astral Plane, without a direct ground-based connection between them?

This might seem like a stupid and unnecessary convoluted question, but lo and behold, something similar happened in one of my games.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Am I missing something or is there no reason to assume the hand has to be linked to the ground? \$\endgroup\$ – LordHieros Mar 28 '18 at 7:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Lord Hieros --> Oh, I always assumed that the hand would rise from the ground, but stay connected to the ground as well. I never imagined a free-floating hand made from soil. \$\endgroup\$ – hohenheim Mar 28 '18 at 7:52
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Range: 30 feet

You choose a 5-foot-square unoccupied space on the ground that you can see within range. Medium hand made from compacted soil rises there and reaches for one creature you can see within 5 feet of it.

The places where the hand can "rise" are 5 feet vertically down from you on all 4 sides (in which case it grabs you) or the 5 feet vertically down from him (so it grabs him) where you can see it (so not on the far side). You could cause it to emerge from 6 to 30 feet below you or 6 to 20 feet below him (because his piller is 10 feet away) but it couldn't then grab anyone.

As an action, you can cause the hand to reach for a different creature or to move to a different unoccupied space within range.

Range is always measured from where you currently are - not where you were when you cast the spell. So you can move the hand within 30 feet of where you are at any point on your turn by using your action.

In context, "unoccupied space" probably inherits the "on the ground" and "that you can see" from the first paragraph - at least, that's how I would rule it. Other DMs may say that these constraints are no longer applicable so the hand could be moved to free air behind the other guy's piller. In either case, it doesn't get to try to grab a creature with that action - you need another action to do that.

How it moves from place to place is easy: its magic! If you want to imagine it teleporting, or sinking into the ground and reemerging, or running along like Thing from the Addams Family, that's up to you.

enter image description here

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    \$\begingroup\$ I am struggling to understand what this answer is actually saying in reference to the situation in the question. Just me? Do I need more caffeine? \$\endgroup\$ – SeriousBri Mar 28 '18 at 8:51
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A spell does what it says it does

Maximilian's Earthen Grasp:

You choose a 5-foot-square unoccupied space on the ground that you can see within range. A Medium hand made from compacted soil rises there and reaches for one creature you can see within 5 feet of it

As an action, you can cause the hand to reach for a different creature or to move to a different unoccupied space within range.

Range being 30 feet, you can move it 30 feet. Since there is no requirement for it to be hovering a maximum amount over the ground, be linked to the ground or anything of the sort, you can move it 30 feet as an action. So visually you can decide how it looks, but it can move 30 feet.

BTW, in your example, if you want to restrain the other wizard, it's not a good idea to create the hand at your sides, since you'll need an action to move the hand at his side and then another to restrain him. If you create the hand at his side you can restrain him immediately.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I know that creating the hand with one action, movnig the hand with another, then reaching for someone with a third action is not a good strategy during combat. The given example was meant to illustrate a complicated sitaution, not to reflect an actual game plan for any character. \$\endgroup\$ – hohenheim Mar 28 '18 at 8:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ It was just a little addendum at the end of a short answetr, if you feel it's distracting from the answer I could erase that bit. \$\endgroup\$ – LordHieros Mar 28 '18 at 8:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ @hohenheim you will find a lot of the answers on this site cover the basics; it isn't because they assume you don't know, but to help anyone else who doesn't know and stumbles upon this question. \$\endgroup\$ – SeriousBri Mar 28 '18 at 8:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ I wanted to make the example as short as possible, so I included a suboptimal choice on the part of the caster. I know that one can only move the hand OR reach for the target. But yeah, someone else might not know this and so it makes sense to mention it in the answer. Sorry for my dismissive comment. \$\endgroup\$ – hohenheim Mar 28 '18 at 8:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ No problem at all, just remember that even if something in an answer is superfluous to you, it could be important to someone else \$\endgroup\$ – LordHieros Mar 28 '18 at 9:01

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