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In Volo's Guide to Monsters, bugbears have the ability Long-Limbed:

Long-Limbed. When you make a melee attack on your turn, your reach for it is 5 feet greater than normal.

This ability doesn't specify weapon or spell so I assumed it could be applied to melee spell attacks as well as melee weapon attacks. So at a session zero I was discussing this character with when I was told by a my friend, who was a player, melee spell attacks like shocking grasp aren't affected by the long-limbed ability. I'm not sure why it wouldn't, any help would be appreciated thanks.

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As long as you can touch the target you can cast shocking grasp on it

Since shocking grasp has a range of touch, your bugbear must be able to reach the target before the melee spell attack commences. The rules don't explicitly define how far a creature can actually reach their arms and touch something. However, your trait is called "long-limbed" and it allows you to make melee attacks from 10 feet away, so it is incredibly reasonable to assume that you can reach that same distance for the purpose of simply touching something.

So, talk to your DM and make sure they agree that it is reasonable to allow you to use your long arms to touch the target of the spell. If they agree, everything works like you want it to.


However, to clarify the general confusion about melee spell attacks:

Melee spell attacks are melee attacks

Melee attacks are a category that include melee weapon attacks and melee spell attacks. Thus, the feature applies to melee spell attacks as well.

A melee attack typically uses a handheld weapon such as a sword, a warhammer, or an axe. A typical monster makes a melee attack when it strikes with its claws, horns, teeth, tentacles, or other body part. A few spells also involve making a melee attack. (PHB 195)

And Jeremy Crawford has clarified and agrees on Twitter:

A melee spell attack is, indeed, a melee attack...

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  • \$\begingroup\$ As RAW one can even parse this as "your range becomes touch + 5 feet so you don't have to touch". Definitely not RAI though \$\endgroup\$ – OganM Jun 5 '18 at 20:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @OganM Not quite, the reach doesn't increase when casting a spell; only when making a melee attack (you select targets when you cast the spell) so you could make the melee attack at "touch+5" but the target you selected still has to be touched \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron Jun 5 '18 at 22:38
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The Bugbear's ability does apply.

From PHB p. 193-194 (or here in the Basic Rules):

Whether you’re striking with a melee weapon, firing a weapon at range, or making an attack roll as part of a spell, an attack has a simple structure.

[...]

If there’s ever any question whether something you’re doing counts as an attack, the rule is simple: if you’re making an attack roll, you’re making an attack.

A spell attack, such as Shocking Grasp, which makes an attack roll, is an attack.

From PHB p. 195 (or here in the Basic Rules):

Used in hand-to-hand combat, a melee attack allows you to attack a foe within your reach. A melee attack typically uses a handheld weapon such as a sword, a warhammer, or an axe. A typical monster makes a melee attack when it strikes with its claws, horns, teeth, tentacles, or other body part. A few spells also involve making a melee attack.

A melee spell attack is a melee attack.

There's no ambiguity here - the Bugbear's increased reach does apply to melee spell attacks, because a melee spell attack is, unsurprisingly, a melee attack.

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Yes, you can cast the spell at 10ft reach

Shocking grasp involves a melee spell attack, which is a type of melee attack.

From the PHB (emphasis mine):

Melee Attacks

Used in hand-to-hand combat, a melee attack allows you to attack a foe within your reach. A melee attack typically uses a handheld weapon such as a sword, a warhammer, or an axe. A typical monster makes a melee attack when it strikes with its claws, horns, teeth, tentacles, or other body part. A few spells also involve making a melee attack.

Most creatures have a 5-foot reach and can thus attack targets within 5 feet of them when making a melee attack. Certain creatures (typically those larger than Medium) have melee attacks with a greater reach than 5 feet, as noted in their descriptions.

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