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The first effect of plane shift, a touch-range spell, is:

You and up to eight willing creatures who link hands in a circle are transported to a different plane. You can specify a target destination in general or specific terms, and you appear in or near that destination.

The second effect of the sorcerer's Distant Spell metamagic option is:

When you cast a spell that has a range of touch, you can spend 1 sorcery point to make the range of the spell 30 feet.

Keeping in mind the "specific beats general" rule:

If you use the Distant metamagic, could you target (up to 8) willing creatures (that aren't in touch range, but are within 30 feet) to plane shift with you?

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That's tricky, but it doesn't seem to be the case.

Let's Recap:

  • The target of the spell is a group of willing creatures holding hands in a circle that you are touching.

  • Distant Metamagic lets you use a touch spell at 30 feet range.

With this my conclusion is: You can target a group of 8 or less willing targets holding hands in a circle up to 30 feet away from you. You will plane shift with this group because you are "touching" them from afar.

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There are two possible interpretations of the phrase "you and up to eight willing creatures who link hands". The first is that the eight willing creatures must link hands, while you do not, in which case this answer is correct.

Note that without a comma to indicate, there is no way to be certain which interpretation is correct. However, it's noteworthy that the spell has both somatic and material components, which suggests you do not have to link hands, since you need a free hand to manipulate said components.

In the second interpretation, where you must also link hands, Distant Spell will increase the range of the spell to 30 feet, but it will have no effect on the requirement that you link hands. If you found a way to link hands with them without touching them, you could then cast the spell from 30 feet away.

Sadly, cutting off your hands so that they can hold them while you cast the spell from a distance won't work, as you won't be able to perform the somatic components or manipulate the material components, and you can't use Subtle Spell since you can't use more than one metamagic on a single spell.

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