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This was inspired by Can Bigby's Hand attempt Strength and Dexterity saving throws? (and in fact this first bit was copy-pasted from it, but with different bold emphasis):

The spell description for Bigby's hand on PHB p. 218 (listed as arcane hand in the SRD) states:

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 Strength score is used for a few of the hand's specified uses (bold emphasis mine):

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. [...]

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. [...]

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.

But what is the Dexterity score for? It's not mentioned anywhere besides stating that it's 10 (+0). It seems strange that they'd include it (and not CON, INT, WIS or CHA) if it isn't actually relevant, so that it is included implies is has a use. If that use isn't for making saving throws, then what is it for?


Note: This is not a "designer reasons" question; I accept that it is included in the spell's description, whatever their reasons. I am not looking for designer quotes or speculation on why they included it. My question is, given that it is included, what is its purpose? What are ways, within the rules that we have, that this ability score would come into play for Bigby's Hand?

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The Dexterity score could be used to make Dexterity checks.

The description of Bigby's Hand includes this sentence in the first paragraph:

The hand lasts for the spell's duration, and it moves at your command, mimicking the movements of your own hand.

Everything the follows in the spell description can be read as exceptions to this. That is, in addition to mimicking the movements of your hand, Bigby's Hand can punch, grasp, and interpose according to the spell description. You can also do ordinary hand-things with it, like opening a closed portcullis, or unfurling the sails on a ship. If you attempt a task in this way that requires a Strength check, you use the hand's Strength of 26. And if you attempt a task that requires finesse, you would use the hand's Dexterity of 10.

For example, if someone nearby a Bigby's Hand drops a valuable potion, you might use your reaction to catch it with the Hand. The DM would almost certainly ask for a Dexterity check, and you would make it using the Hand's Dexterity bonus of +0.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This makes sense to me, especially with that example at the end. So Bigby's Hand is effectively a giant Mage Hand? \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Oct 25 '18 at 12:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NathanS Except that mage hand cannot be used as/like your hand, as it does not have that crucial sentence. It can only be used with your action and thus couldn't catch that potion. \$\endgroup\$ – Szega Oct 25 '18 at 13:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ Does this change the answer to the originally linked question? If the hand mimics the caster's hand then they try to dodge (Say a fireball) does the hand also try to dodge since it is copying? I would assume any caster would try and move the hand away from a fireball even if they weren't caught in the path too. \$\endgroup\$ – SeriousBri Oct 25 '18 at 13:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SeriousBri I'd say that it doesn't affect the other question about saving throws, since (taken from the quote above), it says "it moves at your command", whereas a Dex saving throw isn't a command, it's a reaction (not "a Reaction action" in a game term sense, but in the plain English sense, you're just reflexively jumping out of the way of, say, a fireball) so you wouldn't be able to reflexively command the hand to do a Dex saving throw as well. That's my reading of it anyway. \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Oct 25 '18 at 14:41
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For contests, saves, and other rulings involving Dexterity

The hand is an object capable of grappling, pushing, moving, being targeted, and taking damage. Knowing its AC, hit points, Strength, and effective speed may not be enough for all interactions, depending on the DM's judgment and willingness to fill in the gaps. For example:

  1. Since the hand is capable of grappling, the DM might rule that it could be grappled by a creature. The target of a grapple gets to choose between Strength and Dexterity for defending itself.

  2. Some spells that force creatures to make Dexterity saving throws can also target objects. The DM might rule that the hand is a special sort of object that is forced to make a saving throw as if it were a creature.

  3. The hand might be in a fight with some animated objects or a tiny servant, which have both Strength and Dexterity scores and are similarly object-like in nature. The DM might want to make a comparative estimate of dexterousness.

The inclusion of the Dexterity score removes some doubt about how to resolve issues like those by letting us know that the hand can be a dexterous participant in a conflict when needed... just not especially good at it. It's a lot simpler to list a Dexterity score for the hand on the off chance that it is needed than it is to expect a DM to come up with a consistent ruling on the spot. This wording helps to future-proof the spell and simplify the DM's rulings.

Similarly, the omission of the other four scores (Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma) implies that the hand doesn't have the capacity to use those abilities effectively, since apparently the designers didn't think it would be relevant. Contrast this to something like an unseen servant, a non-object which does not have a Dexterity score and is unable to attack, implying pretty clearly that it is not a suitable combatant. Sometimes the omission itself contains hidden insight.

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    \$\begingroup\$ You may want to remove the Dexterity saving throw bit because they autofail those. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Oct 25 '18 at 13:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch That is not settled, though it is a principled position. (But kudos for pointing it out. :) \$\endgroup\$ – Lexible Oct 25 '18 at 16:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ @lexible right now there are no competing answers and it seems pretty clear. If you have another answer that shows it's unsettled, that'd help throw some doubt. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Oct 25 '18 at 16:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch The linked answer has not been accepted, there is no unambiguous citation from RAW and no cited clarification from Sage Advice or the designers' twitter feeds, interviews, etc. Therefore it is not settled. \$\endgroup\$ – Lexible Oct 25 '18 at 16:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch No, I don't want to remove that. Every one of my points is about a possible DM ruling. "They autofail those [because rules]" doesn't preclude a DM from ruling otherwise. The text of my answer: "The DM might rule that the hand is a special sort of object that is forced to make a saving throw as if it were a creature." \$\endgroup\$ – Bloodcinder Oct 25 '18 at 18:27

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