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The Distant Spell metamagic for the Sorcerer class has this description:

When you cast a spell that has a range of 5 feet or greater, you can spend 1 sorcery point to double the range of the spell.

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.

The identify spell has a range of touch, but it also has the following text in the spell description:

You choose one object that you must touch throughout the casting of the spell.

Does the specific text of the spell description override the Distant Spell metamagic, or can you cast identify on an object without actually touching it by using Distant Spell?

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Yes, the Distant Spell metamagic should work on Identify.

The clause of Distant Spell that refers to touch spells overrides the part of the Identify spell that refers to touching the object. Most touch-ranged spells refer to touching the target in their descriptions, so if the clause of the metamagic is to mean anything, it needs to override the relevant part of the description as well as the range section of the spell stats.

With the metamagic, you will probably just need to be gesturing in the direction of an object that remains within 30 feet of you for the whole of the casting time (one minute using a spell slot, or 11 minutes if casting as a ritual). The exact details are probably something your GM will need to rule on (e.g. do you need to continually be able to see the object or not?), if it matters.

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It will increase the range but you still need to touch it

Distant Magic will give Identify a range of 30 feet. However, the requirement that you must touch the object throughout is unrelated to range so Distant Magic doesn’t remove it.

Note that Identify has a casting time of 1 minute so “throughout the casting” has a different meaning than a creature or object you touch used in spells with 1 action or 1 bonus action casting times.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Does this same logic apply to other touch-ranged spells that also use the word "touch" in their descriptions? Does it make any sense for say Cure Wounds to still only apply to "a creature you touch" if its range has been extended to 30 feet? \$\endgroup\$ – Blckknght Jul 12 at 22:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DaleM In case you were wondering, the only spells with a range of touch which do not mention touching something (or a similar restriction, as with goodberry and plane shift) in their description are shocking grasp, snare, inflict wounds, clone, simulacrum, and contagion. Also the weird cases of symbol, glyph of warding, guards and wards, forbiddance, and druid grove. \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Jul 13 at 4:25

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