I am creating a new school for the wizard in dnd 5e. The school is focused on spells that summons Hands, like Mage Hand and Bigby's Hand.

I have trouble balancing a new spell for the 9th level. My idea is to make a much stronger version of Bigby's Hand. Moreover, I'd like the spell to have a high casting time. It is 1 minute in the actual version. In addition to the force damage, this spell can also do radiant damage and shed sunlight. The reason for which I would like to give the hand these bonuses is that in our campaign, we are at war with vampires, therefore my wizard is studying ways to be effective against them.

This is the spell:

Glorious Colossal Hand

9th-level evocation

  • Casting Time: 1 minute
  • Range: 1 mile
  • Components: V, S
  • Duration: Concentration, up to 10 minutes

You create a Gargantuan (40 by 40 feet surface and 20 feet height) hand of shimmering, glowing, yellow force in an unoccupied space that you can see within range. The hand lasts for the spell's duration, and it moves at your command, mimicking the movements of your own hand.

The hand is an object that has AC 25 and 300 hit points. If it drops to 0 hit points, the spell ends. It has a Strength of 30 (+10) and a Dexterity of 20 (+5). The hand doesn't fill its space. The hand sheds sunlight out to a range of 100 feet and dim light for an additional 100 feet.

When you cast the spell and as a bonus action on your subsequent turns, you can move the hand up to 300 feet and then cause one of the following effects with it.

Glorious punch. The hand rapidly strikes in a straight line of up to 300 feet. Each creature in the line must make a Dexterity saving throw. A creature takes 12d10 force damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one. Buildings and objects in the line take this damage times the impact surface (in 5 by 5 feet unit) and do not stop the movement of the hand if they are destroyed as a result of the damage they take from the hand. When performing this action, consider the dimensions of the hand to be those of a cube with a 20 feet edge.

Meteor Punch. The hand goes up in the air and then strikes a vertical punch to the ground. Creatures in a square 20 by 20 feet must make a Dexterity saving throw. A creature takes 12d10 force damage on a failed save and is stunned until the end of its next turn, or half as much damage on a successful one. When performing this action, consider the dimensions of the hand to be those of a cube with a 20 feet edge.

Laser Beam. The hand goes up in the air and shoots a laser beam to a single target. Make a ranged spell attack against the target. On a hit, the target takes 15d10 radiant damage and is blinded until the start of its next turn.

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. If the target is smaller than the hand, you have advantage on the check. If you succeed, the hand pushes the target up to 20 feet plus a number of feet equal to twenty times your spellcasting ability modifier. The hand moves with the target to remain within 5 feet of it.

Grasping Hand. The hand attempts to grapple a creature within 5 feet of it. You use the hand's Strength score to resolve the grapple. If the target is smaller than the hand, you have advantage on the check. While the hand is grappling the target, you can use a bonus action to have the hand crush it. When you do so, the target takes 4d8 radiant damage, 4d8 force damage, and 4d8+ your spellcasting ability modifier bludgeoning damage.

Interposing Hand. The hand interposes itself between creatures of your choice and other creatures of your choice choose until you give the hand a different command. For the first group of creatures, the hand becomes opaque, providing cover depending on the line of sight rules. In particular, consider the hand to be like a wall for a 20 by 20 feet square (at the center of the hand) and providing half cover for the rest of its surface. The hand moves to stay between the first and the second group of creatures. Creatures of the first group can't move through the hand's space if their Strength score is less than or equal to the hand's Strength score. If their Strength score is higher than the hand's Strength score, they can move toward you through the hand's space, but that space is difficult terrain for them.


It's Unbalanced

First of all, I really like the idea of this spell. Essentially taking Bigby's Hand, ramping it up to 11, and fire it out of cannon full tilt to punch your enemies to bits.

Unfortunately, as written, it's unbalanced. And that's saying something given it's a 9th level spell where we use the term 'balanced' very loosely. However, much of the unbalancing stems from the clunky way you've chosen to write things; you're striving to match the way Bigby's Hand was written which is a good start, but not everything's going to work on a 1:1 basis here.

I'm going to list the recommendations I have for revisions. Part of this is to address some of the language issues, but the other is to address feasibility issues of handling this thing. Sometimes, high level spells aren't so much a destructive force as they are a sub-encounter to be handled by the opposing party; to that end it needs to be possible to do, but it doesn't necessarily need to be easy (see prismatic wall). These recommendations aren't necessarily absolutely everything you'd need, but they should improve things:

  • Range: 1 mile

The problem I have with this range is that it's the same range as spells like Meteor Swarm and ostensibly Storm of Vengeance. Part of these spells' power lies in that the massive range makes it nearly impossible to stop them.

The damage output of your proposed spell can easily exceed Meteor Swarm were it directed at a city. With a massive range component, it becomes nearly impossible to locate the caster and attack them in a manner that would disrupt concentration.

  • Recommendation: Reduce the range to 500 feet, which is a major upgrade on the original spell's range, in-line with comparable city-wreckers like Earthquake, but the range is not so large that it's completely infeasible to target the caster. I would also consider adding language necessitating that the caster be within range to exert control on the spell.

  • The hand sheds sunlight out to a range of 100 feet and dim light for an additional 100 feet.

I'm guessing the inclusion of this was to fulfill the 'glorious' part of the description. I don't have an issue without necessarily, but the addition of sunlight is notable. There's only a handful of spells that do this and for the creatures impacted by sunlight, it is a serious hindrance, which adds massive utility for this spell.

  • Recommendation: Given that the spell already has a lot of utility by virtue of being an upgraded Bigby's Hand, I would recommend just making this regular light.

  • When you cast the spell and as a bonus action on your subsequent turns, you can move the hand up to 300 feet and then cause one of the following effects with it.

In one of the games I play in, we are 20th level and have a monk whom is incredibly fast to the point that I need to ensure the maps are sized in a way that he gets to enjoy that speed. Unless that monk spends most of their Actions to go faster, they aren't going to be able to keep up with that speed.

  • Recommendation: Slow down. I would honestly not change this from the original spell's 60 feet per round, but if you really want to increase it then don't do more than 90 feet. This is a massive, powerful hand. With the speed as you have it now, it's also apparently faster than some of the slower forms of light and characters need to have a chance to catch this if they're to be able to do anything about it.

  • Glorious punch.

First of all, the proposed effect is essentially lightning bolt on steroids because not only are we talking about more damage, but the size of the line is massive. Also instead of a line, it's more like a 20'x20' battering ram. Because of this, the opportunity to do a truly ridiculous amount of damage over the course of the spell's duration becomes readily apparent. I recommend toning this down to simply be that the hand can attempt to strike things along its movement path, this gives it versatility, the chance to deal a lot of damage

In addition, the manner in which damage is dealt to structures is extremely clunky and kind of difficult to parse. Given that the DMG has rules for damaging large structures and other creatures offer a means to excel at damaging structures, I recommend utilizing this language to address attacking structures.

  • Recommendation: I think you've deviated too far from the original language. Consider this as an alternative: "The hand strikes one creature or object within 5 feet of it. Make a melee spell attack for the hand using your game statistics. On a hit, the target takes 4d8 force damage. The hand deals double damage to objects and structures. The hand can attempt this attack up to 4 times at any point during it's movement." Also, rename it from Glorious Punch to Glorious Combo, because branding matters.

The damage is much less than what you originally proposed, but consider that this is slightly less damage per round as a Bonus Action than a Tarrasque's full attack. Furthermore, if all 4 attacks hit a single target, you will deal 33% more damage than the original spell.

  • Meteor Punch

You have to remember that at the beginning of your spell description, you indicated that the hand is a Gargantuan creature. By doing so, you've specified what the hand's dimensions are for the purposes of combat and therefore, you do not need to spend text to restate what's already a defined term (especially if you're not intended to deviate).

From what you've written, I understand that your intent is to have the hand smash an area of the ground that is equal to the area of the battlefield it controls. Fortunately, there are some big creatures that already have language for this like the Warforged Colossus.

  • Recommendation: Change the text to read something like this: "The hand smashes at a point on the ground within 20 feet of it. Any creature in a 10-foot radius, 20-foot-high cylinder centered on this point must succeed on a Dexterity saving throw or take 8d8 force damage and be stunned. On a success, the creature takes half damage. Structures as well as nonmagical objects that are neither being worn nor carried, take the same amount of damage if they are in the cylinder (no save).

  • Laser Beam

I'm iffy on this even being included because it's not part of the original. If you want to keep it, though, consider modeling it based on Sunbeam which lets you make it a 5' wide, 60' line.

  • *Recommendation: Rewrite as follows: A beam of brilliant light flashes out from the hand in a 5-foot-wide, 60-foot-long line. Each creature in the line must make a Constitution saving throw. On a failed save, a creature takes 8d8 radiant damage and is blinded until your next turn. On a successful save, it takes half as much damage and isn't blinded by the spell.

  • Grasping Hand

I'm unclear why this use of the spell has a diverse spread of damage types.

  • Recommendation: Keep it simple with the force damage type. Everything else in the spell uses force, no sense in changing that unless you intend to do so consistently. When setting the damage for this feature, consider making it being equal to double the damage dice of the Clenched Fist option as it's going to not have the chance for multiple hits.

  • Interposing Hand

Simplify this feature to just become a mobile, opaque wall of force between any two creatures of the caster's choosing (not groups). This lets you achieve the total cover you're seeking, but lets it be countered by multiple attackers. You can also remove any text about strength being higher than the hand's; at 30 nothing can be stronger by the rules.

  • Recommendation: Consider simplifying the text as follows: "The hand interposes itself between any two creatures of your choosing providing total cover for both creatures relative to each other. The hand acts as a Wall of Force except as follows: The hand becomes opaque to block line of sight, the hand moves relative to the creatures to maintain total cover between them, and the hand cannot be destroyed by instantly by a Disintegrate spell (unless the spell depletes the hands hit points).

Lastly, I'd like to note the damage for the spell. As I've reviewed this spell, the caster is more vulnerable, but this is because the spell has the chance to deal a lot more damage than something like Meteor Swarm. I've notably reduced your proposed damage values to consider that a lot of this damage is being dealt with a Bonus Action, the spell offers a lot of versatility, and ensure that it's more damage than an upcast Bigby's Hand, but not much more.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Thank you very much for your detailed answer! I am implementing most of your recommendations. Regarding the sunlight, in the campaign I am playing we are at war against vampires. Since this spell will be developed by my character, I thought it made sense to have the sunlight element. Another question: with these downgrades of the spell, it could make sense to make the casting time one action? \$\endgroup\$ – Knomes Jun 15 '20 at 22:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Knomes I would say yes. Extended casting times do not obviate the necessity to balance the spell since the character can always manipulate conditions to make it feasible for themselves to be able to cast the spell (i.e. sit inside a Leomunds Tiny Hut while performing the casting). \$\endgroup\$ – Pyrotechnical Jun 16 '20 at 12:46

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