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I am creating a new arcane tradition for the wizard in dnd 5e. This arcane tradition is focused on spells that summons Hands, like Mage Hand and Bigby's Hand. Since there are not many "hand" spells, I am designing new ones.

The idea about this spell is to create many hands like that of mage hands, flying around, and stopping some attacks by enemies. So, I am trying to do a good defensive spell. Being the idea that of a cloud of hands actively trying to stop attacks, I want the spell to have an area of effect. Moreover, since many spells that I am creating require concentration, I would like to have this one not requiring it.

The question is: Do you think the spell is balanced as it is? If it is not, could it be more appropriate as a 4th level spell?

This is a 3rd level spell that I designed.

Cloud of Mage Hands

3rd-level abjuration

  • Casting Time: 1 action
  • Range: 60 feet (30-foot radius)
  • Components: V, S
  • Duration: 1 minute

Choose a nonhostile creature that you can see within range. A cloud of mage hands appears around the target. The hands try to block attacks aimed at your allies. Each non-hostile creature in a range of 30 feet from your target (target included) gains +2 AC for the duration of the spell.

At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 4th level or higher, the radius of the cloud increases by 10 feet for each slot level above 3rd.

Here I talk about some comparisons with other spells:

Shield of fate: This is a level 1 spell that gives +2 to AC. It requires concentration and is cast as a bonus action. In order to bring it to third level we can use the spells Healing Word and Mass Healing Word. Mass Healing Word has the same effect of Healing Word but on up to six creatures in a 60 feet range. Therefore, Mass Shield of Fate would look similar to the spell I am proposing. With respect to this spell, the spell I'm proposing has

  • Pro: no concentration
  • Con: action vs bonus action, six creatures when casting vs moving area of effect. I am not sure that the loss of casting time as a bonus action and the (in my opinion) worse kind of multi-target make up for the loss of concentration requirement.

Haste: They are both of 3rd level and they both give +2 to AC. With respect to Haste, the spell I'm proposing has

  • Pro: a large area of effect, no concentration, no malus when ending.
  • Con: No double speed, no advantage on Dexterity saving throws, no additional action.

I think, but I'm not sure, that the additional effects of Haste counterbalance its concentration requirement with respect to the spell I'm proposing.

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I like the idea of using a horde of hands as protection for flavor, though this spell is a bit too good.

Using healing word vs mass healing word is a great comparison, but loss of concentration seems like a very good trade-off compared to loss of action. Concentration provides a counterplay option for spells, since otherwise this is a static, free shield for usually the entire party (since parties usually travel in tight-knit groups) and for usually the entire encounter (1 minute = 10 turns, which is enough for most) for one level 3 spell slot. Taking up an action instead of a bonus action does not matter much for prolonged spells, since during the span of 10 turns a wizard will usually have 10 action and 10 bonus actions. There is no reason not to play this spell in every encounter, so I would recommend adding concentration.

Checking the approximate math for it, let's assume a level 5 priest has 18 wisdom, so their spellcasting modifier is +7, meaning their mass healing word would restore 1d4 (2.5) + 7 health for up to 6 allies. That is up to 57 health if they have 6 allies who are all missing 10< health, which is not that common of a circumstance, but let's say they can consistently heal 3 allies, which is 28.5 health per cast. This spell would grant +2 AC, which makes your characters approximately 10% harder to hit, so let's say over 10 rounds of combat the statistics even out and this spell blocked 10% of the damage they took. A medium encounter for 4 level 5 adventurers (2000XP-2999XP), would be a CR 6 creature (2300XP), which according to monster creation guidelines (DMG), their damage/round would be 39-44 (average of 41.5). If the monster attacks every round of combat for 10 turns, that would be 415 damage, 10% of that is 41.5, but let's say that 4 adventurers can finish up combat in 7 turns, so our average is 33.2.

You can see that this spell, with not many restrictions or requirements can save more health for our players than the reactive and signature cleric spell, mass healing word. I would consider this a bit too much for a wizard, and as such would add not only concentration, but reduce the initial range of the buff to 10-20 feet, that way it has counterplay from the monsters' side by breaking the hand wizard's concentration or by dislocating the buffed player/aiming AOE's at him. And there would be a good reason to cast this spell at higher levels, because right now 30 feet would be enough for almost all circumstances.

Last thing is that maybe you want to change it from being mage hands, because it is well known for being a non-hostile cantrip (despite the creative uses of pouring holy water on monolouging vampires), so a sudden defensive use feels a bit out of place, so maybe just a simple reflavoring into spirit hands, angel hands or cloud hands would make a bit more sense to me.

Hope this helped, and best of luck with your hand mage!

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the answer! In the end, I arrived at the same conclusion and changed the spell to something quite different. As written the spell can be cast more times and AC stacks. This means that in 3 rounds this could become +6 AC. Of course, you can add some lines in order to prevent this. But, as your answer cleared, it would still be a bit too good. \$\endgroup\$ – Knomes Jun 19 at 20:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ It may be worth mentioning that healing helps with any damage source, while AC doesn't help with things like save based damage. \$\endgroup\$ – Joel Harmon Jun 19 at 22:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ Another potential indirect nerf to the spell would be to change the range to Self. That means the caster must get close to the front lines in order to have the desired effect, which makes for an interesting risk/reward scenario. \$\endgroup\$ – Ryan C. Thompson Aug 17 at 20:34

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