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I noticed a clause in Bigby's Hand that has me pondering...

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

Here is the situation:

Bob is a 9th-level wizard. He is carrying his Wand of the War Mage +2 in one hand, and his other hand is open. Bob does not have the War Caster feat.

Bob casts Bigby's Hand and uses it to grapple a foe.

Does Bob still have a "free hand" to cast a non-concentration spell the following round?

Bob doesn't want to drop the Wand, as it is his spellcasting focus and he wants the bonuses. He doesn't have the War Caster feat, so he cannot "perform the somatic components of spells even when [he has] weapons or a shield in one or both hands." But per the spell description, Bigby will mimic the spellcaster's hand movements. So if Bob makes "a forceful gesticulation or an intricate set of gestures" with his other hand, does that mess with the grapple?

I've never seen a DM rule that Bob was out of luck with somatic spells, but I'm looking at this from a RAW perspective.


On the other hand, I can't help but picture the poor creature that's being grappled turned sideways while Bob puts his thumbs together to cast Burning Hands.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Would the same question apply to mage hand as well (assuming the hand is holding the Macguffin of power, which the caster really doesn't want to drop)? \$\endgroup\$ Oct 11 at 23:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ Mage hand does not have the same "mimic" clause. You simply "use an action" to tell the mage hand what to do. \$\endgroup\$
    – MivaScott
    Oct 12 at 0:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ Interesting, I could have sworn there was a "mimic" clause in mage hand as well, but I don't see one now. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 12 at 1:17
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Yes.

The solution relies on the description that you quoted (emphasis mine):

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

Per my reading, this means that the Hand moves and mimics the gestures of the caster's hand when they command it to do so: during the casting of another spell, a caster is not commanding the Hand, hence the latter does not replicate the gestures of the caster.

Moreover, the description of the Grasping Hand says:

While the hand is grappling the target, you can use a bonus action to have the hand crush it.

and does not contain anything similar to "while the hand is grappling the target, one of your hands must be clenched".

Suppose that the Hand has been evocated in a previous turn: the caster's actions order may be the following:

  • (BA) They move the Hand close to a creature, if neeeded. They mimic the gestures for grappling the enemy and perform the attack. In case of success, the implicit command is "keep on grappling", without requiring the caster's hand to be clenched.
  • (A) Cast another spell with somatic components.

The "implicit command" reading is suggested by the Interposing Hand option:

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 description explicitly states that the hand moves autonomously for interposing itself between the caster and the target, without requiring the latter to mimic the movements of the Hand. The "implicit command" is to adjust its position with respect to the target in order to defend the caster.

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    \$\begingroup\$ yes, this makes sense. It mimics your hand when you use the bonus action, otherwise it keeps doing what it was doing. So during you movement and action, it doesn't mimic, only during your bonus action \$\endgroup\$ Oct 13 at 13:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ +1. This is exactly the answer I had intended to submit myself. \$\endgroup\$
    – screamline
    Oct 19 at 19:54
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Most likely yes

Although that text says that the hand mimics the movements of your own hand, a later block of text says the following:

When you cast the spell and as a bonus action on your subsequent turns, you can move the hand up to 60 feet and then cause one of the following effects with it.

I would consider this to be specific text that overrides the previous general text. In order to make the hand do anything you need to make use of your bonus action.

On top of that, the spell descriptions says it mimics the movements of your hand. It doesn't say which hand. You could easily say that it is mimicing the movements of the hand containing the wand which is already in a perfect position for grasping something.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Interesting idea to use the wand hand. But I don't know if passage you quoted is specific to override the mimic, or can still be in conjunction with. In other words, Bigby's can use a bonus action AND still mimic your hand. \$\endgroup\$
    – MivaScott
    Oct 12 at 16:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MivaScott It's not that I disagree, it's just the moving your hand around inside of turn based combat isn't really defined in the rules. What happens if you rapidly shake your hand around while grappling someone? Aren't they going to get hurt or nauseated? What if you swing your hand from side to side? Without spending a bonus action it should be able to move in which case what exactly is going to happen? \$\endgroup\$ Oct 12 at 20:47

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