Arcane Hand has a lot of text. Among it, it says:

It has a Strength of 26 (+8)

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.

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. If the target is Medium or smaller, you have advantage on the check.

It has been established that the caster can use the Arcane Hand as an improvised Fly substitute by having it grapple a creature, then lift that grappled creature by moving the hand up to 60 feet upwards.

The description does speak about grappling a creature only. It strikes me that it would not be able to lift/move any object. Is that correct?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you asking as DM or as a player? \$\endgroup\$ Feb 11, 2022 at 14:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ I clarified to focus on object part, if the other part is already solved and listed this. Asking this in general, but it is my player character that has the spell (I have not been using it yet, I think there are better uses for my level 5 slots (cough wall of force cough) \$\endgroup\$ Feb 11, 2022 at 14:41

2 Answers 2


Grappling and moving a creature who fights back needs rules.

The spell description for Bigby's hand spells out how it interacts with creatures because creatures fight back. This is why details provided with Forceful Hand and Grasping Hand are written out, so that you know how well another creature fights back.

Objects don't fight back.

Objects are different from creatures in that objects don't fight back, generally speaking. There is no need to provide detailed rules unique to the spell for moving objects because the hand has a strength score and those rules already exist. We have enough in the spell description to know that the hand can interact with objects:

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

Bigby's hand mimics the movement of your own hand, and we have rules for how much it can carry, so all you need to do is act out the movements of picking up the object with your own hand, and Bigby will actually pick it up, and you just follow the usual rules for carrying things, using the hand's strength score.

In other words, the same hand that is tangible enough to grab and punch monsters when you make make a fist is tangible enough to punch and grab objects.

  • \$\begingroup\$ My first response was to say that it can't interact with objects, since spells do only what they say they do. I hadn't considered that mimicking the movements of your hand would be an implicit way to permit object interaction, so this a valuable perspective. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Feb 12, 2022 at 2:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Kirt, I also would have thought that based on the principle that spells only can do what they say, and interacting with objects is not listed in the quite explicit list of possible actions, it cannot. Do you want to make an answer to that effect, or should I? I think the perspective is as valid and defensible, and should be presented too \$\endgroup\$ Feb 12, 2022 at 7:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ @GroodytheHobgoblin Your answer was far more detailed and comprehensive than what I would have written. Well-done. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Apr 2, 2022 at 18:08

It cannot lift an object

The spell does not say that it can lift an object and there is the principle that spells only do what they say they do. There is also a D&D Beyond answer supporting this RAW interpretation. There is a principle that everyday things behave as you would expect them to, but I think a magical, oversized hand made of force is not an everyday thing.

The wording of the spell contradicts it

Arcane Hand explicitly lists the effects:

Clenched Fist. The hand strikes one creature or object within 5 feet of it.

(Emphasis mine) Clenched Fist explicitly states that the hand can hit an object. Following the logic in Thomas Markov's answer there would be no need for stating so. The caster's hand could hit an object, so could the Arcane Hand. But for this option, the object is listed, so the text does not make the implicit assumption you could hit an object. Maybe it is just reminder text? If, so then the same reminder text should appear in the other options that can affect objects. For the spell's text to be consistent, if an object is not listed for one of the other options, that other option is not intended to work on an object.

Forceful Hand. The hand attempts to push a creature within 5 feet of it

One certainly also can push an object (PHB p. 176), yet no object is mentioned. This means in contrast to the Clenched Fist effect, objects cannot be pushed.

Grasping Hand. The hand attempts to grapple a Huge or smaller creature within 5 feet of it.

One could argue that one cannot grapple an object, and therefore the object cannot be mentioned here.

However, if the only reason to omit the term object was a rules technicality, one could easily add an effect like: "Lifting Hand. The hand picks up up an object weighing no more than 780 lbs." if one wanted the hand to lift objects.

It diffentiates the Hand from Telekinesis

This is a balance, not a rules text argument.

Telekinesis is able to lift both creatures (if they fail a saving throw) and objects. It is very explict about this, with a separate section on each. It can lift objects of up to 1,000 lbs and move them up to 30 feet per round.

If the Hand also could lift objects, it could lift 780 lbs (Strength 26). Allowing it to lift objects would make the Hand double up as an alternative Telekinesis, just with a slightly lower weight limit. In addition, with the Hand you get all the other effects of interposing, hitting and crushing. It seems in that case, the Hand would just be better.

However, if Arcane Hand cannot pick up objects, then you have two spells with different focus: Telekinesis is an utility spell for moving anything (creatures or objects), Arcane Hand is a combat spell mostly for damaging. It can hit objects and that's about it. This makes a choice between them more interesting.

So, although I like the narrative imagery of the hand being able to lift objects, my wizard character would happily use the more generous interpretation of the spell, I do not think it can, nor should it.


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