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Hold Person is a spell that upcasts as follows:

When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 3rd level or higher, you can target one additional humanoid for each slot level above 2nd. The humanoids must be within 30 feet of each other when you target them.

Now, this is not in the Range entry, but it is clearly a "Range"-restriction.

How would the sorcerer's Distant Spell Metamagic option interact with this?

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Distant Spell only interacts with the "Range:" entry of the spell description.

Distant Spell states:

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.

Notably, hold person states in its description:

Range: 60 feet

Using Distant Spell with hold person doubles this range to 120 feet. However, the restriction placed on an upcast hold person that the targets must be within 30 feet of each other is not the range of the spell, rather, it is part of the spell's effect. Indeed, the rules for Casting a Spell state:

Each spell description in Chapter 11 begins with a block of information, including the spell’s name, level, school of magic, casting time, range, components, and duration. The rest of a spell entry describes the spell’s effect.

Here we observe that a spell's range, and the spell's effect are two distinct features of the spell's description. The range is given in the "block of information including the spell's name, level, school of magic, casting time, range, components, and duration", and the spell's effect is in the "rest of a spell entry". In the case of hold person, the effects when upcasting are a part of this "rest of a spell entry", which is distinct from the spell's range. So it does not interact with Distant Spell, since Distant Spell only interacts with the spell's range.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ You may be able to find a spell that can target multiple creatures "within range of the spell" or similar wording as example of how things would look if the interaction worked differently. E.g. Bane is a good example: roll20.net/compendium/dnd5e/Bane#content \$\endgroup\$ May 4, 2022 at 7:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ To back this answer up, it actually works pretty similar to using Distant Spell on a fireball. It doesn't make the area larger, only the distance you can place the area from yourself. The only difference is that hold person has you choose X targets inside a limited area where fireball affects every target in the limited area. \$\endgroup\$ May 4, 2022 at 12:58

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