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The Bigby's Hand spell, also called Arcane Hand, can do force damage by striking, and bludgeoning damage by crushing.

Is that damage magical? I'm unsure.

On one hand, if we assume that the spell itself does the damage, then the damage is obviously magical.

However, the spell Bigby's Hand creates a hand of translucent force, which has a limited stat block that describes its Hit Points, Strength, and Dexterity. If we assume the damage originate from this created hand, then we might conclude the damage is not magical.

Spells such as Animate Objects and Conjure Animals don't do magical damage, because the entities that do the damage do not possess attacks that are magical. Maybe the same reasoning applies to Bigby's Hand, making its damage not magical?

I'll add that I found a confusing, unhelpful and not official tweet from Christopher Perkins. When asked

Does Bigby’s hand damage count as magical for the purposes of overcoming resistances?

he responded:

A creature with resistance to force damage takes half damage from the spell’s crushing hand. A creature with resistance to bludgeoning damage takes half damage from the spell’s grasping hand.

which doesn't answer the question as to whether the hand's damage counts as magical.

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The hand's damage is always magical because the hand is made of force

Bigby's hand deals two different kinds of damage, force and bludgeoning, depending on which option you use. However, the hand is made entirely of force, and force is always magical.

Clenched Fist

The clenched fist option of the hand deals force damage. Force damage is always magical, because force as a damage type is magical.

The rules for Damage Types on page 196 PHB state:

Force. Force is pure magical energy focused into a damaging form. Most effects that deal force damage are spells, including magic missile and spiritual weapon.

The answer to the fourth bullet of the Sage Advice criteria, "Does its description say it’s magical?" is therefore yes, and the force damage is magical.

Grasping Hand

The grasping hand option states that it deals bludgeoning damage, not force damage. Bludgeoning damage is not magical in and of itself.

The argument against the hand being magical is that the hand itself is not a spell, it is a conjured thing, and mundane conjured entities are not considered magical, even though they were created by a spell. Only spell itself, the conjuring, is. In this case the thing dealing the damage however is itself magical, because it is made from force:

You create a Large hand of shimmering, translucent force

So the bludgeoning damage is magical bludgeoning damage, too.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Great insight! Also, very good research work! \$\endgroup\$
    – Eddymage
    Oct 25, 2022 at 14:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ You might also reference this Q&A confirming force damage is magical. It expands on the rule you quoted. \$\endgroup\$
    – MivaScott
    Oct 25, 2022 at 16:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ There is also the splitting of hairs that there is no magical damage type. Only damage from magical sources, errata and subsequent printings of the MM and such have changed that wording to be clearer. But yes, the only damage type that is explicitly magical is Force based on its description. \$\endgroup\$
    – Slagmoth
    Oct 25, 2022 at 18:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ +1. Also, "Mundane conjured entities are not considered magical", but when was the last time you saw a huge, floating, animated, disarticulated hand? I just don't think there is a mundane comparison - it has to be magical, because the hand as a mundane thing is a nonesuch. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Oct 26, 2022 at 14:58
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Grasping Hand deals magical bludgeoning damage.

The Sage Advice Compendium clarifies this for us:

Determining whether a game feature is magical is straightforward. Ask yourself these questions about the feature:

  • Is it a magic item?
  • Is it a spell? Or does it let you create the effects of a spell that’s mentioned in its description?
  • Is it a spell attack?
  • Is it fueled by the use of spell slots?
  • Does its description say it’s magical?

If your answer to any of those questions is yes, the feature is magical.

In particular, Bigby's hand is a spell, and it is fueled by spell slots. Ergo, it is magical, so the damage it deals is magical. We can compare this to the question about summoned creatures attacking. Quoting from MivaScott's answer, concerning an owl summoned via conjure animals:

  • Is it a magic item? No, it's a fey in the shape of an owl
  • Is it a spell? Or does it let you create the effects of a spell that’s mentioned in its description? No, it's a fey in the shape on an owl
  • Is it a spell attack? No, it's a fey in the shape on an owl
  • Is it fueled by the use of spell slots? No, it's a fey in the shape on an owl
  • Does its description say it’s magical? No, it's a fey in the shape on an owl

Repeating this exercise for Bigby's hand, we have:

  • Is it a magic item? No, it is not a magic item.
  • Is it a spell? Or does it let you create the effects of a spell that’s mentioned in its description? Yes it is a spell. Bigby's hand. It is also the effects of spell. Again, Bigby's hand.
  • Is it a spell attack? Clenched Fist is explicitly a spell attack. The other options for Bigby's hand are not attacks, but they are the effects of a spell.
  • Is it fueled by the use of spell slots? Yes.
  • Does its description say it’s magical? Well, no, but they didn't have to. It is a spell.

What is the difference here? The owl's attack is not the effect of the spell conjure animals. Conjure animals just summons an animal. Anything that animal does is not an effect of the spell. However, the damage from Bigby's hand is explicitly spelled out in the description of the spell. It is explicitly an effect of a spell, so it is magical damage.

Resistance to bludgeoning and resistance to non-magical bludgeoning are different things.

In case there is some confusion related to magical versus non-magical damage, I'll spell it out here. Some features and creatures have resistance to all sources of bludgeoning damage, and some have resistance only to non-magical sources of bludgeoning damage.

For example, the barbarian's Rage feature states:

You have resistance to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage.

This gives resistance to all sources of bludgeoning damage, magical and non-magical alike. In contrast, the stoneskin spell:

This spell turns the flesh of a willing creature you touch as hard as stone. Until the spell ends, the target has resistance to nonmagical bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage.

The stoneskin spell gives resistance only to non-magical bludgeoning. So a barbarian would have resistance against the bludgeoning damage from Grasping Hand, but someone under the effect of stoneskin would not, since Grasping Hand deals magical bludgeoning damage.

When someone says "magical for the purpose of overcoming resistance", they are specifically referring to this second type - resistance to non-magical sources of damage. Unfortunately, Christopher Perkins' response refers to this first type - resistance that does not care if it is magical or not.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Bigby's Hand doesn't do damage directly though - it instead creates a hand which does the damage. It has been established that spells such as Conjure Animals and Create Undead don't do magical damage, because the created creatures do not have magical attacks. Why is it not the same for Bigby's Hand? \$\endgroup\$ Oct 25, 2022 at 13:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ @GuillaumeF. I don't understand what distinction you are making. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 25, 2022 at 13:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ @GuillaumeF. I've always ruled that animate objects dealt magical damage. But it sounds like you're pretty sure about the answer here, so it would be better to just post an answer than to articulate further objections to mine in comments. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 25, 2022 at 13:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ See Do objects affected by the Animate Objects spell count as magical weapons for the purpose of overcoming resistance? for why Animated Objects don't do magical damage. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 25, 2022 at 13:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ @GuillaumeF. That q&a is not convincing to me -- not that I disagree with the answer, but I don't buy the argument as presented. The fact that the target object was nonmagical before being enchanted doesn't tell us whether it's magical afterward. Rather, I would argue that if a spell summons or creates a creature, then the creature attacks as a creature (i.e. nonmagically unless stated otherwise), not as a spell effect. Bigby's Hand is unambiguously a spell effect, not a creature; it's just a source of spell attacks, as much as the cloud of a call lightning spell is. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 25, 2022 at 15:04
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Yes, because almost all the options are magical attacks.

This answer builds (again) on the Sage Advice Compendium ruling for determine if something is magical or not.

  • Is it a magic item? No, the hand is an object, not belonging to the Magic Item list
  • Is it a spell? Or does it let you create the effects of a spell that’s mentioned in its description? No, the hand is the creation of a spell and does not replicate any spell effect.
  • Is it fueled by the use of spell slots? Yes: this should be sufficient to state that the hand is magical. But there is a counterexample that invalidates this reasoning.
  • Does its description say it’s magical? No, it's just described as an object.

I left out one of the questions: Is it a spell attack? Let's analyze the 3 options that require rolls.

Clenched Fist. 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.

This is clearly a spell attack: no doubt about this.

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

This looks like a shove (emphasis mine, as above):

[...] a special melee attack to shove a creature, either to knock it prone or push it away [...]

The last option is the Grasping Hand:

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. 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 bludgeoning damage equal to 2d6 + your spellcasting ability modifier.

In this case, the Hand attempts to grapple, which is a special attack:

[...] a special melee attack, a grapple.

Grappling and shoving are attacks (see here and here, for example), and since the Hand is made by pure magical force (see this answer for a complete explanation), all the above options are actually magical attacks: hence the damage is magical in all the three cases.


One may argue that the Forceful hand is actually not a shove, since the description says that the Hand tries to push a creature and not "tries to shove a creature". In this case, it is up to the DM to apply this fine distinction.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Bigby's Hand isn't "fueled by the use of spell slots" the way Divine Smite is. You don't need to expend a spell slot for each attack, you just conjure it and then it attacks. I think that's what they mean by "fueled by the use of spell slots" - the fact that it's a separate question from "Is it a spell?" indicates they must mean something different. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 26, 2022 at 21:17

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