My DM and I have been having friendly arguments, and we recently came to what would happen if my character lost all their limbs.

As a gnome beastmaster I said I would always sit on my mount and use mage hand (from magic initiate) when I need to eat or lift things. HOWEVER he argues I wouldn't be able to perform the somatic component.

So, I ask: is there a way to cast spells without arms? My argument is that since I am learning the cantrip after losing my arms I would have learned it in a way that works with my stumps, but he points out the PHB is pretty clear you need a free hand.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Can you cast spells with a Somatic component if you're holding a two-handed weapon? - related \$\endgroup\$
    – Tritium21
    Nov 27, 2015 at 5:38
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ I'll clarify this is all in good fun, and this kind of discussion in fact improves our relationship as pc and gm. I didn't realize it was the wrong kind of question, and perhaps I provided too much context. 'can you learn a spell with a somatic component by making do without arms' is simpler. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 27, 2015 at 6:19
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @user2503384 Thank you for that. This makes a first for me seeing something like this and finding out it's good-natured and acutally fun. The number of times we've had someone doing something like seeking advice on ruining someone else's day has been... more times than I'd have liked to see anything like that. Thankfully only happens once every few months. (I also just realised I somehow missed reading the "friendly arguments" at the beginning, so there's that...) \$\endgroup\$ Nov 27, 2015 at 6:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener I read it in a sarcastic tone, just so you know you're not alone in thinking that way, at first reading. \$\endgroup\$
    – daze413
    Nov 27, 2015 at 7:29

3 Answers 3


By the rules, no you can't cast spells with the somatic component if you have no arms.

The PHB says:

If a spell requires a somalic component, the caster must have free use of at least one hand to perform these gestures.

That being said, if you're dead set on not having arms; work with your DM instead of having (friendly) arguments with them. Come to some sort of agreement on how to make it work for your character. Maybe you have to roll on the Sorcerer's Wild Magic Surge table when you cast a spell. Maybe the physical disadvantages alone are enough to warrant normal spellcasting.


The Lingering Injuries table from DMG page 272 covers the effects of losing an arm or a hand. Oddly, though, it doesn't cover the effects on your spellcasting so we enter the realm of DM judgement.

What do the rules on spellcasting say?

Somatic (S)

... If a spell requires a somatic component, the caster must have free use of at least one hand to perform these gestures.

So, in order to perform a spell with a Somatic component, you must have a free hand. In your character's case, you don't even have a hand at all so any spell with an S component is out of the question for you.

But wait, there's more...

Not only can you not cast anything with a Somatic component, you can't cast anything with a Material component either:


A caster must have a hand free to access these components...

So it looks like your DM is right, you can't cast anything with either or both Somatic and Material components.

What can you do, then?

Well, the Lingering Injuries table I told you about earlier actually suggests that a 7th-level spell, Regenerate, can regrow your arms. Failing that, work with your DM to possibly get back your arms.


I imagine a case could be made for other forms of gestures being suitable. To insist on "hand" gestures could be a literal reading of the rules, but I don't see why "foot" gestures wouldn't work (or prehensile tail gestures, or...), assuming your character spent a suitable amount of time learning this new form of gesture. I don't imagine it's the kind of thing you just adapt to over night.

Having said that, you are still going to have to sell the idea to your GM, and if he's being as antagonistic as you suggest, then I don't fancy your chances.


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