Mage Hand 5e D&D Guide [2021]

Dice

Mage Hand offers a spectral appendage that is fully controlled by the caster and can be utilized to complete simple tasks.

The rules for Mage Hand can be found in the Players Handbook pg256.

Mage Hand 5e

Conjuration Cantrip

Casting Time: 1 Action

Range: 30 Feet

Components: V, S

Duration: 1 Minute

A spectral, floating hand appears at a point you choose within range. The hand lasts for the duration or until you dismiss it as an action. The hand vanishes if it is ever more than 30 feet away from you or if you cast this spell again.

You can use your action to control the hand. You can use the hand to manipulate an object, open an unlocked door or container, stow or retrieve an item from an open container, or pour the contents out of a vial. You can move the hand up to 30 feet each time you use it.

The hand can’t attack, activate magic items, or carry more than 10 pounds.

The rules for the Mage Hand are clear in the description of how the spell functions and the representation of the spell in-game. The description clearly identifies the abilities of the hand and what actions it can take. There are also specific movement allowances provided as well.

Can you use Mage Hand to Steal?

Mage Hand is an interesting spell because of the ability for any mage as well as the Arcane Trickster Rogue to utilize it. The interesting thing is that the Arcane Trickster can use the spell to perform intricate tasks such as picking locks and pockets (sleight of hand). The mage does not have this ability.

It is the same spell, but the wizard never gets the proficiency to use Mage Hand in this way. This means that while Mage Hand can be used to steal for the Arcane Trickster, it cannot be used in this manner by any wizard just because they can cast the spell.

Hot Tip
5e is a system in which anyone can try to do anything. If for some reason, a mage wanted to use Mage Hand to perform a sleight of hand task, they could attempt it. They would not be proficient with it and would not add any bonuses other than the ability modifier. It would be up to the DM if that would be a check for Intelligence (spell casting modifier) or Dexterity (Sleight of Hand).

Is Mage Hand Visible?

The Mage Hand spell specifies what the spell looks like. It consists of a spectral hand floating in air. This would confirm that the magical hand is visible. The rules in 5e are extremely specific. The spell doesn’t say that the hand can be opaque or transparent; therefore, it cannot be opaque or transparent.

Hot Tip
The DM should remember that Mage Hand is entirely visible. Often players try to give the impression that it can perform tasks without being seen or making noise. This is not the case.

Can Mage Hand Deliver Touch Spells?

Mage Hand is a spell. It is in no way an extension of the caster. It cannot be used to deliver touch spells. A familiar is an option for delivering touch spells at range if you have one.

Can Mage Hand go Through Walls?

The spell creates a spectral floating hand. The hand can go through solid objects but needs to be seen to pilot in some fashion since it doesn’t have an intelligence. The key point to remember here is that objects the hand is interacting with will not pass-through solid objects.

Peering through a window would give enough sight to control the mage hand to grab some keys, but the window would still need to be opened to get the keys out.

Can Mage Hand Hold a Torch?

The spectral hand can carry up to 10 pounds. This is sufficient strength to carry a torch. The spell only lasts a minute, though, so the torch would fall at the end of the duration. The spell could be cast again to pick up the torch and keep moving it. This could be troublesome in an area where stealth is important.

Hot Tip
While Mage Hand can carry magic items, it is not capable of activating them. It also cannot attack.

Can Mage Hand Hold a Shield?

As long as the shield weighs less than 10 pounds, the mage hand can hold it. There is a significant difference between holding and using, though. The mage hand is not intelligent, it doesn’t have reactions or actions. This means that it would be a full action to ready the mage hand to deflect an incoming attack, and it would only work on the first one.

Mage Hand holding a shield in melee combat is useless. There are some scenarios where it could make sense to use mage hand. If you need something obscured, the hand could move the shield in the way and just sit there for a minute.

This would be useful for covering windows or holes. The other possible use would be to shield one specific thing or direction. The mage hand could hold the shield between you and the threat creating some cover. Both of these scenarios are a DM decision, though.

Final Thoughts

Mage Hand is a variable spell. It is common but not mandatory for any mage. It is nice because it can interact with objects such as doors and chests from a safe distance.

It is also a spell that is nice to have but is optional to use and, with the limited number of cantrips available, can be passed over without much worry. The versatility is great on the spell and its many uses. Mage Hand is a commonly taken spell for this very reason.

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