*poof* Welcome back, ye seekers of the mysteries of the universe!
This week we are going to take a look at a mage’s best friend, Mage Hand. This versatile cantrip is one of the most useful utility cantrips in the game, so much so that the Arcane Trickster rogue subclass has it as one of its key features.
So what makes this cantrip so good?
In a world filled with traps waiting for triggers and potions that need pinching, being able to manipulate something in the environment without being right next to it has near-infinite uses. Not to mention having a third hand when climbing means you can bring up a small bag of loot with you. You can pick up a cursed object without risking activating it, or pull a leaver across a gap to activate a drawbridge.
So let’s take a look at the limits of the spell itself. Mage Hand allows you to create a spectral hand at any point within the 30-foot range. It lasts for a minute or until dismissed or cast again. The rules are very clear on its limitations:
- The hand vanishes if more than 30 feet from you
- It can only:
- Manipulate an object
- Open an unlocked door or container
- Stow or retrieve and item form an open container
- Pour the contents out of a vial
- It cannot:
- Activate magic items
- Carry more than 10 pounds
So the key to using Mage Hand creatively is operating within its constraints. The Arcane Trickster foes expand some of these limitations by allowing you to stow one object in a container worn or carried by another creature, retrieve something off a creature, or pick locks and disarm traps at range.
Give Me a Hand
Mage Hand occupies a strange place in D&D. It is not solely an exploration spell, but it can excel there. It can be great for roleplay, adding to your image as a potent caster, retrieving a drink from the bar while sitting at a table across the tavern. It can also be used in combat, but as it takes an action to do anything you should use it judiciously.
A well-timed mage hand can deliver a potion to an ally 30 feet away while keeping you away from combat. It can be used to misdirect the enemy, perhaps carrying a firestarter into barrels of gunpowder, or swiping an unattended bag of gold.
Instead of focusing on the limits the spell places on you, think about how your action can be spent to change the battlefield, isolate enemies, or help your companions. If your character is terrible at DEX, don’t throw a potion — Mage Hand it over.
I Gotta Mage Hand It To You
So, if you wanted to go all in and get the best Mage Hand you can go with the Arcane Trickster subclass. The cantrip now becomes an extension of your own hand, and its ability to pick locks, steal or stow things gives you a supernatural edge over other would-be thieves.
This cantrip is one of the best examples of true utility. It expands your options in play and gives you tools to think outside the regular constraints of play. A poison tipped into a glass, silencing the King’s evil advisor can be the high point of a session. It can also be the difference between being impaled by a pressure-plate sprung trap and snatching an exotic idol.
What fun uses have you found for Mage Hand?
Explore other spells in my spellbook: