Mage Hand 5E — DnD spell explained 2024

Manipulate objects from a distance with the Mage Hand 5E spell in DnD. Learn how this magical hand can aid you.

Mage Hand 5E: Magic hand reaching for the door
© Dice Cove

What is Mage Hand 5E?

Mage Hand 5E (PHB, p. 256) is a conjuration cantrip available to Artificers, Bards, Sorcerers, Warlocks, and Wizards, however, there are plenty of alternative ways to pick this spell up. It takes an action to cast with vocal and somatic components, when you do so you create a floating, spectral hand within 30 feet. This hand can lift up to ten pounds and you can control it as an action, during which you can move it up to 30 feet. The hand can open an unlocked container or door, retrieve or stow an item in a container, pour contents out of a vial, or manipulate an object, however, it can’t lift more than 10 lbs.

The hand can’t activate magic items or attack and disappears after 1 minute, if you dismiss it as an action, cast the spell again, or if it is ever more than 30 ft away from you.

Is Mage Hand 5E a good spell?

Mage Hand is an excellent utility cantrip, which primarily finds use as a safer way for adventurers to pick up items that they worry may be trapped or cursed in some fashion. However, it can be used in other ways, such as holding a light source or allowing a PC to interact with something which would otherwise be out of reach. The obvious limitation of this spell is that it can’t lift anything over 10lb, which can be problematic in some instances.

The main way to improve Mage Hand is to make it invisible, which you can do by getting it as an Arcane Trickster Rogue, a gith, or with the Telekinetic feat. Arcane Tricksters are also able to use the hand for more tasks, whilst the gith and Telekinetic options can cast it without components, meaning you could use it even bound and gagged to potentially free yourself. 

How can you get Mage Hand 5E spell?

Being a cantrip on the Wizard’s spell list there are plenty of different methods to grab an extra hand, so take your pick of:

  • Artificer, Bard, Sorcerer, Warlock, and Wizard – All of these classes get access to Mage Hand on their spell lists.
  • Arcane Trickster (Rogue Subclass) – This subclass gets access to the Wizard spell list and with Mage Hand being one of the cantrips they learn. An Arcane Trickster’s Mage Hand is enhanced by the Mage Hand Legerdemain feature, allowing them to do things like pick locks, disarm traps, and pickpocket people with the hand.
  • Eldritch Knight (Fighter Subclass) – Similar to above, this Fighter can choose from the Wizard list for their cantrips.
  • Arcana Domain (Cleric Subclass) – This Cleric can choose two Wizard cantrips and make them Cleric spells, this allows them to pick up Mage Hand. 
  • Swarmkeeper (Ranger Subclass) – Thanks to their Swarmkeeper Magic feature, these Rangers get a special version of Mage Hand, which resembles the appearance they chose for their swarm.
  • High Elf (Subrace) – To represent this subrace’s mastery of the basics of magic, they can choose a Wizard cantrip of their choice.
  • Sun or Moon Half-Elf (Race Variant) – This half-elf variant can trade their Skill Versatility feature for the High Elf’s Cantrip feature.
  • Gith (Race) – Both the original and MotM versions of the githyanki and githzerai get a psionic version of Mage Hand, this makes the hand invisible and allows them to cast it without any components. 
  • Kobold (Race) – The MotM version of the kobold’s Kobold Legacy feature allows you to choose a Sorcerer cantrip if you choose the Draconic Sorcery option.
  • Mephistopheles and Mammon Teifling (Race Variants) – These variants of the tiefling from MToF get different spells compared to their PHB counterpart, this includes swapping out Thaumaturgy for Mage Hand.
  • Aberrant Dragonmark (Feat) – This feat allows you to choose a cantrip from the Sorcerer’s list.
  • Artificer Initiate (Feat) – You may have guessed it, this feat allows you to choose a cantrip of your choice from the Artificer spell list.
  • Initiate of High Sorcery (Feat) – This feat allows you to choose one Wizard cantrip of your choice, as well as two 1st level spells based on which moon you choose.
  • Magic Initiate (Feat) – By choosing Bard, Sorcerer, Warlock, or Wizard as the class you choose Mage Hand as one of your two cantrips, in addition to a 1st level spell.
  • Strixhaven Initiate (Feat) – The Quandrix option allows you to choose Mage Hand, as well as either Druidcraft or Guidance, and either a Druid or Wizard 1st level spell.
  • Telekinetic (Feat) – Similar to the gith races, this feat gives you a psionic version of Mage Hand, invisible and componentless, as well as a bonus action psionic shove.

How to roleplay the Mage Hand 5E spell

Need some help roleplaying the Mage Hand? Here are some examples to help you out:

  • In the eerie quiet of the tomb, Rogue spots a potentially dangerous trap. With a flick of his wrist and a murmur of an incantation, he conjures a spectral hand. The translucent hand carefully maneuvers, disarming the trap from a safe distance, allowing the party to proceed without harm.
  • During a heated battle against an orc warband, the Bladesinger Wizard, caught without a weapon, invokes her Mage Hand. The arcane hand materializes and grasps a fallen sword, swiftly hurling it back to her as she catches it with a grateful nod, ready to engage her enemies.
  • High on the library’s top shelf, a book lies just out of reach for the halfling Bard. With a playful whistle, he casts a spell, summoning a ghostly version of his own hand that floats upwards, plucks the book from the shelf, and gently delivers it into his waiting hands.

We hope we have given you an easier way of grabbing your mug of ale from a distance or even holding those smelly torches away from your poor nose. If you found this guide planning your next Sorcerer, check out our Sorcerer 5E guide, or if you just like learning about 5E spells, check out our DnD 5E spells section. Good luck out there adventurers, and until next time, may the force (hand) be with you.

Expert Editor-in-Chief