Mage Hand 5e Guide

Conjuration Cantrip
Casting Time
1 Action
30 Feet
1 minute

Spell Description

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.

Is Mage Hand Good?

Overall Rating: Green. This means that mage hand is a good spell.

Overall Notes: Mage hand provides a lot of utility for a caster, allowing them to extend the range they can grab or interact with objects, with little combat benefit.

Class Specific Ratings for Mage Hand

Arcane Trickster rogue: This cantrip is a cornerstone feature of the Arcane Trickster. They can use it to pick pockets, pick locks, distract enemies to gain advantage, all as a bonus action. Albeit, the spell still takes an action to cast, but doesn't require concentration. This is something that most Arcane Tricksters will want to use each initiative, if they can get it out before combat starts.

How to Use Mage Hand Effectively in 5e

Mage hand works as an extended, magical arm for the caster, allowing you to interact with objects from farther away. A lot of the strength of mage hand relies on the player’s creativity. It can grab objects that are out of reach due to the player being trapped, the item being in a dangerous or hazardous location, or the item is too far to grab by normal means. It is not a cantrip that is incredibly useful for combat, unless there is an objective in the encounter that mage hand can assist with.

The rogue subclass, Arcane Trickster, can get the most usage out of this cantrip. This is because their Mage Hand Legerdemain feature provides a lot of additional benefits. The biggest benefit is being able to use mage hand as a bonus action, freeing up your action economy during an encounter. It also makes the hand invisible, allows your mage hand to use your thieves tools to disarm traps or pick locks from afar, and interacts with objects worn or carried by another person.

Mage Hand VS Prestidigitation VS Minor Illusion

The spells that mage hand compares with the most are the other common utility cantrips, prestidigitation and minor illusion. They allow you to magically interact with the world using mostly harmless effects, each carrying their own unique niche.

Mage Hand: 30ft range. Can grab, pick up, and move objects. Allows the user to magically extend their reach.

Prestidigitation: 10ft range. Has a wide range of listed uses that create sensory, or visual altering effects. Mostly used for cleaning up and small visual performances.

Minor Illusion: 30ft range. Creates an illusory effect, either a sound or a small visual, to try and create a disruption. Does not cause any actual change on objects or environment.

All three of these spells provide their own niches for different circumstances. Minor illusion is probably the most versatile, as it can actively influence other creatures through deception, while prestidigitation is probably the least versatile. However, all three of these spells are cantrips, and can provide utility to your build. While they do comparatively similar things, they can function in tandem, giving you a wider variety of ways to freely interact with the world without using magic. Being cantrips, they do not cost spell slots, and can be used much more freely and interchangeably. An Arcane Trickster gets a special mention as both mage hand and minor illusion both can help deceive and trick other creatures to create better circumstances for that particular rogue.

Mage Hand 5e FAQs

Can I use mage hand to provide the help action?

No. Mage hand has listed functions that provide little to no combat benefit.

Can I use mage hand to carry objects?

Yes. Mage hand specifies that it can move objects with a carry weight of 10lbs or less, so it will not impact heavier objects, but otherwise it can

Is mage hand useful for a dungeon crawling focused campaign?

It depends. For combat, mage hand has little to no usefulness. In scenarios where pathways may be gated off, traps are prevalent, or switches are in far to reach places, mage hand can be incredibly useful.

Why can some classes use this spell as a bonus action when it is listed as an action?

The Arcane Trickster has a class feature that allows it to use mage hand as it’s Cunning Action. Cunning action is a rogue feature that allows them to use particular skills as a bonus action instead of as an action.

Closing Thoughts

Mage hand is a unique utility cantrip that can be incredibly useful, but can also be very campaign reliant. It becomes more useful with the Arcane Trickster rogue subclass, but is quite functional on any class. It won’t make or break any particular build, but is useful for just about any caster that has room for it in their list of cantrips.