Bigby's grasping hand was an evocation spell that created a hand of force to grapple with an opponent. Clerics who cast this spell named it for their deity—Lathander's grasping hand, for example. To Zakharan mages, always reluctant to acknowledge ajami names and accomplishments, the spell was known simply as grasping hand, and counted among the spells of the universal province.
This spell was one of the Bigby's hand family of spells. It created a hand about the size of an ogre or about 10 ft (3 m) tall with a splayed finger span of about the same distance (earlier versions could be even larger) that could be used to grab and hold a creature. All versions of this spell relied on the caster's senses to detect and locate a target, the fist did not have senses of its own. But once a target was designated, the hand would unerringly stick with the target regardless of invisibility, polymorphing, darkness, or other means of concealment or disguise.
The earliest versions never missed the target once it was designated, but later versions performed repeated melee attacks until the grapple succeeded or until the spell expired. A successful grab immobilized the target. The grasping hand could also be used in the same manner as Bigby's interposing hand or as an improved Bigby's forceful hand with greater strength. For the earlier versions, the weight of the target determined the reduction in movement rate. A 1,000 lb (455 kg) creature could be held motionless, while a 16,000 lb (7,270 kg) creature would be slowed to half its normal movement speed.
Range and duration varied widely over the history of this spell. For the earliest versions, a wizard that had advanced just enough to cast this spell could control the hand for 14 minutes and extend its reach to 140 ft (43 m) indoors/140 yd (128 m) outdoors. Later versions lasted only a minute or two, but the reach was extended from 120 ft (36.6 m) to 230 ft (70.1 m) at a minimum.
In addition to the verbal component, all versions required somatic gestures. After the Second Sundering, the hand imitated the movement of the caster's hand for the duration of the spell. The early versions required a glove made of leather, but after the Second Sundering, the material components were refined to an eggshell and a glove made of snakeskin.
- Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford (2014). Player's Handbook 5th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 211. ISBN 978-0-7869-6560-1.
- Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford (2014). Player's Handbook 5th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 218. ISBN 978-0-7869-6560-1.
- Jeremy Crawford, James Wyatt, Keith Baker (November 2019). Eberron: Rising from the Last War. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 56. ISBN 978-0-7869-6692-9.
- Rob Heinsoo, Andy Collins, James Wyatt (June 2008). Player's Handbook 4th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 164. ISBN 0-7869-4867-1.
- Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, Skip Williams (July 2003). Player's Handbook v.3.5. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 204. ISBN 0-7869-2886-7.
- David "Zeb" Cook (August 1989). Player's Handbook (2nd edition). (TSR, Inc.), p. 183. ISBN 0-88038-716-5.
- David "Zeb" Cook (April 1995). Player's Handbook 2nd edition (revised). (TSR, Inc.), p. 232. ISBN 0-7869-0329-5.
- Sam Witt (January 1994). The Complete Sha'ir's Handbook. (TSR, Inc), pp. 124, 126. ISBN 978-1560768289.
- Gary Gygax (1978). Players Handbook 1st edition. (TSR, Inc.), p. 86. ISBN 0-9356-9601-6.
- Gary Gygax (1978). Players Handbook 1st edition. (TSR, Inc.), p. 79. ISBN 0-9356-9601-6.
- Adam Lee, Christopher Perkins (September 17, 2019). Baldur's Gate: Descent into Avernus. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 77. ISBN 0786966769.