Spell Conversion: Bigby’s Crushing Hand in 5e

In our Spell Conversion Series we will look at spells from 2nd edition that didn’t make it into the 5th edition of D&D. For a full list of all named spells, go here.


In order to convert a spell we need to look at the guidelines of the Dungeon Master’s Guide, at the original spell in 2nd edition and at the existing spells in 5e. The new spell shouldn’t overshadow an existing spell nor be too complicated.

5th edition’s biggest advantage over older editions is that spells are extremely streamlined and bookkeeping on the Dungeon Master’s side is kept to a minimum.

Also, some spells might be used for a specific situation. This showcases how some mages in Greyhawk invented magic for their own needs. Consider players to get in touch with those unique spells by meeting disciples of these famous mages (or even the mage himself) rather than handing them out freely.

The spell

Today we look at Bigby’s Crushing Hand. The spell has a lot of weird and special mechanics. It is understandable that WotC disregarded this spell, especially with the new mechanic of using a spell on a higher spell level.

But the spell is still unique and can be converted. Let’s look at the important mechanics we want to convert:

  • 9th Level, one target, concentration spell
  • Increasing damage over time
  • Spawn a new entity (big hand)
  • Never misses
  • Auto-grapple

The best spell to compare it to is a Bigby’s Hand cast on 9th level in 5th edition. If you cast it and use the Clenched Fist you make a melee spell attack doing 12d8 damage. Because the Crushing Hand never misses, auto-grapples the damage should be a little lower. On the other hand, Bigby’s Hand is more versatile.

Ultimately, a 9th level spell should be more powerful than a 5th level spell cast on a higher level.

Also the 5th edition Dungeon Master’s Guide states a 9th level spell with half damage save should do 15d10 damage. A never miss spell should do approximately 2/3 of that.

Considering all of this, this is my conversion of Bigby’s Crushing Hand in 5e:

Bigby’s Crushing Hand

9th-level evocation
Casting time: 1 action
Range: 120 feet
Components: V, S, M (an egg shell and a snake skin glove)
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 minute

You create a huge translucent hand attacking a target you can see. The target is grappled by the hand and takes force damage on the start of its turn.
On the first turn the target takes 2d10, on the second turn 4d10 and 6d10 force damage on every following turn.
The hand is an object has AC 20 and hit points equal to your hit point maximum. If it drops to 0 hit points, the spell ends.


As you might have realised, converting spells is never easy and highly subjective. There are many ways to the same goal. Our goal is to make our World of Greyhawk experience unique, different from a homebrew of Forgotten Realms campaign. And with every new spell that used to be a Greyhawk exclusive, we are getting closer to our goal.

Next time we are going to convert Bigby’s Battering Gauntlet.

See you in the Green Dragon Inn,


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