Spell Conversion: Bigby’s Pugnacious Pugilist 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 Pugnacious Pugilist. This spell is more of a summon creature spell than anything else. It seems to be the small version of Bigby’s Hand. As WotC reduced summoning spells in 5th edition to help DMs and make gameplay faster, this spell was omitted.

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

Mechanically we can compare it to Conjure Animals as both are 3rd level summoning spells. Conjure Animals lets you summon a CR 2 monster. We have to rescale the summoned pair of hands quite a bit to give it the firepower of a CR 2 creature.

Considering all of this, this is my conversion of Bigby’s Pugnacious Pugilist in 5e:

Bigby’s Pugnacious Pugilist

3rd-level evocation
Casting time: 1 action
Range: 60 feet
Components: V, S, M (mitten stuffed with cotton)
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 hour

You create a pair of hands in an unoccupied space in range.
The hands are listening to your verbal commands. Giving orders is not an action.

The hands are a unit having AC 16, hit points equal to your hit points maximum. If they drop to 0 hit points, the spell ends.

They have a +8 to hit, do 6 force damage and have advantage while being 5 feet close to an ally (Pack Tactics).


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 Silencing Hand.

See you in the Green Dragon Inn,


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