D&D 5E Spiritual Weapon vs. Fire Shield

Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
Under Weapons:
The Weapons table shows the most common weapons used in the fantasy gaming worlds, their price and weight, the damage they deal when they hit, and any special properties they possess.​
See, weapons can hit too.
 

log in or register to remove this ad


Oofta

Legend
Okay, you can create exceptions to fire shield by adding the requirement that there must be a physical connection between the caster and the attacker for the spell to work. This would also except Mordenkainen's sword from triggering damage from fire shield.

What about thorn whip? Would you consider the magically created whip to constitute a physical connection between the attacker and the target?
The caster creates a physical manifestation of a whip that they are holding. So yes, fire shield would work on that because they are wielding a weapon used in the attack, even if the weapon is temporary.

I know we can just say that fire shield somehow "knows" who cast the spiritual weapon spell but at the time of the attack the caster is no longer wielding the spiritual weapon. For me that's what makes it different. Mordenkainen's sword would work the same way, the caster is not physically attached to the sword.

As always, feel free to rule differently but I don't always rule according to the letter of the rules, the result has to make sense. Otherwise you can end up with "the bag of rats" exploit.
 

Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
Another example from the rules of a weapon hitting:
Poison, Basic. ... A creature hit by the poisoned weapon or ammunition must make a DC 10 Constitution saving throw or take 1d4 poison damage.​
Spell effects are not special in this way.
 

Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
That's kind of insulting. It assumes your intepretation of the rule is the one true way, and you ok with people changing it, but your reading in the one one that's "right". Others are saying that the rule can be interpreted either way, and both are acceptable.
How do you interpret this:
When you cast the spell, you can make a melee spell attack against a creature within 5 feet of the weapon.​
to mean the weapon and not the caster is the one that makes the attack?
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Under Weapons:
The Weapons table shows the most common weapons used in the fantasy gaming worlds, their price and weight, the damage they deal when they hit, and any special properties they possess.​
See, weapons can hit too.
*Natural language and all

There is no dispute whether a creature wielding a sword, attacking and hitting, met the criteria of flame shield - a creature within 5 feet of you that hits you with a melee attack.

There is a dispute over whether the Spiritual weapon itself hits or the cleric hits.

Just because it can both be said that the weapon hit or the wielder of the weapon hit, doesn't imply the same can be said in every instance. For example, we would say a robot hit, but we wouldn't say the person that programmed the robot hit - even though the robot would do nothing if he hadn't been programmed. *Causality in language is very nuanced and often unclear. Is Spiritual Weapon more like the robot or like the wielded weapon? Seems open to interpretation to me.
 


FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Another example from the rules of a weapon hitting:
Poison, Basic. ... A creature hit by the poisoned weapon or ammunition must make a DC 10 Constitution saving throw or take 1d4 poison damage.​
Spell effects are not special in this way.
Arrows can be used in traps and require no creature to roll an attack roll.

Thus, the rule would need to avoid talking about the creature attacking or hitting in this instance to cover all scenarios. *Natural language and all.
 

I'd say for me it's pretty clear that the caster hits the creature with a melee attack when using Spiritual Weapon.

Because Spiritual Weapon clearly states "you can make a melee spell attack".

If it said you can command the Spiritual Weapon to do a melee spell attack, then I'd agree that the caster doesn't hit the creature and thus doesn't get hit by Fire Shield.
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
1669418299831.png

The rules don't say that.
Certainly it does, which I have highlighted in the spell repeatedly yet you seem determined to ignore.

Here, one more time, maybe it will eventually sink in? 🤷‍♂️

1669418224191.png

When you (the cleric) casts the spell, you (the cleric) make a melee spell attack.

And since you like this so much:
1669418500738.png

"Your attack (the cleric) bonus with the spell attack..." See that?

You (the cleric) are hitting the fire shield target with the spell effect, because in order for the spell effect (YOUR spell effect) to hit, you must attack with it. The spiritual weapon spell is what you are hitting with, when you succeed and determine "whether the spell effect hits".

The spell effect is nothing, literally, without the cleric making the attack and hitting with it.

Your argument for "natural language" doesn't prove your point of view when you are focused solely on the phrase "spell effect hits". It doesn't hit without you attacking with it, in which case YOU are hitting the target with the spell effect, just as a fighter or whoever hits their target with a weapon attack.
 

Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
*Natural language and all

There is no dispute whether a creature wielding a sword, attacking and hitting, met the criteria of flame shield - a creature within 5 feet of you that hits you with a melee attack.

There is a dispute over whether the Spiritual weapon itself hits or the cleric hits.

Just because it can both be said that the weapon hit or the wielder of the weapon hit, doesn't imply the same can be said in every instance. For example, we would say a robot hit, but we wouldn't say the person that programmed the robot hit - even though the robot would do nothing if he hadn't been programmed. *Causality in language is very nuanced and often unclear. Is Spiritual Weapon more like the robot or like the wielded weapon? Seems open to interpretation to me.
I believe your claim was "There is no language like that in the rules for weapon attacks. There is for spells." The language in question being the following:
Some spells require the caster to make an attack roll to determine whether the spell effect hits the intended target.​
I think I've now shown there is ample language like this in the rules for weapon attacks.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
I believe your claim was "There is no language like that in the rules for weapon attacks. There is for spells." The language in question being the following:
Some spells require the caster to make an attack roll to determine whether the spell effect hits the intended target.​
I think I've now shown there is ample language like this in the rules for weapon attacks.
So you debunked a claim that doesn’t bolster your position nor undermine my primary position. Great job! Golf clap!

Now maybe address the points I brought up after you done this and before you reiterated it.
 

Clint_L

Hero
Again, I think the only problem here is folks not really considering the implications of a world where magic is just as real as physical bodies. As far as I am concerned, the cleric in the OP's example is in range of the fireshield and smacking it with a weapon. The fact that the cleric is holding the weapon with their magic rather than with their hand makes no difference to the magical effect; the cleric is still connected to the weapon and thus takes the fire shield damage if they are within its range.

To me, them not taking the damage would be weird - it would be implying that magic is somehow not as real as physical bodies, when in the game it very much is.
 
Last edited:

Incenjucar

Legend
The fiction of either result is easy enough to imagine -> RAW version just means that there's a connection between the caster and the weapon that allows them to project a melee attack.

The spell is kind of a mess. Is a spiritual sword metal? Can it be silver or adamantine? Can it instead be a wooden sword? Can you use class features or feats through it? Can it be a net? Etc.
 

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
The fiction of either result is easy enough to imagine -> RAW version just means that there's a connection between the caster and the weapon that allows them to project a melee attack.

The spell is kind of a mess. Is a spiritual sword metal? Can it be silver or adamantine? Can it instead be a wooden sword? Can you use class features or feats through it? Can it be a net? Etc.
Well as for what weapon it can be, the spell says:

The weapon can take whatever form you choose. Clerics of deities who are associated with a particular weapon (as St. Cuthbert is known for his mace and Thor for his hammer) make this spell's Effect resemble that weapon.

However, as always with 5e, there's wiggle room here for a DM to make their own ruling; for example, one could say that "resembling" a weapon does not mean it functions as that particular weapon. So even if your God was known for wielding a greataxe, the spell is only going do to d8 damage.

This sort of ambiguity is supposedly a bug, not a feature, but personally, I find the table variance really bothersome, especially with Adventurer's League play.
 

Oofta

Legend
The fiction of either result is easy enough to imagine -> RAW version just means that there's a connection between the caster and the weapon that allows them to project a melee attack.

The spell is kind of a mess. Is a spiritual sword metal? Can it be silver or adamantine? Can it instead be a wooden sword? Can you use class features or feats through it? Can it be a net? Etc.

It can be any shape you want, but all it will ever do is force damage. It's not "made of" anything, it's a spell that cannot be targeted. The spectral image you see is just that, an image of the cleric's ongoing spell. It's "made of" the same thing that magic missiles are made of.
 

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
It can be any shape you want, but all it will ever do is force damage. It's not "made of" anything, it's a spell that cannot be targeted. The spectral image you see is just that, an image of the cleric's ongoing spell. It's "made of" the same thing that magic missiles are made of.
But try not to ask what that that thing is. WotC has never been very good at describing force damage. Does it cut? Bruise? Puncture? Depends on what's dealing the force damage.

It's very nearly the "Non-Element"/"True Damage" of the system.
 

Oofta

Legend
But try not to ask what that that thing is. WotC has never been very good at describing force damage. Does it cut? Bruise? Puncture? Depends on what's dealing the force damage.

It's very nearly the "Non-Element"/"True Damage" of the system.
It doesn't matter if it cuts, bruises or punctures. It's the same "thing" as a magic missile, does it bother you that the spell doesn't describe specifically whether magic missile cuts, bruises or punctures?
 

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
It doesn't matter if it cuts, bruises or punctures. It's the same "thing" as a magic missile, does it bother you that the spell doesn't describe specifically whether magic missile cuts, bruises or punctures?
As a game element, it doesn't bother me. From a roleplaying standpoint, it does, because you have to describe this thing that cannot be easily described, but is apparently so common just about any guy who can wiggle their fingers and make magic happen can evoke it.
 

Oofta

Legend
Again, I think the only problem here is folks not really considering the implications of a world where magic is just as real as physical bodies. As far as I am concerned, the cleric in the OP's example is in range of the fireshield and smacking it with a weapon. The fact that the cleric is hold the weapon with their magic rather than with their hand makes no difference to the magical effect; the cleric is still connected to the weapon and thus takes the fire shield damage if they are within its range.

To me, them not taking the damage would be weird - it would be implying that magic is somehow not as real as physical bodies, when in the game it very much is.

It's partly just how I envision it. The fire shield obviously isn't blasting out in all directions, if it's exceeding the 5 foot area around the creature that cast it, it's not by enough to catch everyone around it, only the person holding the weapon doing the attack.

Screenshot 2022-11-26 083838.jpg


So let's say A has a longsword, B has fire shield, C has spiritual weapon, D has a polearm with 10 foot reach. If A attacks B with their longsword, A takes damage. I envision it as a combination of things, A has to physically encroach on B's space in order to attack, their arm is entering B's square. It could just be the arm that is set on fire or it could be that the arm (or even just the weapon) touches the fire and a flare of fire encases A following A's arm up the body. If D attacks B with their polearm, the fire flares out but no part of D's body entered B's space and the flair can't go further than 5 feet so D is unaffected; C is also unaffected of course.

On the other hand, C's spiritual weapon doesn't really exist as anything other than a spectral image that indicates the squares it can target. It's just there as a visible reference point. If it wasn't limited in how far it can be moved in a turn, it would be considered a ranged spell attack.

If the spiritual weapon is attacking B, it can be in any square adjacent to B, or even in B's square. If the spiritual weapon is in A or B's square when it hits, there's no path for the fire shield to follow, no part of C's arm or anything C is physically attached to encroaches on B's space. If the spiritual weapon is in A's square, it's certainly not going to flair out and harm A.

So my logic is fairly simple. For all practical purposes it really is a ranged spell attack, it's a melee spell attack only because as an ongoing spell that can only be moved a limited distance on a turn. Second, no part of C or anything C is holding is encroaching on B's square, there's nothing for the fire shield to directly damage or "follow" with a flair to follow. If fire shield just flared into the square in the direction of the attacker, when D attacks B then C should have taken damage. That doesn't happen because C wasn't the one attacking.

So that's how I rule it and why. I want magic to at least make visual sense, fire shield is not "intelligent" and I think this is just one of those cases that the rules don't cover so it's always going to be a DM's ruling. At the point that B is attacked by the spiritual weapon it's no different than if A had cast magic missile from an adjacent square and should have the same ruling.

Now I have to stop procrastinating and go wash dishes. BTW, having your dishwasher crap out the morning you're having 20 people over is not good timing. :(
 

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top