D&D 5E Spiritual Weapon vs. Fire Shield

Oofta

Legend
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.
I always envision force damage as concentrated concussive force, kind of like being hit by a fast moving blunt object. Like being hit by a baseball thrown by a professional pitcher.
 

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James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
I always envision force damage as concentrated concussive force, kind of like being hit by a fast moving blunt object. Like being hit by a baseball thrown by a professional pitcher.
And that's a perfectly fine description, the problem I run into is that there are several possible descriptions, forcing (heh) everyone to come up with one that works for them. Back in 4e, there were condition cards with a little bit of art showing you what ongoing damage of a particular type would look like, and they allowed me to give players reasonable descriptions of what was happening. For example:
d-encounters-condition-cards-full-set_1_072f5e61a7310b6130f41abdcdcf0b061.jpg

But the force damage one really didn't look like anything distinct. Radiant damage was like a laser, but force?

d-encounters-condition-cards-full-set_1_072f5e61a7310b6130f41abdcdcf0b06.jpg

I don't really know what that is. Another kind of laser? A kinetic beam from the punch dimension? Certainly the art shows that it's smashing the armor it strikes, but what about it is different from, say, me hitting you with a hammer?

This was even worse in 3e, where force had this property that let you beat up ghosts and other incorporeal foes for, uh, reasons. And the only description we got was: "Force is pure magical energy focused into a damaging form. Most effects that deal force damage are spells, including magic missile and spiritual weapon." Yeah, thanks for that. Anyways, this concludes my rant about force as a damage type.
 

Incenjucar

Legend
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.
RAI, absolutely. They meant "appearance" rather than "form". They would not make great lawyers.
 



ECMO3

Hero
Simple rules question: If you are within 5ft of a creature that has Fire Shield active and you hit it with a Spiritual Weapon, do you take damage?
Yes. I don't really think this is debatable. You are within 5 feet and you hit him with a melee attack. The shield is going to lash out and retailiate against you - the one who attacked it.

The spiritual weapon is just a weapon, saying it would damaget the weapon is like saying it would damage your sword if you hit it with a sword.

Same thing if you make a melee spell attack and deliver it with your familiar with a reaction. You are standing next to someone and you have your familiar deliver a touch spell like shocking grasp as a reaction, the shield lashes out at you, not the familiar because you are the one who attacked.

Same thing if you are an echo knight and attack from your echo's space while you are within 5 feet. In this case even if you attack from your echos space with your echo 10 feet away using a pole arm but you are standing within 5 feet you take damage.

In any of these cases if you are more than 5 foot away no one/nothing gets damaged by the shield. This is clearly RAW. I also think it is RAI, I think the intent is for the shield to go after the attacker.
 
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Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
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'm unable to parse out what your point is in this post. Perhaps you could reiterate.

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.
If I'm paraphrasing correctly, your point seems to have been that because fire shield requires a creature to hit and because spiritual weapon doesn't specify whether it is the caster, the spectral weapon, or some other agent that hits, but only specifies what happens "On a hit," then it is open to interpretation whether the caster hits when s/he makes a successful attack and therefore whether s/he provokes damage from the shield. Correct me if that's not accurate.

If it's correct, then my response would be that your point fails to comprehend the natural language style in which the rules are written. Variations in phrasing are used interchangeably throughout the text. Most often in the text, it's the attack itself that's said to hit, but sometimes the text mentions the attacker, the weapon, or, in some cases, the spell effect as hitting on a successful attack. And here's the thing: because this is natural language, these variations in phrasing aren't meant to carry any specialized jargonistic meaning. They all describe the same event: a successful attack. On a hit, the attack hits, the attacker hits, and the weapon or spell effect hits. One never happens without the others, so when spiritual weapon says "you can make a melee spell attack", it can be understood that should the attack hit, then you the caster can also be said to have hit. Likewise, when fire shield says "whenever a creature within 5 feet of you hits you with a melee attack", it can be understood that the creature that hit you is the same creature that made the attack.
 

Oofta

Legend
Sadly, rules lawyers/arguers are a thing. Hopefully this RAI here is obvious enough to most folks that it doesn't come up, but better word choice is available.
Or the DM just makes a ruling after they understand both sides and you move on. If you argue with the DM about their ruling you can move on out the door.
 

Incenjucar

Legend
Or the DM just makes a ruling after they understand both sides and you move on. If you argue with the DM about their ruling you can move on out the door.
That works for experienced DMs with players to spare, but a lot of folks are busting out the DM screen in their tweens or are otherwise subject to pressure or uncertainty. Better to have better writing than to expect everyone to deal with social conflicts at their tables. Good design makes the game easier for a larger portion of the population to enjoy.
 

Clint_L

Hero
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.
See, that's my issue. Why are you requiring physical attachment for a magical effect to happen? Why is a magical attachment immune to triggering magical effects? It's like you're trying to apply naturalistic physics to something that by definition is supernatural. How do you know that from a magical perspective the connection between the cleric and the spiritual weapon is not obvious and direct? The spell effect suggests that it is, and that this is not controversial in a world where magic is real.

My argument is to use RAW because in a world where magic is a thing, using a weapon made of steel with your hand is no more real than using a weapon made of force with your magic. In both cases, you are making a melee attack within range of a magical effect that is triggered by making a melee attack, and that specifically hits whoever made said attack. You hit the fire shield, so the fire shield hits you, if you are within range.
 
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Oofta

Legend
See, that's my issue. Why are you requiring physical attachment for a magical effect to happen? Why is a magical attachment immune to triggering magical effects? It's like you're trying to apply naturalistic physics to something that by definition is supernatural. How do you know that from a magical perspective the connection between the cleric and the spiritual weapon is not obvious and direct? The spell effect suggests that it is, and that this is not controversial in a world where magic is real.

My argument is to use RAW because in a world where magic is a thing, using a weapon made of steel with your hand is no more real than using a weapon made of force with your magic. In both cases, you are making a melee attack within range of a magical effect that is triggered by making a melee attack, and that specifically hits whoever made said attack. You hit the fire shield, so the fire shield hits you, if you are within range.
I explained my logic and reasoning. Feel free to rule differently when you DM.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
I'm unable to parse out what your point is in this post. Perhaps you could reiterate.


If I'm paraphrasing correctly, your point seems to have been that because fire shield requires a creature to hit and because spiritual weapon doesn't specify whether it is the caster, the spectral weapon, or some other agent that hits, but only specifies what happens "On a hit," then it is open to interpretation whether the caster hits when s/he makes a successful attack and therefore whether s/he provokes damage from the shield. Correct me if that's not accurate.

If it's correct, then my response would be that your point fails to comprehend the natural language style in which the rules are written. Variations in phrasing are used interchangeably throughout the text. Most often in the text, it's the attack itself that's said to hit, but sometimes the text mentions the attacker, the weapon, or, in some cases, the spell effect as hitting on a successful attack. And here's the thing: because this is natural language, these variations in phrasing aren't meant to carry any specialized jargonistic meaning. They all describe the same event: a successful attack. On a hit, the attack hits, the attacker hits, and the weapon or spell effect hits. One never happens without the others, so when spiritual weapon says "you can make a melee spell attack", it can be understood that should the attack hit, then you the caster can also be said to have hit. Likewise, when fire shield says "whenever a creature within 5 feet of you hits you with a melee attack", it can be understood that the creature that hit you is the same creature that made the attack.
Without rehashing all that there is one rule I'd forgotten about that does move me to agreeing with your position.

"If there's ever any question whether something you're doing counts as an attack, the rule is simple: if you're making an attack roll, you're making an attack."

Spiritual Weapon directs the Cleric to make an attack roll, thus the Cleric is making an attack. Because of that, Flame Shield would hit the Cleric if within 5 ft when attacking with a spiritual weapon. I'm convinced my original position isn't RAW.
 

Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
Without rehashing all that there is one rule I'd forgotten about that does move me to agreeing with your position.

"If there's ever any question whether something you're doing counts as an attack, the rule is simple: if you're making an attack roll, you're making an attack."

Spiritual Weapon directs the Cleric to make an attack roll, thus the Cleric is making an attack. Because of that, Flame Shield would hit the Cleric if within 5 ft when attacking with a spiritual weapon. I'm convinced my original position isn't RAW.
I'd thought of bringing that rule up earlier in the discussion when there seemed to be a question in some posters' minds about whether the caster of spiritual weapon was actually making an attack, but the spell itself says "When you cast the spell, you can make a melee spell attack" leaving no doubt that the caster of the spell is also the one who attacks and rendering the quoted rule unnecessary. We already know the cleric attacks. The question then seemed to become whether the caster is the one who hits on a successful attack, as required by fire shield. I think the natural language interpretation of the rules for attacks makes it clear that the caster does indeed hit on a successful attack.
 

Incenjucar

Legend
A big thing with magic is that it really does NOT work like a simple physical manifiestation of a given energy or object, otherwise you could define how those energies and objects work when in a given form and then apply those to spells. Fire shield, for example, is not going to light a torch covered in kerosene, RAW. A creature with reach hitting the shield with their face from 6' away will also take no damage.
 

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?
My interpretation is not what I was discussing. Your assumption that you are right and everyone else is wrong, and the egotistical way you presented your opinion as fact, is.

I get that you probably don't intend to come off as a self-righteous know it all, I'm just letting you know that's how I interpreted that statement from you. (And I intended to present that to you for your benefit, so that you could re-evaluate and consider if my interpretation might be fair and if you might wish to reconsider such statements in the future. i.e. we can all help each other be aware of how we appear to others.) If not, you are welcome to move on and ignore my opinionated observation.
 

I don't know, I could imagine a bard casting a variant spiritual weapon using the magical force of their song. Perhaps the original, a hammer. They could then use the same technique for shielding, so that you couldn't touch them.
 

Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
My interpretation is not what I was discussing. Your assumption that you are right and everyone else is wrong, and the egotistical way you presented your opinion as fact, is.

I get that you probably don't intend to come off as a self-righteous know it all, I'm just letting you know that's how I interpreted that statement from you. (And I intended to present that to you for your benefit, so that you could re-evaluate and consider if my interpretation might be fair and if you might wish to reconsider such statements in the future. i.e. we can all help each other be aware of how we appear to others.) If not, you are welcome to move on and ignore my opinionated observation.
Let me get this straight. You've assumed negative intentions on my part which you're stating here as if factual, and I'm supposed to validate the fairness of your "interpretation"? Look, I'm not here to be tone policed by you, and I resent your use of ad-hominem attacks and name-calling in this post. I'd suggest you be more charitable with your "interpretations" in the future. You can do better.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Let me get this straight. You've assumed negative intentions on my part which you're stating here as if factual, and I'm supposed to validate the fairness of your "interpretation"? Look, I'm not here to be tone policed by you, and I resent your use of ad-hominem attacks and name-calling in this post. I'd suggest you be more charitable with your "interpretations" in the future. You can do better.
Your post also came across that way to me.
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
I'd thought of bringing that rule up earlier in the discussion when there seemed to be a question in some posters' minds about whether the caster of spiritual weapon was actually making an attack, but the spell itself says "When you cast the spell, you can make a melee spell attack" leaving no doubt that the caster of the spell is also the one who attacks and rendering the quoted rule unnecessary. We already know the cleric attacks. The question then seemed to become whether the caster is the one who hits on a successful attack, as required by fire shield. I think the natural language interpretation of the rules for attacks makes it clear that the caster does indeed hit on a successful attack.
Yeah, that is why I didn't bring it up. I don't think people were arguing so much that the caster wasn't attacking, it was that the caster wasn't hitting, the spell effect was...

"If there's ever any question whether something you're doing counts as an attack, the rule is simple: if you're making an attack roll, you're making an attack."

Spiritual Weapon directs the Cleric to make an attack roll, thus the Cleric is making an attack. Because of that, Flame Shield would hit the Cleric if within 5 ft when attacking with a spiritual weapon.
I don't recall (I could be wrong) you denied the cleric was making the attack, it was that the cleric wasn't hitting, the spell effect was...

I'm convinced my original position isn't RAW.
Good. However you've done it, kuddos!
 

Yes, if only because you're standing right next to the guy when you could be 30 ft. away.

EtA: To give a more useful answer, no, the cleric (and X in the graphic on page one) does not get burned by the fire shield.

Why not? Because the spell creates an area around the wizard where attackers are damaged. It is deep enough where a melee attacker must reach into or through it to damage the wizard. With spiritual hammer it is a weapon without a wielder so they don't have to reach through the fire shield to harm the wizard.

Consequences to the ruling:
  • Reach weapons allow attack without reprisal. The wielder does not touch the fire shield, so is unharmed, just like with missile weapons.
  • Healing harms the healer. You have to reach through the fire shield, so you get burned. The damage inflicted is of similar proportion. Healing word is your friend.

That's how I've adjudicated the spell in this instance. Not that I'll have to worry about it in the near future. The only wizard who could cast it had a hot fire shield up and ate a flame strike, failing his save. Crispy! I'm sure the party will raise him, but I don't think he wants to cast the spell again.
 
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