© Wizards of the Coast by Manuel Castañón

Spiritual Weapon 5e Guide: Mechanics and Guide to Using Effectively

Casting Time

1 bonus action

School

Evocation

Damage/Effect

Force

Range

60 feet

Class

Cleric

Attack/Save

Cleric

Duration

1 minute

Level

2

Components

Verbal, Somatic

You create a floating, spectral weapon within range that lasts for the duration or until you cast this spell again. When you cast the spell, you can make a melee spell attack against a creature within 5 feet of the weapon. On a hit, the target takes force damage equal to 1d8 + your spellcasting ability modifier.

As a bonus action on your turn, you can move the weapon up to 20 feet and repeat the attack against a creature within 5 feet of it.

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.

At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 3rd level or higher, the damage increases by 1d8 for every two slot levels above 2nd.

What Is Spiritual Weapon?

Spiritual Weapon is a 2nd-level Evocation spell that allows the player to create a floating weapon. For one minute, they can move the weapon and make a melee spell attack with it. The spell deals 1d8 + Spellcasting ability modifier in Force damage.

Mechanical Considerations of Spiritual Weapon

There are many mechanical considerations that a player or DM will have to make when Spiritual Weapon comes into play. Most spells have some mechanical considerations that must be kept in mind, and Spiritual Weapon is no exception.

Scaling

Spiritual Weapon scales with slot level up to 8d8 + Spellcasting ability modifier at 9th level. While using the spell at 9th level is not a super viable strategy — you’ll only ever get slot one per fight; after all, we can look at the scaling and determine which level it is most effective at.

Short Answer:

If you have the space to cast this spell, you should cast this spell at the 4th level since Clerics don’t have another damage spell at that level. Honestly, their 4th level repertoire is kind of crap. So, it’s a slot that won’t feel bad to use. The clerics’ only other good spell at the 4th level is Banishment and an upcasted Inflict Wounds.

Long Answer:

The average damage for Spiritual Weapon scales up with level as follows: 

4.5→9→13.5→18→22.5→27→31.5→36 

Spiritual Weapon strikes up to 10 times, and at 20th level with maxed out spellcasting, the spell has approximately a 35% to hit a creature with maxed out Armor Class (25) and a 95% chance to hit a creature with the lowest armor class (5, remember that a natural one always misses!).

When we take the mean strike chance of Spiritual weapon, it comes out to approximately 33%. So you’ll be hitting about 3 of those 10 hits overall. This brings our new damage output up to:

13.5→27→40.5→54→67.5→81→94.5→108

Spirit Guardians will outscale Spiritual Weapon at every level but remember that you can have both up and still cast an extra spell. However, it might be better to save the Spiritual Weapon spell slot for another burst damage spell in a more critical fight.

Clerics don’t get many damaging spells, but a 4th level Inflict Wounds deals about 3x the damage of the first strike of Spiritual Weapon, so you might be able to kill a creature faster using just Spirit Guardians and Inflict wounds.

Clerics do get access to Toll the Dead, so you can add the damage from Toll the Dead to their single round damage with Spiritual Weapon, which brings the damage up by an average of 26 damage on the first turn at the 20th level. (You will be able to cast both Toll the Dead and Spiritual Weapon on the same turn.

Critical Strikes

Spiritual Weapons can critically strike as the attack counts as a melee spell attack. So, a natural 20 on a roll to hit will crit and double the damage dice. This rule is valid even for subsequent attacks.

Attack actions that use a bonus attack as their timing are still attack actions. Keep that in mind when rolling for it, as people sometimes forget that Spiritual Weapons do get critical strike damage. 

Destruction

Spiritual Weapons cannot be destroyed except the spell ending by timing out or moving too far away. They cannot take damage and do not have hit points.

Carrying or Wielding

You cannot carry your Spiritual Weapon or otherwise wield it besides having it float nearby.

Double Spell Casting

Spiritual Weapon’s initial melee spell attack is part of the Bonus Action of casting it. You still have your main action free that turn, but you’d have to cast a cantrip if you wanted to cast another spell as Spiritual Weapon is a leveled spell.

Unconscious or Incapacitated

Spiritual Weapon does not end if the caster falls unconscious or is incapacitated. However, the caster would be unable to attack with it while unconscious or incapacitated.

Casting the Spell Twice

You could have more than one Spiritual Weapon active, but you can only move and attack with one of them per turn as you cannot use your action to attack with them.

Flanking

Spiritual Weapons do not give flanking to other creatures. However, a creature attacking with their Spiritual Weapon will get flanking if one of their allies is in a position to flank.

Flanking states that an ally must be on the other side but not that the attack must come from your position. So the caster of Spiritual Weapon will get flanking, but their ally will not.

Divine Smite

Spiritual Weapon cannot Smite as it is considered a Melee Spell Attack and not a Melee Weapon Attack.

Twinned Spell

You cannot use Twinned Spell with Spiritual Weapon as it does not target a creature.

Attacks of Opportunity

Spiritual Weapons do not get attacks of opportunity since attacks of opportunity require the attacker to be a creature. Since Spiritual Weapons aren’t creatures, they don’t get attacks of opportunity.

If the weapon and the caster are both near the same creature, the caster will get an attack of opportunity with their melee weapon or a fast, but not with a Spiritual Weapon.

Polymorph

As long as the spell was cast before the creature was Polymorphed, there’s no reason a Polymorphed creature couldn’t move and attack using the Spiritual Weapon as the subsequent uses are not considered to be spell casts.

Taking Up Space

As Jeremy Crawford clarified on Twitter, Spiritual Weapon does not occupy the space it is currently in. So, there’s no reason a character couldn’t walk through it. This movement would not cause them to take any damage or provoke any attacks.

How to Use Spiritual Weapon

For Players

Spiritual Weapon’s biggest draw is that it allows for an extra d8 + Spellcasting ability modifier of damage each turn. Spiritual Weapon is a bonus action, and its subsequent movements and attacks are all bonus actions. So, it can be used alongside other spells.

Spiritual Weapon’s initial cast is a leveled spell. However, players are still free to cast a Cantrip such as Sacred Flame or Toll the Dead when they cast Spiritual Weapon. On subsequent turns, they will be able to move the weapon and attack with it while using another leveled spell if they choose!

The only two classes to have this spell innately are Clerics and Divine Soul Sorcerers. Both classes have good uses of the spell, and it synergizes well with both.

Divine Soul Sorcerers will best use this spell in conjunction with their arsenal of cantrips, while Clerics will likely use the period in conjunction with weapon attacks. In both situations, the damage output of the caster is increased, no matter what level they cast Spiritual Weapon at.

Even when casting Spiritual Weapon at the lowest level, the spell gives the caster a substantial boost in damage. In low-level fights, this damage boost can be game-breaking. The damage boost will need to be bolstered with a higher-level spell slot at higher levels but can be similarly game-breaking in terms of extra damage.

The spell not requiring Concentration means that the caster has free damage and can still hold onto magic like Spirit Guardians and cast more damaging spells that don’t require Concentration while they have Spiritual Weapon up. The increased damage output from Spiritual Weapon is undeniable.

Spirit Guardians and Spiritual Weapon is a highly high damage combination, especially since they still leave the player able to cast another spell during their turn once they’re both cast

For Dungeon Masters

Dungeon Masters will want to remember that Spiritual Weapons do not give flanking and do not get attacks of opportunity! Flanking and attacks of opportunity require allied creatures.

Players can and will try to get extra damage from their Spiritual Weapons via flanking and attacks of opportunity, but they do not grant those on their own as they are not creatures.

When considering including Spiritual Weapon on a character, Dungeon Masters will want to consider the flavor of both the caster and weapon. Spiritual Weapon is essentially flavored to be a product of the Divine.

The spell states explicitly that Clerics (and by extension Divine Sorcerers) who are affiliated with a particular God will have their Spiritual Weapon appear as the weapon affiliated with their God.

So a character who is a Cleric or Sorcerer who acts as an emissary or protector of their God will be the most likely to have this spell within their arsenal. Other options for people who might have this as an innate spell would be demigods or avatars of Gods themselves, maybe Lesser Gods.

When it comes to characters, who can cast Spiritual Weapon, the characters will most likely be devout followers or related to divinity. The only three classes that have access to the spell are Clerics, Divine Soul Sorcerers, and Bards, who can take the spell starting at the 6th level for Lore Bards and the 10th level for all the other Bard subclasses.

A Lore Bard with a strong interest in the divine would be a flavorful addition to the Spiritual Weapon roster. Spiritual Weapon would have sound damage output when combined with their weapon attacks and other spells.

Mighty demigods, lesser gods, or divine emissaries may have Spiritual Weapon as a part of their innate spellcasting if they have it as they are directly divine rather than a follower of the divine.

Spiritual Weapon: Critical Succes!!

In short, Spiritual Weapon is a powerful spell. Its timing makes its damage output invaluable since it can be used alongside other spells to boost any caster’s damage output.

These factors make it a valuable spell to take whether a character is melee or ranged focused and gives it further use for characters who rely on weapon attacks and need to keep their main action free to use those.

Remember to keep this powerhouse in your back pocket, and good luck with your adventures!

Frequently Asked Questions About Spiritual Weapon

Can You Use Spiritual Weapon as a Main Action?

No, you cannot use Spiritual Weapon as a character’s main action. It must be used as a Bonus Action.

Can You Make an Attack Of Opportunity with Spiritual Weapon?

No. Attacks of opportunity must be made with a weapon or an unarmed strike, and a Spiritual Weapon is a spell attack.

A character with War Caster would be able to make an attack of opportunity with Spiritual Weapon if both the caster and Spiritual Weapon were in range.

Can a Spiritual Weapon Attack Through a Wall?

No. Spiritual Weapons cannot pass through walls.

Does Spiritual Weapon Require a Line of Sight?

No. Jeremy Crawford clarified on Twitter that Spiritual Weapon does not require Line of Sight. If the caster is swinging at a target they can’t see, the attack roll is made with Disadvantage.