The Cleric’s Secret Spectral Sidekick: A Comprehensive Guide to Spiritual Weapon in 5E

spiritual weapon 5e - 06
Table of Contents

It's the final climactic battle. After months of hunting down the cultists, your party has finally cornered them in their inner sanctum. As you burst into the chamber, arcane runes glow ominously along the walls. The lead fanatic shouts an incantation, his hands wreathed in eldritch flames. This foe will not go quietly.

In that split second, what do you do? If you're like many clerics, the answer is obvious – you call upon the divine powers to summon a trusty spiritual weapon to your side. With a mere bonus action, your phantom ally appears to harry your foes, no concentration required. As spells go, few offer as much reliable value as spiritual weapon.

From novice adventurers to legendary heroes, this iconic cleric ability has offered a vital edge in combat encounters across the realms. With the right tactics, it can turn the tide of an entire battle. This guide will explore everything you need to master this spell:

So grab your holy symbol, say a prayer to your deity, and summon forth an ally that will smite evil at your side – this is the definitive guide to spiritual weapon in 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons!

How Spiritual Weapon Works: Mechanics and Tactics

Spiritual weapon is available to any cleric as a 2nd-level evocation spell. When cast as a bonus action, it creates a spectral weapon of your choice within 60 feet. The weapon lasts 1 minute, no concentration required. What are the key mechanics?

  • Initial Attack: When you first cast the spell, you can immediately make a melee spell attack against any creature within 5 feet of the weapon. On a hit, the target takes 1d8 + your spellcasting modifier in force damage.
  • Ongoing Attacks: On your subsequent turns, you can use your bonus action to move the weapon up to 20 feet and make another attack against a target within reach. You get as many attacks as you have bonus actions before the spell ends.
  • Scaling Damage: Casting the spell using a 3rd level slot or higher increases the damage by 1d8 for every 2 slot levels above 2nd. Empowering your spiritual ally makes its attacks really hurt!
  • Force Damage: The spectral weapon deals force damage, one of D&D's least resisted damage types. Creatures vulnerable to magical weapons also take full damage from the attacks.

With these basics in mind, let's look at some key tactics and strategies to maximize the value of your spiritual weapon sidekick:

  • Cast Early: Spiritual weapon shines most in longer battles. Cast it immediately so it can start attacking every round. Don't waste rounds preparing buffs first.
  • Upcast For Extra Pain: When you know a big fight is coming, upcast spiritual weapon to boost its damage. The increased spell slot cost is well worth it.
  • Pick Your Targets: Don't just attack the nearest foe every turn. Move your weapon around the battlefield to focus on the most dangerous enemies or finish off weakened ones.
  • Make Them Bleed: Even if enemies seem out of reach, move your weapon next to them. If they move on their turn, they'll take damage from your ally!
  • Ensemble Casting: Since it doesn't require concentration, spiritual weapon combines perfectly with area spells like spirit guardians that enemies will want to flee from.

Follow these tips, and your spectral sidekick will pay you back many times over in smitten foes over an adventuring career. Next, let's look at which classes and builds most benefit from packing this phantom fighter.

Classes and Builds That Thrive With Spiritual Weapon

As an evocation spell, spiritual weapon belongs to the cleric's spell list first and foremost. Any cleric can prepare it once they reach 3rd level. But certain cleric builds and other classes really shine when summoning this ally:

  • Clerics: For war and tempest clerics expected to be frontline combatants, spiritual weapon is practically mandatory. Life clerics can heal and harmonize perfectly with its sustained damage too.
  • Divine Soul Sorcerers: With access to cleric spells too, divine soul sorcerers can pick it up starting at 3rd level. Subtle spell metamagic also lets them cast undetected!
  • Lore Bards: At 6th level, lore bards gain additional magical secrets like spiritual weapon to round out their options. Paired with vicious mockery, they become combat maestros.
  • Paladins: Oath of conquest paladins prepare spiritual weapon as one of their oath spells at 5th level. Combined with improved divine smite, they become holy terrors.
  • Arcana Clerics: The arcane initiate feature lets them attack with both a cantrip like green-flame blade and spiritual weapon on their turn for stacked damage.

With the right class, subclass, and spell/ability combinations, spiritual weapon is elevated from useful to uncanny in its combat potency. Keep these synergistic builds in mind when preparing your ally.

Clever Combos and Creative Applications

While spiritual weapon excels at straightforward melee damage, clever players can take the spell to another level with advanced tactics:

  • Spirit Bombardment: Pair spiritual weapon with spirit guardians to constantly reposition enemies in the damaging aura. They'll keep taking automatic damage with no save!
  • Phantom Herder: Use your bonus action movement to push enemies into environmental hazards like pits, traps, and dangerous spell effects.
  • Grapple Groupie: When allies restrain or paralyze enemies, move your spectral pal next to them for easy critical hits.
  • Emergency Ally: If you fall unconscious, your spiritual weapon keeps attacking without concentration. It can protect allies or finish wounded enemies.
  • Hidden Hitter: Use cover to obscure the weapon's attacks. When enemies investigate, pull it back and attack from their blind side!
  • Flanking Buddy: While it can't officially flank, enemies will often focus attacks on the weapon. Meanwhile, your rogue buddy can sneak attack them while distracted!

The right maneuver at the perfect moment can turn a mundane combat into an epic and memorable encounter. Don't limit yourself to just routine attacks with spiritual weapon – get clever!

Optimizing Your Phantom Fighter

While spiritual weapon is already an awesome ally to have, a bit of optimization and creative house rules can make it even more impressive:

  • Metamagic: As a divine soul sorcerer, quicken spell metamagic lets you cast spiritual weapon and immediately follow up with an offensive spell like guiding bolt in the same turn!
  • Durable Summoning: The Lucky feat allows you to reroll the weapon's low damage rolls. Magic initiate for the guidance cantrip gives you a damage bonus on each attack too!
  • Expanded Spell List: Certain magic items like the Illusionist's Bracers let other classes learn and prepare spiritual weapon to summon their own spectral defender.
  • Houserules: Talk to your DM about boosting the weapon's damage scaling, increasing its movement speed, or allowing it to make opportunity attacks to upgrade its combat impact.

With the right character build decisions and optional rules, you can take your phantom fighter to unprecedented levels of power few foes will be able to withstand. Just be wary of overshadowing your fellow adventurers!

Describing and Roleplaying Your Spiritual Servant

Don't forget that D&D is collective storytelling. Describing your spiritual weapon creatively makes combat more immersive and memorable for the whole group:

  • Signature Weapon: Clerics devoted to deities like Thor and his hammer Mjolnir might summon matching armaments for their god.
  • Visual Effects: Give your weapon unique visual flair like flaming, frost crystals, necrotic energy, or angelic light to reflect your deity's domain.
  • Match Your Style: A shadowy rogue cleric could summon dual spectral daggers, while a heavily-armored crusader might wield a massive zweihander.
  • Battle Sounds: Let your weapon resound with divine chimes, disciple screams, thunderclaps, or ghostly moans when it attacks for added ambience.
  • Name Your Ally: Give your spiritual weapon a name based on your deity's history or your own adventures. Shout it when delivering fatal blows!

Take your spectral weapon from generic spell effect to unforgettable spiritual companion through vivid descriptions and details that reflect your character's identity and beliefs. Your fellow players will appreciate it.

Spiritual Weapon FAQ

Let's finish off this guide by answering some frequently asked questions about summoning your trusty spectral ally:

Q: Does spiritual weapon require concentration if I'm incapacitated?

A: No. One major advantage is spiritual weapon stays active without any concentration, even if you are paralyzed, petrified, or unconscious. Your phantom crusader will keep attacking on your behalf.

Q: Can you have multiple spiritual weapons active at the same time?

A: Yes, but you only get one bonus action per turn, so you'd only be able to command one spiritual weapon per round. While crowd control from multiple weapons sounds awesome, it burns through your spell slots rapidly.

Q: How does spiritual weapon interact with invisible enemies like greater invisibility?

A: You must still have line of sight to direct your weapon's attacks. If blinded or against fully invisible foes, your weapon's attacks are made at disadvantage. Faerie fire can reveal shapeless invisible creatures.

Q: Does anything change for spiritual weapon when underwater?

A: Spiritual weapon functions normally underwater. The spectral weapon has no need to breathe and ignores any combat penalties characters suffer from being submerged.

Q: Can my spiritual weapon be attacked or damaged by enemies?

A: No. The weapon cannot be targeted or damaged in any way. Dispel magic and antimagic field suppress it, but no other spells or attacks impact the spectral ally.

With this guide, you now have comprehensive knowledge for optimizing one of the cleric's signature abilities. Spiritual weapon is an invaluable asset throughout your adventuring career. Use it wisely, describe it vividly, combo it creatively, and smite evil in your deity's name!

This spectral companion has delivered victory for countless virtuous heroes over untold centuries. Now, it's your time to forge your own legends together with this steadfast ally always ready at your side when the need is dire.

By memorizing the insights here and learning to adapt them to new challenges, you and your spiritual weapon will become an unstoppable force for righteousness. When all seems lost, trust in your divine magic, summon forth your phantom fighter, and snatch victory from defeat!

Now go unleash celestial mayhem on those who threaten the realms. Your spiritual weapon awaits!


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