Spiritual Weapon – Does It Trigger Attacks of Opportunity?

Casting spells in combat is a calculated risk in Dungeons & Dragons. Any caster leaving themselves open to attack faces potential disruption of their action. But under specific conditions, certain spells like spiritual weapon skirt the boundaries of provoking attacks of opportunity.

Understanding the interactions between spiritual weapon, bonus actions, and reactions reveals the nuances at play. With careful timing and strategy, you can maximize your action economy without compromising your defenses.

What is Spiritual Weapon in D&D?

Spiritual weapon is a 2nd level evocation spell available to clerics and paladins. It creates a floating spectral weapon that lasts for 1 minute or until you cast it again. On each of your turns, you can use a bonus action to make a melee spell attack against a creature within 60 feet of the weapon.

Since spiritual weapon occupies your bonus action, you can still cast other spells or make weapon attacks with your regular action. This versatility makes it one of the most popular combat spells in 5th edition D&D.

Spiritual Weapon Stats and Attributes

When you cast spiritual weapon, you can create a weapon that resembles anything from a warhammer to a greatsword. Regardless of its form, its attack bonus is equal to your spellcasting modifier + your proficiency bonus.

The weapon deals 1d8 + your spellcasting modifier in force damage on a hit. As a spell attack, it ignores resistances and immunities to nonmagical attacks.

The weapon makes melee spell attacks against targets you designate within 60 feet. It does not occupy a square, require concentration, or provoke opportunity attacks on its own turns.

Why Spiritual Weapon is Useful

Spiritual weapon offers several advantages in combat:

  • Consistent bonus action damage each round
  • Does not require concentration like many cleric spells
  • Has a long duration for sustained threat
  • Can target multiple creatures over its duration
  • Frees your action for other options like healing or buffing

Since it competes against other good bonus actions like healing word, its utility depends on your party’s needs. But extra damage every round from a safe distance is universally valuable.

How does Attack of Opportunity work?

Opportunity attacks punish enemies who expose themselves in melee range. If a creature uses movement or an action to leave your reach, you can use your reaction to make a single melee attack against them. You can’t take an opportunity attack if the target is forced to move involuntarily.

Spellcasters risk provoking attacks of opportunity if their somatic or material components are perceptible to enemies. But effects applied on your own turn using a bonus action, like spiritual weapon, do not trigger opportunity attacks.

What Triggers an Attack of Opportunity

The most common triggers are:

  • Moving out of a creature’s reach using your movement or action
  • Casting a spell with verbal, somatic, or material components while in reach
  • Making a ranged attack while engaged in melee
  • Standing up from prone within an enemy’s reach

Forced movement from spells, abilities, or environmental factors does not trigger opportunity attacks. The creature has to voluntarily expose themselves to possible reactions.

Rules for Opportunity Attacks

There are limitations on opportunity attacks:

  • Each creature only gets one reaction per round
  • You can only make opportunity attacks with melee weapons/unarmed strikes
  • Effects applied on your own turn do not trigger reactions
  • Opportunity attacks interrupt movement or actions, not bonus actions or spells

Understanding these constraints is key to exploiting openings without overextending.

Casting Spiritual Weapon and Attacks of Opportunity

The act of casting spiritual weapon provokes attacks of opportunity if you start your turn within 5 feet of an enemy. Verbal, somatic, and material components alert adjacent foes to your spellcasting.

But once the spectral weapon manifests, enemies cannot disrupt its attacks with opportunity attacks. The key is spiritual weapon uses your bonus action, not your regular action.

Why Casting Triggers Attacks of Opportunity

Casting any spell with verbal, somatic, or material components is perceptible enough to trigger opportunity attacks. Since spiritual weapon has verbal and somatic components, adjacent enemies can use their reaction to disrupt your casting.

Reactions specifically disrupt actions, not bonus actions or movement. So nothing you do with your bonus action provokes opportunity attacks, including spiritual weapon’s attacks.

Using Spiritual Weapon Safely

To avoid exposing yourself, first move out of enemies’ reach before casting spiritual weapon. If no foes are adjacent at the start of your turn, your spellcasting does not risk provoking reactions.

Alternatively, ready your action to cast spiritual weapon just before an ally lures enemies away from you. That way, no creature is near enough to make opportunity attacks against your casting.

Combining Spiritual Weapon with Other Spells

Many cleric spells complement spiritual weapon for layered actions. Some examples:

  • Bless – Boost attack rolls for spiritual weapon
  • Shield of Faith – Improve AC against opportunity attacks
  • Aid – Increase health to survive reactions
  • Enhance Ability – Gain advantage on concentration checks

Concentration spells like bless can make your spectral weapon more accurate and dangerous. And defensive buffs like shield of faith help withstand opportunity attacks when casting spiritual weapon.

Using Spiritual Weapon on Your Turn in Combat

On subsequent rounds, spiritual weapon presents no further opportunity attack risks. Follow this sequence to safely maximize your actions:

  1. Move your spiritual weapon into position using your bonus action.
  2. Cast a cantrip or make a weapon attack with your regular action.
  3. Use any remaining movement to reposition.

Savvy enemies may try moving out of the spectral weapon’s range after your regular action. But forced movement does not trigger opportunity attacks, so this tactic fails to disrupt your bonus action attack.

Alternative Bonus Action Options

Other bonus action spells like healing word avoid opportunity attacks for casting. And spells like shield of faith or spirit guardians affect you without provoking reactions.

Carefully select bonus action spells that extend your defenses or damage potential without compromising your action economy via reactions.

Using Your Movement Safely

Since your movement does risk opportunity attacks, make sure to:

  • Keep your movement after your attacks
  • Break up your movement over multiple turns
  • Use feats like Mobile to avoid reactions
  • Cast expeditious retreat for burst repositioning

Staying within 5 feet of enemies allows you to make opportunity attacks yourself when they flee your spectral weapon.

Maximizing Action Economy with Spiritual Weapon

Spiritual weapon shines because it fuels your action economy without requiring your action. You avoid opportunity attack risks after the initial casting by using your bonus action and movement strategically.

With practice, you can master spellcasting combos with spiritual weapon to control the battlefield. Your foes will quickly regret leaving you any opening thanks to your trusty spectral companion!

Class Combinations that Excel with Spiritual Weapon

Certain class features complement the capabilities of spiritual weapon:

  • War Cleric – Bonus action weapon attacks plus spiritual weapon
  • Arcana Cleric – Booming blade combines with spiritual weapon
  • Divine Soul Sorcerer – Extended spell metamagic enhances duration
  • Sorcadin – Quicken spell enables same turn casting

War clerics can take full advantage of their bonus action economy while dishing out exceptional damage. And metamagic options like Extended Spell or Quicken Spell open up potent spellcasting combos with spiritual weapon.

Feats to Improve Spiritual Weapon

Some feats can really boost the capabilities of spiritual weapon:

  • War Caster – Opportunity attacks with spiritual weapon at range
  • Polearm Master – Bonus action attack combos
  • Great Weapon Master – Reroll damage and add modifiers
  • Magic Initiate – Gain bonuses like hex to improve damage

War Caster enables impressive opportunity attack potential at a distance. And feats like Polearm Master or Great Weapon Master fuel bonus action and damage output.

The key lessons for opportunity attack avoidance with spiritual weapon:

  • Cast spiritual weapon outside enemy reach whenever possible
  • Use your bonus action for the spectral weapon after your main action
  • Combine spiritual weapon with spells, class features, and feats that enhance your action economy
  • Avoid spending actions and movement needlessly within enemies’ threat range

The spiritual weapon allows clerics and paladins to exert battlefield control without sacrificing their defense.