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A Dancing Sword can be launched by its controller to make melee attacks at range:

You can use a bonus action to toss this magic sword into the air and speak the command word. When you do so, the sword begins to hover, flies up to 30 feet, and attacks one creature of your choice within 5 feet of it. The sword uses your attack roll and ability score modifier to damage rolls.

We know the sword uses the controller's stats to hit and do damage. What's not clear is:

Is this attack considered made by the character or by the sword itself?

The answer to that question has consequences, since several characters' abilities use the "when you make an attack" trigger.

For example, a 11th level paladin can use Improved Divine Smite when he attacks (emphasis mine):

Whenever you hit a creature with a melee weapon, the creature takes an extra 1d8 radiant damage. If you also use your Divine Smite with an attack, you add this damage to the extra damage of your Divine Smite.

If it's the sword that hits, no Divine Smite - improved or not - can be delivered that way.

Another example (amongst others) would be the Rogue's Sneak Attack ability, assuming the Dancing Sword is a finesse weapon and the other criteria are met.

A quote from a rulebook, the game designers, or an official Q&A would be welcomed.


The topic was partially discussed here - Can a paladin use his Divine Smite/Improved Divine Smite when using the Tentacle Rod? - but I've found the chosen answer inconclusive. Moreover, the Dancing Sword, unlike the Tentacle Rod, doesn't have to be held to deliver an attack.

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The sword itself is making the attack, it's just using your modifiers

The dancing sword item description says (emphasis mine):

...the sword begins to hover, flies up to 30 feet, and attacks one creature of your choice within 5 feet of it.

While the sword hovers, you can use a bonus action to cause it to fly up to 30 feet to another spot within 30 feet of you. As part of the same bonus action, you can cause the sword to attack one creature within 5 feet of it.

Compare this to a similar effect, the spiritual weapon spell

When you cast the spell, you can make a melee spell attack against a creature within 5 feet of the weapon.

In the case of the dancing sword, no reference is made to you making an attack. The sword is always the thing that is attacking, it's just using your modifiers.

Based on this we may conclude that the sword's attacks aren't made by you. If we were meant to consider the swords attacks to originate from you, it would follow a similar wording to spiritual weapon. That is, it would say something along the lines of "you can make a melee attack against one creature..."

For that reason, effects that apply when you hit with a melee attack do not apply to the attacks made by the sword while it is hovering.

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  • 7
    \$\begingroup\$ This was a tricky question - I like the use of spiritual weapon as a counterexample. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Aug 23 '18 at 13:27

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