I have a player that would like to cast Polymorph on the party's cleric.

If the cleric has already cast Spiritual Weapon on himself (this is not a concentration spell) and he is Polymorphed into say a Giant Ape, does he still have the ability to make Melee spell attacks as a bonus action?

I know that you can continue to concentrate on spells that you cast before you Polymorph, and that you cannot cast new spells. But would a great ape be able to make a "melee spell attack"?


2 Answers 2


Nothing about being polymorphed prevents you from being able to do melee spell attacks

As you say, casting the spell and keeping it up is not an issue in polymorphed form regardless of what you turn into. In fact, there are no mechanics that say this will not work.

A melee spell attack is something granted by an effect of a spell. If the spell says that you get a melee spell attack and the creature you polymorph into meets all the qualifications for that spell, then you can make a melee spell attack in that form.

In your example case specifically, the ape would still be in control of the spell and there is no rules that say anything against an animal being able to do melee spell attacks from spiritual weapon. There are no limitations put on the spell beyond what is written in it and an ape does not run afoul of any of them. So, nothing in the rules prevents an ape from making melee spell attacks with spiritual weapon.

DM's decision

The only area that might even come close to preventing you from using this effectively as an ape would be the DM adding additional conditions outside the rules preventing you from being able to do this. For example they might take issue with the ape's intelligence which you assume when you polymorph into it. It isn't clear from the spell what is involved narratively with regards to the bonus action to move and attack with the spiritual weapon, but a DM might say that the ape is not intelligent enough to understand how the spell works enough to use it effectively.

This would be outside the rules since the spell makes no such rules or limitations however.

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    \$\begingroup\$ In this case, what would the modifier be? +1 for the Giant Ape's WIS? \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Nov 12, 2018 at 18:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch: That is an excellent question. I think that could even be asked as a separate question potentially. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 12, 2018 at 18:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ IIRC, when polymorphed, don't you keep your Int, Wis, and Cha? If so your spell attack would not change... \$\endgroup\$ Nov 12, 2018 at 18:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ @JPChapleau you may be thinking of wild shape. With polymorph, all your stats change. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 12, 2018 at 18:33

A polymorphed target cannot use a Spell Attack because that's a creature's game statistic or class ability (Spellcasting), or racial ability or feat. A character only has a Spell Attack or Spell DC if they have the Spellcasting class feature or Magic Initiate feat, for example. A beast would need a Spell Attack ability to use Spiritual Weapon.


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