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I wanna use magic missile (which apparently never misses) to disable bows by attacking the bowstrings. Is this allowed? Or can it only target creatures?

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Can only target creatures

The spell description spells this out fairly clearly (emphasis mine):

Each dart hits a creature of your choice that you can see within range.

Most spells that do target objects specify that the object must be unattended for the effect to take place, likely specifically to prevent this kind of disarming which can be un-fun (especially when used against players who may be attached to their gear).

[i.e. firebolt, emphasis mine:]  A flammable object hit by this spell ignites if it isn't being worn or carried.

There are some instances where this is not the case, like chain lightning (thanks NautArch in the comments), but it is rare that this option appears.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ So the warrior could disarm someone and then you blow up their gear so they don't pick it up again. \$\endgroup\$ – Suthek Jan 30 at 10:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Suthek Yes, if it is not enchanted; enchanted/magical items have substantially more protection against destruction. \$\endgroup\$ – TylerH Jan 30 at 15:15
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You must target a creature

Magic Missile states in it's description:

Each dart hits a creature of your choice that you can see within range.

This spell requires a target to be a creature, so you can only target creatures with this spell.

Magic Missile can deal no damage

You also had said that the spell never misses - but this isn't quite true. There are cases where Magic Missile does no damage. The spell Shield is a case because it includes the language:

...you take no damage from magic missile.

Which I guess technically isn't that it missed, but that there was no damage - the end of effect of not hurting someone with it is what I was getting at :)

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Talk to your DM. Although it doesn't work as per the rule book in the end the PHB and other sources are not strict law. They are a guideline. If your DM is okay with it and wants to reward creativity they are more than welcome to, but as the other answers show that is not how it is intended to work.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I think disabling the ranged weapons of up to 3 opponents with one lvl1 spell, with no saving throw or attack roll, is pretty over-powered. Compare dndbeyond.com/spells/heat-metal, a 2nd lvl spell that requires you to concentrate on one target at a time. (It also does damage, so it's not a perfect comparison.) \$\endgroup\$ – Peter Cordes Jan 29 at 23:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well heat metal can also be used on armor. Their isn't a spell that specifically disarms or breaks objects etc so it would be hard to determine balance wise. But that doesnt mean you can't allow it and have the enemoes have had a few hidden darts. Sure they arent completely useless but the differnce between d8 and d4 will still be a cool thing. Its not always about balance its about fun and it being enjoyanle experience. Jist give enemies extra weapons like a dagger or etc. \$\endgroup\$ – Deceptecium Jan 29 at 23:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think if you allow it once, some players will want to find more ways to keep exploiting that trick, like setting up terrain so their opponents don't have an option to close to melee. So you have to be really careful about allowing something in one case, if it can be exploited. (Or you have to talk to your players and say that you're going to have to disallow it in future. If you're willing to do that, then yeah you can let it be cool once, while being able to stop it from getting out of hand.) \$\endgroup\$ – Peter Cordes Jan 29 at 23:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ If my players want to spend time planning to make objectives easier I am more than ok with it. If me allowing that gets players to utilize rough terrain and other useful things I won't see an issue with it. I would rather players get creative with immersing tactics then to use very gamey tactics. It isn't for every player or DM but that doesnt mean you can't ask your DM ahead of time. Even if it becomes their first response to bows is that a terrible thing? \$\endgroup\$ – Deceptecium Jan 29 at 23:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ As always, ask your players if they'd like this to happen to them. What's good for the goose is good for the gander. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jan 30 at 3:52

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