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The disintegrate spell states:

This spell automatically disintegrates a Large or smaller nonmagical object or a creation of magical force.

Spells like Bigby's hand and Mordenkainen's sword state:

You create a Large hand of shimmering, translucent force in an unoccupied space that you can see within range.

and

You create a sword-shaped plane of force that hovers within range.

This wording suggests that disintegrate can instantly destroy either of these spells, since they are explicitly creations of magical force. But spiritual weapon states:

You create a floating, spectral weapon within range...

The weapon deals force damage, and is almost identical to Mordenkainen's sword, but is it a creation of magical force that disintegrate can instantly destroy?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Can you elaborate a little more on your statements after "But spiritual weapon states"? I don't see the ambiguity. \$\endgroup\$ – Pink Sweetener Jun 29 at 18:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ @PinkSweetener The point is that Spiritual Weapon, unlike all the other spells, doesn't specifically say that the weapon is composed of magical force. \$\endgroup\$ – Ryan C. Thompson Jun 29 at 19:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ @PinkSweetener Ryan's comment is accurate. Spiritual weapon sin't explicitly called a creation of force. But does that mean that it can't be disintegrated? \$\endgroup\$ – Adam Jun 30 at 0:05
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Disintegrate won't destroy spiritual weapon

Spells do what they say they do, and spiritual weapon doesn't say it creates an object of magical force. By a strict interpretation, disintegrate won't destroy spiritual weapon.

You can house-rule otherwise by duck testing.

If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.

As your examples point out, spiritual weapon behaves much like examples of magical force created by similar spells. This is a decent argument for "spectral" being equivalent to "magical force". However, that determination is up to each table.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Not disagreeing, but maybe worth pointing out that Bigby's hand and Mordankainen's sword are spells mostly associated with wizards and arcane magic users. Whereas Spiritual Weapon is mostly associated with clerics and divine magic users. So one could argue that a Spiritual Weapon is some kind of "divine energy" (if a DM wanted to rationalise the strict ruling) \$\endgroup\$ – PJRZ Jun 30 at 18:23
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Spiritual Weapon seems to be Force

It seems to be a force effect since the entry for Spiritual Weapon on D&D Beyond says "Damage/Effect: Force". From historical canon: Spiritual Weapon in previous editions has explicitly been "a weapon made of pure force", and I don't see an intent by the 5e writers to have this changed (else the wording wouldn't still make it seem made of force).

I'll admit RAW is open to interpretation, but when making a ruling at the table: Intuitively, disallowing disintegrate from working on Spiritual Weapon seems likely to brook an argument from players, while allowing it seems unlikely to (even if you use it against them).

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    \$\begingroup\$ Damage type is not the same as what the spell's effect is made out of. There are "fire" spells that deal cold damage, for example. \$\endgroup\$ – Ryan C. Thompson Jun 30 at 19:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ Mechanically, damage type is really just what category of creatures are resistant or vulnerable to the damage. It is a hint as to what the spell does, though. For example anything that deals fire damage is probably hot, anything that deals thunder damage is probably loud, etc. \$\endgroup\$ – Mark Wells Jun 30 at 19:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ This answer is a reasonable assumption but still just an assumption and not RAW. Just because a weapon does X damage doesn't mean it's 'made of ' X, any more than a flaming sword is made out of pure fire (even if it is magically on fire). \$\endgroup\$ – PJRZ Jun 30 at 19:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ @PJRZ I see nothing in the question asking for a RAW answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Mark Wells Jun 30 at 20:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ A sword that deals fire damage is not necessarily made of fire. \$\endgroup\$ – Pink Sweetener Jun 30 at 22:49

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