Armor of Agathys (PHB 215) states:

If a creature hits you with a melee attack while you have these hit points, the creature takes 5 cold damage.

Since it doesn't specify that it has to be a weapon attack, does it also work for melee spell attacks?

Specifically, would it work against Spiritual Weapon (PHB 278)?


3 Answers 3


Yes, it works for melee spell attacks

A Melee Spell attack is still a melee attack. Melee attacks are melee attacks, but there can be different types (weapon, spell, etc.)

As long as it is a melee attack, then armor of agathys will trigger.

Yes, it will work for Spiritual weapon

This was actually more complicated than I thought it was going to be based on determining who is actually making the attack. While spiritual weapon is not a creature, and normally wouldn't trigger the armor of agathys, it is not the weapon that is delivering the attack.

Instead, the caster of spiritual weapon is the one actually delivering the spell attack. Spiritual weapon is (emphasis mine):

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

Had the language say it makes a melee spell attack, then armor of agathys wouldn't trigger as the attack isn't coming from a creature. But the language here is that you, a creature, are making the spell attack.

The spiritual weapon is basically allowing your character to make a melee attack against someone on your turn at a distance.

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ Whereas this is totally ludicrous and not likely intended it is how it is worded. I won't allow the damage to be dealt at my table but the temp hp will be reduced just like ranged. \$\endgroup\$
    – Slagmoth
    Mar 9, 2020 at 16:05
  • 6
    \$\begingroup\$ @Slagmoth I can add counter examples with Bigby's, but i'm not sure that it wasn't intended. BUt I hate dealing with intent anyway. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Mar 9, 2020 at 16:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ It should also trigger for thorn whip. \$\endgroup\$
    – nick012000
    Dec 22, 2021 at 5:31

Armor of Agathys works for melee spell attacks.

Spiritual Weapon (PHB 278):

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

A melee spell attack is a melee attack, see Melee Attacks (PHB 194):

a melee attack allows you to attack a foe within your reach. [...] A few spells also involve making a melee attack. [...] Most creatures have a 5-foot reach and can thus attack targets within 5 feet of them when making a melee attack.


This is sort of complicated. I definitely agree it works for melee spell attacks, for they are still melee attacks. But, spiritual weapon doesn’t require you to be in melee range. I personally wouldn’t rule it triggering, but really, it’s up to the DM (like everything else).

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Hello Laec, welcome to RPGSE. SE Q&A sites are not discussion forums. How to Ask and How to Answer guidance is available. please revise your answer to the question so that it stands on its own as an answer. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 12, 2020 at 1:54

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