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A little bit out of left field I know, but someone in my game tried to summon a Spiritual Weapon within an enemy's body. Now, strictly speaking the range of the spell is 60' and doesn't say anything about line of sight or anything similar, but I feel like "I summon a sword in the guard's lower intestines" is maybe outside of how this spell is supposed to work.

I wonder if any of the more experienced DM's or players know how they might deal with this? Maybe you tell the player that they can't do this, maybe you rule an instant death for the guard with the spectral sword dancing inside of him. How does this work out?

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    \$\begingroup\$ What's good for the goose... what happens when knowledge of this way of using the spell spreads from tavern to tavern? Two weeks after it becomes common knowledge and they get into a fight with an evil cleric who knows this trick. How is your player going to handle a Spiritual Sword bursting from HIS/HER chest? If you can be clever... the NPCs you fight against can learn from you. \$\endgroup\$ – WernerCD Feb 4 '15 at 14:52
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While the rules seem fairly clear that this should not be possible, consider slightly changing the order of execution to simulate the requested effect without messing up the game:

"Sure, you can try to summon the sword inside him. If you make the attack roll we'll say the weapon materializes already buried in his body and if you don't beat the attack roll, you tried but the weapon appeared slightly off target."

This gives all the cool flavour of summoning a weapon inside an enemy with none of the options for trying to abuse the rules or get extra impact on the story for nothing.

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The Rules-side

The spell description says that the caster can make a melee attack against a creature within 5 feet of the weapon. This would indicate that the weapon has not YET hit the target until the roll is successfully made - which, if you could simply manifest it within someone's chest or head or neck, would be a successful hit without a roll.

The Table-side

There's two types of players who make this kind of suggestion, and depending on which kind of player you're dealing with, you'll come at it differently. This is really the important part, since this question nearly always means you're going to get MORE questions along the same lines, and it's really about matching expectations of what this game is about.

The clever, creative player

"That's a clever idea! Unfortunately, that's not how this spell works. You should look at the spell list and look for clever ways to use spells, because it's pretty fun when you find some way to show us what a determined (wizard/sorcerer/etc) can do!"

The clever, creative player is looking to find fun ways to use magic and their skills to find fun answers to problems. These players are fun to play with, if they don't spend too much time trying to find 1001 answers to any given problem ("You know you can just OPEN the door, right?").

The annoying cheap trick player

The annoying cheap trick player is always asking questions or trying to find ways to instantly win every problem. They're not looking for clever ways, they're looking for lazy loopholes that involve actively and willfully ignoring clear and obvious readings of the rules. I haven't yet met one of these players who decides to stop, but you can at least give them a chance:

"Ok, this is the fifth time this session you've asked a question like this. This isn't even a clever solution, this is just asking to throw away common sense readings of the rules so you can instantly win a situation. I know there's a level of wish fulfillment in roleplaying, but if you can't deal with challenge or conflict, I'm not really sure this is the game for you. Do you want to play the game with us? We'd love for you to play with us, but you seem very intent on playing some other game."

If they decide they're still wanting to play rhetorical games, you should let them go and not play with them. They're not interested in playing the game with you, even though they'll always have excuses about how they "just happened" to "misread" or be "confused" about the rules in ways that no reasonable person could be, over and over.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I think this is more of a spectrum of behaviour, and players (or their ideas) are not so easily categorised as "creative" vs "cheap trick". Definitely too much of the latter is a distracting problem. \$\endgroup\$ – Neil Slater Feb 4 '15 at 11:28
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Yes, you can summon a Spiritual Weapon inside an enemy's body. It doesn't have a target, so the usual rules about having a clear path don't apply here. You summon the weapon anywhere within 60 feet of yourself.

However, summoning a Spiritual Weapon inside someone won't affect them in any way. Spiritual Weapon does damage when you make a melee spell attack against someone. The weapon it creates is described as spectral, so it doesn't really exist unless you're attacking with it.

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All spells need a clear path to the targeted point, unless otherwise stated (PHB, p. 204). The caster of a spiritual weapon doesn't have a clear path to the inside of a body, so they can't summon a weapon there. (Unless they do, in which case a hammer is probably not needed to beat that dead horse any more.)

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