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The wording on this spell is a little confusing to me.

At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 3rd level or higher, the damage increases by 1d8 for every two slot levels above 2nd.

Does this mean the damage increases when cast as a 3rd level spell, then again at 5th, 7th, etc? Or does it start at 4th, then 6th, and so on?

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When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 3rd level or higher, the damage increases by 1d8 for every two slot levels above 2nd.

Spritual weapon is a 2nd level spell. The first part of this description is simply telling you the rules for casting it from a slot higher than it's level, i.e., third level or higher. Many spells have greater effects when they are cast with a higher level spell slot.

The second part tells you specifically what effect casting with a higher slot has and how the spell improves based on which spell slot you use. In other words, casting it from a 3rd level slot doesn't grant any benefit, because that is not two slot levels above second.

The spiritual weapon's damage works out as follows:

  • 2nd level slot: 1d8 + your spellcasting ability modifier.
  • 3rd level slot: 1d8 + your spellcasting ability modifier.
  • 4th level slot: 2d8 + your spellcasting ability modifier.
  • 5th level slot: 2d8 + your spellcasting ability modifier.
  • 6th level slot: 3d8 + your spellcasting ability modifier.
  • 7th level slot: 3d8 + your spellcasting ability modifier.
  • 8th level slot: 4d8 + your spellcasting ability modifier.
  • 9th level slot: 4d8 + your spellcasting ability modifier.
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    \$\begingroup\$ I read it the same way, and have always played it this way, but I personally find the wording less clear overall than if they had said "4th level or higher" instead of "3rd". \$\endgroup\$ – Joel Coehoorn Apr 10 '16 at 4:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ You would cast it with a 3rd level slot if that was the only available slot with which to cast it. I.e. you are out of 2nd level slots, and either don't have or are out of 4th level slots or above. If the wording specified "4th level or higher", it could cause confusion about whether you could even use a 3rd level slot. \$\endgroup\$ – keithcurtis Sep 28 '17 at 3:35
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I disagree with the interpretation that says the damage only goes up at 4th level or higher. There is an effect at 3rd level because it says so, "3rd level or higher" comma. Yes, it could possibly be worded with a bit more clarity, but we cannot ignore the fact that something happens when using this spell at 3rd level. What happens after the comma explains the what.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Hi Brad, welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour; it's a useful introduction to the site. I've edited your answer because unlike a traditional forum, answers shift position depending on voting, so it doesn't really work to "reply" to the answer above you. If you think I've changed your meaning, though, feel free to edit further or revert. \$\endgroup\$ – SirTechSpec Jun 18 '17 at 1:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ You also can't ignore everything after the comma, which includes the phrase "for every two slot levels above 2nd." Is a 3rd level spell slot two slot levels above 2nd level? No, it isn't. \$\endgroup\$ – LegendaryDude Sep 28 '17 at 16:35

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