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So, in regards to the Ghost Template, the errata tells me that the equipment with which a ghost dies will often become ethereal with it -- essentially part of the ghost -- and become "ghost equipment."

Fair enough.

This equipment is, ostensibly, "part" of the ghost because it's involved in the transformation. The notable point here, though, is that it is ethereal equipment. Aka, the ghost has no material possessions.

How would this interact with Vow of Poverty? There are certain types of "good ghosts" (such as a Sacred Watcher) so alignment isn't an issue. VoP is very clear to state "material possessions"....so ethereal possessions wouldn't count, at least in my mind.

I would like confirmation of this thought process, however. As a side note, I'm the DM of a campaign where I'm working with a player during character creation, and am trying to help them make the build they want since 3.5e isn't their main system.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Dec 4 '17 at 14:06
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If what you—as the DM—want is a ghost (Monster Manual 116–8) that possesses the feat Vow of Poverty (Book of Exalted Deeds 48) not to count its ghostly equipment against the vow's strictures, that's what should happen in your campaign. You know your campaign and your players better than outsiders.

Keep in mind, however, that the feat Vow of Poverty does say that the creature possessing the feat "may not use any magic item of any sort" (48 and emphasis mine), therefore the feat doesn't care if a magic item has or doesn't have a gp value (artifacts, for example, usually don't!) nor if a magic item is present on this plane or another nor even if a magic item is material or immaterial. Instead, the feat asks only Hey, is that a magic item you're using, dude-possessing-the-feat-Vow-of-Poverty? and if the answer is Yes then the vow is broken.

Thus, while the ghost that possesses the feat Vow of Poverty could—with the DM's approval (and there's a lot of that going on here, what with the creature being a ghost with the feat Vow of Poverty and all!)—carry around those "2d4 items that it particularly valued in life" (MM 118), if any of those valuables are magic items, the ghost can't actually use them without breaking its vow.

Note that this DM would be comfortable with the "swearing [of] a sacred vow… in the presence of a celestial being" (BE 39) allowing the ghost to abandon any ghostly equipment that violates its newly-gained Vow of Poverty feat. This DM might even be amenable to allowing the ghost to keep the some of the 2d4 immaterial and nonmagical items the ghost "valued in life" as a consequence of its immaterial nature. (Like maybe a freakin' holy symbol! I mean, c'mon!) However, I suspect the majority of DMs would equate owning an item (and the feat Vow of Poverty says that the vow-taker "must not own or use any material possessions," including not-really-material-possessions like grafts and contingent spells!) with retaining an item, ghostly equipment or not.

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No.

You are misreading material, this is not a material vs ethereal, it's a material vs spiritual. A character taking the Vow of Poverty feat renounces any worldly possession; it does not matter if said possessions are on the Material or Astral plane, solid, liquid or gaseous, ... they renounce all of them.

Or otherwise said, if they can gift it away, they will.

And if this wasn't clear enough, from the SRD:

The original material items remain behind, just as the ghost’s physical remains do. If another creature seizes the original, the ethereal copy fades away. This loss invariably angers the ghost, who stops at nothing to return the item to its original resting place.

Thus, as VoP constrains the character to gift their possessions, all its ethereal equipment will fade away too.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ As to the original items being lost, I can certainly see your point. Still, there are instances when such might not be possible (Druid blizzard spell killed him, now his body and gear are frozen 20 feet down in an ice sheet..). As to the "misreading"...that may be Rules as Intended, but this question was for RAW. The power level for this party is quite high, and me being the DM I can fudge things with backstory to make it doable. I just don't want to murder the RAW in the process. \$\endgroup\$ – Alphaeus Dec 2 '17 at 20:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Alphaeus: Since you are the DM, you may fudge at will, but as far as I am concerned the RAW is clear. It's NO. Material possessions is an English expression in which material is NOT in opposition to ethereal. \$\endgroup\$ – Matthieu M. Dec 2 '17 at 20:09
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While I like @Matthieu M.'s answer better, I may give what I think is more legalistic answer.

No, you can't posess ghost equipment and benefit from VoP.

That is because:

A ghost dwells on the Ethereal Plane and, as an ethereal1 creature, it cannot affect or be affected by anything in the material world. When a ghost manifests, it partly enters the Material Plane and becomes visible but incorporeal on the Material Plane... A manifested ghost remains partially on the Ethereal Plane, where is it not incorporeal.

superscript mine

  1. An ethereal creature, however, interacts with other ethereal creatures and objects the way material creatures interact with material creatures and objects.

So your gear is quite material, it is in fact just happens to be on another plane (as well as your player's character himself).

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