When others attack (with spells and magic weapons or such abilities) you while you are incorporeal, you have a 50% chance to ignore the damage. When you attack while incorporeal, you also have a 50% chance of not harming your opponent (while attacking with a spell or magic weapon).

Are ghost touch weapons the only way to bypass that drawback?


3 Answers 3


The d20srd.org entry on Incorporeal Creatures has the answers you seek:

There is no 50% miss chance for Incorporeal creatures hitting other creatures unless the incorporeal creature is within a solid body (and thus can't see its target, granting it total concealment. An incorporeal creature's attacks ignore armor, natural armor and shield bonuses so they can be quite accurate against many foes!

The following ways can damage an incorporeal creature without having to worry about the 50% miss chance:

  • positive energy
  • negative energy
  • force effects such as magic missile
  • attacks made with ghost touch weapons
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ The incorporeal subtype in Monster Manual 3 and Tome of battle state that an incorporeal creature's attacks with melee wepons that are not magical have no effect, and that with magical weapons the creature suffers a 50% miss chance. Your link states otherwise. What is oficial from these two? \$\endgroup\$
    – Khaal
    Mar 20, 2012 at 23:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Khaal - interesting, I don't know \$\endgroup\$
    – Pat Ludwig
    Mar 21, 2012 at 2:04
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ MM3 page 214 under the Incorporeal Subtype and ToB page 79 can be found this: Nonmagical attacks made by an incorporeal creature with a melee weapon have no effect on corporeal targets, and any melee attack an incorporeal creature makes with a magic weapon against a corporeal target has a 50% miss chance, except for attacks it makes with a ghost touch weapon, while are made normally (no miss chance). \$\endgroup\$
    – Khaal
    Mar 21, 2012 at 11:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ To be really clear, it states that this is an update to the rules. (Why they never printed it as errata I don't know.) \$\endgroup\$
    – starwed
    Sep 18, 2012 at 12:15
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Strictly speaking, MM1 is the primary source for its contents; neither ToB nor MM3 have the authority to modify the Incorporeal subtype globally (though they may do so for their own creatures). To globally modify the Incorporeal subtype would require MM1 errata, which doesn't seem to exist. \$\endgroup\$
    – minnmass
    Feb 24, 2022 at 23:46

Transdimensional Spell is a feat that was originally in Unapproachable East (p. 45) and now is in Complete Arcane (p. 84) and Complete Divine (p. 85). It allows one to cast spells that affect incorporeal creatures as though they were corporeal.

There are also spells and effects from Ghostwalk that can drag incorporeal creatures into manifested corporeal bodies.


My answer is divided in 2 parts

  1. when a corporeal creature wants to attack an incorporeal and ignore the 50% miss chance
  2. when a incorporeal creature wants to attack a corporeal and ignore the 50% miss chance

1 PART) When a corporeal creature wants to attack an incorporeal

The incorporeal subtipe from "Rule compendium" 64 states the following:

An incorporeal creature can be harmed only by other incorporeal creatures, magic weapons or creatures that strike as magic weapons, and spells, spell-like abilities, or supernatural abilities. Even when hit by spells (including touch spells) or magic weapons, an incorporeal creature has a 50% chance to ignore any damage from a corporeal source


except for positive energy, negative energy, force effects such as magic missile, or attacks made with ghost touch weapons.

So by description of incorporeal subtype the following are ways to ignore the 50% miss chance:

By Type of Spells: Incorporeals are affected without miss chance by enchants:

  • positive energy
  • negative energy
  • force effects (such as magic missile)

By Weapons

By Feat

  • Transdimensional spell - Complete Divine page 85

A transdimensional spell has full, normal effect upon incorporeal creatures, creatures on the Ethereal Plane or Plane of Shadow, and creatures within an extradimensional space in the spell’s area

  • Incorporeal Target fighting - Ghostwalk, page 36

in meelee, everytime you miss because of a creatures incrporeal's miss chance, you can reroll your miss chance percentile roll one time to see if you actually hit

  • pierce magical concealment - complete arcane page 81

This is applied if you are attacking an enemy that became incorporeal through a spell.

Your fierce contempt for magic allows you to disregard the miss chance granted by spells or spell-like abilities such as darkness, blur, invisibility, obscuring mist, ghostform (see page 109), and spells when used to create concealment effects (such as a wizard using permanent image to fill a corridor with illusory fire and smoke). In addition, when facing a creature protected by mirror image, you can immediately pick out the real creature from its figments. Your ability to ignore the miss chance granted by magical concealment doesn't grant you any ability to ignore nonmagical concealment (so you would still have a 20% miss chance against an invisible creature hiding in fog, for example).

By the strategy of becoming yourself incorporeal why? - in the "rule compendium" (64) it is not mentioned that incorporeals have any miss chance of attacking other incorporeals.

Becoming incorporeal by a spell some examples are as follows:

  • one with shadow - level 8 -Tome of Battle page 78
  • ghost form - level 8 - Spell Compendium page 103
  • THIS DOES NOT WORK (thanks for the note -Hey I Can Chan-) Polymorph any object - level 8 - Player's handbook page 263
  • greater wish - level 9 - Player's handbook
  • umbral body - level 8 - Tome of Magic page 152

By class feature:

  • Shadow form - at level 3 of the Perfect Wight - Epic Level handbook pag. 34
  • ghost strike - at level 8 of the Ninja - Complete Adventurer page 8
  • spirit form - level 9 of the Spirit Shaman's - Complete Divine page 15

Becoming a ghost Becoming Ethereal (Rule Compendium page 41) does not mean becoming incorporeal as only ghosts have the power to manifest (while being in the etheral plane they manifest as incorporeals in the material plane). This is also discussed in a previous question.

So if you make yourself becoming a ghost you could use the same strategy.

  • ghostform spell from Spell Compendium (108) mentioned above

By the strategy of making the incorporeal corporeal with a spell

  • ghost trap - level 5 spell - Spell Compendium 103
  • forced manifestation - ghostwalk page 52

2 PART) When an incorporeal creature wants to attack an corporeal

By description of incorporeal subtype above (Rules compendium page 64) the following are ways to ignore the 50% miss chance:

Use a spell WHY? - Because spells have ha 50% miss chance if casted by a corporeal to attack an incorporeal, but incorporeal creatures casting a spell on corporeals have no miss chance. (not symmetric rule)

** By Feat**

  • pierce magical concealment complete arcane 81 This is applied if you made yourself incorporeal through a class feature that is either (mag) or (SOP) and you attack attack someone that is corporeal

By Weapons

  • attacks made with ghost touch weapons
  • attack with a ranged weapon, they will become corporeal as soon as you stop touching them (buy you will be able to touch them again unless you turn corporeal)

Becoming corporeal by a casting a spell on yourself some examples are as follows:

  • ghost trap - level 5 spell - spell compendium 103

By Feat Ghostly grasp from liber Mortis. Which allows you to touch corporeal things.

Becoming permanently corporeal this is discussed here

Limits of this answer: I tried to include as many information as I was able to collect and review but I am sure I have missed something, thus I will edit this answer if I recieve any comment or find new information.

Also, in regards to Pat Ludwig's answer, the rules of incorporeals where updated from the Monster manual 1. Some of the handbooks where you find the updated rules of the incorporeal subtype rules are as follows: Monster Manual III page 214 Rule compendium page 64 Tome of Battle page 79

  • \$\begingroup\$ Your initial 1 & 2 are virtually the same (attack vs. attacks). I didn't want to fix that but leave unfixed that polymorph any object inherits polymorph therefore forbidding incorporeality. However, but I didn't know if that was a mistake or if you had a different perspective on that than I or if you were subtly taking a controversial stance. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 25, 2022 at 21:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ very interesting comment Hey I canChan, thank you. I agree that would be virtually the same if the rules of attacks between corporeal creatures and incorporeals were symmetrical, which is not the case. For such reason I decided to divide them. In regards to polymorph I thank you for making me notice this and will edit my answer eliminating polymorph of any object. \$\endgroup\$
    – Digius
    Feb 26, 2022 at 1:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ (I mean, literally, under My answer is divided in 2 parts there are points 1 & 2, and unless I'm seeing it wrong (it happens), they both say the same thing except one says attack and the other says attacks. They should be more different, yes?) \$\endgroup\$ Feb 26, 2022 at 1:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ Oh thanks!!! I didn't get what you meant in your first message. I didn't realize I wrote it wrong! The second it is supposed to say "when incorporeal wants to hit corporeals" I' have edited it \$\endgroup\$
    – Digius
    Feb 26, 2022 at 4:04

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