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I previously asked this question in regards to the asymmetry between corporeals attacking incorporeals (having a miss chance of 50%) and incorporeals attacking corporeals (no miss chance) as per the Monster Manual I and d20srd.org.

KRyan's answer to my question suggested following the updated incorporeal rules published in the Monster Manual III ("the updated version is also reprinted in Rules Compendium and Tome of Battle, and possibly elsewhere").

In this updated version (Monster Manual III, page 214), I observed an asymmetry: incorporeal creatures have no miss chance of hitting a corporeal with a spell, whereas corporeals do have a miss chance against incorporeals. Hence, it appears that this rule would favour incorporeals during a fight (wether they were an incorporeal monster or a Spellcaster PG or PNG that made themselves incorporeal in some way as described in my comment here).

The updated rules state, in part:

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). [...] Magic items possessed by an incorporeal creature work normally with respect to their effects on the creature or on another target. Similarly, spells cast by an incorporeal creature affect corporeal creatures normally.

What would be the implications of making this rule symmetrical? I see two possible ways to do so:

  1. Changing the first part, so that corporeal creatures have no miss chance when trying to hit an incorporeal with a spell.
  2. Changing the second part, so that incorporeal creatures also have a 50% chance of missing corporeal creatures with a spell.
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So the “challenge” of incorporeal foes is you might not have known you were going to be fighting them, and thus may be unprepared to do so. A wise spellcaster includes at least a few spells that are functional against incorporeal creatures (force effects, or just buffs or summons), but part of the point is to “reward” that wisdom.

The situation just isn’t symmetrical, though: it doesn’t take any “wisdom” for an incorporeal creature to be ready for corporeal targets, because the vast majority of everything is corporeal. Of course the incorporeal creature must prepare for them.

That said, you’re not going to ruin the balance of anything, really. You’ll just restrict the incorporeal spellcaster’s spell selection to the things that still work. A spell with a 50% of failure is a spell probably not worth casting—which means it’s not worth preparing or learning.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you KRyan, always very appreciated. To be fair, more than in a PG vs Monster situation I was looking at it from a PG vs PNG situation. What to you think about the asymmetry's impact on PG and PNG Spellcasters? ", In other words why a Spellcaster would any be corporeal when with a spell of LV 8 all their enemies will have a 50% miss chance of hurting them, but the Spellcaster hurting them would not ? \$\endgroup\$
    – Digius
    Feb 26 at 21:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Digius I just don’t see that it changes anything. If you’re planning on being incorporeal, you’re not planning on using anything that has a 50% failure rate during that time. If you give more things a 50% failure rate, that’s just more things to avoid using. But there are still plenty of plenty-powerful things that still work that it doesn’t really affect balance any, just diversity. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Feb 27 at 2:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ Is it only my impression or every caster (and possibly fighters) that has access to level 8 spell would then become incorporeal? this would allow them to be missed 50% by corporeals (most of the monsters and PNG) but they would not have the 50% miss chance on spells to corporeals? \$\endgroup\$
    – Digius
    Feb 27 at 5:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Digius Well, ghostform only lasts one round per level, and it’s not a divine spell so the easiest way of getting it to last all day (Divine Metamagic) is out, or at least is no longer so easy. That means it generally requires using a combat turn to cast, which is rarely worthwhile compared to what else you can do with spells of that level. But the main thing is that 3.5e’s balance is non-existent at those levels. Nerfing one spell isn’t going to change that. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Feb 27 at 11:41

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