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If a humanoid is wearing bracers of armor and is attacked by an incorporeal creature, do the bracers of armor apply their "armor bonus" against incorporeal touch attacks?

  1. If "Yes" because it is mentioned that bracers of armor create a "tangible field of force", does this also stop spells' line of effect?

  2. If "Yes", is the effect of the bracers any different to the armor magic bonus from a "ghost touch" armor? Would the latter be a better choice over the first in some conditions?

I struggle to understand the reason for the existence of the armor magic bonus "ghost touch" (in which the interactions with incorporeal creatures are is explicitly decribed) if the bracers of armor apply against an incorporeal creature's touch attacks.

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Bracers of Armor work against Incorporeal attacks

An incorporeal creature’s attacks pass through (ignore) natural armor, armor, and shields, although deflection bonuses and force effects (such as mage armor) work normally against it.

[Bracers of Armor] surround the wearer with an invisible but tangible field of force

The Bracers use force and force is not ignored by incorporeal creatures.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ hello and thank you for the answer, do you have any reference for this? What I am very interested in is understanding what is the point for the existence of armour bonus "ghost touch" in which it is explicitly written that it applies to incorporeals (and in the bracers not). I have edited the question so my secondary questions are clearer. \$\endgroup\$
    – Digius
    Commented Dec 11, 2022 at 7:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Digius The links in the post have both items he quoted as far as references go, in case you didn't notice (I understand the secondary question/add/edit, am responding to "do you have any reference for this?"). \$\endgroup\$
    – joedragons
    Commented Dec 14, 2022 at 21:14
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The bracers do not block line of effect

The bracers have no influence against line of effect because line of effect is only blocked by a solid barrier.

A line of effect is a straight, unblocked path that indicates what a spell can affect. A line of effect is canceled by a solid barrier.

The bracers do not state that they create a solid barrier, they only create a "field of force" that serves to improve the armor class of the wearer:

They surround the wearer with an invisible but tangible field of force, granting him an armor bonus of +1 to +8, just as though he were wearing armor.

Compare this to the effect of the spell wall of force, which creates a force field but which explicitly states it creates a barrier that spells cannot pass through:

Breath weapons and spells cannot pass through the wall in either direction, although dimension door, teleport, and similar effects can bypass the barrier.

The bracers have no such language that spells cannot pass through the force field they create.

(Moreover, even a normal full plate, which is made from solid material and enclosing the wearer would not count as a "solid barrier" for this purpose, or you could not cast spells on someone in full plate.)

The bracers' effect differs from ghost touch

Ghost Touch armor has explicit benefits that bracers of armor lack:

It can be picked up, moved, and worn by incorporeal creatures at any time. Incorporeal creatures gain the armor or shield’s enhancement bonus against both corporeal and incorporeal attacks, and they can still pass freely through solid objects.

The entry of incorporeal creatures states: In fact, they cannot take any physical action that would move or manipulate an opponent or its equipment, so an incorporeal creature could not pick up or wear the bracers, but could do so with a ghost touch armor.

I guess your question is more about what the functional difference is when worn as armor against the attacks from incorporeal creatures. In that regard, both items works similarly, but you need special DM OK to add other abilities to bracers of armor, while you could create a ghost touch armor that has other abilities using the normal rules for magical armor.

Lastly, as already covered in Dale M's answer for completeness (answers are supposed to stand alone):

The bracers work against incoropreal attacks

The bracers work normally against an incoropreal creature because they are a force effect and force effects work against incorporeal creatures.

An incorporeal creature’s attacks pass through (ignore) natural armor, armor, and shields, although deflection bonuses and force effects (such as mage armor) work normally against it.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for the reply, it is very clear the effect of the bracelets when worn by a corporeal humanoid. may I ask you if you could reply also in my opposite question (what happens when incorporeals wear the bracelets? ) Here please? rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/203175/… \$\endgroup\$
    – Digius
    Commented Dec 11, 2022 at 14:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Digius You are welcome. The question you link already has very thorough in-depth answers, I am not sure I would be able to add anything substantial. The rules situation on that aspect of incorporeality is a bit murky, so a simple, clean-cut authoritative answer may be hard to get for it. Do you have a concrete problem of how the character is going to become incorporeal - the means to do so may help to get a simpler answer? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 11, 2022 at 16:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ @GroodytheHobgoblin Regular incorporeal creature may have troubles wearing bracers, but a ghost, who posessed a pair in its previous life, probably wouldn't have any. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 11, 2022 at 21:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ @GroodytheHobgoblin I'm kind of confused on why the "ghost touch" bonus exists, in your answer it is very helpful to read that it cannot be taken by an incorporeal. But when a player uses a spell o special ability to become incorporeal then all their items become incorporeal. So I guess they will keep the armour bonus from the bracelets then? This makes "ghost touch" quite useless compared to the bracers, because with bracers you get a +8 armor in most situation and can use an armor bonus to get special bonuses, but can't do the opposite (armour special abilities on the bracers) \$\endgroup\$
    – Digius
    Commented Dec 12, 2022 at 6:37
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The bracers of armor work against incorporeal touch attacks, but not regular touch attacks.

Yes, bracers of armor function versus incorporeal touch attacks because they are described as being made of force. There's nothing about them that is more or less protective versus the vast majority of spells than normal armor. They still only provide an armor bonus. Barring spells such as heat metal that can target armor directly, there's little difference to most spells where your armor bonus comes from; a touch attack ignores armor bonuses.

Bracers of armor +8, with a cost of 64,000gp, are the most powerful versions available in the Core books. The value of the ghost touch ability is that, for corporeal wearers, both the enchanted armor's armor bonus and the enhancement bonus are effective versus incorporeal attacks. So, for 65,750gp, a paladin could wear +5 ghost touch full plate, gaining +13 to AC vs both material and incorporeal attacks. That's +5 to AC for 1750gp; the cost of the masterwork full plate that was enchanted to +5 and had the +3 ghost touch property added.

For anyone who can ignore Armor check penalties, or for whom Spell Failure is unimportant, the Ghost Touch Full Plate +5 is very often preferable to Bracers of Armor +8.


Touch attacks and incorporeal touch attacks (such as the attack of an allip (Monster Manual 10)) are two different things, though the rules for them look very alike.

Touch Attacks: Some attacks disregard armor, including shields and natural armor. For example, a wizard’s touch with a shocking grasp (PH 279) spell hurts you regardless of what armor you’re wearing or how thick your skin happens to be. In these cases, the attacker makes a touch attack roll (either ranged or melee). When you are the target of a touch attack, your AC doesn’t include any armor bonus, shield bonus, or natural armor bonus.[...] --Player's Handbook 136

Incorporeal Subtype: [...] An incorporeal creature’s attacks pass through (ignore) natural armor, armor, and shields, although [...] force effects (such as mage armor) work normally against it [...] --Monster Manual 310-11

The general rules for incorporeal creatures in the core books don't mention incorporeal touch attacks directly. Instead the monster entries refer to the attacks of incorporeal creatures in the subtype with a kind of shorthand, calling them 'incorporeal touch attacks'.

This naming is confusing when you get to the exception for armor and shield bonuses from force effects in the incorporeal subtype rules. The two sets of rules are indeed almost identical, but the idea behind them is what seems to cause confusion.

An 'incorporeal touch attack' is simply a shorter way of saying 'an attack by an incorporeal creature that passes through a material creature's armor and shield'. As the story goes, the incorporeal creature is not actually touching the material creature with its attacks; it simply puts its hand through the same space that the material creature's body inhabits, and bad things happen to the material creature.

As the example in the entry from the PH shows, a touch attack is just that; a touch. It doesn't matter if the attacker touches your face, armor, shield, or anything else on you; any touch will allow the attack to succeed. An incorporeal touch doesn't touch the target's armor or anything else; it bypasses them.

That bypassing is negated by force effects. And that's why bracers of armor and rings of force shield are effective versus incorporeal touch attacks ('the attacks of incorporeal creatures'), but not touch attacks (such as a wizard, incorporeal or material, attacking with a shocking grasp spell). You retain armor and shield bonuses from force effects versus the attacks of incorporeal creatures, but still lose their benefit versus touch attacks.

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