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This is a specific question: The Ghost Touch weapon property states that:

...Essentially, a ghost touch weapon counts as either corporeal or incorporeal at any given time, whichever is more beneficial to the wielder.

The most beneficial situation I can think of is that the weapon counts as incorporeal and ignores Armor and Shield bonuses, unless they're from force effects, or have the ghost touch property themselves. The weapon then counts as corporeal when striking, thus avoiding miss chances. Is this correct?

Indeed, I envision ghost touch arrows, bolts and bullets striking through total cover as if it weren't there (though concealment could still apply).

My question again is: Is my above interpretation that ghost touch weapons may ignore material cover, armor, and shield bonuses, yet not have an incorporeal miss chance, correct?

(I realize that this appears to be a repeat question, but neither the question nor the answer addressed this to my satisfaction.)


I forgot the second component of the question: How does this interact with the attacks of 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. 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, [which] are made normally (no miss chance).

(I edited one word, 'while' to 'which' in the above quote, since it made no sense otherwise, and though I'm picking apart rules here, I'm not looking for 'silly-RAW' shenanigans)

So, it appears to me that an incorporeal creature's attacks with a ghost touch weapon continue to be incorporeal touch attacks, but with no miss chance. Am I correct there, or would they become normal material attacks, thus being affected by corporeal armor and shields?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I've added a second component regarding attacks from incorporeal creatures wielding ghost touch weapons: \$\endgroup\$ – Chemus Jul 1 '15 at 18:08
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The weapon special ability ghost touch doesn't allow the wielder to make incorporeal touch attacks

That last sentence isn't the extent of the description. In its entirety, the weapon special ability ghost touch says

A ghost touch weapon deals damage normally against incorporeal creatures, regardless of its bonus. (An incorporeal creature’s 50% chance to avoid damage does not apply to attacks with ghost touch weapons.) The weapon can be picked up and moved by an incorporeal creature at any time. A manifesting ghost can wield the weapon against corporeal foes. Essentially, a ghost touch weapon counts as either corporeal or incorporeal at any given time, whichever is more beneficial to the wielder. (DMG 224-5)

When the text says, "Essentially, a ghost touch weapon counts as either corporeal or incorporeal at any given time, whichever is more beneficial to the wielder," the text is clarifying, providing the reader with a summary of the weapon's fundamental functions that have already been described. It means the weapon strikes foes despite their corporeal states and the wielder can continue to use the weapon despite the wielder's corporeal state. Nothing more.

As you've noted, taking that last sentence out of context makes the weapon special ability ghost touch way more powerful than it should be for its +1 bonus.

The weapon by that sentence isn't given additional properties beyond what's already been described.

The MM and DMG agree that an incorporeal creature's physical attacks (whether with a ghost touch weapon or not) ignore non-ghost touch or non-force material armor

In addition to the Monster Manual's description of the subtype incorporeal (310-1), the Dungeon Master's Guide on Incorporeality says that

The physical attacks of incorporeal creatures ignore material armor, even magic armor, unless it is made of force (such as mage armor or bracers of armor) or has the ghost touch ability. (DMG 295)

So, while it's a little weird that a ghost (or an unbodied) can pick up from the floor a +1 ghost touch longsword and, bypassing the dude's full plate, stab the dude to death with that sword, that appears to be how it works. But were that sword not to have the weapon special ability ghost touch, the ghost would just look at the sword on the floor with despair. Okay, even more despair ('cause it's a ghost).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks, you answered my question in regard to corporeal attackers. I added a corollary question regarding incorporeal attackers' touch attacks. \$\endgroup\$ – Chemus Jul 1 '15 at 18:38
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No, Ghost Touch weapons are not better Brilliant Energy weapons at an order of magnitude lower price.

Ghost Touch: A ghost touch weapon deals damage normally against incorporeal creatures, regardless of its bonus. (An incorporeal creature’s 50% chance to avoid damage does not apply to attacks with ghost touch weapons.) The weapon can be picked up and moved by an incorporeal creature at any time. A manifesting ghost can wield the weapon against corporeal foes. Essentially, a ghost touch weapon counts as either corporeal or incorporeal at any given time, whichever is more beneficial to the wielder.

The key word here is "Essentially." Here, that word means "approximately" or "roughly." Its a convenient summary, not the complete rule. The actual rule is what comes before hand. If it helps you remember generally how it works, great. Just don't mistake it for the actual rule.

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So basically what this means is a ghost touch attack vs a corporeal creature is corporeal and a ghost touch attack vs an incorporeal creature is incorporeal. If a ghost touch weapon could bypass corporeal armor than it would also bypass the corporeal creature itself causing no damage at all. Thus making it only effective against incorporeal creatures.

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