Incorporeal Movement
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  1. #1
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    Incorporeal Movement

    Incorporeal Movement is something like a condition. It occurs in the Monster Manual for certain creatures like ghosts. It says, one can ‘move through other creatures and objects as if they were difficult terrain’.


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    I guess, the Dungeon Masters Guide (page 246) gives a wall as an example of an ‘object’. So the ghost can pass thru a wall.
    Last edited by Yaarel; Thursday, 23rd May, 2019 at 02:38 PM.

  2. #2
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    Note there are reallife beliefs, such as the spirit of the dead benefiting from an open window to exit or enter a house. Or since a spirit is like a breath, it cant pass thru a wall, like the wind cant.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Yaarel View Post
    Incorporeal Movement is something like a condition. It occurs in the Monster Manual for certain creatures like ghosts. It says, one can ‘move through other creatures and objects as if they were difficult terrain’.

    Is a door an ‘object’? Is this saying, for example, that a ghost cannot pass thru walls, but it can pass thru a door? Or is it saying, that a locked door can also keep out a ghost?

    Is there an incontrovertable way to interpret this?

    Incidentally, I assume, resistance to nonmagical weapons (bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing) always comes with Incorporeal Movement, as part of the mechanics of being semi-solid.

    Just curious about what the rules-as-written mean.
    "For the purposes of these rules, an object is a discrete, inanimate item like a window, door, sword, book, table, chair, or stone, not a building or vehicle that is composed of many other objects." (DMG, pg. 246)

    Walls are also considered objects. They are mentioned in this section as well.
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    This is overcomplicating something that seems pretty straightforward, at least to me.

    A door is an object. For that matter, so is a wall. Also a chair, clock, curio cabinet, the owlbear pelt hanging on the wall, the kitsch sword display -- all are objects. This is not an exclusive list, many other objects are also objects, even if they're not specifically named as objects in the rulebooks. Ergo, noncorporeal creatures like ghosts can move through them.

    Hopefully this clarifies things.
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    Heh, it occurred to me afterward to doublecheck the DMG. So a wall is an object.

    I had different folkbeliefs in mind, so was uncertain.

    I also had 4e in mind, where passing thru an object didnt include passing thru a wall. (Such as the Shadar-Kai, if I recall correctly.) This limitation was more suitable for low-level capabilities.

    I guess for D&D 5e, it would be useful to have a low-level spell that can seal an area, incuding the walls of a room against Incorporeal creatures. An open door would allow them in.

    In the same way as it is possible to buy Holy Water, it can also be possible to buy Holy Salt, that forms a barrier if you pour an unbroken line of it. To protect a person, one can pour it circling around the person for a cylindrical barrier. Or pour it around the walls of a room.

    Essentially, it would be nice if the ability to phase thru walls can be at lower levels. (I think of New Mutants, Kitty Pride phasing as a superhero trope.) But if so, I also want the defenses against it to be lower level.
    Last edited by Yaarel; Thursday, 23rd May, 2019 at 02:55 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by iserith View Post
    "For the purposes of these rules, an object is a discrete, inanimate item like a window, door, sword, book, table, chair, or stone, not a building or vehicle that is composed of many other objects." (DMG, pg. 246)

    Walls are also considered objects. They are mentioned in this section as well.
    Yeah, the example mentions a sword hitting a ‘wall’. I assume the wall is the object, not the sword. But where it says ‘not a building’, can easily seem to mean a wall is not an object.

    Later, a castle wall is called a ‘big object’.

    It seems the ‘building’ is an exception because it is actually an assemblage of separate objects. Thus each individual object needs to be considered. Such as the hit points of a glass window, versus the hit points of a thick stone wall.
    Last edited by Yaarel; Thursday, 23rd May, 2019 at 03:07 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Yaarel View Post
    Yeah, the example mentions a sword hitting a ‘wall’. I assume the wall is the object, not the sword. But where it says ‘not a building’, can easily seem to mean a wall is not an object.

    Later, a castle wall is called a ‘big object’.

    It seems the ‘building’ is an exception because it is actually an assemblage of separate objects. Thus each individual object needs to considered. Such as the hit points of a glass window, versus the hit points of a thick stone wall.
    That is my reading, though I would say a sword is also an object. I think the main thing here is that incorporeal movement is just that - movement. Push a sword through this creature and it will take damage. If it instead moves through the sword, it takes no damage unless it ends its turn on the sword.

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    Quote Originally Posted by iserith View Post
    That is my reading, though I would say a sword is also an object. I think the main thing here is that incorporeal movement is just that - movement. Push a sword through this creature and it will take damage. If it instead moves through the sword, it takes no damage unless it ends its turn on the sword.
    That too is a confusing part, because the ghost is only ‘resistant’ to weapon attacks. So it is semi-solid so that a sword *can* damage it.

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    Yes, it's inconsistent because they wanted the ghost to be able to move through things but also be damaged by attacks. So if you hit it with a sword it takes damage but if it moves through the cutlery drawer it does not. It's just one of those things. *shrug*

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    Quote Originally Posted by Len View Post
    Yes, it's inconsistent because they wanted the ghost to be able to move through things but also be damaged by attacks. So if you hit it with a sword it takes damage but if it moves through the cutlery drawer it does not. It's just one of those things. *shrug*
    I think of it as a speed thing... you could swing a sword slowly through a ghost and not affect it, but swinging quickly causes damage by disrupting the ether or something. Similarly I'd play that if a wall fell on a ghost, it would take damage.
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