log in or register to remove this ad

 

Incorporeal Creatures Carrying Objects

Dausuul

Legend
So, I had long assumed that incorporeal creatures couldn't move physical objects unless they had a special ability to let them do so. However, I was just looking over some of the undead in the Monster Manual and realized there does not seem to be any such rule. Ethereal creatures can't interact with the material plane, but most incorporeal* creatures aren't ethereal; and they all have a Strength of at least 1, so they should be able to lift and carry up to (Strength x 15) pounds.

Has this ever come up in your campaign? How did you handle it?

[size=-2]*Strictly speaking, the rules are a little fuzzy on whether "incorporeal" even exists as a distinct concept. It's referenced in a few places, such as the gaseous form spell and tremorsense, which don't work on "incorporeal" creatures; but if you look at creatures like the specter, they only have "incorporeal movement." I'm assuming that "incorporeal movement" and "incorporeal" are equivalent.[/size]
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Do they have a physical attack? Then they can move objects.

Also, look at Unseen Servant. It's listed as incorporeal, but states it has a strength of 2 and can move objects.

So yea, for me, if it has a strength score or a physical attack, then it can intereact with the physical world.
 

Harzel

Adventurer
Do they have a physical attack? Then they can move objects.
At least among the undead that have Incorporeal Movement their attacks do necrotic or force damage. It's not explicitly stated, but to me that indicates that they don't have a 'physical' attack in the usual sense. Is there an example of a creature that has Incorporeal Movement and an attack that does bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing damage?

Also, look at Unseen Servant. It's listed as incorporeal, but states it has a strength of 2 and can move objects.
Looking at the spell description, I don't see the word 'incorporeal'.

So yea, for me, if it has a strength score or a physical attack, then it can intereact with the physical world.
Is there a creature that does not have a strength score? I don't know of any, but I might have missed something.
 

Harzel

Adventurer
So, I had long assumed that incorporeal creatures couldn't move physical objects unless they had a special ability to let them do so. However, I was just looking over some of the undead in the Monster Manual and realized there does not seem to be any such rule. Ethereal creatures can't interact with the material plane, but most incorporeal* creatures aren't ethereal; and they all have a Strength of at least 1, so they should be able to lift and carry up to (Strength x 15) pounds.

Has this ever come up in your campaign? How did you handle it?

[SIZE=-2]*Strictly speaking, the rules are a little fuzzy on whether "incorporeal" even exists as a distinct concept. It's referenced in a few places, such as the gaseous form spell and tremorsense, which don't work on "incorporeal" creatures; but if you look at creatures like the specter, they only have "incorporeal movement." I'm assuming that "incorporeal movement" and "incorporeal" are equivalent.[/SIZE]
I think I would allow creatures with Incorporeal Movement to move or carry physical objects, subject to their STR score. However, if they were carrying an object and used Incorporeal Movement to move through a physical barrier (or creature), the object they were carrying would be left behind.
 

jgsugden

Hero
Creatures can carry objects. There is no rule stating that incorporeal creatures can't. So, your Hexblade's Accursed Specter can carry things for you, or be sent to retrieve things.

However, I believe it is up to the DM whether an incorporeal creature can carry something through a wall as there is no guidance I can find on this point. I would say no.
 

aco175

Hero
I remember the wraith in LMoP not being able to touch things. Not sure if it was written, or if I assumed so. There was some good roleplaying with the wraith about turning his pages on the book he was reading since he could not. I had thought that the wraith could deal damage since he was interrupting the PCs life force instead of dealing physical damage.

The other point is that incorporeal creatures can damage things and interact with their environment if plot demands it.
 

TarionzCousin

Second Most Angelic Devil Ever
Isn't the Mage Hand spell incorporeal and explicitly made to move corporeal objects?*





* And give the middle finger to monsters as you run away with all of their treasure?
 

Dausuul

Legend
Isn't the Mage Hand spell incorporeal and explicitly made to move corporeal objects?*
Nope. At least, it is not explicitly incorporeal. It is described as "spectral," which has a similar connotation, but nowhere does the spell text mention "incorporeal."
 
Last edited:

Caliburn101

Explorer
Creatures can carry objects. There is no rule stating that incorporeal creatures can't. So, your Hexblade's Accursed Specter can carry things for you, or be sent to retrieve things.

However, I believe it is up to the DM whether an incorporeal creature can carry something through a wall as there is no guidance I can find on this point. I would say no.
The absence of a rule stating an ability does not exist is I would say an unsound basis with which to assume that an ability must therefore exist.

Saying there is no rule saying that an incorporeal creature cannot carry an object, therefore it must be able to, and then saying that when carrying that object it cannot take it through a solid object - when there is no rule saying it's ability to do so is prevented by carrying something is a logical contradiction.

The creature is incorporeal - the definition of which is "...not composed of matter; having no material existence." Therefore the default assumption must logically be that it cannot carry objects having a material existence unless the rules say that is can.

BUT - the rules for incorporeal actually much more accurately reflect semi-corporeal status, in which case they can carry objects.

The interaction of these things and objects is confusing and rather ridiculous and could probably do with a Sage Advice exposition.
 

jgsugden

Hero
The absence of a rule stating an ability does not exist is I would say an unsound basis with which to assume that an ability must therefore exist.
The absence of an *exception* to a rule, however, is a sound basis. The general rule is that creatures can carry objects. If there is nothing to contradict that for a partcular creature, the general rule applies. This is how the rules are constructed, explicitly.
Saying there is no rule saying that an incorporeal creature cannot carry an object, therefore it must be able to, and then saying that when carrying that object it cannot take it through a solid object - when there is no rule saying it's ability to do so is prevented by carrying something is a logical contradiction.
No, there is a significant difference. We have a general rule that creatures can carry objects. There is no general rule about what can be carried through a wall when incorporeal.

There are a lot of ways to look at this and you can decide what you want to do in your game. I stand by my statements above.
 

Caliburn101

Explorer
The absence of an *exception* to a rule, however, is a sound basis. The general rule is that creatures can carry objects. If there is nothing to contradict that for a partcular creature, the general rule applies. This is how the rules are constructed, explicitly.No, there is a significant difference. We have a general rule that creatures can carry objects. There is no general rule about what can be carried through a wall when incorporeal.

There are a lot of ways to look at this and you can decide what you want to do in your game. I stand by my statements above.
There is no general rule that creatures can carry objects, only rules covering the consequences of interactions with objects carried. Don't conflate the two.

It's a reasonable assumption made by all people that a physical creature can carry physical things. There is no rule that this be extended to incorporeal creatures - and it becomes obvious if you consider whether a ghost could loot you body and wear your armour...

… not many people would think that was ok. Why should picking things up with insubstantial hands be any different?
 



jgsugden

Hero
Read my post again, the second half of the same sentence.
Errr....
Carrying Capacity. Your carrying capacity is your Strength score multiplied by 15. This is the weight (in pounds) that you can carry
This is explicitly a rule stating what you can carry in weight if you have a strength score. Creatures have strength scores. All of these incorporeal creatures have strength scores.

If you want to try to parse these rules so that they mean something else, be my guest.
 

Caliburn101

Explorer
Errr....This is explicitly a rule stating what you can carry in weight if you have a strength score. Creatures have strength scores. All of these incorporeal creatures have strength scores.

If you want to try to parse these rules so that they mean something else, be my guest.
I will.

The relevant rules clearly state how MUCH you can carry, not tacking the issue of IF you can carry things. No 'parsing' is required. YOU have added this meaning to it - conflating this rule with your personal take on what you choose to expand it to include.

You interpretation is what you feel is implicit in the rule - my literal summation of it deals strictly with what is explicit in the rule.

Having a Strength score in no way guarantees you the ability to carry anything, but if you can, this is how much - that is what the rules shows. Nowhere does it say, 'If you have a Strength score, you can carry things'.

I understand your confusion on this, but both grammatically and logically you have not pointed out any rule guaranteeing the ability to carry things with a Strength score.

I hope that clears up what I am saying and where I contend the flaw in your argument lies.
 

jasper

Rotten DM
Unseen Servant, Invisible Stalker (especially from older editions), Poltergeist, Living Unseen Servant, all can carry something. .

Nowhere does it say, 'If you have a Strength score, you can carry things'.,,,,SUDDENLY THROUGH OUT THE REALMS ADVENTURES WERE CRUSHED TO DEATH BY THE WEIGHT OF THEIR ARMOUR OR LOOT. WEAPONS, ARCANA FOCUSES, MATERIAL COMPONENTS FELL TO EARTH. BECAUSE NOWHERE DOES IT STATE ADVENTURERS CAN CARRY THINGS!
 

jasper

Rotten DM
At least among the undead that have Incorporeal Movement their attacks do necrotic or force damage. It's not explicitly stated, but to me that indicates that they don't have a 'physical' attack in the usual sense. Is there an example of a creature that has Incorporeal Movement and an attack that does bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing damage?



Looking at the spell description, I don't see the word 'incorporeal'.



Is there a creature that does not have a strength score? I don't know of any, but I might have missed something.
Avatar of Death does 7 (1d8+3) slashing damage, has incorporeal movement. Medium undead. Str is 16 aka +3
 

Dausuul

Legend
Note that there is an incorporeal undead which explicitly lacks the ability to move objects: The will-o'-wisp has an "Ephemeral" trait which states that it can't wear or carry anything. It's the only creature with this trait.

This strongly suggests that RAI matches RAW in this case, and incorporeal undead are supposed to be able to move objects unless specified otherwise. (I would not allow such an object to pass through a physical barrier, but that is my personal ruling and I don't think it is the cleanest interpretation of RAW.)
 
Last edited:

jgsugden

Hero
I will.

The relevant rules clearly state how MUCH you can carry, not tacking the issue of IF you can carry things. No 'parsing' is required. YOU have added this meaning to it - conflating this rule with your personal take on what you choose to expand it to include.

You interpretation is what you feel is implicit in the rule - my literal summation of it deals strictly with what is explicit in the rule.

Having a Strength score in no way guarantees you the ability to carry anything, but if you can, this is how much - that is what the rules shows. Nowhere does it say, 'If you have a Strength score, you can carry things'.

I understand your confusion on this, but both grammatically and logically you have not pointed out any rule guaranteeing the ability to carry things with a Strength score.

I hope that clears up what I am saying and where I contend the flaw in your argument lies.
I got what you're saying, but your PCs must have very short adventures.

There are rules covering when you run out of breath if you have to hold it, but no rules saying that they can take in a breath in the first place in non-suffocation situations.

The rule section said you can carry weight as determined by your strength score. It did not say, "Hey, Bud, like if you can carry stuff, this is the amount you can carry." It said the strength score limits the weight you can carry. As long as a strength score is specified - they can carry weight.

You're free to rule as you please. My comment above, about you being free to parse the rules as you see fit, was meant to convey that you can go off and make a contrary ruling. However, RAW, I'm secure in y understanding that incorporeal creatures with a strength score can lift things.

Dausuul's comments on the Wisp further suport this understanding.
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
I will.

The relevant rules clearly state how MUCH you can carry, not tacking the issue of IF you can carry things. No 'parsing' is required. YOU have added this meaning to it - conflating this rule with your personal take on what you choose to expand it to include.

You interpretation is what you feel is implicit in the rule - my literal summation of it deals strictly with what is explicit in the rule.

Having a Strength score in no way guarantees you the ability to carry anything, but if you can, this is how much - that is what the rules shows. Nowhere does it say, 'If you have a Strength score, you can carry things'.

I understand your confusion on this, but both grammatically and logically you have not pointed out any rule guaranteeing the ability to carry things with a Strength score.

I hope that clears up what I am saying and where I contend the flaw in your argument lies.
"The relevant rules clearly state how MUCH you can carry, not tacking the issue of IF you can carry things. "

Actually no it says specifically "you can carry". It is permissive, not just descriptive.

"The following terms define what you can lift or carry."

Note that the word "what" is used there, not how much.

There is no mention of needing some other place to allow you because that is allowing.

Similar language is used for speed, where you are allowed to move up yo your speed, speed as how much, but no other section is needed to say "you can move."

If you have z speed, you can move it barring rules yo the vontrary.
If you have strength, you can carry unless specific rules to contrary.

To approach these rules without that sense is gonna be very problematic because it's a presentation they repeated quite a bit.

Gms of course, can do whstdver.
 

Mythological Figures & Maleficent Monsters

Advertisement2

Advertisement4

Top