Mage Armor, incorporeal creatures and unarmed attacks

Corwin

Explorer
Yep, just what the title suggests. ;)

This came up in last night's game.

I have a monk and am good at grapples. We were fighting a wizard in ghostform. This opponent was getting really annoying by popping in and ouot of the walls and floors, casting spells at us, and then taking off.

Because he's incorporeal, he's got the 50% miss for cover and the whole "ghost" thing going.

My mage buddy cast mage armor on me, since it is a force effect, and argues that it would allow me to grab him since my whole boddy was encased in a force effect and that affects incorporeals normally.

The DM, thinking it over, came to a decent ad-hoc ruling (considering he was on the spot, so-to-speak).

Basically, I still had the 50/50 miss chance, but, if successful, I was able to physically deal with him at that moment. But every grapple check or attack I made would be individually subjected to that 50/50.

Thoughts as to how to deal with a situation like this?

I just thought it was an interesting take in lieu of the fact that force effects are "real" to incorps.
 

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Zaruthustran

The tingling means it’s working!
Great idea from the player, nice rules solution from the DM.

For further rules justification:

Is an incorporeal creature blocked by a Wall of Force? Is it trapped by a Force Cage? Yes and yes. So, could a creature made of Force (or encased in Mage Armor) grapple an incorporeal creature? Yes.

-z
 

kreynolds

First Post
Mage Armor isn't a Wall of Force by any stretch of the imagination. A Wall of Force is immune to damage of all kinds. It is totally unaffected by most spells, including dispel magic. Breath weapons, and many spells, cannot pass through the wall in either direction. It blocks ethereal creatures as well as material creatures.

What does Mage Armor do? It gives a +4 armor bonus to AC. It's not even good enough to give a deflection bonus. ;)

Personally, I think the players thoughts were a really big stretch, and I think the DM should have thought it over more thoroughly. Did it ruin the game? Nah. But...you asked. :)
 

Corwin

Explorer
kreynolds said:
What does Mage Armor do? It gives a +4 armor bonus to AC. It's not even good enough to give a deflection bonus. ;)

Ah, but it is a [Force] spell and it's AC bonus applies agains incorporeal attackers. So the implication is very much that Mage Armor is physically "real" to incorps.
 

kreynolds

First Post
Corwin said:
Ah, but it is a [Force] spell and it's AC bonus applies agains incorporeal attackers. So the implication is very much that Mage Armor is physically "real" to incorps.

Oh, I never said it wasn't "real". It's certainly "real" enough to make it harder for them to hit you. I simply said that it isn't a Wall of Force. :)
 

Corwin

Explorer
kreynolds said:


Oh, I never said it wasn't "real". It's certainly "real" enough to make it harder for them to hit you. I simply said that it isn't a Wall of Force. :)

Not having my books with me is putting a damper on my day. ;)

Would someone be so kind as to post the rules quote which states that all [Force] effect spells effect incorporeal creatures without the benefit of concealment (50% miss chance).

If I recall corectly, it basically explains that [Force] effect spells are tangible to incorps, right?

Anyway, that was the basis for the argument presented to the DM last night.
 

kreynolds

First Post
Corwin said:
Not having my books with me is putting a damper on my day. ;)

Would someone be so kind as to post the rules quote which states that all [Force] effect spells effect incorporeal creatures without the benefit of concealment (50% miss chance).

I'll see if I can find it. :)

Here's one. Page 78, DMG...

Even when struck by magic or magic weapons, an incorporeal creature has a 50% chance to ignore any damage from a corporeal source—except for a force effect...

Here's another, same page....

The physical attacks of incorporeal creatures ignore material armor, even magic armor, unless it is made of force or has the ghost touch ability.

But, my absolute favorite?

Corporeal creatures cannot trip or grapple incorporeal creatures.

:p ;)
 
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Corwin

Explorer
kreynolds said:
Corporeal creatures cannot trip or grapple incorporeal creatures.

Ah yes. The joys of context. ;)

Obviously physical creatures cannot do this, they have no ability to interact with the ghostly form. That's all that quote is referencing. It is not in the same section relating to the fact that [Force] effects have a special impact on incorporeals.

I never said a corporeal could grapple an incorporeal. In fact, that was how we were playing it.

It wasn't until the Mage Armor thing came up that the question was raised.

Once you are surrounded by a [Force] effect, does that give you any addition sway? That was the question.

I also never even insinuated that it was like getting free Ghost Touch. You'll notice that, had I chosen to punch the guy even after Mage Armored, I would still have been subject to the 50/50. As evidenced by my statements regarding how the DM ruled.

Anyway, [shrug] that's how we ended up doing it.
 

IceBear

Explorer
I guess it depends on how much [Force] that mage armor gives you. It's obviously not as much as a Wall of Force. I guess that's why he stuck with the 50% miss chance on stuff.

IceBear
 

kreynolds

First Post
Corwin said:
Ah yes. The joys of context. ;)

I just thought it was cute. :D

Corwin said:
I never said <snip>

Whoa! Down boy! :eek: Like I said, I just thought it was cute. :cool:

Corwin said:
Once you are surrounded by a [Force] effect, does that give you any addition sway?

A 1st level force effect that only gives a bonus to AC? Nope. Just a difference of opinon. :)
 
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Caliban

Rules Monkey
Since Mage Armor only gives +4 armor bonus to AC, it seems clear that it doesn't completely cover your body or your limbs.

It only covers enough of your body to give you a +4 to your AC. So it covers about as much as a chain shirt does, and a chain shirt only covers your torso and upper thighs.

Therefore, I don't believe that Mage Armor covers your limbs in a force effect, and doesn't give you any special advantage when attacking incorporeal creatures with unarmed attacks.

I could see a higher level version of the spell (i.e. Mage Plate) that totally covers your body and has the added effect of giving your unarmed attacks the [Force] descriptor, but that would be a new spell, and effectively a house rule.
 

Corwin

Explorer
kreynolds said:
Whoa! Down boy! :eek: Like I said, I just thought it was cute. :cool:

I'm not upset. I was just clarifying my point. Things are: :cool:

I'm sure you'll know when they aren't. ;)

kreynolds said:
At 1st level force effect that only gives a bonus to AC? Nope. Just a difference of opinon. :)

Fair enough. I'm sure there are plenty of DMs that would have ruled both less than and more than what ours did. It's all style and preference at that point, since it really isn't covered in the rules. That's why DM's get paid the "Big Bucks (tm)". :D
 


kreynolds

First Post
Corwin said:
I'm sure you'll know when they aren't. ;)

sasmokin.gif
 

Corwin

Explorer
Caliban said:
Since Mage Armor only gives +4 armor bonus to AC, it seems clear that it doesn't completely cover your body or your limbs.

It only covers enough of your body to give you a +4 to your AC. So it covers about as much as a chain shirt does, and a chain shirt only covers your torso and upper thighs.

Therefore, I don't believe that Mage Armor covers your limbs in a force effect, and doesn't give you any special advantage when attacking incorporeal creatures with unarmed attacks.

From the SRD:

"An invisible but tangible field of force surrounds the subject of mage armor, providing a +4 armor bonus to AC. Unlike mundane armor, mage armor entails no armor check penalty, arcane spell failure chance, or speed reduction. Since mage armor is made of force, incorporeal creatures can’t bypass it the way they do normal armor."

I don't see any evidence that it only partially covers the subject or acts like "energy chain shirt".

[shrug]
 

kreynolds

First Post
Then picture it as a really thin field of force that takes little effort to push through, say an attack roll about +4 higher than usual? ;)
 

IceBear

Explorer
I think what he's getting at is that the "forcefield" isn't as "tight" as that from a wall of force and it's through these "gaps" that the failure could come about. I don't think he meant that it only produces a force field in the shape of a chain shirt.

IceBear
 

Caliban

Rules Monkey
Corwin said:


From the SRD:

"An invisible but tangible field of force surrounds the subject of mage armor, providing a +4 armor bonus to AC. Unlike mundane armor, mage armor entails no armor check penalty, arcane spell failure chance, or speed reduction. Since mage armor is made of force, incorporeal creatures can’t bypass it the way they do normal armor."

I don't see any evidence that it only partially covers the subject or acts like "energy chain shirt".

[shrug]

It doesn't say it surrounds you completely. It may only surround your torso.


I also don't see any evidence that will extend to cover your limbs or weapons when you move them away from your body.

And most of all, the spell doesn't say that it allows you to attack incorporeal creatures with an unarmed attack, therefore it doesn't allow you to. And that's the by the rules answer.
 

Taren Seeker

First Post
OK, so how about instead of Mage Armor you're wearing Bracers of Armor +8? Would that give you a chance to grapple? I like the 50% miss chance on the grapple ad hoc ruling.

BTW, I agree that Mage Armor covers the whole body, just weakly. A Wall of Force is the Grandaddy of force effects, and not all forces are created equal.

Look at Magic Missile, it can't even affect solid (inanimate) objects.
 

Caliban

Rules Monkey
Taren Seeker said:
OK, so how about instead of Mage Armor you're wearing Bracers of Armor +8? Would that give you a chance to grapple? I like the 50% miss chance on the grapple ad hoc ruling.

Does the item description say that it gives you the ability to attack incorporeal creatures with your bare fists?
 

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