Ghosts and Enhancement to Natural Armor


Rules Questions


2 people marked this as FAQ candidate.

Me and a few other people were having a discussion about various pathfinder topics, and this came up. The spell Ironskin gives the target a enhancement to natural armor bonus, and is a personal spell. We we're having a debate on whether it actually works on ghost, due to the incorporeal subtype. From the Incorporeal rules it states that "An incorporeal creature has no natural armor bonus but has a deflection bonus equal to its Charisma bonus (always at least +1, even if the creature’s Charisma score does not normally provide a bonus).".

The question is does the "no natural armor bonus" means that ironskin can't apply? It was read two different ways by the group, one way is that it's just a natural armor bonus of 0, and the other way was that a ghost can have no natural armor bonus at all.


In this case, it's meant that they don't have natural armor, just like they don't have Strength or Constitution. In increase to any of them wouldn't apply.

Despite the wording about no natural armor counting as +0, spells are written from a human, or at least base race, point-of-view and not intended to cover all possible monstrous or unusual permutations.


I am just looking at the spell, and it's certainly written confusingly.
"You gain a +4 enhancement bonus to your existing natural armor bonus (if you do not have a natural armor bonus, you are considered to have an effective natural armor bonus of +0)."

I don't see why you'd treat a ghost any different than a human looking at the RAW.

Specific trumps general, and a spell effect is more specific to me than a creature type.

RAI, I am with Pizza Lord. It makes no sense to put something corporeal like Ironskin on something incorporeal like a ghost.

Or you could just do a search on "pathfinder ironskin raw" and find this result among this board's threads:
http://paizo.com/threads/rzs2urrh?Rules-question-for-Ironskin-spell

And then you can just say "Duergar-only."


Mister Socks wrote:

Me and a few other people were having a discussion about various pathfinder topics, and this came up. The spell Ironskin gives the target a enhancement to natural armor bonus, and is a personal spell. We we're having a debate on whether it actually works on ghost, due to the incorporeal subtype. From the Incorporeal rules it states that "An incorporeal creature has no natural armor bonus but has a deflection bonus equal to its Charisma bonus (always at least +1, even if the creature’s Charisma score does not normally provide a bonus).".

The question is does the "no natural armor bonus" means that ironskin can't apply? It was read two different ways by the group, one way is that it's just a natural armor bonus of 0, and the other way was that a ghost can have no natural armor bonus at all.

I think the way it works is that the creature gainst the +4 natural armor, and then the incorporeal is applied, making the armor useless, but still technically affecting them. If they were to lose incorporeal status, somehow, the natural armor would kick in.


for most incorporeals doesn't natural armor get converted into a bunch of extra stacking deflection bonuses?


2 people marked this as FAQ candidate.

well foxes would get the natural armor, so why not ghosts?


Pax Miles wrote:
Mister Socks wrote:

Me and a few other people were having a discussion about various pathfinder topics, and this came up. The spell Ironskin gives the target a enhancement to natural armor bonus, and is a personal spell. We we're having a debate on whether it actually works on ghost, due to the incorporeal subtype. From the Incorporeal rules it states that "An incorporeal creature has no natural armor bonus but has a deflection bonus equal to its Charisma bonus (always at least +1, even if the creature’s Charisma score does not normally provide a bonus).".

The question is does the "no natural armor bonus" means that ironskin can't apply? It was read two different ways by the group, one way is that it's just a natural armor bonus of 0, and the other way was that a ghost can have no natural armor bonus at all.

I think the way it works is that the creature gainst the +4 natural armor, and then the incorporeal is applied, making the armor useless, but still technically affecting them. If they were to lose incorporeal status, somehow, the natural armor would kick in.

This. Specific (Incorporeal rules) trumps general (Natural Armor rules)


KahnyaGnorc wrote:
Pax Miles wrote:
Mister Socks wrote:

Me and a few other people were having a discussion about various pathfinder topics, and this came up. The spell Ironskin gives the target a enhancement to natural armor bonus, and is a personal spell. We we're having a debate on whether it actually works on ghost, due to the incorporeal subtype. From the Incorporeal rules it states that "An incorporeal creature has no natural armor bonus but has a deflection bonus equal to its Charisma bonus (always at least +1, even if the creature’s Charisma score does not normally provide a bonus).".

The question is does the "no natural armor bonus" means that ironskin can't apply? It was read two different ways by the group, one way is that it's just a natural armor bonus of 0, and the other way was that a ghost can have no natural armor bonus at all.

I think the way it works is that the creature gainst the +4 natural armor, and then the incorporeal is applied, making the armor useless, but still technically affecting them. If they were to lose incorporeal status, somehow, the natural armor would kick in.
This. Specific (Incorporeal rules) trumps general (Natural Armor rules)

And Specific (Spell Rules) trumps general (Incorporeal Rules)

You'd gain a +4 to AC but not to touch AC.


KahnyaGnorc wrote:
pax miles wrote:
I think the way it works is that the creature gainst the +4 natural armor, and then the incorporeal is applied, making the armor useless, but still technically affecting them. If they were to lose incorporeal status, somehow, the natural armor would kick in.
This. Specific (Incorporeal rules) trumps general (Natural Armor rules)

If you read my post...anyway, my point was that the spell would still be able to target the ghost and still affect them, though it wouldn't do anything for it's duration unless the ghost "somehow" ceased to be incorporeal before the spell ended.

Because I agree, you can't benefit from natural armor while incorporeal. But the spell would still function for the duration, it would just have no apparent effect until the target ceased to be incorporeal.


RAI thats a perfectly reasonable way to see it.

RAW incorporeal says you have no natural armor bonus, Ironskin says if you have no natural Armor bonus, you gain some, and thus you'd gain some.


I interpret it this way: ghosts are not capable of having natural armor, nor are any incorporeal creatures.

It may or may not be RAW but it is moat definitely RAI...

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
willuwontu wrote:
KahnyaGnorc wrote:
Pax Miles wrote:
Mister Socks wrote:

Me and a few other people were having a discussion about various pathfinder topics, and this came up. The spell Ironskin gives the target a enhancement to natural armor bonus, and is a personal spell. We we're having a debate on whether it actually works on ghost, due to the incorporeal subtype. From the Incorporeal rules it states that "An incorporeal creature has no natural armor bonus but has a deflection bonus equal to its Charisma bonus (always at least +1, even if the creature’s Charisma score does not normally provide a bonus).".

The question is does the "no natural armor bonus" means that ironskin can't apply? It was read two different ways by the group, one way is that it's just a natural armor bonus of 0, and the other way was that a ghost can have no natural armor bonus at all.

I think the way it works is that the creature gainst the +4 natural armor, and then the incorporeal is applied, making the armor useless, but still technically affecting them. If they were to lose incorporeal status, somehow, the natural armor would kick in.
This. Specific (Incorporeal rules) trumps general (Natural Armor rules)

And Specific (Spell Rules) trumps general (Incorporeal Rules)

You'd gain a +4 to AC but not to touch AC.

A creatures specific text is way more specific that a spell specific text when they enter in conflict. The spell text is meant to apply to all creatures, the creature text only to that specific creature.

Creating a Ghost wrote:
Armor Class: A ghost gains a deflection bonus equal to its Charisma modifier. It loses the base creature's natural armor bonus, as well as all armor and shield bonuses not from force effects or ghost touch items.

An enhancment to natural armor give a natural armor bonus to AC, and that is removed by the ghost template.


Though I will note that it is potentially possible to have a creature's natural armor count against incorporeal creatures in the same manner as Ghost Touch does to worn armor. The 15th level ability for the Totem Guide archetype for the Animal Companion, can gain this. In this case, enhancements to natural armor would apply versus ghosts.

Wouldn't work the other way, but if there is one exception, an opposite exception likely also exists in this game...


Diego Rossi wrote:

A creatures specific text is way more specific that a spell specific text when they enter in conflict. The spell text is meant to apply to all creatures, the creature text only to that specific creature.

Creating a Ghost wrote:
Armor Class: A ghost gains a deflection bonus equal to its Charisma modifier. It loses the base creature's natural armor bonus, as well as all armor and shield bonuses not from force effects or ghost touch items.
A creatures specific text is way more specific that a spell specific text when they enter in conflict. The spell text is meant to apply to all creatures, the creature text only to that specific creature.

Glad to know stat blocks override spells, I'll take that into consideration enlarge person is cast on someone, and tell them they don't actually increase in size.

wrote:
An enhancment to natural armor give a natural armor bonus to AC, and that is removed by the ghost template.

Or you know you could actually read the spells text.

Ironskin wrote:
You gain a +4 enhancement bonus to your existing natural armor bonus (if you do not have a natural armor bonus, you are considered to have an effective natural armor bonus of +0).

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
willuwontu wrote:
Diego Rossi wrote:

A creatures specific text is way more specific that a spell specific text when they enter in conflict. The spell text is meant to apply to all creatures, the creature text only to that specific creature.

Creating a Ghost wrote:
Armor Class: A ghost gains a deflection bonus equal to its Charisma modifier. It loses the base creature's natural armor bonus, as well as all armor and shield bonuses not from force effects or ghost touch items.
A creatures specific text is way more specific that a spell specific text when they enter in conflict. The spell text is meant to apply to all creatures, the creature text only to that specific creature.

Glad to know stat blocks override spells, I'll take that into consideration enlarge person is cast on someone, and tell them they don't actually increase in size.

wrote:
An enhancment to natural armor give a natural armor bonus to AC, and that is removed by the ghost template.

Or you know you could actually read the spells text.

Ironskin wrote:
You gain a +4 enhancement bonus to your existing natural armor bonus (if you do not have a natural armor bonus, you are considered to have an effective natural armor bonus of +0).

Reply to your first reply, read my post "when they conflict". When a spell say it change the size of a creature and the creature statblock don't say that the creature can't be affected by effects that change its size there isn't any conflict.

Your second reply: yes, you get a natural armor bonus, that is of no benefit to a ghost as all its natural armor bonus is removed, as for the template and the incorporeal quality from the Universal monster rules:

PRD wrote:
An incorporeal creature has no natural armor bonus but has a deflection bonus equal to its Charisma bonus (always at least +1, even if the creature's Charisma score does not normally provide a bonus).


Looks like they tried to simplify the ghost stat blocks. Going off the template, they lose all offensive, defensive, and special abilities that rely on physical touch. Intent would seem to disallow a NA bonus, as that clearly relies on touch. Their skin literally becomes harder... that sentence makes no sense for an entity that lacks a physical body.


Diego Rossi wrote:

Reply to your first reply, read my post "when they conflict". When a spell say it change the size of a creature and the creature statblock don't say that the creature can't be affected by effects that change its size there isn't any conflict.

Your second reply: yes, you get a natural armor bonus, that is of no benefit to a ghost as all its natural armor bonus is removed, as for the template and the incorporeal quality from the Universal monster rules:

PRD wrote:
An incorporeal creature has no natural armor bonus but has a deflection bonus equal to its Charisma bonus (always at least +1, even if the creature's Charisma score does not normally provide a bonus).

1.) Aside from the stat block saying the creature size, and the spell saying that it's size changes, thus coming into conflict. Spells/abilities definitely have priority when it comes to Specific > General over creature sub-types.

Incorporeal also doesn't say that it can't be affected by effects that give it natural armor, just like how creatures don't say they can't be affected by things that change their size.

2.)

incorporeal wrote:
An incorporeal creature has no natural armor bonus

It removes the natural armor bonus of the base creature. Then Ironskin is applied and it specifically says

wrote:
if you do not have a natural armor bonus, you are considered to have an effective natural armor bonus of +0

By RAW you get the benefits of Ironskin.

Is this stupid? Yes
Would it be perfectly logical to house rule that it doesn't work? yes


Lots of 'base creatures' are incorporeal. More than are created by templates. Saying that line is intended only to strip such creatures of an armor type they never had is shaky ground.


toastedamphibian wrote:
Lots of 'base creatures' are incorporeal. More than are created by templates. Saying that line is intended only to strip such creatures of an armor type they never had is shaky ground.

Or that they intended the rules to be fairly *gasp* general so that a dm could add the subtype fairly easily and not guess what it changes.

Granted I don't think they ever considered the interaction between Ironskin and incorporeal when writing either one up.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Barkskin is more than sufficient to generate that problem.

For me it is clear that the incorporeal condition mean that your natural armor class is - (not 0, -, i.e. non existent) for incorporeal creatures.
Giving them a "hard" skin mean they get substance and aren't incorporeal anymore.
It is similar to giving them a ghost touch armor. It give them a better AC, but they are unable to move through walls as long as they wear it, as the armor has substance.

or, to make a even better example, casting on them Bear endurance. It do nothing as there is nothing to enhance.


They could wear the amulet of grasping souls and still be able to move through walls while getting armor to their AC, which is similar to giving them a hard skin while letting them move through walls.

Yes I agree that it shouldn't and it doesn't make sense, I still say by RAW it works.

Bear's Endurance is a different story as unlike Ironskin it doesn't have the proviso for if they have no constitution and thus does nothing.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
willuwontu wrote:

They could wear the amulet of grasping souls and still be able to move through walls while getting armor to their AC, which is similar to giving them a hard skin while letting them move through walls.

You have read the description of the amulet?

Quote:
Any item in its possession becomes incorporeal,

So the item become incorporeal. It is evident that the it can pass though wall, but it has no relevance in an example about a ghost touch item, as those instead remain solid.


Diego Rossi wrote:
willuwontu wrote:

They could wear the amulet of grasping souls and still be able to move through walls while getting armor to their AC, which is similar to giving them a hard skin while letting them move through walls.

You have read the description of the amulet?

Quote:
Any item in its possession becomes incorporeal,

So the item become incorporeal. It is evident that the it can pass though wall, but it has no relevance in an example about a ghost touch item, as those instead remain solid.

I meant for regular armor, but yes, ghost touch armor would cause them to interact with walls (wouldn't be work paying for it as an enchantment though if you have the amulet).

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I think that incorporeal creatures rarely pay for anything. Handling money become difficult when you are incorporeal. ;-)

Ghosts have an easier time as they can use telekinesis.


Generally ghosts have incorporeal ghost touch weapons and armor. Ghostly copies of the physical items. These pass through walls fine.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
toastedamphibian wrote:
Generally ghosts have incorporeal ghost touch weapons and armor. Ghostly copies of the physical items. These pass through walls fine.

Generally where? Not in the creature description.

They often have incorporeal copies of their equipment, but that equipment do nothing.

As ghost have - strength (none) they can't pick up items with weight, and can't deliver physical damage with a physical attack


toastedamphibian wrote:
Generally ghosts have incorporeal ghost touch weapons and armor. Ghostly copies of the physical items. These pass through walls fine.

My understanding is that ghost touch weapons and armor can't go through walls. They exist both physically and incorporeally, so both good and bad for ghosts to wield.

Though I keep thinking a fun encounter would be a ghost trained in disarm, after the GM gave the party a bunch of ghost touch weapons (or maybe some oil that temporarily makes the count as ghost touch)...Just takes the player weapons and uses them against them.


Diego Rossi wrote:
They often have incorporeal copies of their equipment, but that equipment do nothing.

My reading of it is that the copy of the equipment works just like the original (granted it is incoporeal, so only magical gear will have much use). A ghostly copy of a ring of fire resistance will work for a ghost just like the original copy, but if any creature finds (and takes possession of) the original (typically found with the ghost's remains) then it doesn't manifest with the ghost and it loses that equipment until it can somehow gain it back (typically by possessing a creature and carrying it back, since it can't move them itself).

As for ghost touch, they count as both corporeal and incorporeal and the assumption was that they function as whichever is beneficial to their wielder. An incorporeal creature's ghost touch gear would still travel through walls, but be corporeal when striking corporeal creatures. but I can't locate any wording for that just now (possibly it was from 3.5 FAQ).

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Paizo Ghosts equipment isn't "copied" into the ghost form. From what I recall it is something that they had in the past, but probably it was a 3, 3.5 thing (unless one of the book that expand the information on some monster has a chapter on ghosts).

The text about ghost touch seem to support your interpretation. It is a bit vague, but it is a valid interpretation. "Both" generally mean both thing at the same time, "At the wielder discretion it can be treated as corporeal or incorporeal." would have made that clearer.

PRD wrote:
Ghost Touch: A ghost touch weapon deals damage normally against incorporeal creatures, regardless of its bonus. An incorporeal creature's 50% reduction in damage from corporeal sources does not apply to attacks made against it 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 both corporeal or incorporeal.


Diego Rossi wrote:
Paizo Ghosts equipment isn't "copied" into the ghost form.
Ghost wrote:

When a ghost is created, it retains incorporeal “copies” of any items that it particularly valued in life (provided the originals are not in another creature’s possession). The equipment works normally for the ghost but passes harmlessly through material objects or creatures. A weapon of +1 or better magical enhancement, however, can harm material creatures, but any such attack deals only half as much damage (50%) unless it is a ghost touch weapon. A ghost can use shields or armor only if they have the ghost touch quality.

The original items remain behind, just as the ghost’s physical remains do. If another creature seizes the original, the incorporeal copy fades away. This loss invariably angers the ghost, who stops at nothing to return the item to its original resting place (and thus regain the item’s use).

This seems to indicate that they do retain 'copies' and that those copies possess the properties of the original items (ie. a +1 magical weapon can deal damage to corporeal creatures (though only half, showing a reciprocity between the corporeal/incorporeal interaction) while a ghost touch weapon can deal full damage from an incorporeal attack to a corporeal one, just like vice-versa.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Wow, I looked the description but I missed it. Sometimes we are blind to the most evident things. You are right.

If the ghost has a "copy" of a ghost touch weapon or armor, it work normally and it can still pass walls.

My earlier argument was meant to address the "ghost picking up a ghost touch weapon after it was created" problem. In that situation I still think that the picked up ghost touch weapon or armor will be solid and unable to move through walls.


Diego Rossi wrote:

Wow, I looked the description but I missed it. Sometimes we are blind to the most evident things. You are right.

If the ghost has a "copy" of a ghost touch weapon or armor, it work normally and it can still pass walls.

My earlier argument was meant to address the "ghost picking up a ghost touch weapon after it was created" problem. In that situation I still think that the picked up ghost touch weapon or armor will be solid and unable to move through walls.

Agreed. Corporeal ghost touch weapons cannot pass through walls, incorporeal ghost touch weapons can. Now, what happens if you disarm the ghost of his incorporeal ghost touch weapon while you are unarmed?


Diego Rossi wrote:
Wow, I looked the description but I missed it. Sometimes we are blind to the most evident things. You are right.

Typical searches of 'ghost' (on PFSRD) tend to lead to the example ghost (a 7th-level aristocrat). I think you need to make sure you're at the Creating a Ghost part or the Ghost Template (+2 CR) page.

toastedamphibian wrote:
Now, what happens if you disarm the ghost of his incorporeal ghost touch weapon while you are unarmed?

My initial thought would be that it would be wielded as a corporeal weapon, meaning that a corporeal creature can pick it up and use it, just like an incorporeal creature can pick up a 'normal' ghost touch weapon. The number of instances of reciprocity seem to hold to that ruling (a ghost with a non-magical weapon can't affect a corporeal creature just like a corporeal can't affect them, a ghost with a magical weapon does 50% damage to corporeal targets just as they would do to ghosts, etc.)

Having said that, you couldn't normally just grab and disarm it, you would need to use a ghost touch weapon or effect to hit the ghost's incorporeal weapon, since while it 'essentially counts as both corporeal and incorporeal' it would be incorporeal while wielded by the ghost, since that would be to the creature's benefit (Ghost touch mentions them being able to be picked up and moved, not necessarily snatched away from corporeal creatures while being held, so there might be some judgement calls).

Presumably, somehow getting a hold of the incorporeal copy would probably infuriate the ghost just as much as the real one, but how long it might remain in existence away from the ghost is debate-able. Possibly it only lasts an hour or a day (it's clearly the ghost that's generating the incorporeal copy, such things don't stick around otherwise if the ghost is destroyed. You have to go find the originals to get that treasure.) Possibly it only lasts as long as the ghost wants to keep it manifested and can just re-manifest it as they wish if its damaged or 'lost'. That's just my thoughts on the situation though.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I would say that a incorporeal "copy" in the possession of the ghost cold be wielded only by it, and will disappear after it has been separated for some time. The ghost would be able to recover it not only by picking it up (if a incorporeal weapon fall to ground) but even "recreating" it after some time.
Resolving the situation in any other way mean that there is a possibility to have 2 versions of the same item in existence and use at the came time, the actual copy and the original item.

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