Thursday, July 2, 2009

Magical Weapons and Incorporeal Creatures

This is just a tiny post to describe a minor flaw and a simple fix. If you are like me, you may have wondered why an incorporeal being (the kind you need a magic weapon to hit) takes more damage from a magical sword than a club, does the cutting edge really help?

In this fix the damage dealt to incorporeal creatures is based solely on the magic bonus. Now I don't mean they deal the bonus as damage only, that works, but its boring. Rolling dice is fun in a tactile way.

Without going into the piecemeal die size chart, I'll just make this easier to use for other systems (it works identical in practice).

+0 = d3
+1 = d4
+2 = d6
+3 = d8
+4 = d10
+5 = d12

So swinging a +5 dagger at a ghost does a d12 damage, while a +1 great axe does a d4.

Why is this good?

1.) Its somewhat more intuitive
2.) It adds more options to the use of magical items in combat.
3.) It allows for simple magic items that are meant to fight ghosts...+5 prayer beads from a mountain monastery dwelling guru for instance... no use against an orc, but goodbye ghost.

Edit: As a note because I wasn't explicit, when I mention the weapon does a die worth of damage, I mean unmodified, especially for things like strength. Hitting the ghost harder doesn't harm it more.


  1. While I like the rule (actually really like the rule), I don't get how different damages for incorporeal creatures than for regular creatures is "more intuitive". It ends up being a new subsystem that the DM or players has to remember to invoke - which is significantly less intuitive than just rolling damage as normal.

  2. Good point from dyson, why not just flatten the maximum damage inflicted at 3+ the magical plus?


    +0 = roll damage dice as normal, but only 3 maximum damage can be inflicted.
    +1 = 4 max damage
    +2 = 5 max damage

  3. I find it intuitive in the, "why is a club better than a sword?"

    Ie, 'reality intuitive', if someone didn't know the mechanics, or the ghost wasn't part of a game system at all lets say, you would expect stronger magic to more potent against a ghost, not a bigger sword.

    In terms of mechanically intuitive you are correct. It is just something new to remember.

    But again, it depends on what level of rules you are happy with, If you use standard damage rules (all weapons do 1d6 damage) the concept of different weapons doing different amounts of damage would be too much.

    As for flattening damage.

    Waaay back in the waaay back machine of the early 90s I remember encountering some official monster (can't even remember what now) where when you hit it, you only did the damage from your magical plus. Now to a degree this made sense, but rolling dice is fun. The wide range of possibilities is fun, flattening it out reduces the tension when the roll can be 1 or it can be 12. That said if thats not type of gameplay you enjoy the rule is easy to ignore or alter.

    I should note as its not explicit, things like strength modifiers don't apply to damage either (hitting a ghost harder doesn't help)