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After entering the ethereal plane through some means, is it possible to leave objects you brought with you behind, or do they always come back with you?

Does the answer depend on the means you used to enter the ethereal plane, or on the specific object you're trying to leave behind?

Note: You only need to consider content published in official material when answering this question, but if the official material is completely silent on this matter interpretations are also fine.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, but expect to be fined for littering; they’re very tidy folk there in the Astral Plane. :) \$\endgroup\$ – Paul Jan 16 at 12:36
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It depends on how you travel to the Ethereal Plane.

Nothing about the Ethereal Plane's description indicates that objects are forced to leave, but how you get there matters.

As I see it, two categories of planar travel are relevant to answer your question.

Permanent travel

This includes Portals, spells like Plane Shift, and traits like a Phase Spider's Ethereal Jaunt.

In all these cases, magic brings you to the Ethereal Plane and then no longer affects you. Someone with Detect Magic in the Ethereal Plane cannot sense any ongoing magic on you related to the planar travel, because there is none.

In these cases, you and anything you place in the Ethereal Plane are there permanently and can't leave unless another magical effect lets you.

Temporary Travel

This includes spells such as Blink and Etherealness.

In these cases, magic brings you to the Ethereal Plane, and keeps you there for a duration. Someone with Detect Magic in the Ethereal Plane can sense the ongoing magic that keeps you in the plane.

When the magic ends, you and everything you brought with you return to whatever plane you were in before entering the Ethereal Plane.

In particular, both Blink and Etherealness have a range of self. The objects you carry are not the target of the spell, they just travel with you because you are carrying them. Both these spells cannot target independent objects, so if you are no longer carrying an object then it is no longer affected by these spells and it will return to whatever plane it was in before entering the Ethereal Plane.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I see a third case where the object would still be under the effect and may or may not be treated separately. Like if you blink and drop your sword in the ethereal, maybe it blinks separately for the duration using a separate d20 roll. This is probably even more important if someone decides to drop something important such as the MacGuffin. \$\endgroup\$ – Nick Brown Jun 16 '18 at 23:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NickBrown I don't think that case is possible with blink or etherealness, because these spells do not target objects dirrectly, and I've edited my answer to address that. \$\endgroup\$ – Ruse Jun 17 '18 at 2:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ Is there an ongoing planar travel effect that is not a spell? I cannot find one, but if you know of one please mention it. I would like to include it in my answer, because I think that blink and etherealness are too narrow in scope to fully answer the question. \$\endgroup\$ – Ruse Jun 17 '18 at 2:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ The spell doesn't target worn/wielded objects but they are clearly affected by the spell or else you would blink right out of your clothing. Once affected, and with no RAW to dispute it, I am with the idea that the discarded items might still be blinking (up to DM which of the 3+ scenarios to use). \$\endgroup\$ – Nick Brown Jun 17 '18 at 14:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NickBrown My understanding is that the carried objects are considered part of the target, but they are not valid targets on their own for self spells. And when something is no longer a valid target, spells just stop affecting it. Maybe this needs it's own question. I can't really go in depth in the comments and it's not the most relevant point for this question, because eventually the spell ends on the object (be it when the spell end or, as I believe, when the object leaves your person) and what happens to the object when the effect ends is the major concern. \$\endgroup\$ – Ruse Jun 17 '18 at 17:46

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