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A Nightmare has the ability: Ethereal Stride:

The nightmare and up to three willing creatures within 5 feet of it magically enter the Ethereal Plane from the Material Plane, or vice versa.

The party's wizard claims he should be able to use counterspell to stop it since it is magical.

Can counterspell stop a Nightmare's Ethereal Stride ability?

If it can stop it, at what level should it be considered to have been cast?

And as a bonus question, would the same answer apply to a night hag's Etherealness action which requires a heartstone to use (and therefor in my mind is closer to being a spell)?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm asking for an interpretation of the rules as to how counterspell applies (or does not apply) to the Nightmare's and Night Hag's ability to shift to the ethereal plane. If the rules say it applies, then I as the GM should allow it. If the rules say it does not apply, then I should not allow it. What should I do? \$\endgroup\$ – The Lost Kitten Aug 7 at 2:18
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Unfortunately, no

Counterspell says:

You attempt to interrupt a creature in the process of casting a spell.

The problem is that Nightmare's Ethereal Stride, while magical, is not a spell:

Ethereal Stride. The nightmare and up to three willing creatures within 5 feet of it magically enter the Ethereal Plane from the Material Plane, or vice versa.

Therefore, counterspell will not work. Instead, you would need to use Antimagic Field, which works in a wider range of magical effects, not just spells, or Forcecage which prevents the use of magical abilities like Ethereal Stride, provided the affected creature fails the requisite saving throw.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Dispel magic only ends magical effects if they are part of an ongoing spell. You'd need antimagic field to stop the Nightmare from entering the Ethereal Plane. Forcecage could also work. \$\endgroup\$ – Red Orca Aug 7 at 2:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also, even if the Nightmare manages to pop into the Ethereal Plane, their travel will be blocked by the Forcecage since it extends in that plane \$\endgroup\$ – Pierre Cathé Aug 7 at 8:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks. Can I infer that the same answer applies to the hag's Etherealness action? \$\endgroup\$ – The Lost Kitten Aug 7 at 15:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ @lost that's correct for a hag's Etherealness ability but be aware that they also have Plane Shift, which is a spell, and therefore is counterable. \$\endgroup\$ – Rykara Aug 7 at 15:32

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