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This is an extension to this question on invisibility and the Ethereal Plane.

As the question states: While I'm in the Border Ethereal, can I use See Invisibility, True Sight, etc., to see creatures that are invisible and also on the Material Plane?

I think I would be able to, but I want to make sure I don't overlook something.

Although I didn't realize this until @Medix2 answered, my deeper question when I asked this was, "Can See Invisibility, etc., extend onto other Planes that I can see?"

Other variations (lest I be anything but ridiculously thorough):

  • I'm on the Material Plane and have not cast See Invisibility: I can see

    1. not-invisible creatures that are on the Material Plane.
  • I'm on the (Border) Ethereal Plane and have not cast See Invisibility: I can see

    1. not-invisible creatures that are on the Material Plane and
    2. not-invisible creatures that are on the Ethereal Plane.
  • I'm on the Material Plane and have cast See Invisibility: I can see

    1. not-invisible creatures that are on the Material Plane,
    2. invisible creatures that are on the Material Plane,
    3. not-invisible creatures that are on the Ethereal Plane, and
    4. ??? creatures that are both invisible and on the Ethereal Plane.
  • I'm on the (Border) Ethereal Plane and have cast See Invisibility: I can see

    1. not-invisible creatures that are on the Material Plane,
    2. ??? invisible creatures that are on the Material Plane,
    3. not-invisible creatures that are on the Ethereal Plane, and
    4. creatures that are both invisible and on the Ethereal Plane.

I am also assuming these hold for True Sight and any other means of seeing both invisibility and into the Ethereal Plane.

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There is no restriction saying invisible creatures/objects must be on your current Plane of Existence for you to see them

We know from the DMG (page 48) that:

From the Border Ethereal, a traveler can see into whatever plane it overlaps, but that plane appears muted and indistinct, its colors blurring into each other and its edges turning fuzzy.

This means that if where you are in the Border Ethereal overlaps with the Material Plane then you can see into the Material Plane though it will be blurred and fuzzy.

We also know that the see invisibility spell states:

For the duration, you see invisible creatures and objects as if they were visible, and you can see into the Ethereal Plane.

This spell is not needed to help us see out of the Ethereal Plane as we can already do so, instead it grants us the ability to see invisible creatures and objects. Notably there is no exception stating that the creatures/objects have to be on your current Plane of Existence, and so it works for any creatures that are invisible so long as you can see their location.
Following the same logic, using see invisibility while on the Material Plane would allow you to see invisible creatures that are on the Ethereal Plane.

In terms of the total possible outcomes we can then use the following rules:

  1. Unless specifically stated otherwise such as by a spell, you cannot see invisible creatures or objects.
  2. If you can see invisible creatures/objects and can see into a Plane of Existence, you can see invisible creatures/objects on that Plane of Existence.
  3. If you are on the Material Plane you cannot see into the (Border) Ethereal Plane without magical aid; This is shown in the DMG which states:

    Conversely, the Ethereal Plane is usually invisible to those on the overlapped planes, except with the aid of magic.

  4. If you are on the Border Ethereal Plane you can see both the Ethereal Plane and the Material Plane (as explained above).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 for recognizing and answering the deeper question underlying what I asked about See Invisibility: "Notably there is no exception stating that the creatures/objects have to be on your current Plane of Existence." I didn't realize that was my question. :) \$\endgroup\$ – Joeorbob Aug 20 at 22:03

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