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Should/could a creature tell the difference between an enemy gone invisible and an enemy that switched to the ethereal plane? For example when someone uses blink, would an enemy NPC continue attacking the spot where he was, assuming he is invisible?

I'm not sure if there is a RAW answer for this, so I would also appreciate answers based on experience.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ rocks fall (or a Fireball goes off). 1. everybody dies. 2. everybody is on another plane and is unaffected. That's obviously the major difference. \$\endgroup\$ – Peter Cordes Oct 7 at 7:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PeterCordes I don't doubt that there is a difference, I'm just wondering if you would notice it in the heat of battle. \$\endgroup\$ – findusl Oct 7 at 8:40
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1. Invisible is not hidden

While being invisible does make you able to attempt to hide anywhere, it does not make you automatically undetected. You still make sound for example. (See the sidebar on hiding on page 177 of the PHB.) Thus it is usually clear whether a character disappeared to another plane or not. Circumstances might affect this, so the DM might rule otherwise.

2. Recognize the spell

You can attempt to identify the spell as it is being cast. You use your reaction and make an Int(Arcana) check. You can find the rules on page 85 of XGtE.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Another possible way to tell spells apart is by the components. Some spells will have VSM and other will only have a subset of those \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Oct 6 at 22:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Medix2 I always believed this was already included in the arcana check. Would make interesting new question, I guess. \$\endgroup\$ – Mołot Oct 6 at 23:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ I always thought that was part of the arcane check too, a layman won't know the components of plane shift Vs invisibility. \$\endgroup\$ – SeriousBri Oct 7 at 6:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ @findusl They are already paying attention to that person, as either that person wants to kill them, they want to kill him, or both. 5e practically assumes you are hyper-aware during combat (and mechanics are written with that in mind). But, as I said, if the circumstances warrant it, the DM can overrule this (due to large distances, noisy environment, etc.). \$\endgroup\$ – Szega Oct 7 at 8:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Mołot I just find it near-indisputable that you can tell if somebody is moving their hand around, or moving their lips, or pulling items out of a pouch that asking it seems... out of place. So I'm asking for you to clarify that; that you believe those things are not intuitively noticed, and thus me asking the question is valid \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Oct 7 at 15:26

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