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Consider the following scenarios.

1. Banished from a portable hole, portable hole is destroyed.

A portable hole is described as a ten foot deep, six foot diameter extradimensional space. Suppose I jump into my portable hole after spreading it out on the ground, and I am followed by an enemy. Once we are both inside my portable hole, I cast banishment:

If the target is native to a different plane of existence than the one you're on, the target is banished with a faint popping noise, returning to its home plane. If the spell ends before 1 minute has passed, the target reappears in the space it left or in the nearest unoccupied space if that space is occupied. Otherwise, the target doesn't return.

My enemy is banished to its home plane. Next, I climb out of my hole, get a safe distance away, and toss in my bag of holding:

Placing a bag of holding inside an extradimensional space created by a handy haversack, portable hole, or similar item instantly destroys both items and opens a gate to the Astral Plane.

The portable hole is destroyed, and finally I break my concentration on banishment before the full minute has passed.

2. Banished from a rope trick right before the spell ends.

Rope trick says:

an invisible entrance opens to an extradimensional space that lasts until the spell ends. [...] Anything inside the extradimensional space drops out when the spell ends.

So I cast rope trick while I'm being chased, and my pursuer pursues me into my little rope trick room, where I am patiently holding banishment. I banish my pursuer, climb out of my rope trick room, and and cast dispel magic on the rope:

Choose one creature, object, or magical effect within range. Any spell of 3rd level or lower on the target ends.

Again, no space to return to as I break my concentration on banishment before the one minute is up.


What happens to the banished creature when banishment ends? Banishment is very specific that the creature returns to the space it left from. Both the actual extradimensional space and the 5 foot square space the creature previously occupied is gone, as well as all nearest unoccupied spaces. What happens?

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It appears in the nearest unoccupied space

You claim that "all nearest unoccupied spaces" are gone, but that certainly must not be true, since at least some spaces still exist and they can only not be the nearest if there is a nearer space. The DM must determine what the nearest unoccupied space is, and the creature returns to that one. Probably that's the space that linked the extradimensional space to regular space, but it could really be anywhere-- the rules don't indicate any way to assess cross-planar distance beyond the Great Wheel / having Inner and Outer planes.

This is further supported by this tweet claiming without support that planes are, in fact, infinitely far apart (and thus that the concept of distance between cross planar spaces is valid). This was posted after they stopped having this twitter account count as official errata, but it still indicates that infinite cross-planar distance is consistent with the designers' intention, at least.


What space is the closest?

Very little guidance exists as to what space is closest when it's not on the same plane.

We know that certain planes are closer or further apart from each other. For example, the Material is closer to the Abyss than Celestia is. We can also compare certain distances-- the positive and negative energy planes are closer than Celestia and the Abyss because the former are Inner planes and the later Outer ones. We know that the Material and Shadow planes are particularly close. We know that the Ethereal is very close to all other planes.

We know a little bit of information about parts of planes being closer than other parts to other things. The first layer of the Abyss is closer to Gehenna than the second layer. The first of the Nine Hells is closer to Mechanus than the Ninth. There are parts of the material where the fabric of reality is thin, and sometimes these are described as being 'very close' to another plane, especially the Shadowfell, Feywild, or Ethereal.

With that said, there's no hard-and-fast rule regarding the calculation of the exact interplanar distance between two spaces on two different planes. It seems to me that since extradimensional spaces are always tied to normal space via some connection point that the plane the extradimensional space came off of would be the closest plane and the space it was attached at the closest space, but that's just based off of applying my understanding of the cosmology. You could absolutely make a RAW-compliant game where you ruled the nearest unoccupied space was instead a point on the linked plane, or a point on some other plane you could justify being closer.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This answer could be improved with an argument against this tweet from JC which states that different planes of existence are infinitely far away. \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Markov Jul 11 at 18:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov No, I absolutely am agreeing with that, it just doesn't matter. If there are no finitely close spaces then some infinitely far space is the nearest space if any spaces exist. \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Jul 11 at 19:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov I dont think it's ever required to respond to a tweet, especially now that they aren't official. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jul 11 at 19:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ If all spaces on all planes are equally close to the destroyed space, then the odds of the enemy re-appearing near the caster would be infinitesimal. Was that your intention? \$\endgroup\$ – The Photon Jul 11 at 19:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov ThePhoton is suggesting that if all spaces are infinitely far away than all spaces are equally likely to be the closest space. That's not true, both because just because two spaces are infinitely far away does not mean that both spaces are equally far away-- the Material is closer to the Abyss than Celestia is, for example-- and because there's no indication two spaces which are both equally nearest must have an equal probability of being selected. \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Jul 11 at 21:28

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