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The possession ability of a ghost (DnD 5e) states that it can possess one humaniod it can see within 5ft.

I interpreted that a ghost could use its possession ability from the etherial plane itself, since the ghost is visible on the material when in the etherial plane and as such can see the creature. Like this it is possible for the ghost to come up to a humanoid without being able to be hit and possess the creature unhindered.

If the ghost gets shunted out I rule that it ends up in the material plane as the ghost has to enter the body of the creature (who is in the material) while possessing.

However, one of my players mentioned that it is an action for a ghost to change from the material to the etherial and vice versa. He then argued that the ghost should enter the material plane first as an action first before having to spend another action on the next turn to attempt to possess a humanoid.

I can't really find anything specific that tells that one or the other is true. Obviously the former method is more powerful and while I don't want to be unfair to my players, I think it is also a whole lot more interesting.

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The ghost can't possess someone on the material plane while on the ethereal plane

The ghost's Etherealness ability reads (emphasis mine):

The ghost enters the Ethereal Plane from the Material Plane, or vice versa. It is visible on the Material Plane while it is in the Border Ethereal, and vice versa, yet it can't affect or be affected by anything on the other plane.

This is very clear: while on a different plane, the ghost can't affect a creature on the material plane and therefore possession is impossible.

This means that your player is right in that the ghost would first need to spend an action to return to the Material Plane and unless it somehow can use another action on the same turn it will have to wait for its next turn to attempt to possess someone.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I definitely understand where you're coming from. However many rules can forbid something while something specific may allow it again. If we follow that train of thought it could then depend on whether the etherealness ability or the possess ability is seen as more specific. Then again, both are in the statblock, which is pretty specific, so you're probably right. \$\endgroup\$ – EdGaming Oct 12 at 12:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ I can see your point but the wording makes it so strict by saying it can't be affected by anything that I would expect an exception to it would have to be something like "a humanoid that the ghost can see, even if it is on another plane, etc..". Otherwise I read the "that it can see" more as a limitation (can't target invisible creatures) rather than a benefit. If you compare this to the fact that for example some spells state "Choose a humanoid that you can see within range" but that's not enough to overcome the general line of effect rule. \$\endgroup\$ – Sdjz Oct 12 at 15:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ That makes sense. Thanks \$\endgroup\$ – EdGaming Oct 12 at 15:34

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