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Our hapless 3rd-level party picked up a Night Hag and a Green Hag while we were trekking through the jungle in our last play session. They had disguised their forms to travel with us and before we realized what they were, two of our characters had been Nightmare Haunted and are currently down max hp. Once we realized what they really were we 'drove them off', but we suspect they may be following us ethereally and may try another Haunting on our next sleep.

The party wizard has access to Alarm (but not Tiny Hut). I agree, and suspect our DM would agree as well, that Alarm will not be triggered by the Night Hag approaching us while ethereal.

However, to use her Nightmare Haunting,

[w]hile on the Ethereal Plane, the hag magically touches a sleeping humanoid on the Material Plane.

If she is actually touching our party member on the Material plane, it seems like that might trigger the Alarm, which can react:

whenever a Tiny or larger creature touches or enters the warded area.

Would the Hag remaining ethereal but touching a creature on the Material count as touching the warded area and thus trigger the Alarm? That is, does touching a creature in the area count as touching the area?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I think this has been asked before, so I’ve closed it as a duplicate. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 10, 2023 at 23:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov Not a duplicate. I liked to the purported dupe in my question and explained why they are different. That question asks whether alarm would be triggered by an ethereal creature - I agree it would not. My question asks whether an ethereal hag would trigger alarm specifically through using her nightmare haunting from the ethereal, which is not covered in the linked question. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Mar 11, 2023 at 0:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ One of the better questions I've seen in a while. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 11, 2023 at 2:00

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Alarm spell is ineffective against a Night Hag staying in the Ethereal Plane.

The Alarm spell affects the area in the Material plane, where your group is. It activates

whenever a Tiny or larger creature touches or enters the warded area.

The hag is not entering the warded area, as she's in the Ethereal plane per the quoted Q&A, and she's not touching the area, she's magically touching a creature by staying in the Ethereal plane: this contact is made by magical means and nowhere it is said that the hag enters the Prime Material.

To nitpick, the hag is not simply touching the sleeping target, she's straddling them, per the description:

While a humanoid sleeps, a night hag can straddle the person ethereally and intrude upon its dreams.

If a monster ability allows them to shift to the Ethereal Plane and there are some particular interactions with creatures, objects and the environment on the Material Plane, the description would say so. For example, the Ghost's Etherealness provides specific rules: when the Ghost is on the Ethereal Plane it can be seen by creatures on the Material plane, and vice versa.

Etherealness. 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.

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No, it won't

In Hag's description it's said

While on the Ethereal Plane, the hag magically touches a sleeping humanoid on the Material Plane.

It's not an actual, physical touch. It's not like a portal opens and hag's arm appears from it to grab a character. It's a magical effect that goes from Ethereal to Material Plane - and magical effects are not registered by Alarm (so if you are Arcane Trickster with invisible Mage Hand - you can tickle your teammates as much as you want, event through Alarm).

Otherwise - if it would have been a physical touch - Hag would have lost Etherealnes as a part of her would be physically present on Material Plane and thus it would be possible to spot it and attack it.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ don't you mean EVEN through alarm \$\endgroup\$ Mar 26, 2023 at 21:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ and ETHEREALNESS? \$\endgroup\$ Mar 26, 2023 at 21:02
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Yes, it does count

whenever a Tiny or larger creature touches or enters the warded area.

Says it all, really. Buggered if I know what you can do about it though.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Well, what we can do will largely depend on the DM's interpretation. ATM, we are hoping that when the alarm sounds, the cleric is woken up and casts protection from evil on our best guess of who is being haunted - and hope that the DM rules that this breaks the contact. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Mar 12, 2023 at 0:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Kirt - while I think that Alarm won't register Hag's touch - it's clear that description of ability says that Hag should maintain contact. Which - IMHO - means that Hag should be touching position, where character is in Ethereal plane. At the same time - rules of Long Rest say that during it you should sleep for at least 6 hours and do less than 2 hours of light activity or 1 hour of sternous activity. Which means that you can sleep for 55 minutes and then go for a 5 minute jog, randomly changing directions dashing left and right - I have some doubts that Hag would be able to keep contact. \$\endgroup\$
    – Sarge
    Mar 12, 2023 at 3:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Sarge You might wish to review the strategies evaluated here. It seems like DM adjudication is required for many. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Mar 12, 2023 at 17:29

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