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My players recently fought a phase spider. During combat, one of the PCs jumped on the phase spider and grappled it. During the phase spider's subsequent turn, it used Ethereal Jaunt to shift to the Ethereal Plane:

As a bonus action, the spider can magically shift from the Material Plane to the Ethereal Plane, or vice versa.

During the PC's next turn, they killed the phase spider while still in the Ethereal Plane.

Since Ethereal Jaunt is defined as a discrete action with no automatic return to the other plane, is the PC is just trapped there indefinitely now?

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1 Answer 1

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Ethereal Jaunt can't take another creature

Technically you've already departed from RAW by allowing the PC to travel to the Ethereal Plane with the phase spider. The Ethereal Jaunt ability does not grant the ability to transport another creature along with the spider.


That said, it's a fun house rule, and now that you've made it, I would roll with the situation and make this a side quest to find a way to return this character to the Material Plane.

Getting back by magic

There are two spells that could potentially rescue someone from the Ethereal Plane. Both are 7th-level spells: Etherealness and Plane Shift. Unfortunately Etherealness despite the apt name is unhelpful here as it states:

This spell has no effect if you cast it while you are on the Ethereal Plane or a plane that doesn’t border it, such as one of the Outer Planes.

There are a couple of magic items (Oil of Etherealness and Plate Armor of Etherealness) that are also unhelpful as they mimic the spell and therefore have the same restriction.

That leaves Plane Shift as the only real viable solution. Fortunately, it can be cast on a group of creatures so either another member of the party or a helpful NPC can help if the PC doesn't have access to it (which is likely if they are fighting phase spiders).

Getting back as a quest

Instead of focusing on a fairly mundane mechanical solution, turn this interaction into an adventure. Come up with some interesting tasks or challenges the party needs to overcome to rescue this PC. Either have the party find a way to get to the Ethereal Plane or have the stranded PC explore the plane for a way to escape. Either way, have the players whose characters aren't present play as some temporary characters or NPCs so that they aren't left out while this is resolved.

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    \$\begingroup\$ "Etherealness ... is unhelpful here" -- I'd allow it to work for this case. After all, they departed RAW already :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Brian
    Commented May 22, 2023 at 13:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ @JackAidley The principle of "a thing only does what it says it does". (Those aren't the exact words but that's the gist of it and I can't find the quote.) \$\endgroup\$
    – biziclop
    Commented May 22, 2023 at 14:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ If they have a party member that can cast Etherealness , they can use the same house-rule they used to get stuck in the Ethereal plane to get out. Namely, they can have a party member cast Etherealness, then grab onto them in the Ethereal plane, and have them end the spell. Following the same logic as the house rule, this should bring the stuck player back to the material plane when the player that cast the spell returns. \$\endgroup\$
    – reffu
    Commented May 22, 2023 at 16:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ Although, I feel like, if this didn't turn out to be some odd side-case with the phase spider, this could turn into a go-to tactic with PCs grabbing an enemy, going ethereal, letting go, and going non-ethereal. Might be better to simply establish that this doesn't normally happen. Which might result in players still trying to create a spell that will do this, but it might require a higher skill level since you're not depending on a fluke. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 22, 2023 at 16:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ @biziclop you're probably looking for this Q&A: What is the source of the "spells do only what they say they do" rules interpretation principle? \$\endgroup\$
    – Matthieu
    Commented May 23, 2023 at 9:31

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