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The description of the Etheral plane in the DMG opens:

The Ethereal Plane is a misty, fog-bound dimension. Its "shores," called the Border Ethereal, overlap the Material Plane and the Inner Planes, so that every location on those planes has a corresponding location on the Ethereal Plane.

In a discussion of the question Does Truesight allow you to see through or behind solid objects?, the notion was raised that

"location" could be also an house, a building (...): then walls and doors have the respective counterparts in the BE. (...) Moreover, if objects in the Prime Material are made by material coming from the terrain (ore, wood, stone, gold..) why the objects should not have their counterpart in the Bordered Ethereal?

That is, every object or structure in the prime material plane would have a counterpart in the Ethereal plane. Is that the case?

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    \$\begingroup\$ This question on Material plane difficult terrain on border ethereal seems pretty close to this question, but this one seems to be a better target. Is it a dupe? Should we dupe the other to this one or vice versa if it is? \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Aug 24, 2023 at 13:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ The more I think about this, the more I think it’s a dupe. Im closing, but very open to hearing why it should be reopened. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Aug 24, 2023 at 17:56

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There are no reflections of normal terrain or objects in the Border Ethereal

Executive Summary: the Border Ethereal is unusual in that you can see objects that are on the overlapped plane from there, but these are only on the overlapped plane.

Objects that are on the Etheral plane are physical there. For one, because by default an object on any plane behaves normally there, and nothing in the rules states they do not on the Border Ethereal. There are no hidden rules.

Moreover, if they were not physical, and creatures could pass through them unhindered, or they through creatures, your equipment would just pass through you. You could not pick it up. If you encountered a creature like a Phase Spider or Ghost there, none of your weapons would work.

The Etherealness spell says:

You step into the border regions of the Ethereal Plane, in the area where it overlaps with your current plane (...)
You ignore all objects and effects that aren't on the Ethereal Plane, allowing you to move through objects you perceive on the plane you originated from.

You can do so, because you are on the Etheral Plane, and they are not, nor any counterpart of them. You only ignore objects that are not on the plane. If objects or walls on the material plane had counterparts on the Ethereal, you could not ignore them, you could not move through them, and the spell would not work.

This matches the DMG:

A traveler on the Ethereal Plane is invisible and utterly silent to someone on the overlapped plane, and solid objects on the overlapped plane don't hamper the movement of a creature in the Border Ethereal. The exceptions are certain magical effects (including anything made of magical force) and living beings. This makes the Ethereal Plane ideal for reconnaissance, spying on opponents, and moving around without being detected.

Only objects on the overlapped plane don't hamper you.

But wait, what are the characters standing on then, if they enter from the second story of a building?

Nothing. The description of the Ethereal plane also says on p. 48 DMG:

The Ethereal Plane also disobeys the laws of gravity; a creature there can move up and down as easily as walking.

You don't need anything to stand on on the Ethereal. You are just moving around into any direction you want, or stay where you are in a misty fogscape.

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