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What happens if you cast plane shift and then attempt to shift to the plane that you're on? I can think of a few reasons this might happen in-game:

  1. For some reason, the PCs don't know what plane they're on, so they try to plane shift to their current plane.

  2. PCs who don't have teleport memorized find themselves in over their heads, and want to use plane shift to escape from their current location (but don't actually want to go to another plane).

I can think of a few possible results:

  1. The spell functions as normal. The targets immediately move elsewhere on the same plane, arriving 5 to 500 miles from their intended destination.

  2. The spell fails without explanation, so PCs in situation #1 still don't find out what plane they're on.

  3. The spell fails, but it is somehow obvious why. PCs in situation #1 find out that they're already on the plane they were trying to go to.

Are there any possibilities I'm missing? Has this issue been addressed explicitly in any edition of D&D or Pathfinder? What actually happens in Pathfinder?

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You cannot shift to the plane that you are on.

If you look at the spell description, it's pretty clear about this:

You move yourself or some other creature to another plane of existence or alternate dimension.

Emphasis mine. The exact same text exists in both 3.5 and Pathfinder. In order to use plane shift, you have to be transporting yourself to a different plane.

This basically works like result 2; if you're on Arcadia, and you try to plane shift to Arcadia, it doesn't work. The most likely reason is that you are trying to shift to a plane you're already on, but you might instead be failing for some other reason: a restriction on planar travel from your current location, some kind of protection on the location you're trying to shift to, or something else.

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The description of the question could lend itself to the spell functioning as intended with the 5 - 500 miles from the intended target. However if the adventure played assumes for story purposes that the adventures have no idea where they are, then lean toward "the spell doesn't function as normal for some unknown reason" while the rest of the spells work fine, each time allowing the PCs appropriate checks to determine which plane they are on. It would not break the game and would lend itself to some nice role play.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ If I recall, there is an episode of Stargate SG1 involving this exact premise; the characters cannot return to Earth because the gate keeps failing to activate and they don't know why. Eventually they realise they were on Earth all along. \$\endgroup\$ – Taxi4Dave Mar 7 at 18:10

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