With the Blink Spell in D&D 3.5, you constantly shift in at out of the Ethereal plane in a seemingly random fashion. You spend half the time of the duration in the ethereal plane, thus giving enemies that try to hit you a 50% miss chance since you have a 50% chance that you are ethereal the moment they hit you. Now, I wonder, when the effect of the spell ends, do you automatically return to the material plane? Can you choose in what plane you end up? Or is there a 50/50 chance of what plane you end up with?

The effect of the spell usually lasts one round per level, unless cancelled sooner. But a Blink Dog can activate and cancel this effect on itself as a free action, at will. Would that mean that a blink dog could travel to the Ethereal plane, since they can cancel the spell at the perfect time?


2 Answers 2


The assumption with the spell and related effects is that staying on the ethereal plane takes magical power, and is not a default state for creatures not native to the plane and which have not physically traveled there via Plane Shift or similar effect. So blinking into the ethereal plane is a temporary enabled spell effect, powered by active magic, and you do not remain on the ethereal plane when the spell ends, regardless of how it ends.

Compare with the spell Ethereal Jaunt, a much higher level spell. With this spell, it is clear that the character returns to the material plane when the spell ends.

In terms of game balance, there would be serious problems if PCs had a lot of access to the ethereal plane. From there you can view the material plane, but are invisible and can move through physical barriers. Far too many low-level scenarios would be spoilt by PCs having even partially-reliable access to the plane.

As a DM, you could of course intervene, due to specific circumstances ("The rift between worlds is weak within these standing stones"), if it seems like fun. But you would be wise to keep those circumstances under plot control, and not grant all the significant benefits of being ethereal on demand:

An ethereal creature is invisible, insubstantial, and capable of moving in any direction, even up or down, albeit at half normal speed. As an insubstantial creature, you can move through solid objects, including living creatures. An ethereal creature can see and hear on the Material Plane, but everything looks gray and ephemeral.

Blink Dogs cannot become fully ethereal. If they could, the monster description would say so (because it is a very significant power). However, they can interact with ethereal creatures, and so can the user of a Blink spell. In some situations, this can be a useful side effect of the spell.

Note that Plane Shift is balanced by lack of precision, and also should the DM wish, by only having certain destinations allowed by restricting which spell foci are available.

  • \$\begingroup\$ What if you rolled a critical failure on the blink spell. Being stuck could be the side effect of the crit fail. \$\endgroup\$
    – Escoce
    Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 14:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Escoce Are you interested in posing a separate question, with a link related to this one? It seems you have grounds for one, which is the matter of how the mechanics of critical failures and spells like this interact. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 16:03

The normal spell always ends with the caster in the same plane of existence the spell was cast in. Even if dismissed. But if you use a 4th level sor/wiz spell, there is a way:

Yes, but it is tricky.

You need to zap yourself with (or have someone else do it) a dimensional anchor at the very moment you are ethereal. Voluntarily fail your save.

You have a 50% chance of casting the anchor either in the Prime or the Ethereal. A ready action with the trigger "cast when ethereal" won't work, because you blink in and out several times per action.

If you can get a caster able to use [dimension lock] (8th level) in the ethereal, then the chance it works is 100%:

Force effects and abjurations affect you normally. Their effects extend onto the Ethereal Plane from the Material Plane, but not vice versa.

Dimensional lock is an abjuration spell. If cast in the ethereal, it does not extend into the Prime. So a blinking wizard in the area of an ethereal lock would blink into the ethereal, but not back.

The dimensional lock/anchor will stop the blink spell from taking you back to the prime while inside the lock's emanation.

Then, after the blink spell has worn off, you will be stuck in the ethereal.

  • \$\begingroup\$ What if you make a contingency effect, and set the contingency as "Goes off as soon as you are ethereal"? You're not using an action when the spell is cast. I think that'd work. \$\endgroup\$
    – Arthaban
    Commented Oct 8, 2017 at 15:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Arthaban the character is blinking in and out dozens of times each action (this is why each attack has s 50% miss chance). There is no way to time an effect to work on either side. It is always 50/50%. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 9, 2017 at 2:22

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