I'm trying my hand at DMing and I've come across a silly question that I can't really find an answer to.

For a side quest encounter I want to put a ghoul trapped in a well by a spell barrier, but I heard that the plane we are on matters. Can a ghoul be on the material plane that we all start on?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Where did you hear this? Do you have the MM, the DMG, and the PHB? Welcome to RPG.SE. Please have a look at the tour and the help center to see how our site works and how to get the most out of it. Thanks for coming by and for your question. There is plenty of good "new DM" advice to be found here. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jan 18 '17 at 19:25

Yes, absolutely.

The Material Plane is the default plane of existence, and the one in which the vast majority of D&D games spend most of their time on. It is essentially the "real world" within the context of the fictional world - by comparison, other planes are like alternate dimensions.

Planes other than the Material Plane are largely optional to creating a D&D campaign, and at the very least, you certainly don't have to worry about them right away. The average NPC resident of the material plane knows little to nothing of these other planes, and spends their entire existence living only in the realm they know and exist on.

Most sword and sorcery stories and movies take place almost entirely on the Material Plane. With that in mind, most things from them are things that can happen there. Things that are not the Material Plane might include spirit worlds (like in Avatar: The Last Airbender), realms of shadow (like in Lord of the Rings), or an afterlife.

Ghouls and physical undead absolutely exist on the Material Plane - they are as physical and real as anything else on Earth.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you, I been having trouble understanding what monsters have to live on the other planes for the story to seem more real, that helped a lot! \$\endgroup\$ – Joshua Pmw'Kutch Falone Jan 18 '17 at 19:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @JoshuaPmw'KutchFalone If this solved your problem, you can accept the answer. If you think there might be another good answer, you can wait a day or two to see what crops up. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jan 18 '17 at 19:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ alright, i will take you're advice. @KorvinStarmast \$\endgroup\$ – Joshua Pmw'Kutch Falone Jan 18 '17 at 19:28
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ @JoshuaPmw'KutchFalone A fair number of creatures are "native" to planes besides the material plane - elementals, demons, devils, angelic beings, and all fey, depending on your setting - but there are plenty of ways for them to end up on the material plane, to the point that it's typically not even mentioned in play. \$\endgroup\$ – Tin Man Jan 18 '17 at 21:06

Ghouls are fully material.

The Monster Manual entry for the ghoul does not make any mention of other planes, so they are on the material plane by default. In contrast, the entry for the ghost specifies that

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.

Generally, without a passage like this in the MM, we can assume that the monster is fully material.

As a DM, you have the power to change this.

DMs have the final say on everything in the game; after all, this is your unique world that you're creating, and you're not bound by any canon (unless you want to be). For example, you can decide that ghosts only exist on the material plane. Alternatively, you can say that a particular ghoul comes from another plane and is intangible on the material plane.

Of course, you'll have to communicate such changes to your players somehow (via knowledge checks or by having them interact with the creature), and you might have to rebalance the creature if there's going to be a fight.

I personally do this quite frequently, mashing together monsters or changing key parts of their powers, if only because I know that some players are familiar with the monster manual and I want to shake things up a bit.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.