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I'm curious how one might go arranging for an item or object to become permanently lost, and completely inaccessible to everyone (I would prefer a method that's reasonably secure against even divine intervention, but certainly understand if that's asking too much). This would include the person who stores the item in this fashion, as well as anyone who not only knew the exact method employed, but perhaps even watched it happen. Note: I want the item to remain completely intact, wherever it ends up.

Here are a few ideas I had, but they suffer from some problems that make them less suitable than would be desirable.

  1. Put the item in a Secret Chest and then destroy the miniature. It sounds like it would, however, be possible to mount an expedition to the ethereal plane to retrieve the item. Is there something you could do to a secret chest to make it impossible to retrieve, or perhaps open or remove from, the ethereal plane? Or is this a dead end?
  2. Create a demiplane, put the item there, and then give it the dead magic trait, after which you kill yourself. This sounds like a fairly good idea, but do you need to cast permanency after the dead magic trait is added for it to remain past the casting time? It seems like the answer must be no, but some clarification would be nice. If there's no portal and the plane has dead magic, there's nobody who can get there, correct? (By the way: what happens when you die in an area of dead magic?) Alternately, could you add a portal, place the item on the dead-magic plane, exit the plane, and then somehow destroy the portal?

If what I'm asking for sounds too far-fetched, I'd be willing to settle for the following: only abjectly evil beings, including undead, could realistically hope to acquire the item. I mean this in the sense that the alignment must already be evil, not in the sense that doing this would cause your alignment to immediately become evil.

It seems like there must be some interesting trick that could be pulled off, like a magical catch-22, to make an item irretrievable. I'm just not having an easy time coming up with one.

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behind an impossible lock? –  Eric B Jan 22 at 17:54
@EricB An interesting suggestion... however, I'm not even sure this is enough. Even with the impossible lock, you'd still need a container that couldn't be forced open. If such a container existed, it seems reasonable that you could just permanently seal the container so that it could never open... why put the lock on it at all? –  Patrick87 Jan 22 at 18:17
That's the kind of thinking that says an "impossible lock" could just be drilled, that is to say there are diminishing returns on improving locks which mean there's no point making one better than "very good". This must be wrong, or else the impossible lock wouldn't exist, and yet the impossible lock is "said to exist somewhere in the planes", which is about as conclusive as can be. So what about six impossible locks arranged in a cube, does that rule out force? ;-) Of course it doesn't rule out just sacrificing a perfect key to get in. –  Steve Jessop Jan 22 at 20:28
It's clearly implied that the only way to open an impossible lock is with the perfect key. What's the point of such an artifact otherwise? –  Eric B Jan 22 at 20:40
@EricB Granted, but unless I'm simply misunderstanding how the impossible lock works, it seems like it'd be easier to just break open whatever the lock is locking. I mean, if I want to break into a house, I can pick the lock, or drive a truck through the living room window. An impossible lock would undoubtedly prevent the former, but preventing the latter would make the impossible lock a fairly powerful item indeed. –  Patrick87 Jan 22 at 21:01

4 Answers 4

up vote 5 down vote accepted

D&D, and by extension Pathfinder, is designed around characters who go places other creatures don't want them to (dungeons) and haul valuable items (treasure) back out. Inaccessible locales, hostile planes, powerful protective spells, dangerous monsters - all are designed to be challenging but surmountable obstacles. The game is specifically designed for this; It is hard to the point of impossible to build a truly impregnable vault/trap/fortress because that would spoil at least some of the fun.

As for foiling the gods... Well, you're unlikely to succeed. There aren't actually any rules that define what a god can do, because the assumption is that they're so much more powerful than player characters that it doesn't matter. Now, there's presumably some reason why this or that god doesn't simply remake the entire multiverse into his or her ideal - certain settings have suggested some kind of delicate balance of power or mutual "we'll kill you if you move first" agreement that all gods feel bound by, or that there's some cost involved in divine intervention that makes acting through mortal agents the best option, or even that all gods generally like the world the way it is and prefer subtle influence when it comes to making changes because there's less risk of messing everything up that way; The important thing is that what a god is capable of is limited only by what the GM decides the god does at any given moment. Unless the GM decides that the gods do have limits - and if you're the GM in this case, be careful not to make them too easy for PCs and NPCs to manipulate - you're unlikely to be able to stop them from retrieving anything.

GM fiat can solve the issue, of course, in a "It was cast into the vortex of Mec'ril, which was subject to that ancient and unalterable decree that none, not even the gods, may ever hold knowledge of its contents, such that those who enter forever lose all conciousness and thought even of themselves" kind of way... But you are unlikely to find anything in the rules-as-written that will help. Well, maybe an artefact, but those are only placed in the game by GM fiat anyway.

No, you're better served by making the thing you want to hide extremely hard to find or difficult to achieve for less-than-very-powerful characters. After all, powerful characters are rare, and very few of them will have knowledge of or interest in retrieving whatever it is that you're trying to get rid of.

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Wrap it in meat and let the Tarrasque swallow it? It's not "hidden" so much as "impractical to retrieve", but might work well enough for most purposes. Depending on which of the many versions of the Tarrasque you use, it'll be spending a long time inaccessible deep underground, and the only way to get the object back is to intentionally wake the Tarrasque, which is the sort of thing that you might get divine intervention to prevent happening...

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What are your thoughts on the effectiveness of this against wish? Could a wish or similar retrieve the item, or would that be prevented by the anti-magic nature of the Tarrasque? What about a divine ability like wish that didn't count as a magic spell? –  SevenSidedDie Jan 22 at 20:05
A lot will depend on rules versions, and I'm not a Pathfinder expert. I tend towards a fairly-restricted version of Wish in campaigns where it's available. If nothing else, you'd have to at least beat the Tarrasque's Magic Resistance to have any hope of affecting it with Wish. Pathfinder's Wish seems very similar to my usual version, which is pretty much limited to duplicating existing spell effects: d20pfsrd.com/magic/all-spells/w/wish –  Mark Bessey Jan 22 at 20:15
Similar to your other answer; basically, entrust it to something that is strong enough to guard it from everybody else. This is a good alternative to the suggestions in the question, but I'm not sure exactly how it stacks up against the possibilities I outline in the question. Add some comparison to my methods' effectiveness and I'll likely accept this since, like I said, it's a good idea with lots of potential. –  Patrick87 Jan 22 at 20:57
@MarkBessey There's a difference between "neccessary for day-to-day survival" and "day-to-day activities". Equating them would make the dominate spell useless in all cases, since any target would simply continue doing their daily routine to the exclusion of any orders. In this case, yes, ordering it to let you cut it open would be out, but you could certainly use the spell to first pacify it (order it to calm down), making any further work with it much safer and easier, and then order it to swallow, without chewing, whatever you're planning to send in to retrieve the item. –  Matthew Najmon Jan 25 at 3:38
You can then just send in someone with protective gear/abilities against the acidic, crushing, and whatever other dangers the tarrasque's digestive tract poses, and with a teleportation ability or device (the latter, preferably, and an easy one to trigger). Teleporting out of the tarrasque's gullet, again, is not in any way impeded by any of the tarrasque's RAW defenses (not even the SR and moderate will save dominate and the like need). Of course, none of this may even be necessary unless the tarrasque is ruled never to poop. If he does, then retrieval becomes very unpleasant, but trivial. –  Matthew Najmon Jan 25 at 3:42

In this answer, "permanently hiding" will be divided into three parts: Preventing entry, protecting the object directly, and blocking divinations. Also, this post will assume you don't even want yourself to access the item, giving more flexibility to the matter.

Every list is in the order from the weakest to the strongest, so the real casting/placing order may or must differ. Choose accordingly by the estimated strength of your expected foe. Also, notice that this post is made a community wiki, so feel free to contribute if you know any other protection measures.

Preventing entry

  1. Just build a fortress, or a well-guarded adamantine chest. Such mundane measures will work against B-list villains without magical power.
  2. Travel to another plane, build a fortress which cannot be noticed easily, hide the object, and cast forbiddance. It blocks planar travel towards the location.
  3. Prismatic sphere guarding the treasure, which is made permanent with permanency. This effectively blocks teleportation into the space, but anyone who can see the sphere will probably start dispelling the wall.
  4. Using secret chest to send someone else with your chest may fail, but anyway it has chance of success. Send someone else locked inside the chest until you succeed. After he reaches the ethereal plane, he takes protection measure against the content, and returns to the material plane by planar travel means. After that, you shatter the miniature to forbid access to the chest, leaving the chest protected while inaccessible.
  5. Greater create demiplane with permanency to create a demiplane. Then, build a portal for your exit, and imbue dead magic trait to your demiplane. Both traits do not cost you additional permanency, so you really need only one permanency. Or, if you really want to secure the item rather than carrying the risk by leaving a portal, then commit a suicide. Otherwise, take any extreme measure, including ones introduced above or below, to protect your portal. It is worth it.

Protecting the object itself

  1. Lay a magical trap right under the the object. There are so many kinds of magical traps which just blows the intruder, or send an intruder to another deadly trap in somewhere else.

(The first writer couldn't find more of "protecting the object itself." Any addition for this section is welcome.)

Blocking divinations

  1. Shield it with a lead sheet, also known as "the poor man's divination blocker."
  2. Prismatic sphere given above also blocks divination (because it blocks any spells from affecting inside).
  3. Insert the object into a warding box. This will protect the object from divinations (but not from gods' ones).


Since one of the assumptions of Pathfinder is that deities are really strong, stronger than what you can think, any methods from above are not guaranteed to block intervention from deities themselves. However, measures above are enough to repel villains who are looking for the item, or at least let them lose their interest for the item. Practically speaking, any antagonist hiding a plot-critical item with such a measure will not have to worry about protagonists looking for it.

However, some of the solutions provided above are not practical. Sure, a dead magic zone is enough for not letting others find your item, but do you really want to kill yourself (oh, I mean the character) just to make an item inaccessible? Suggestion is, that you should consider costs and benefits for each method and choose wisely. Furthermore, always remind that just one step ahead your enemies still count as winning.

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The only effective defense against divine meddling is to make sure that you've got some other divine/infernal power invested in keeping the item hidden. Depending on what the item is, you might be able to simply find one of the many deities who would be glad to watch over it for you, but that's likely only going to work for extremely dangerous and/or valuable artifacts. Failing that, you could maybe perform some service to the god in exchange for having them hide the object for you.

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This thought occurred to me as well, and in reality, this is achieving practically the same ends I'd want anyway. I think you're probably right that this is the most practical answer. However, is it really true that there's nothing a mortal can do that would stump a deity? That's a much stronger statement than what I understood to be the default assumption: that mortals couldn't hope to beat deities in a confrontation. Then again, maybe the two aren't really so different after all. –  Patrick87 Jan 22 at 20:53
In particular, would a deity be able to interfere on a dead magic, strongly oppositely aligned plane with no planar portal, no morphic ability, etc.? I guess abilities of such deities might not count as magic and the plane may be discovered and traveled to by non-magical means... but don't know enough about what deities can do to know for sure. –  Patrick87 Jan 22 at 21:08
According to the SRD, Greater Create Demiplane can only make a mildly-aligned plane, so that's probably not enough to discourage even a minor deity from visiting. The Dead Magic trait is "like an antimagic field in all respects". A demiplane with no permanent portal and the "Dead Magic" trait would seem to be a pretty effective hiding place for an object, but you'd have to travel there to place anything there, and then you'd be trapped. This is all very campaign/mythos dependent, though. If the gods created the planes, then they can obviously change the properties of your demiplane... –  Mark Bessey Jan 22 at 23:45

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