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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

6 Answers 6

up vote 8 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. Most campaigns don't have 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. 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), but 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
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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
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@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
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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

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
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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

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).

Conclusion

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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Create some simulacrums of yourself, but twice as high in level (if possible, the net effect being simulacrums that are identical copies of you but 'look' like characters twice as high in level). Nystul's Magic Aura them to look like you and Misdirection with them so you all detect as some other one of the group. Have them do all of the following at the same time you do, but get them all to Hidden Knowledge first so they don't know that they are not the original or that the item they guard is not the real one.

  1. Get Mindblanked.
  2. Have a massive 200-foot by 200-foot by 300-foot treasure chest made for you into which the item you want hidden is incorporated a jewelry or some such as appropriate to its type.
  3. Travel to the far reaches of the ethereal plane via Secret Chest using your massive chest as the large chest and yourself and as many LG candles of invocation as can be carried as the contents. Be sure to dust first, as the chest, despite its size, can only transport a very small amount of matter in addition to itself.
  4. Build a tower in which the artifact in question is to be housed out of the materials used to make your enormous chest.
  5. Magically harden the tower. It is now a magical item that does not have charges.
  6. Grant it permanent sentience via the rules for crafting sentient magic items, giving it the purpose of sealing away and guarding the item. Grant it no special abilities which allow it to breach the item's defenses or start moving should it go rogue.
  7. Now that the tower is a creature (a construct in fact) cast Mindblank on it. The duration of this effect is only 24 hours.
  8. Aroden's Spellbane the area around the artifact against the list of spells at the bottom of this post, using multiple overlapping Aroden's Spellbanes if necessary. If you are of sufficiently high Caster Level, or can craft an item with a sufficiently high CL through Heighten Spell or some other means, to ban all of the listed spells with a single casting and have room for one more you should also ban Aroden's Spellbane. This guide will assume you cannot do that.
  9. Retrain (if necessary) into a 20th level Conjuration specialist and summon a Trumpet Archon as your permanent summon, keeping the tower and yourself mindblanked as necessary throughout the process.
  10. Create a Staff of Mind Blank and Cure Light Wounds with Mind Blank costing 1 charge.
  11. Order your created Trumpet Archon to cast Mind Blank on the tower once each day and to recharge the staff each day as well (using the candles). Order it to obey the tower's instructions as long as they do not cause it to enter the sanctuary of the artifact or affect the artifact or any aspect of the sanctuary in any way.
  12. Erect shrines/statues to every known deity around the artifact and in the same room as it.
  13. Create another intelligent item with a similar purpose to the tower which does not worship any deities and can cast Widened Consecrate at will.
  14. Designate a 20 foot radius sphere around the artifact as its sanctuary to your archon.

  15. Have your Archon use it to cast consecrate on each of the shrines cutting off the area around them from the intervention of each associated deity, and schedule her to repeat the process every day. Be aware that doing this will probably anger all of the gods and you will probably die long before you complete this step if you are not careful. Once this step is complete you can remain in the tower immune to the direct wrath of the gods, but you may have to deal with the intervention of their minions, which you should be able to do via various combat-y things, allies, massive spells of doom, diplomacy etc.
    Your simulacrum doubles should provide some defense against this retaliation by splitting up the enemy forces.

  16. If custom magic items are allowed, craft some wondrous items of at-will Aroden's Spellbane and have the Archon use them to maintain the wards. We will assume from here out that they are not.

  17. Cast Genesis (via a staff if you have to), warding the space so created similarly to the tower sanctuary. The plane should be generated sentient, strongly lawful aligned, with the Flowing Time trait 1 round| 1 year, with a permanent planar portal to your tower, and with the limited magic trait limiting magic to only non-divination level 0 spells or level nine Conjuration (summoning) spells with the Lawful and Good descriptors.

  18. The plane should specifically be mind blanked, and you should seed it with various primitive life forms so the plane can amuse itself and not grow resentful/bored (beings from this plane who wander into the tower will certainly not have the necessary spell effects to deal with the tower's defenses and so won't pose much of a threat).

  19. Produce a large number of staves of Aroden's Spellbane (on the fast plane) and store them in the tower, where the Archon can use them to fulfill her duties.
  20. The archon should be commanded to place all the staves she used in the other plane for recharging once she has finished her duties for a day and to stay with them there and recharge them 1 charge per day until they are all recharged. Each charge will cost her 1/2 of a candle (two 1/4 candles) as she needs to buff her CL to 17. In her time off she is to craft candles of Invocation on the faster plane so as to remain able to perform her duties. She is to obey the plane in the same manner as the tower but the tower is to have authority if ever there is conflict. She is to put to sleep, erase the memories of, and kill (in that order) anyone who enters the tower other than herself as long as it does not prevent the completion of her other duties.

  21. Give her some kitted out gear so she can win fights if they come up and resist hostile spells if it matters, she is the lynch pin in your defense.

  22. Create a small army if Iron Golems wielding staves of Aroden's Spellbane who wait with readied actions to counterspell any Aroden's spellbanes being cast by anyone other than the Archon.
  23. Hold off the waves of enemies from your stronghold for 60 days from the start of your plan (which needs not to have already happened), at which point each day you and your stronghold have a 5% cummulative chance of being irretrievably lost.
  24. After this order your archon to also guard you from those who would disturb your slumber and then cast Temporal Stasis on yourself, forfeiting your save.
  25. Your perfect defense is now complete.

Your defense is very, very immune to wish, cannot be located via magic of any kind, including the infamous legend lore, cannot be interacted with by any deities you knew of, is generally immune to magic that might compromise it, and possesses no mobile workers with their own wills. Even you can't get into it, because you are permadead via temporal stasis in order to make sure the archon functions properly forever and there are no loose ends. Even if someone were to stumble upon the tower, they will leave it not remembering how they died or where they were. An planar expedition might be mounted to find the tower, but there are many such towers and each of them is both very hidden and very well defended.

Pros:

  • Immune to Wish, Miracle, other high level spell effects
  • Infinite Duration
  • Immune to Divine Intervention

Cons:

  • Keeps you incapacitated for as long as it works

  • Divinely Funded Epic Planar Expeditions might be a problem eventually, though they will have a lot (infinite) area to search without any hint as to where you are.

  • Incredibly expensive, time consuming, and difficult

  • Effectively requires an Epic-level campaign to pull off

  • GM may start PCs in a new game on your sentient plane, where they may find some crazy PC way of breaking things after a few million years.

  • If both your plane and your tower go rogue and they work together they might be able to kill your archon, breaking the system keeping everything in place. You will know if this happens, however (though you won't be able to do anything about it).

  • Your GM may rule against this use of consecrate spell. The use presented here is a valid RAW interpretation, but exotic interpretations of the nature of divine connections effectively neutering this use of the consecrate spell are also possible RAW.

As a note, if you are planning on becoming a lich and using this to hide your phylactery, don't. Becoming undead is never a good idea and is one of only a few ways to make your character easily permakillable. Undead cannot be raised via any method short of that one new crazy tech artifact or time travel. Humanoids can be resurrected super easily. If you can pull this off, you don't need to be a lich. Looking for immortality? Use clone. Want to keep the same body forever? Start drinking strange fluids. Seriously, it's safer than undeath. Or you could use that one Mammon coin thing.

Aroden's Spellbane should block the following:

  • Shades
  • Wish
  • Miracle
  • Limited Wish
  • Remove Curse
  • Break Enchantment
  • Polymorph Any Object
  • All summoning subschool spells other than Summon Monster IX and Secret Chest
  • All divination spells
  • Arcane Mark
  • All illusion spells with the Shadow descriptor/subschool
  • Plane Shift
  • all conjuration (teleportation) spells
  • Stone Shape
  • Warp Wood
  • Greater Dispel Magic
  • Dispel Magic
  • Detect Magic
  • Astral Projection
  • Etherealness
  • Dispel Good/Evil/Chaos/Law/Balance
  • Dominate Monster
  • Mordenkainen's Disjunction
  • Legend Lore
  • Vision
  • All spells with the [Evil] or [Chaos] descriptors
  • All necromancy spells lacking the [curse] descriptor
  • Limited Wish
  • Discern Location
  • Invisibility
  • Greater Invisibility
  • Veil
  • Anti-magic Field
  • Passwall
  • Phase Door
  • Knock
  • Time Stop
  • Hallow
  • Unhallow
  • Desecrate
  • Break Enchantment
  • Impart Mind
  • All Enchantments other than those with memory or knowledge in the name
  • If Forbiddance isn't used in your defense it should be banned.
  • Ideally, all spells not used in the running or defense of the tower. The above should get you by, though.

Alternatively if you could just track down a Scepter of Ages you could deposit whatever it is you're hiding at the end of time. I think it'd be pretty safe to say no one would find it for a while.

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Let us continue this discussion in chat. –  Matthew Najmon Sep 25 at 17:44

Depending on the nature of the object:

Enchant it with enough fire protection and cast it into a gas giant planet. This is only applicable to items that will be unharmed by great pressure.

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