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My party (average level 10) just had a pre-boss fight. That was an opportunity for me to make them spend some of their resources, because they thought that was actually the big bad boss fight.

So we finished the session with them defeating the big bad guy's first mate and they are at the entrance of the cave, inside which resides the boss. The boss will be a wizard about level 14-15. I have heard them planning that they will try to kill him when they meet him, but the actual NPC has heard them for some time now, planning for the event through a successful series of scrying spells. So their plan is to kill him or flee - through teleportation, actually.

My NPC wants them to die, or to surrender to him an artifact they are carrying. So, imagine a wizard of vast intelligence hearing that his enemies have a backup plan of leaving through teleportation. Is there something the NPC could use in his cave - such as spells, magic items or something else - to prevent them from teleporting when things go awry?

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9 Answers 9

up vote 51 down vote accepted


A fair number of spells prevent teleportation; a wizard will struggle to gain access to some of them, but the skill Use Magic Device and a wand or staff will solve that.

  • The 4th-level Sor/Wiz spell dimensional anchor [abjur] (PH 221) for 1 min./level prevents 1 creature from using any extradimensional movement if a ranged touch attack succeeds versus the target.
  • the 4th-level Sor/Wiz spell Otiluke's suppressing field [abjur] (CM 112) for 10 min./level in a 20 ft. emanation stops all spells from a particular school; conjuration is the obvious choice.
  • The 5th-level Sor/Wiz spell investiture of the orthon [trans] (FC2 104-5) for 1 min./level grants the caster a 20 ft. radius aura that prevents of extradimensional movement like the spell dimensional lock.
  • The 5th-level Clr spells hallow [evoc] (PH 238) and unhallow [evoc] (PH 297) for 1 year when the spell dimensional anchor is tied to the hallow or unhallow spell prevents extradimensional movement out of an area. This is the house rule I use as there are no guidelines that describe what tying the dimensional anchor to the hallow and unhallow actually does.
  • The 5th-level Sor/Wiz spell zone of respite [abjur] (SpC 244) for 1 min./level in a 20 ft. radius emanation prevents extradimensional movement and summoning into the area.
  • The 6th-level Clr spell forbiddance [abjur] (PH 232) permanently prevents extradimensional movement into or out of an area.
  • The 8th-level Sor/Wiz spell dimensional lock [abjur] (PH 221) for days prevents extradimensional movement into or out of an area.
  • The 9th-level Sor/Wiz spell Halaster's teleport cage [abjur] (CSW 155) permanently prevents teleportation into an area and sends the would-be teleporter somewhere random on the plane, while allowing teleportation within the area but sending the would-be teleporter somewhere random within the spell's area.

If the wizard doesn't have to use teleportation effects himself to escape he should probably employ the spell dimensional lock. If he does have to use teleportation effects himself, he can use the feat Chain Spell (CAr 76) to modify the spell dimensional anchor.

Magic Items

The best magic items are scrolls, staffs, and wands of the above spells, but specific magic items are also useful.

  • The weapon special ability binding (MIC 29) (+1 bonus) makes a stabbed victim unable to teleport.
  • The rod soul anchor (MIC 185-6) (10,000 gp; 3 lbs.) prevents adjacent creatures from moving from their squares. It's difficult to use because of the positioning required and allows a saving throw.
  • The slotless item dimensional shackles (DMG 255) (28,000 gp; 5 lbs.) prevents teleportation, but getting them on the guy who's doing the teleporting while he's conscious might be a challenge.
  • The slotless item weirdstone (PG 124-5) (250,000 gp; 0 lbs.) is the ultimate method, preventing teleportation into a city-sized area, but not stopping teleporation from inside the area to outside the area. In this situation, it's both ineffective and overkill.

A Few Notes about Teleportation
The presence of teleportation magic vastly changes many of the core concepts of pre-teleportation adventuring. Certainly mere travel time is shortened, but if teleportation is at all a consideration in the campaign world, smart rulers are wise to liberally at least ward many structures with hallow or unhallow (if only so the teleport invaders must exit the structure to teleport again if using the house rules above). The cave in your question is the kind of place that wouldn't be already so warded, but it's nonetheless something to keep in mind for your campaign.

Also, the spell teleport [conj] (PH 293) explicitly says, "Areas of strong physical or magical energy may make teleportation more hazardous or even impossible." In that quotation the word teleportation is not italicized--that's teleportation in general. The DM can just say no to teleportation effects in any area and claim, "It's strong magical energy prevents teleportation." The wizard might've chosen the cave in the question for just that reason, although that may seem contrived to the players.

Players who go Dumpster-diving for travel solutions will eventually find the 7th-level Drd spell master earth [trans] (SpC 139), a transmutation spell that sends the caster anywhere on planet by shoving him (harmlessly, obviously) through the planet. I've house ruled this spell so that it cannot penetrate creature-built structures and instead moves the caster to their most common entrances. (The spell itself says, "Underground, creature-built structures don't hinder [the caster] as long as [the caster] can move around them," and I've expanded that to mean the caster can't enter any creature-built structure using the spell master earth.) Further, they might even find the never-errata-ed and never reprinted 9th-level Drd spell lookingglass [trans] (MW 90), whose effects I urge house ruling to actual clairvoyance and to actual teleport without error (i.e. greater teleport) instead of as if those spells. With the existence of these spells in the campaign and without house rules, high-level druids are the ultimate assassins.

Finally, a spell clock (Clockwork Wonders column "The Spell Clock" here) (130,000 gp; 0 lbs.) crafted at a higher level by some ancient epic precursor can have been toted around the entire world to create a worldwide forbiddance effect if you want a way to explain why teleportation effects don't work in your campaign at all without resorting to DM fiat.

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Now that's a comprehensive answer. Wish I could give you more than +1 –  asteri Apr 4 at 19:24
I think some people do stuff like that using bounties. Effectively, if you think an answer deserves more, add a bounty to the question and reward it to the answer you like –  Phil Apr 4 at 23:20
I chose yours as an answer, because it was the most comprehensive of all the others. I really don't like Deus Ex Machina solutions as a DM. But the part about teleportation going awry when areas of high magic are involved, was a part I had not seen in teleport spells untill now, and seems somewhat logical. I chose forbiddance, and as a bonus, you gave my wizard a Otiluke's suppressing field against the mean PC evoker :) thnx! –  Drunken_Guy Apr 17 at 8:00
@Drunken_Guy Glad to help. When the PCs' foes are even higher level, Burlap's answer here extends the concept even further. –  Hey I Can Chan Apr 17 at 8:28
@Arkhaic I'm sure the author of the spell master earth understood it exactly when he wrote it, but nonetheless there's a lot of that spell that's still in his head. I'm sure were he to DM for us we'd understand it completely. As it stands, though, it's a fight waiting to happen. –  Hey I Can Chan Aug 11 at 1:42

Depending on how many can cast teleportation, all the party need to be touching to teleport away.

One suggestion would be to have him divide the party as they enter the cave preventing them all from being within touch range of each other.

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Why the downvote? –  NikolaiDante Apr 4 at 15:17

An NPC with vast resources should cover (almost) all of his warded area with Forbiddance. (Cleric 6). We can assume the wizard either has a cleric on staff or can hire one (either through services or money), and nothing says "go away" than random enemies taking 12d6 damage every couple hundred feet.

Forbiddance's important sentence reads:

Forbiddance seals an area against all planar travel into or within it. This includes all teleportation spells (such as dimension door and teleport), plane shifting, astral travel, ethereal travel, and all summoning spells. Such effects simply fail automatically.

As a note, "planar travel within" could be read as "instigated within" or "both start and end co-located within." If it's the latter, you'll want him to just armor up the cave with dimensional locks.

Everything else, (dimensional lock, anticipate teleportation, refusal) either requires renewing or works on incoming teleports rather than outgoing teleports.

Unhallow combined with dimensional anchor may work well as a medium term solution.

Still, be careful with this tactic. He can lock himself in with the party (though leaving a few one-way closets of "bye bye now" outside of the warded space is always a good idea.

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Don't argue in comments. Present your opinions in your answer. –  Brian Ballsun-Stanton Apr 4 at 11:44

The wizard's cave could be a demiplane. With the Teleport spell, interplanar travel is impossible. This leaves the possibility to Plane Shift, but I don't suppose 10th level characters regularly prepare the spell, especially that it requires specific focus, not part of the components pouch. Also, I'd let the players know they enter another plane.

For Dimensional Anchor you don't need to hit all the party members. Let them decide if they want to leave some of their companions at the evil wizard's mercy...

Dimensional Lock is great (even better with Forcecage), but the area covered is actually quite small (20-ft. radius).

I'd generally vote against any solutions based on this sentence Areas of strong physical or magical energy may make teleportation more hazardous or even impossible, unless this is common in your world or somehow justified within the adventure.

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+1 for the demiplane--along those lines, teleportation's impossible from within to outside of (and vice versa) the spell rope trick, a portable hole, or an enveloping pit. All are risky, difficult places for a final showdown, though. And while dimensional lock's area is relatively small, its duration means an industrious wizard could've covered the area with multiple locks weeks ago (okay, maybe 2), refreshing expired locks in his spare time. –  Hey I Can Chan Apr 4 at 21:23

The hallow/unhallow spell comes with a one-year lasting effect the caster needs to choose from a list. Dimensional anchor is amongst the options, allowing the caster to block teleportation of everyone that's not of his own faith, as long as they stay inside the hallow/unhallow radius. Add physical barriers to avoid people just walking out of the area and you have a very useful "nobody (else) can teleport out" trap.

Some other options like Otiluke's suppressing sphere, investiture of the orthon or a selective anti-magic field have a very small range and are not reliable for preventing teleportation.

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For that exact situation, you don't want to use rules to stop them teleporting. They will find some way around it.

But what was the boss doing while they teleported back, waited until sunset, slept and prepared spells.

Was he building more traps in his lair? Was he burning down a town, thus leading to the King being angry with the players and thus giving them reduced rewards for the quest? Was he hiring new guards to replace the ones killed the previous day?

Was the boss using spying on the players while they cleared trash? And is now preparing spells designed specifically to minimise your party's strengths and capitalise on their weaknesses?

Or did he decide that discretion is the better part of valor and has fled to another country and disguised himself as a housecat?

Put your players in situations where they don't want to sleep after every fight, not situations where they CAN'T return.

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Deus Ex Machina

He simply can. You as the GM can make up anything you want if it helps advance your plot. If you want him to be able to block teleportation, then he can. Perhaps the chamber he is in permanently blocks teleportation in and out due to some ancient lost magic cast on it centuries ago. You let your imagination run wild here.

3.5 RAW Spell

The only spell I could find that would allow your NPC to do this on his own is a lvl 4 spell called Dimensional Anchor. Any other spells were either too high for his level, or weren't for a wizard.

Dimensional Anchor: This seems the better option for a more ranged encounter. It will allow you to lock the party in at longer range than Anti-Teleport Sphere, but you do need to hit them with it and you need to hit each party member, one per cast. You also have to overcome SR. It lasts minutes per level, which should be enough for any encounter, certainly enough to get them in range of Anti-Teleport Sphere. The big downside to this though is the number of rounds you need to spend to lock the entire party down, 1 per party member, although in theory you just need to lock down their casters, as without the casters no one is teleporting away.


I did find a couple of homebrew spells called Anti-Teleport Sphere and Null Teleport Zone. You may be open to hombrew content, and if you are these spells doe exactly what you need.

Anti-Teleport Sphere: From reading it seems more like a defensive spell to stop people dropping in on the wizard, but there's no reason why he couldn't cast it to stop them escaping. It does have a limited area of effect though. At lvl 14 it'll only affect 140' radius, or 280' diameter sphere, so you need to keep them close. But with it lasting a day for 5 minutes prep, it seems like a spell I would cast in his place. It offers the party no saves either.

Null Teleport Zone: I takes a day to cast for the area you need, but as you have the time to prepare that isn't an issue. It prevents all types of teleportation. It appears to be the wizards version of Forbiddance.


It is reasonable to expect such a powerful boss to have minions capable of casting spells for you. I've previously mentioned Forbiddance, and having a cleric minion cast that for the boss isn't infeasible. Forbiddance would permanently stop the players from teleporting in or out of the area. Although as @Zachiel has pointed out when commenting to @BrianBallsun-Stanton, who also mentioned this option, the spell specifically states:

Forbiddance seals an area against all planar travel into or within it. This includes all teleportation spells (such as dimension door and teleport), plane shifting, astral travel, ethereal travel, and all summoning spells. Such effects simply fail automatically.

It doesn't mention anything against teleporting out, so is open to interpretation. Personally I interprate that to mean you cannot cast teleport whilst in the area.

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Removed the -1. There's a lot more RAW spells that can help here than just Dimensional Anchor. For example, Dispel Magic and Teleport can both be used to counterspell the PCs' Teleport spell. Antimagic Field is a tricky one to use in combat for a mid-level Wizard, since it'll nerf them too, but it is only lvl6, so he could cast it at class lvl11 or higher, and if cast when he anticipates they're about to make their escape, it will shut that down. Some compulsion spells can be cast on their caster to force them to abandon that spell slot. Any readied damage spell can disrupt their cast. etc. –  Matthew Najmon Apr 4 at 23:32

The Castle Guide, one of the AD&Dv2 sourcebooks, discussed preventing travel spells using exotic materials. For example (off the top of my head since I can't remember the actual example), you could block teleportation into or out of a castle by using basilisk blood in the mortar.

I'm not aware of any RAW for this in the later editions of D&D however I think something like this would be an acceptable house-rule.

In the case of the campaign in @Drunken_Guy's question, the PCs could find themselves unexpectedly blocked from teleporting, which would be a shock. However if they determine how the bad guy blocked them then they have an extremely saleable piece of secret information.

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something my gm just used on my party when we teleported in to check on a town aflame was a teleport trap in the area, instead of landing where we were aiming for we ended up underground deep with in the town itself in big metal boxes. you could do something similar where your players end up in another area of the room etc

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This isn't a rules-as-written question, so if you want to suggest adapting the Pathfinder spell teleport trap [abjur] (here) or other compatible 3rd-party spells into the mix to expand your answer, that's a thing. –  Hey I Can Chan Apr 10 at 15:22
This doesn't sound like it would prevent them from teleporting out again, especially not when the goal is to leave them free to combat the wizard - just not leave them free to leave. –  doppelgreener Aug 11 at 2:07

protected by doppelgreener Aug 11 at 1:47

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