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A friend of mine wants to DM a game where the player characters are all literally tied together, and have to find a way out or somesuch.

Is it possible to physically restrict characters from getting further away from each other than a certain distance? Like chaining them together, but more 'permanent'?

Mundane chains can be broken, the locks can be picked, or one of the Chained-Ones can grow to a larger size to break free. A magical chain might not be broken normally or picked, but if a character grows in size, the magical chains grow as well, thus freeing all of the other 'inmates'.

Is there any way to keep characters from leaving each other, through magic? Or at least inconvenience them greatly when they DO leave each other, by constantly harming them when they get too far away?

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Greater Bestow Curse

From Races of Destiny, this spell seems ideal, rules-wise, for your purposes. This provides you with all of the rules associated with this mechanic except the penalty for failing the rule and the precise distances to restrict the party within.

An example of a similar spell, in use within the story-world of Order of the Stick.

Suggested penalties:

  1. Small, unhealable damage per time increment, that becomes healable(but is not removed) upon rejoining the group.

  2. As above, but ability damage.

  3. As #1, but negative levels. Never become permanent. Not ideal for low-level parties.

Thoughts on max-distance:

  1. <50' - Will restrict combat tactics heavily.

  2. 50-100' - Will only moderately limit tactics in battle, but make things like chargers, mounted combat, dragons, and archery more difficult.

  3. 100-500' - Won't really restrict battle tactics, except with unusual fights.

  4. 500'-1 mile - Has no real tactical implications, but can restrict a few stories, such as having a party member kidnapped.

Personally, I'd do #2.

Thoughts on time-increment

  1. Per-round - Especially when combined with #1-2 distances, players will constantly be away of the curse and its issue. Not recommended with negative-levels, though.

  2. Per-hour - Players will have enough time to separate and reunite in towns or for sheer privacy. Short-term kidnappings over unallowed distances become viable, as long as they're not taking negative levels.

  3. Per-day - Players may forget they have the curse, so...not ideal. Parties rarely, if ever, intentionally separate for this long, anyway.

Issues

Running games with "all the starting PCs extraordinarily care about the plot" is dangerous because it inhibits mid-campaign recruitment and character-death even more than a campaign normally does.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I played a game recently with something similar to this, we had pairs of rings, one for a prisoner and one for their warden. If the prisoner ever moved more than 50 metres (~160 feet) away from their warden, they would be subjected to near-crippling agony until they moved back in range that simply prevented them from performing any actions beyond somewhat limited movement. Naturally, the bearers of the rings were unable to remove them by most conventional means. \$\endgroup\$ – DisturbedNeo Aug 30 '17 at 11:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ I recall reading a story where two people were kidnapped, knocked out, and had devices attached/implanted which had to remain within 5' of each other, or they would explode. They included a monitoring function through which the villain would occasionally make snide comments on their current circumstances, and of course monitor if the victims revealed what was going on... then the people were released back into the wild to see how they would deal with it. \$\endgroup\$ – nijineko Aug 30 '17 at 19:20
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Yes of course. The answer is...

MAGIC!!!

You don't need some specific existing spell to do this. In fact, all us grognards out there will remember a similar conceit powering the computer game, AD&D module, and fantasy novel Curse of the Azure Bonds, where a group of folks wake up with magical blue tattoos that can control them. There's no "Create Azure Bond 4th-level spell," as the DM you're welcome to make up magical stuff. In fact, if you don't, Zombie Gygax will show up and smack you.

So voila, there's some spell/curse on them that keeps them together, either physically or by doing some kind of damage/inflicting some condition while they're apart. Done and done.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ You're not wrong. As written though, this is an unhelpful answer. \$\endgroup\$ – fectin Aug 30 '17 at 1:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ In what way? His friend the DM should just fiat an Azure Bond-like thing. What's the problem? (Besides a desire to overthink things that is.) \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Aug 30 '17 at 1:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzlpk the problem is that it applies equally well to any rpg, (though some are "TECHNOLOGY!!!" instead), while failing to provide any actual info. If nothing else, start by looking at whether this fills the criteria for a good-subjective answer. \$\endgroup\$ – fectin Aug 30 '17 at 3:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ Of course homebrew is always an option, but if possible I do like to keep things within official boundaries. \$\endgroup\$ – Arthaban Aug 30 '17 at 6:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ That's actually worse in this case. If you want a magic plot device, use one. Using a spell or whatnot is just asking for the PCs to dispel out of it or use some class ability you forgot about to get out of it. Trying to out-cheese weasel a group of players isn't a high percentage play. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Aug 30 '17 at 12:18

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