I'd like to create a scenario where the PCs enter some sort of portal for interplanar travel but when they return, they aren't in the same time period OR they aren't in the same location. And they have to resolve the cause so they are able to return home.

Is there anything in the way of RAW that would allow this? Can PCs return portal get "glitched" so that they wouldn't be able to return home?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Hi, I've removed your request for us to point you to published adventures of this theme since we don't handle recommendation requests for game materials. The rest of this question is OK. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 26, 2017 at 11:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ How many times has the transporter in Star Trek been interfered with by outside forces? This question is akin to that line of thinking. \$\endgroup\$
    – Slagmoth
    Commented Dec 26, 2017 at 15:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ ... or StarGate - the whole show is based around a portal that works right 99.9% of the time, but can lead to time travel and other weird things when things go "just wrong". Because it works right so often, it's perfect for this kind of "wtf just happened" plot point. \$\endgroup\$
    – minnmass
    Commented Dec 27, 2017 at 16:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ Or make an entire lengthy campaign of solving the glitch (I promise it was purely subconscious) but I just recalled an old show "Sliders". Did Sam ever make it home?? Haha \$\endgroup\$
    – Acts7Seven
    Commented Dec 28, 2017 at 10:36

5 Answers 5


You are allowed to do that as the DM

The DM has the power to override rules. Even if a spell description does not state your scenario as a possibility, it is completely ok to insert a plot device like that.

The D&D rules help you and the other players have a good time, but the rules aren't in charge. You're the DM, and you are in charge of the game. (DMG 4)

Just take care not to overdo it. Either keep it consistent, and create a houserule, or do it only once to drive the plot. If you come up with unexpected changes too often the players will have no idea what consequences they can expect from their actions.

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    \$\begingroup\$ A big kuddos on the consistency comment. It is important to know what SHOULD happen so that there is a "Oh. Crap." moment when things go wrong. If things never go right, then players (and people in the world) quickly stop caring and assume things always go wrong... Think of the latest Windows update... :) That's right you immediately assume it'll jack up your PC... and you would not be quite wrong... \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 26, 2017 at 15:45

Yes you can

I'm going to change the frame of the question:

What Id like to do is create a scenario where PC enter some sort of portal for inter planer travel but when they return, they arent in the same time period OR they arent in the same location.

Is there anything in the way of RAW rules that would allow this?

Allow what? Entering the portal?

Your players can enter the portal, when two conditions are met:

  1. This portal exists in the world

  2. PCs are able to walk into it

Option 1 depends on the setting. Do such portals exist in your world? If you use a particular setting, do they exist in this setting? If not, it might be a unique thing. It is not a matter of rules. Option 2 depends on the game itself. Will your players find the portal? There is nothing "RAW" about this. It is about story and worldbuilding, not the rules.

Yes, it is impossible to create such a portal using a spell from the PH (except for the Wish, probably), but class spell lists do not encompass all magic across the world. For instance, spells like Leomund's Tiny Hut and Tenser's Floating Disk assume that a wizard can create a new spell, despite there is no spell creation rules in the PH.

A game world isn't restricted by the rules

Player's Handbook does not say you how to build your world. DMG doesn't address this much as well. However, DMG implies you use rules as a tool (page 235):

The rules serve you, not vice versa.

As a DM, you normally use rules to model PCs interaction with the world. In 5e you are not supposed to use them when you build the world or write the story. You use them to build interactions between your world and your players. Therefore, the question "is X allowed RAW?" is completely irrelevant, unless a player asks you something like "can I learn a spell which allows me to do X"? In this case, X is "opening a time-travelling portal".

When you introduce something into your story, don't ask yourself "is it allowed RAW". Decide what you're trying to accomplish first, then consult the rules to help you do it, not vice versa. Ask instead: "does it makes sense in the context of the setting?" "Are my players interested in such things?" "Will it bring more fun to the game?"

  • \$\begingroup\$ Just to clarify as I was unaware myself until today. There is a wondrous item which will allow the creation of a portal. DMG p213 Well of Many Worlds. If you could clarify your answer which says there is no spell, then I believe your answer will more thoroughly answer the question. \$\endgroup\$
    – Acts7Seven
    Commented Dec 26, 2017 at 22:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Acts7Seven I don't think it is necessary for my answer, because 1. a wondrous item is not a spell, 2. Well of Many Worlds doesn't allow time travel neither the effect you've asked for (same place or same time), and 3. you've asked about RAW (rules as written), and magic items is not a part of the rules \$\endgroup\$
    – enkryptor
    Commented Dec 27, 2017 at 8:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ @enkryptor and magic items is not a part of the rules Yes there are. See the DMG and see the way to overcome resistance/immunity to non magical damage ... your answer handles how the DM applies the official sourced items fine. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 29, 2017 at 3:03

The accepted answer is correct (the DM can do anything he wants), but I'd like to add some supplementary lore.

The Astral Shard is a magical stone appearing in The Tower of Deception, a short D&D adventure released by Wizards of the Coast in 2001. Its effect is to create a teleport web, which interferes with all teleportation effects within a certain area to change their destination, capturing them and imprisoning them within the tower.

I particularly like this because it provides a rationale for why a teleport might fail to work normally (a crystal interferes with teleportation), and a means to return to normal (locate and destroy the crystal). The same concept could be applied to planar travel; someone has sabotaged the portal with magic, and you have to find the nearby source of the obstruction and destroy it.

Manual of the Planes (2001) also describes a portal of the sort you describe:

Portals usually function in both directions—"usually" being the key word. If a traveler uses a portal to go from plane A to plane B, he may step through the other way and go from plane B back to plane A. But one-way portals exist that force travelers to find another way back to where they started.

Variable portals can send a traveler to a series of different locations, either within a particular plane or within different planes. A variable portal may send individuals to particular locations at particular times, or it might randomly send one group of travelers one place and a group to someplace different. Variable portals often use keys to reach particular locations.

Of course, the first answer is correct answer to this question: the DM can and should feel free to invent new things that the players won't find in the rulebooks. The D&D world is infinitely bigger than that.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Super!! My initial question asked if there were any official mentions / adventures like this but that was edited out. So I'm very happy that you have provided this. \$\endgroup\$
    – Acts7Seven
    Commented Dec 27, 2017 at 6:44

Along with the other answers, teleportation going awry was a common trope and often used as a possible reason for a party to arrive at a given dungeon or area - such as Ravenloft, the Tomb of Horrors, or even the 3rd ed Worlds Largest Dungeon. All three of those are not something you put an adventuring party in lightly though.


After further exploration I managed to locate the

Well of Many Worlds DMG p213 black cloth unfolds into a 6' diameter circular sheet use an action to place it. Creates a two-way portal to another world or plane. DM decides where it leads. use an action to pickup cloth, closing portal. once well is opened it cannot be reused for 1d8 hours.

While the previous solutions answer the process, this answers the mechanics as well as possible limitations. Using this will encourage consistency between PCs and the game world.

But this adds another question . Given this is a wondrous item / legendary status... Would this create a large imbalance if I were to give this out; being that my PCs are level 3 or less.

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    \$\begingroup\$ You could ask the last paragraph there as its own separate question. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 27, 2017 at 1:28

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