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A variety of demons have teleportation at will, with a limit of 50lbs. of objects besides the demon itself. What happens when a demon tries to teleport with a bag that contains a creature, such as a cat, mouse, or fly?

Does the same apply to a wizard's familiar in a backpack if it was not selected as a target of a wizard's teleport spell, such as a level 9 wizard teleporting himself and three party members?

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This GM would rule that the teleportation effect fails

Magic on Spell Failure says, "If you ever try to cast a spell in conditions where the characteristics of the spell cannot be made to conform, the casting fails and the spell is wasted."

The spell teleport et al. has the entry Target: You and touched objects or other touched willing creatures. Merely touching the container holding a creature is insufficient to affect the creature.

Further, this GM would rule that teleportation can't differentiate between a container and its contents. It's all or nothing; take the container and everything within it or else the effect fails. That is, a teleporter in possession of a bottle of wine can't leave behind the wine and take only the bottle or, somehow, vice versa, and a teleporter can't take only the cage he's touching yet leave behind the wolverines it contains or, bravely, vice versa. It's either take the bottle of wine or leave it, and either take the cage of wolverines or leave it.

Also, in this GM's campaigns, a teleporter can't leave behind the tobacco he's chewing, his partially-digested lunch, nor his belly fat, although he can teleport out of his clothes. (In addition, this GM wouldn't allow a teleporter to take with him another creature's attended objects even if the teleporter were, at the time, touching that other creature's objects; those objects are busy counting toward that creature's maximum load. If the teleporter wants those objects, he's gotta either take those objects from that creature first or teleport the creature.)

Thus a demon like a babau that can use as a spell-like ability an effect that's like the spell greater teleport except only on itself and 50 lbs. of objects sees that greater teleport effect fail outright if it attempts to take another creature with it, even if that other creature managed to secrete itself in the demon's backpack, sack, or belt pouch without the demon seeing it and without the demon noticing the extra weight. (This GM suspects a babau has an extremely keen sense of what exactly 50 lbs. feels like!)

Similarly, a wizard who puts her familiar in her backpack and casts a teleport spell without including the familiar among her creatures touched has created conditions where the characteristics of the spell cannot be made to conform: she has counting against her maximum load an untouched creature, and that's a conundrum that the teleportation effect just refuses to resolve. This GM would have the spell simply fail rather than, for example, ruling that the spell is cast normally except that it leaves behind the familiar yet takes with it the backpack or that it leaves behind both backpack and familiar.

Expand your teleportation capacity with a bag of holding

The typical solution to the low creature capacity of teleportation effects is to put creatures that'll fit into an extradimensional space like a bag of holding then use the teleportation effect and not to forget to let them out afterward! (That last part's really important.) With the extra creatures not on the same plane, the teleportation effect functions normally. (Also see this similar D&D 3.5 question; Pathfinder has, so far as I'm aware, left these rules unchanged from its forebear.)


Note: This GM totally agrees that The effect fails isn't a lot of fun, but it's been this GM's experience that, in the long run,—especially when teleportation effects are involved—that's what's often best for the campaign.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The ability teleports the demon and up to 50 lbs of objects. If the creature doesn't count as an object (which I assume is the problem here) then shouldn't it just not get teleported? \$\endgroup\$ – Mark Wells Jun 23 '18 at 22:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ Can I empty a bag of fleas on a spellcaster or demon to prevent them from teleporting, since they would have to bring extra creatures? \$\endgroup\$ – Kieran Mullen Jun 23 '18 at 22:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MarkWells The demon's trying to teleport with its possessions, including the sack's contents. If those contents are a creature, the game says the effect fails. Yeah, I know that's a little weird, but I imagine that outright failure is easier on the game: the game needn't prioritize which creatures are teleported in the same way that the game needn't describe which objects over the 50-lb. limit also aren't teleported. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Jun 23 '18 at 22:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KieranMullen If the GM agrees, you can do anything. Most Pathfinder fleas won't fit in a bag, though. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Jun 23 '18 at 22:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan I suspect "trying" is the key word: if the demon tries to kidnap someone by grabbing them and teleporting out, then it will find it can't. But if someone hides a live wolverine in the demon's pants (what's the Sleight of Hand DC for that?), the demon can teleport and leave the wolverine behind. \$\endgroup\$ – Mark Wells Jun 24 '18 at 0:42

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