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What happens when the number of creatures transported exceeds the space immediately surrounding the destination?

Consider the following situation:

  1. A wizard casts teleportation circle.
  2. Before her next turn, everyone within 50' of the circle runs through.
  3. The destination is a 15'x15' room.

What happens to the creatures transported after the space in the room is filled up?

Entry way consideration

How does having an entryway in or out of the room affect the result for transported creatures? Consider:

  • An open entryway.
  • A closed entryway.
  • A closed and barred entryway.
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The spell says:

Any creature that enters the portal instantly appears within 5 feet of the destination circle or in the nearest unoccupied space if that space is occupied.

(emphasis mine).

Nothing says that the creature must appear in the same room as the destination circle, so RAW they would continue to appear in the nearest unoccupied space even if that was outside the destination room.

(Alternatively, a DM could rule that the teleportation simply fails in this case, though that would not quite be RAW).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ What counts as unoccupied space? Does each creature get it's own 5x5x5 cube? Or are we just talking pure volume. I'm pretty sure 50 people will fit in a 15x15x5 space, but it won't be comfortable. \$\endgroup\$ – Shufflepants Jun 27 '18 at 18:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ Is there a range limit on "Nearest Occupied Space?" What if two equidistant spaces are available? Would the destination be chosen randomly, by the caster, the creature or the DM? \$\endgroup\$ – Noelle B Jun 27 '18 at 19:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NoelleB It would always be by the DM, who himself may choose to assign the space on his own, randomly, or (if he is very generous) allow the caster to pick. \$\endgroup\$ – Chase Sandmann Jun 27 '18 at 20:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ @PJRZ I now have the mental image of an army running through a teleportation circle and ending up in a broom cupboard, packed like sardines in a can. Thanks. \$\endgroup\$ – Cronax Jun 28 '18 at 8:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ Does the nearest unoccupied space mean "ground level"? Would the spell put a person in a further (say, 50 feet away) unoccupied ground-level space outside the room before filling up the closer (say, 10 feet) vertical space? \$\endgroup\$ – xDaizu Jun 28 '18 at 9:29
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Most of the army ends up prone in the square with the circle

Assume the circle is in the center of a 15'x15'x15' room. The first occupies the circle, the next eight people occupy the eight 5' squares adjacent orthogonally and diagonally.

The tenth appears in the nearest unoccupied space, which is 5' above the circle. Since falling in D&D is instant (well, 500' per round) they fall on the person in the circle and both probably need to make opposed checks to avoid falling prone. The eleventh also appears in this space because due to the simultaneously simultaneous and non-simultaneous nature of turns (this is all happening in the same six seconds, but everyone finishes their turn before anyone else starts theirs) the tenth has already vacated the space due to gravity being grumpy about the whole thing.

Each additional person who comes through the circle will fall onto the mounting heap, and make an opposed check against whichever person is standing or fall prone.

Even with a bigger room, the space directly above the circle is closer than any square that is two squares away. Depending on how you treat diagonals the 6th person through may be the first to take a fall (since a diagonal square is farther away by traditional measure).

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    \$\begingroup\$ And then the referee throws a yellow flag, and calls a "piling on" penalty. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jun 27 '18 at 21:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ RAW, this points out even the second person might fall. Though presumably this shouldn't normally actually happen. \$\endgroup\$ – aschepler Jun 28 '18 at 4:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ I disagree, aslum: It's a circle, not half of a sphere, not a cylinder. So you don't appear "above the circle" and you don't fall on someone else: if there is someone standing on this part of the circle, then it is occupied and your destination will be further away, being it next square or next floor. \$\endgroup\$ – Cœur Jun 28 '18 at 5:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Cœur So you're saying everyone comes through flat? Or stretched infinitely high? How is space organized in D&D? Traditionally it's in 5' (or 10') cubes, mostly with the third dimension ignored because 3D is complicated and makes mapping hard. 5' above the circle is going to quickly be the only unoccupied space w/in 5'. \$\endgroup\$ – aslum Jun 28 '18 at 13:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @aschepler I feel like this is an extension of the Peasant Railgun with no clear (or an as yet undiscovered) purpose. Theoretically I suppose everyone could make a grapple check (and voluntarily fail the checks against them) so that no one ends up prone. \$\endgroup\$ – aslum Jun 28 '18 at 14:34
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I would imagine the same thing that happens when you try to fill a bowl from a meat grinder. The meat comes into the bowl as long as there is room. After that it either spills out (through a door? how fast can they get into/out of the room?) or backs up into the feeder and fouls the machine. Also, imagine that the meat grinder suddenly snapped off the opening out of the feeder, what happens to all that meat still in the opening? Squish...

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    \$\begingroup\$ Can you reference existing material to justify why this would occur? Not that it's wrong (I have no idea), but we're looking for answers to be substantiated. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Jun 27 '18 at 15:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener Dimension Door and Shunting to Open Space should be a good basis of reference for how to handle things. The teleported object/person has to be teleported into a stable surface on which they can stand and which doesn't include some other stable/solid object. It's going to put them into another place, and they'll drop in some damage for their trouble. \$\endgroup\$ – SliderBlackrose Jun 27 '18 at 15:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ Another ruling says the teleport simply fails, dealing the force damage of 4d6 and preventing the teleport of anyone who cannot go through the door into the overly crowded room. \$\endgroup\$ – SliderBlackrose Jun 27 '18 at 15:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ Those could be good justifications. You should add them into your answer (comments aren't part of an answer and will be removed over time). \$\endgroup\$ – GreySage Jun 27 '18 at 15:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ That was a suggestion to update the post itself with the justification, yeah. Use comments assuming they will be deleted tomorrow, because they might well be — that stuff needs to go in the answer itself. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Jun 27 '18 at 15:47

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