In 3.5, the spell Dimensional Anchor could be used to prevent an enemy from escaping combat via teleportation.

This would be helpful for our party as some of our enemies have opted to escape us either using teleportation directly on their turn, or our actions trigger a contingency teleportation effect.

To my knowledge, the only spell we could utilize in combat to slow down the odds of teleportation is Force Cage, but there are a few problems with it:

  • Preventing teleportation isn't guaranteed.
  • The enemy is trapped and separated from the party, which just makes combat really boring, either shooting fish in a barrel or trapping the melees in with the target.

Does 5e have a spell like Dimensional Anchor that can be used to assuredly prevent teleportation (i.e. either no save or no additional saves once it takes effect) and doesn't prevent others from participating in the fight (i.e. no walls or cages)?

A good answer will present practical solutions during combat. There are several effects that would function assuming you can control the battlefield, but those do not have the broad utility that Dimensional Anchor did and I would not consider them to be comparable to that spell. For example, spending 24 hours to cast Hallow on a location is not something you can practically do in combat.

  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast No save spells are rare in 5e, but some permit an initial save without any additional saves thereafter (Bane for example). My intent would be that the party is sure that the spell is in effect and will reliably remain in effect provided they protect any required concentration. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 15, 2018 at 14:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ OK, a spell that holds the creature to this plane, and the other party members can attack it. Am I right in understanding your requirement? \$\endgroup\$ Aug 15, 2018 at 14:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast Halfway. Plane shift is an issue sometimes, but same plane teleportation is also an issue. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 15, 2018 at 14:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Pyrotechnical If you also insist on being able to cast the spell during combat (without advance preparation) then maybe instead of "comparable" you should say "equivalent". \$\endgroup\$
    – Mark Wells
    Aug 15, 2018 at 14:59

4 Answers 4


Incapacitate them and use Dimensional Shackles

The most straightforward analog is probably to incapacitate the creature and then put some Dimensional Shackles on them before they recover. The shackles only require an action to place on a creature, but that creature must be incapacitated (remember that other conditions, including stunned, unconscious, and paralyzed, also incapacitate). Compared to the dimensional anchor spell you've cited from a previous edition, the problem shifts from hitting them with dimensional anchor's attack roll to making them fail their save against an incapacitating condition. Once they are incapacitated, they do not get a save against the shackles. So this puts the shackles on the same order of difficulty as dimensional anchor: one good hit (or failed save) will do it.

However, if an enemy is incapacitated and your goal is simply to kill them before they escape, then using your action to do as much damage as possible might be the better option, since there's a good chance your party can finish them off before they recover from the incapacitating condition and take their next non-incapacitated turn to escape. On the other hand, if you're trying to capture them alive, this is a good option. Of course, be careful of very strong enemies (or if your group plays with automatic skill check success on a natural 20), since they have the potential to break out of the shackles with a DC 30 Strength (Athletics) check. (But note that they are only allowed one escape attempt every 30 days.)

There are a wide variety of ways to inflict the incapacitated condition, including lowly 1st-level spells like Tasha's hideous laughter, so the main obstacle to setting this plan up is the acquisition of the Dimensional Shackles.

High-level option: Wish a dimensional/teleporation ward into existence

There are several spells, such as Mordenkainen’s Private Sanctum, that can ward a large area against both teleportation and planar travel. These would be perfect if not for their long casting times, which make them unusable during combat. However, if you have access to a Wish spell, you can use it to bypass the casting time. Wish has a casting time of 1 action, and can "duplicate any other spell of 8th level or lower. You don't need to meet any requirements in that spell, including costly components. The spell simply takes effect." If you use Wish to duplicate an 8th level Private Sanctum, you can ward a 600-foot cube as an action.

Keep in mind that since you are warding the entire battlefield rather than a single creature, you are also cutting off your own escape via the same means, unless you first use an action to dismiss the sanctum.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Putting the target in a forcecage (7th) demands a cha save to use interdimensional travel. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 16, 2018 at 13:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mindwin What does this have to do with my answer? \$\endgroup\$ Aug 16, 2018 at 13:45

There are no spells directly comparable to dimensional anchor in 5e

Dimensional anchor is a 4th level spell with a casting time of 1 action that allows you to restrict a creature from any kind of teleportation with a simple touch attack.

There is nothing in 5e currently that does this at this level, to this extent, without a save, and with a short battle-ready casting time.

Closest spell options

Antimagic field will work if the teleportation ability is a spell or is otherwise magical in nature. With a 1 action casting time and no save you will shut down all magical teleportation of creatures within a 10 foot radius of you after you cast it for 10 minutes. You have to be close to the enemy though and you will restrict other spellcasting as well (yours and your teammates' specifically).

Force Cage meets many of your requirements as you mention, but fails your criteria for keeping the enemy accessible. However, it is still likely your most direct option out of all of 5e's spells.

Secondary spell options

Depending on the spell/ability that the enemy is using to teleport away, both silence and counterspell could also be used to prevent teleportation, but they don't specifically prevent all cases of it.

Every other spell that restricts teleportation has a much longer casting time than 1 action and is thus infeasible for battle use without preparation and/or luck. Though if you decide you actually do want those options, this answer covers them well.

However, if you have access to wish, you can use it to duplicate the effects of any of those spells with only a 1 action cast time making them now combat-viable. Of course, by the time you get wish, you probably have better things to do with it than that.

Dimensional Shackles works very well if you are willing to consider an item

If you can incapacitate the enemy, using a set of Dimensional Shackles will also prevent them from teleporting and are a very good option to consider. Considering the amount of options that inflict the paralyzed, stunned, and/or unconscious conditions (all of which incapacitate), it actually puts this item on generally the same level as dimensional anchor.

Though do note that enemies are given a chance to break out of them, so perhaps not quite as strong. It also, of course, depends on your DM allowing you to acquire said magic item.


If you have two spell casters ... a reversed Magic Circle + Banishment

This is a little complicated, requires two spell casters, and also requires two saving throws. Depending on why you need to lock a fey, undead, fiend, or celestial onto a location, you can do this. (Magic Circle, spell description).

  • Caster 1 casts banishment on the creature. (It lasts for a minute if the creature misses the Charisma save).

  • During the same round Caster 2 begins to cast magic circle (reversed) on the spot that the creature got banished from. This takes a minute to cast, and there's some coordination required. (What could possibly go wrong?) 8^D

    • Note: it is probably best for Caster 2 to ready an action for this casting to get the synchronization just right), depending on the initiative order ...

      The creature can’t willingly enter the cylinder by nonmagical means. If the creature tries to use teleportation or interplanar travel to do so, it must first succeed on a Charisma saving throw. --snip-- When you cast this spell, you can elect to cause its magic to operate in the reverse direction, preventing a creature of the specified type from leaving the cylinder and protecting targets outside it. (Spell Description, Magic Circle)

    • With a second failed Charisma save, you've got your target creature stuck in that circle.

  • Initiative dice are a funny thing. Having Caster 2 start, followed directly by Caster 1's banishment, sets up the timing to where the magic circle is ensured to be complete ahead of Caster 1's banishment expiring one minute later and the creature returning to where it was banished from. Since we don't know where in the initiative order the target creature is, this order of operations has less of a chance for the creature to slip out from the spot before the magic circle completes.

  • Size matters: this approach can work for creatures of size Large and smaller due to the dimensions of Magic Circle's (10' radius x 20' tall) cylinder. It may fit some Huge creatures.

    • For example, some giants (Storm, Cloud) are too tall to fit into that space, others (Hill, Fire) are under 20' tall. Granted, giants are not in the affected creature class, but you'd need to learn (Knowledge(Arcana) check?) how tall, for example, a given Balor is (a Huge fiend). If it's more than 20' tall, it likely won't fit. Work with your DM on this.

This takes a plan, and teamwork.

Your fellow party members should be able to attack (from range) into the circle once the banishment expires. The creature in the circle has disadvantage on attacks coming out of the circle. It's not a lead pipe cinch; it takes good planning and intra party synchronization. All in all, this approach has a lot of moving parts. It may work if the creature has a "my saving throws stink" kind of day.

Your party is burning a 4th and a 3rd level slot to do this; it is not as cheap as 3.5e's dimensional anchor. It not only requires one save, it requires two different saves. The manacle solution isn't quite as complicated but it requires a particular magic item while this method does not.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Bear in mind that this relies on having the full minute to cast magic circle, which requires you to maintain concentration on banishment for the full duration. The potential problem with this is that if the enemy in question is not native to the plane you're on, concentrating on the spell for this long makes the banishment permanent, which means they won't reappear when you need them to. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 16, 2018 at 8:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ @anaximander; are you suggesting that casting the magic circle begin the round previous to banishment, just to make sure? \$\endgroup\$ Aug 16, 2018 at 12:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ that might work; however you do it, you'd need to end banishment by dropping concentration, not by allowing the duration to elapse, or else the enemy won't be coming back (unless under their own power). \$\endgroup\$ Aug 16, 2018 at 12:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ @anaximander Good point. I need to figure out a concise way to phrase this. I'll edit in that concern. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 16, 2018 at 12:12

There are several spells and effects, though none directly block teleportation till you reach higher levels.

You can silence them with a second level spell slot. For spells like dimensional door, this blocks them as they rely on verbal components. Breaking or cutting off their jaw or tongue may have a similar effect.

You can counterspell them, blocking the spell, if you have a free third level spell slot.

With a fourth level spell slot you can put them in a private sanctum to block teleportation, but you need ten minutes.

At level 5 spells and with 24 hours you can hallow an area, which can block teleportation. If you can arrange for the enemy to attack you there, you're gold.

At level 6 spells you can cast forbiddance, which blocks teleportation into the area. It has a large radius, so you can set it down before combat, but it is a ritual with a casting time of 10 minutes. If you know they are using a contingency to teleport to a particular area you can block their contingency.

At level 8 spell slot levels you can use antimagic to block them. This takes an action, and is exactly what you need. You need to get close to them, and maybe grapple them or reserve your actions to stay close.

You can also imprison them, if you can delay them for a minute and have a ninth level spell slot free.

If you can incapacitate them you can put dimensional shackles on them.

This is an excellent design decision I feel for the game, in that it prevents easy blocking of key villains escaping, and prevents you taking an unfun specific spell that you rarely get to use on the off chance an enemy teleports. In 3.5 you had to have a whole load of stuff to justify that. You could homebrew something of course.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Forbiddance does not prevent creatures from teleporting out of an area, it only prevents them from teleporting in. See rpg.stackexchange.com/a/115788/40516 \$\endgroup\$ Aug 15, 2018 at 14:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ I added clarification on both, adding imprisonment and noting that Forbiddance only works on shorter ranged teleportation spells. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nepene Nep
    Aug 15, 2018 at 14:43
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I'm not sure this list gets towards the goal of my question. Some of these solutions require impractically long times during combat to cast and others are thwarted by walking 10' in the right direction. I will edit my question to clarify. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 15, 2018 at 14:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Pyrotechnical what about the dimensional shackles? They seem to meet all of your requirements. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 15, 2018 at 14:50
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ No, I'm saying that they can teleport around inside it. It doesn't block any teleportation with an origin point inside the area. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 15, 2018 at 15:08

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