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I wanted to make it difficult for the party to leave Avernus and return to their home plane, but I have realized that one of the party members could just use the banishment spell a number of times to get the party to return to their home plane.

Is my understanding of the spell correct?

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Yes, but there is a caveat

Firstly banishment requires a Charisma saving throw which the party members must fail on, but given enough time/spell slots this wouldn't be a problem, merely an inconvenience.

Given failures and nothing to stop the spell prematurely, they will be sent to their home plane, as per the relevant except from the spell:

If the target is native to a different plane of existence than the one you're on, the target is banished with a faint popping noise, returning to its home plane. If the spell ends before 1 minute has passed, the target reappears in the space it left or in the nearest unoccupied space if that space is occupied. Otherwise, the target doesn't return.

However banishment makes to mention of where on the relevant plane the target appears, leaving room for the DM to choose. Most of the time (i.e. normal castings of this spell on demons, elementals etc.) that location doesn't matter, but with PC's it does. So you could rule, preferably before the spell is cast (unless you like being mean and punishing to your players), that they will end up on separate, random places on that plane with no knowledge of where they or the others are. Using this ruling will replace their current problem of being stuck on Avernus, with the problem of being stuck on random locations on the Material plane (assuming they're from there). This latter problem will be harsh on any non-spellcasters and on spellcasters who haven't got access to teleporation and/or divination spells to find the others again.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Great answer, and just to highlight part of your answer I feel is important: Don't surprise your players with rules-"gotcha"s like "now that you're back on the material plane, you realize that you have no idea where banishment actually placed you. Your friends could be hundreds of miles away, or more." \$\endgroup\$ – goodguy5 Apr 11 at 11:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ The second half of the description gives an option: Some form of curse or effect that always causes the Banishment spell to end within 50 seconds, returning the target to Avernus? \$\endgroup\$ – Chronocidal Apr 11 at 11:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ I like this answer and also if this happens it could make a lot of extra work for the GM who now has 3, 4, 5, 6 or however many PCs there are, separate adventures to manage. I think this approach would work best if you tell the PCs ahead of time they could end up in the middle of the ocean, in the tundra, or some other place where death might be imminent. In other words let them know they could die if they do this And really use this to convince them not to go this route. \$\endgroup\$ – lightcat Apr 11 at 15:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ Especially considering the Material plane largely consists of cold, dark, space. I'd shudder at the thought of being banished back to the Material plane. Banishing is not a pleasant experience. \$\endgroup\$ – KoaxialKable Apr 11 at 18:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ Banishing creatures to a plane of existence that isn't the current one is exactly the point of this spell. Whether or not the creature being banished would regard that as beneficial...that is an entirely different question. \$\endgroup\$ – illustro Apr 11 at 19:46

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