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I would like to introduce a prison designed for keeping psionic characters confined. The place is a tower in an empire ruled by clerics, so solutions based on cleric spells are preferred, though arcane magic is available.

As I work with magic-psionics transparency I am thinking of a cell or maybe a whole level in a tower that is magic-dead. But though magic-dead zones are a common thing in DnD I find it quite tricky to create one based on the rules. Antimagic field is the obvious choice - but I would need one permanencied and cast on an area, not personal. Would such a cell be a magic item? Or a trap?

I am looking for a RAW answer based on official material.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Frame challenge: why dead zone? Why not use the brain lock power? Divine Mind can access it, and should get along well with clerics.... \$\endgroup\$ – nijineko Jul 26 '19 at 18:37
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Only with the DM's permission can a PC directly create instantaneously a dead magic area… and that requires creating a new demiplane

The 9th-level shaper power genesis [metacreativity] (Expanded Psionics Handbook 109–10), in part, specifically says, "You can’t manipulate the time trait on your demiplane [that you've created by manifesting this power]; its time trait is as the Material Plane." This implies but—to be absolutely clear—does not state that when the shaper manifests the genesis power, she can manipulate the demiplane's other traits. Among a plane's—and, by extension, a demiplane's—traits are Magic Traits and among those magic traits is whether or not the plane is a dead-magic plane. (The Dungeon Master's Guide instead puts dead magic in its section on Planar Traits on Additional Traits (168).) (Also see this question.)

(By comparison, the 9th-level Sor/Wiz and Creation domain spell genesis [conj] (Epic Level Handbook 117) doesn't mention any planar traits at all. This reader remembers furious messageboard flame wars engaged in by supporters of all sides of the genesis spell, one side saying that the spell doesn't allow the caster to pick the demiplane's traits, another side saying that the caster can pick all the demiplane's traits including time traits, and a dozen other sides supporting every argument in between.)

Thus, so far as I'm aware, the the only guaranteed way that a PC can create an area of dead magic is this: The PC's player asks the DM if the player's PC can employ the genesis power or spell to create a new demiplane that possesses the trait dead magic, and the DM says yes.

Once that dead magic demiplane is created, the only magic elements that work there are any permanent portals like those described in the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting (56) and Stronghold Builder's Guide (49–50). While it may go slightly against your vision of one level of the prison tower being a dead magic area, this is probably the safest way of securing prisoners in a dead magic area.

However, an antimagic area can be built into a stronghold,…

While not exactly the same thing, the sigils of antimagic (SB 83) (66,000 gp; stronghold) can cover one stronghold space (usually a room or roomlike section of a building) in antimagic (Dungeon Master's Guide 290). Effects that aren't affected by antimagic can be used when the stronghold's built in the space warded by the sigils so that, for example, the space is sectioned off by effects like walls of force or prismatic walls.

Creatures of greater than divine rank 0 can still use magic normally in the space warded by the sigils, and artifacts likewise function normally, so this may not be secure enough if the prisoner is friends with Blibdoolpoolp or Zuggtmoy or if the prisoner wears the head of Vecna.

…And the DM can just handwave the existence of a dead magic area

The Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting on Dead Magic, in part, says, "Dead magic zones often persist in places where extreme concentrations of magical power were abruptly scattered or destroyed—in the vicinity of a shattered mythal [n.b. Wikipedia has a mythal article?!], at the spot where an artifact was broken, or at the scene of a god's death" (56). So a group of enterprising clerics looking for just the right spot for their psionic prison might've happened upon just such an event in their research and opted to build at least part of their prison where such a momentous event occurred.

In the case of your prison, just make it so the momentous event occurred underground and the tower prison was built on top of it. For example, a clockwork elevator from the aboveground normal magic section of the prison could take guards, prisoners, and visitors to the undergound dead magic area of the prison.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for this excellent answer. I was surprised there was no ward spell of this kind. I probably go with the Stronghold builder's guidebook, because this is not about hostile divine beings, but keeing control over a small part of the population. \$\endgroup\$ – Giorin Jul 25 '19 at 16:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ Druid method is also available using an acorn of far travel.... \$\endgroup\$ – nijineko Jul 26 '19 at 15:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @nijineko The acorn spell's Range: touch plus the spell saying that it "must be cast upon an acorn that is still attached to a living oak tree" means that spell would have to be cast in a dead magic area. That can be done (e.g. the invoke magic spell, the Initiate of Mystra feat, maybe the Reach Spell feat), but then there's forcing unwilling creatures to carry acorns then there's renewing every acorn spell at least monthly. And that's if the DM even says the spell even works that way—not a guarantee! Possible? Sure. Incredibly and enormously complicated? Hell yes. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Jul 26 '19 at 16:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ Incorporate the acorn into their iron bands or something? \$\endgroup\$ – nijineko Jul 26 '19 at 17:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ "A wish or miracle could patch a 30 foot area of the damage as well." Since said spells could patch a no-magic zone, presumably it could also create one. \$\endgroup\$ – nijineko Jul 26 '19 at 17:49

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