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Forcecage states:

A creature inside the cage can't leave it by nonmagical means. If the creature tries to use teleportation or interplanar travel to leave the cage, it must first make a Charisma saving throw.

Despite external opinions about how the spell should work, is it correct to read the RAW interpretation that magical effects such as Tree Stride or Transport via Plants are capable of bypassing the saving throw as they don't specify they are teleportation?

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Yes. Tree stride and transport via plants do not incur the charisma save to escape from a force cage

Both tree stride and transport via plants provide a location shifting effect, but do not state they are teleporting the caster. Spells that teleport the caster state they do so in the effect text.

The drawback is the plant spells are dependent on the presence of a tree or large inanimate plant inside the force cage's area. Clever use of a tree or mass of plants if they are available.

Teleporting spells

In contrast, spells that teleport the caster state this, e.g. " you teleport..." "You and up to five willing creatures within 5 feet of you instantly teleport..." The following spells all indicate they are teleporting the caster and are subject to the charisma saving throw effect:

Availability

An important difference here is that the spells that afford magical movement that isn't teleportation are dependent on the presence of a suitable trees or plants whereas the direct teleportation spells are always available to the caster.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Forcecage doesn't specify what happens with objects that are inside it when it is cast. I can't think how a tree could be inside a Forcecage without the cage cutting off the roots and killing it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nick
    Commented Jul 20, 2020 at 15:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Nick The spell casting rules for aoe indicate that the obstructions that grant total cover a space, exclude the space from the aoe. For a tree that doesn't grant total cover, it and the space around it, could be in the cage. Nothing in the spell description indicates it cuts through objects, plants, or creatures. \$\endgroup\$
    – GcL
    Commented Jul 20, 2020 at 15:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ I suppose you can get a force-not-quite-cage if there are total cover granting objects within in! \$\endgroup\$
    – Nick
    Commented Jul 21, 2020 at 10:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Nick in the event of the cage abutting a ragged wall or massive tree, the area of effect would go up to the blocking object producing a slightly peculiarly shaped force cage. As there are lines of sight on the non-covered side, the area of the spell includes those, so you wouldn't have the force cage open on any end. It would just have a different footprint. \$\endgroup\$
    – GcL
    Commented Jul 21, 2020 at 15:47
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Not in the general case

While a parallel could be made between 'teleportation' and 'magic' such that only those things specifically called out as teleportation count as teleportation just like only those things called out as magic are magic, no such parallelism exists in the rules at present. Instead, 'teleportation', having no special meaning, is supposed to default to the "natural language" sense of the word, even though that is not generally a linguistically coherent course of action.

Since we are also supposed to do this because we are pretending that the rules themselves are written such that each word uses its single idiomatic meaning, it would follow that all things explicitly labeled teleportation are certainly teleportation, but other stuff might be teleportation as well.

Consequently, although we cannot say that you definitely make the Charisma save with spells like tree stride, we also cannot say that you can definitely bypass it. Instead, it depends on whether your DM decides the effect counts as teleportation or not, based on what they think the single universal meaning of the word in idiomatic English is.

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Only if the DM has ruled that they are not teleportation

Forcecage requires a save to escape by means of teleportation (which magically moves you but requires your destination to be on the same plane) or interplanar travel (which magically moves you but requires your destination to be on a different plane).

This means that, in theory, you could escape without a save by using a magical means to move yourself that was not teleportation. But this begs the question: are there magical means to move yourself on the same plane that are not teleportation?

The description of dimensional shackles hints that some other, non-teleport, form of movement could exist:

the shackles prevent a creature bound by them from using any method of extradimensional movement, including teleportation or travel to a different plane of existence.

If we take "travel to a different plane of existence" to be equivalent to forcecage's "interplanar travel", then the fact that "extradimensional movement" merely includes teleportation could mean that other forms of magical movement, which are neither teleportation nor interplanar travel, do exist.

The problem is that there is no in-game definition of teleportation, nor of extradimensional movement. So, unfortunately, we are unable to determine whether a given means of movement is RAW not teleportation, or whether it is teleportation but is simply 'unlabeled'.

GcL, in their accepted answer to this question, says that effects are teleportation when they say they are. That certainly is a clear, consistent, and easily-applied ruling - but it is not RAW since no rule tells us that this is the case.

Under that ruling, as OP suggests and GcL agrees, both Treestride and Transport via Plants are indeed not teleportation effects. However, this ruling presents some complications. First off, a Sage Advice ruling:

Misty step doesn’t say the caster can bring worn or carried equipment with them. Are they intended to leave everything, including their clothes, behind? No, the caster’s worn and carried equipment are intended to go with them.

Some teleportation effects do specify that you teleport with your gear; such specification is an example of a rule being needlessly fastidious, since no teleportation effect in the game assumes that you teleport without your clothes, just as the general movement rules don’t assume that you drop everything when you walk.

According to Sage Advice, teleportation effects (which are still not defined) assume that you travel with your gear, and so do not need to specify this.

Neither treestride nor transport via plants explicitly say that you travel with your gear. So if neither of these spells are teleportation, as GcL contends, then we have no assumption that your gear travels with you. Spells do what they say they do - so when you step through the plant, your gear stays behind. This does not seem like what the spells intend. I find it more likely that both spells are simply teleportation effects that are not explicitly designated as such than that they are meant to transport you without your gear.

A number of special movement spells have appeared since forcecage was written in the PHB, and since GcL wrote their answer. In general, they do a good job of announcing themselves as teleport effects; scatter, steel wind strike, and vortex warp all explicitly say that you are teleporting when you use them. However, at least one does not. Dream of the blue veil 'transports' you to another world, but the spell description does not use the word "teleport". Neither is the spell interplanar transport, because it specifies that it can only move you between worlds on the same (Prime Material) plane. According to GcL's ruling, dream of the blue veil is not teleportation because it does not say it is, which seems like a strange result, both because of the nature of the spell and because it might leave your gear behind as well. Whether or not it could get you out of a forcecage is of limited consequence, because even if it worked you would have to have had the forcecage cast five hours into the duration of the dream, but still it seems odd that it is not a teleportation effect.

GcL also asserts that "the spells that afford magical movement that isn't teleportation are dependent on the presence of a suitable trees or plants whereas the direct teleportation spells are always available to the caster." I am not sure what they are saying here, but that doesn't seem quite right, either.

If what they mean is that, by definition, non-teleport spells rely on plants, then we can hold up dream of the blue veil again as a counterexample: teleport is not mentioned but no plants are required.

Perhaps what they mean is more like "note that non-teleport spells require some sort of physical connection between target and destination, like plants (or an object or person in the case of dream of the blue veil), but actual teleport spells are available without such a connection". If this is what they mean then teleportation circle appears to be the counterexample, since you have to spend a minute drawing a circle on your end that matches the circle on the destination end, and there does need to be something on the other end - meaning this clear teleportation effect is not 'always available'.

Thus, I agree with Please stop being evil's answer when they conclude that if there is an in-game distinction between the magical movement that is teleport and the magical movement that is not, there is no RAW way to know what the distinction is. Each DM will need to define that for their own game.

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