My high-level party now has 2 casters able to cast teleport. They can now run into any dungeon and just escape freely when things get dangerous. Forbiddance does not prevent you from teleporting out and Antimagic Field is a 10ft radius spell that requires concentration.

How can I prevent my players from pulling off this cheesy strategy against smart opponents who have witnessed this strategy multiple times and can plan beforehand?

So far, I've only come up with Darkness spells (to prevent players from seeing each other to teleport) or Counterspells at the time of cast. Both are fairly unsatisfactory solutions, PCs can just run into another room, or behind a pillar, and teleport there. Is there any RaW way to protect the entire dungeon?

  • The module's recommended approach is to capture PCs alive and enslave them, with escape being a part of the chapter. A military invasion is possible, but can prove deadly. In my version of the campaign, the PCs have an insider which has revealed the enemies have now set some traps and that the party needs to find a different strategy, be it infiltration or letting themselves be captured or something else.
  • The PCs have an Helm of Teleportation on their Monk and a Wizard with Teleport prepared, not too large of an investment.
  • Continuously adding random reinforcements to a dungeon with an established set of members (which the party have scouted with a Warlock Imp) seems to be a cheesy response to their strategy. By doing what they're doing, they slowly chip away at the enemies, killing a few of them every incursion, and slowly thinning out their forces
  • It also makes it so that each incursion is a drawn out encounter without large consequences, part of a larger (and boring for both sides) attrition war
  • It is a bit late to change the plot of the story and change the established "enemy took McGuffin from place before you did, and they are keeping it safe, as commanded by BBEG"
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think this question would be improved by explaining how the players benefit from that strategy. If they're avoiding a difficult encounter that's standing in front of something they want to get to, they'll have to fight their way back in there anyway - and dealing with that is largely covered by questions on here that address the "five minute adventuring day". If they're avoiding things they have no intention of fighting, or if you specifically intend to trap them in a dungeon with an antagonist, that's a different story. \$\endgroup\$
    – recognizer
    Commented Sep 11, 2020 at 19:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ @recognizer It gives PC's the ability to get the distance needed to short (or even long) rest, regaining some abilities and resources/fully healing after having partially handled an encounter. Depending on the enemies' resources, this could end up turning encounters that were supposed to be dramatic into wars of attrition that eat up game time. It's not necessarily wrong, but it's generally less engaging than many other stories and some GM's/players will take issue with it being done repeatedly \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 12, 2020 at 12:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Ifusaso - If that's the problem, then I'd say it falls under recognizer's "dealing with that is largely covered by questions on here that address the 'five minute adventuring day'". \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 12, 2020 at 13:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Ifusaso If the party can rest, why can't the enemy recover during that time as well? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 12, 2020 at 18:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ Please remember that answers should be supported with rules or experience. Submitting ideas is not what we're trying to do here and it may cause question closure. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Sep 15, 2020 at 18:09

17 Answers 17


You're looking for the private sanctum spell

This spell allows the caster to block all teleportation and planar travel in an area. The area is a 100ft cube for a fourth-level spell slot, a 200ft cube for a fifth-level spell slot, et cetera.

Note that the player characters can use dispel magic on this, so a determined opponent would probably want to cast it several times on the same area (using scrolls?), to make it really expensive to dispel.

This is the "intended" way for NPC opponents to prevent planar travel.

It's also fine to homebrew something -- for example you might adapt the AD&D weirdstone item to 5e.

It's good practice to not use this too aggressively

Many tables will consider it "cheap" for the DM to deliberately shut down player character abilities.

It's better to build a plan that will handle it gracefully if the player characters teleport out. For example:

  • the player characters are on a time limit, and if they teleport out then it will take them time to get back
  • the NPC opponents are currently being ambushed, but if the player characters teleport out partway through the attack, the opponents will find lots of reinforcements
  • the NPC opponents have teleport as well, and if the player characters teleport out, the NPCs will follow them and continue the fight

At my table, I generally consider this sort of escape mechanism to be a good thing, because the player characters won't use it unless they're at risk of TPK -- so allowing teleportation is a way to make sure I don't accidentally TPK the group. If you're planning an adventure where you shut down teleportation, you'll want to be extra careful that you don't accidentally kill your adventurers when their escape route is cut off.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I disagree slightly about it being 'cheap' for a GM to 'shut down' player abilities. Players should have more than one thing to do (if a spellcaster only has one trick, they really have a problem) and should be challenged, occasionally, in ways they haven't before. Especially if you're trying to represent an intelligent opponent, they should be countering the strategies they've seen the adventurers use to make it more challenging. There are plenty of GM strategies to not TPK the group if they're not completely in above their heads. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 12, 2020 at 12:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ Ofc the GM probably shouldn't be doing this all the time with uninformed enemies. But occasionally, especially when it make sense narratively, the GM should be flexing their high level abilities against the players' to keep up parity. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 12, 2020 at 12:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ (still upvoting for finding an actual spell that does exactly what OP wanted in addition to suggesting alternatives, though) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 12, 2020 at 12:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ Also: If the PCs teleport out, they've given very specific warning to the party they're fleeing from, in addition to useful intelligence. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 13, 2020 at 4:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ Might be worth mentioning that the spell is called Mordenkainen’s Private Sanctum in the PHB is you're looking for it there. \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil
    Commented Sep 15, 2020 at 21:07

Give them a large object that they must babysit, or a prisoner they must maintain control over.

If the party can escape too easily, then don't put them in a position where "escape" is a win condition. Teleport cannot affect objects larger than 10 foot square (and requires separate castings for largish objects even when they are not that large). Teleport cannot affect unwilling creatures. If the party needs to bring a large object or unwilling creature to a particular location, then the ability to teleport away without it (leaving it in the hands of the enemy) isn't going to be as helpful to them. Incidentally, anything the enemy can do to make members of the party or vital NPCs unwilling to teleport away (however temporarily) will also serve to make this strategy far less effective.

Prisoners that they've managed to free but who are still wearing dimensional shackles are also a good one here - especially for a particularly frustrated and somewhat cruel enemy to twist the knife. After all, the party does have a well-earned reputation of teleporting away. Let's see them teleport away to save their skins and leave the princess behind to feel betrayed by it all. If you want to be a bit kind/hammy, you can have the enemy in question monologue this so that the party knows what they're in for if they flee.

Give them a time limit

A simpler version of the above... effectively, all teleport is doing is enabling your party to run away, resupply, and return more effectively than normal. The real answer to that loop isn't to find a solution to the latest escape technique that makes this escape technique also fail, it's to give them enough of a time limit that teleporting away is going to be meaningfully costly, to the point that they'll strugle not to do it in the first place.

Give then a place to defend

If the enemy is attacking something that the party cares about, and they're in the position of defender, rather than an attacker who can afford to chip away at enemy defenses, the utility of running away and letting the enemy have the field is rather more limited.

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    \$\begingroup\$ ++ This question is essentially the same problem as "how do I stop flying PCs from slaughtering my hordes of unthinking beasts?" The correct answer to both is "stop trying to use the same scenario over and over again". High level D&D is a different game than low level D&D. Static dungeon crawls aren't sufficient. \$\endgroup\$
    – Foo Bar
    Commented Sep 12, 2020 at 12:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ A clever BBEG could use the Sympathy portion of Antipathy/Sympathy to force the PCs to protect an object of their choosing. As it makes the PCs unwilling to leave willingly, teleportation isn't an option. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 14, 2020 at 19:04

Let them Teleport

However, if they don't finish what they set out to do, the defenders of the dungeon will have time to resupply, strengthen their defenses, complete that ritual or whatever nefarious thing they're trying to accomplish. Sure the party can get away, and get a long rest, resupply and all ... but so too can the baddies.

Further, if the baddies have survived one run-in with the party, they'll have a better idea of the party's strengths and weaknesses. If the party tries to teleport back, I'd suggest considering it "seen once". And it's not unreasonable if there are evil wizards in the dungeon for them to put into place a "teleport beacon" right on top of a nasty pit trap (or whatever trap their fiendish minds can devise) which could affect the teleport chances.

Finally, @monsto makes a good point in the comments. Let them know this will be a consequence. This could be out-of-character, or maybe they've got informants, or maybe they just hear rumors while they're resting up. Alternatively put them on a clock before they even enter the dungeon. If they know they've only got 6 hours to stop the ritual of annihilation, teleporting away might not be a viable option but they'll know it (or maybe they'll teleport away to buy potions and teleport right back).

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    \$\begingroup\$ This seems like the best answer. This can be applied to any dungeon without seeming contrived and tells the players "that's not how you're supposed to use that spell". The other answers suggest things you can only really apply to a small number of dungeons, which won't be super effective. If you're applying it to almost every dungeon (or at least each one with difficult encounters), it would seem like you came up with a contrived way to permanently prevent players from using one of their spells, which probably won't be fun for them. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotThatGuy
    Commented Sep 12, 2020 at 15:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ And TELL them this.They have an insider that can tell them "BBEG is getting reinforcements from all over. The fort you cleared out only 3 days ago already has double staff. That [don't teleport from here] tower has reinforcements on the way right now". You gave them the info they need, they know what they need to do, now they have a choice. \$\endgroup\$
    – monsto
    Commented Sep 12, 2020 at 15:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ "And TELL them this.They have an insider that can tell them "BBEG is getting reinforcements from all over." ...... Disagree. SHOW them it. Ideally, write down notes, in advance, saying "if they leave before stopping <X>, the enemies are planning <Y> to secure their advantage". Which, generally, intelligent enemies should be doing anyway! Then if the party leaves before stopping <X>, when they come back, <Y> has happened, making their lives harder. If they complain, show them the notes. After that, they'll remember that they aren't in a video game and NPCs can take actions when out of sight. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 13, 2020 at 20:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ I upvoted several answers, but I think this is the best. It is applicable and realistic for most dungeons and makes the strategy of teleporting out not overpowering while also not completely negating something the party invested in. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 6, 2021 at 16:01

Frame challenge: Mostly, you don't.

The players made a significant investment by choosing Teleportation spell for their PC, and as a wizard choosing that spell for the day. You do not want to make that choice irrelevant. These are frigging 13+th level characters! If the players conserve spell slots while getting in so their characters actually can teleport out with utterance of a few magical incantations, you damn well better let them. This is what it means to be a high-level PC.

If you somehow make it so that they can't, you'd better have overcoming that as a challenge, before they can use their power to teleport out. Do not make this high level characters backtrack their steps to get out if they don't want to.

It is perfectly reasonable for a high level party to descend into a dungeon until they run out of resources, then grab an "Associated object" for Teleportation spell, teleport to their favorite beach resort on the other side of the plane(t) for a long rest and pina coladas, then teleport back to the dungeon.

Simple solution - it's getting there that's the great difficulty

Make the adventure about getting in, and getting in within a time limit. 8 hours of rest on a beach after every battle is not so tempting if the PCs know that one hostage per hour is being gruesomely sacrificed to open the gate for a Great Old One to arrive and claim the plane as their own (as an example).

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    \$\begingroup\$ She said I like piña coladas, and great old ones that reign \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 11, 2020 at 22:28

Easiest way is to make the dungeon/location inside of a pocket dimension or demi-plane of some sort.

The destination you choose must be known to you, and it must be on the same plane of existence as you.

Let the players know

Make the entrance to the location obvious in some way to the magically inclined that it is a portal or boundary to a separate plane of existence.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This is a good trick to prevent leaving the dungeon by teleportation, but if the players are aware that the dungeon is in a separate (demi)plane, they might also escape with plane shift. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 12, 2020 at 13:18

The rules already make this difficult to pull off

In large part, I don't feel there is much you need to do. Teleport isn't a perfect spell, after all.

No one gets left behind

You can't give consent when you're unconscious.

They will eventually misjudge an encounter and someone will be knocked out. At that point, they are stuck, unless they want to abandon a member of the party.

Teleport can be dangerous

Unless they are going to a circle or have an "associated object", using this strategy contains an inherent risk.

That means they either have to teleport a ways away to have a safe teleport, or have a risky teleport if they want to dive back in right away.

Playing enemies smartly

Everyone gets a rest if the PCs leave

The enemies left behind get as much of their resources back as the player characters do. Worse, they are able to modify the dungeon to lay traps and ambushes, or just barricade the entrance better. They are on high alert, and will act appropriately, assuming you don't just play them as still everyone sitting in their respective initial rooms.

Have some of their number wait outside and then as soon as they enter ambush them in a deadly pincer attack: enemies both inside the 2nd room, and outside, cornering the PCs in the 1st room.

Enemies can leave their dungeon

If the party tries this trick more than once on the same dungeon the denizens of that dungeon are going to note how quickly they returned and start sending out raiding parties looking for where the player characters have holed up for the night.

Unless the PCs are experts at hiding their tracks, the trail leading to the dungeon should be easy to follow backwards, and so figure out where they are sleeping each night.

Request reinforcements or just straight up leave

If the PCs use safe teleport, they likely take a while to return. Just have the creatures in the dungeon up and leave (with all their loot, of course). Or invite reinforcements from elsewhere.

Use some special spells to keep them from leaving

You already have some spells in your question, and a number of other replies list other spells, so I won't repeat them here, but sprinkle a few of these here and there for when the more simple strategies aren't enough. Just enough to make the PCs sweat, and know that they can't always rely on the same trick.


Take inspiration from a dungeon that exists in the Forgotten Realms

There already exists something published by Wizards of the Coast for 5th edition that may suit your purpose. In Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage, the Dungeon is proofed against magic:

Alterations to Magic

Halaster doesn’t make it easy for creatures to enter or leave his dungeon. No spell other than wish can be used to enter Undermountain, leave it, or transport oneself from one level to another. Astral projection, teleport, plane shift, word of recall, and similar spells cast for these reasons simply fail, as do effects that banish a creature to another plane of existence. These restrictions apply to magic items and artifacts that have properties that transport or banish creatures to other planes as well. Magic that allows transit to the Border Ethereal, such as the etherealness spell, is the exception to this rule. A creature that enters the Border Ethereal from Undermountain is pulled back into the dungeon upon leaving that plane. [...]

This effect (and other restrictions) are the result of a set of spells (made canonical in the D&D 3.5e adventure Expedition to Undermountain). These are:

  • Halaster's Teleport Cage

  • Halaster's Scrying Cage

Both are 9th level spells, with a material component cost of 1000gp of diamond dust that creates a permanent 10ft cube area (per level of the caster) which prevents the proper functioning of the affected spells both "into, out of and within it's area of effect".

Subsequent castings of these spells, if cast "in an area containing or adjoining another [similar] cage" have

their effects "merge to create a single [similar] cage".

Note, these spells have not been published for 5e

The only way to bypass this restriction is by means of a very rare magic item (which has been published in 5e, name and D&D Beyond link in the spoiler), the

Horned Ring

Spoilers in this answer have been made to avoid unintentional spoiling of the Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage adventure.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Came here looking for undermountain, thank you for this answer lol \$\endgroup\$
    – HellSaint
    Commented Sep 12, 2020 at 16:54

Kill, stun, or otherwise incapacitate the two spell casters

Or have your monsters/NPCs try to.
If your monsters have, as you say, seen or experienced stuff like this from this party or other beings 'in world' then their targeting of spell casters is smart play by the monsters/NPCs. But I'd be careful to consider how this set of monsters or NPCs know, or guess, about what the party may or may not do. Beyond that, counterspell is a perfectly valid choice for an enemy spell caster to take, so don't limit yourself. Include it in the arsenal of some of the party's opponents.

The incapacitated condition prevents taking actions. It requires an action to cast Teleport. Here are some spells to hit the party casters with:

Banishing Smite, Tasha's Hideous Laughter, Imprisonment, Symbol, Power Word Stun (If they are stunned, they can't take an action until your NPC's next turn)

For a less certain case, cast confusion on them. 8/10 results don't result in the PC taking an action.

If you want to be real sneaky, slap Bane on them and then cast the follow up (from above) if you have multiple casters on the enemy side. Bane lowers the target's saving throw roll, however, since it targets Charisma, your Sorcerers and Clerics and Warlocks are not as likely to be influenced as a Wizard.

Stun them: the stunned condition prevents the stunned creature taking an action until the stunner's next turn. There are a variety of monsters and/or spells that can stun. (Have a monk, or the NPC Martial Arts Adept attack them, for example).

Paralyzed creatures can't take actions either. A variety of spells and poisons and monsters inflict the paralyzed condition.

A paralyzed creature is incapacitated (see the condition) and can’t move or speak. (Appendix A)

There are a variety of ways to render the spell casters unconscious, and being Unconscious also prevents them taking actions. Do that.

Put a different way: don't pull your punches as a DM when playing the monsters/Evil Overlords/Demon Lords/Whatever.

For some of the adventures, use GcL's advice on demi-planes as that makes your job as DM easy. However, if all of your encounters above a certain level are only on demi-planes, you may get a few eyebrows raised by your players.

Lastly: put them on a ticking clock

If they teleport out of {this place} there is a time penalty often associated with getting back there to complete the task they had come there to complete, or thing to get. (Free the deva, recover the artifact, slay the demon prince, whatever). If they don't get back in time, mission failure, and then (for example) the demon prince opens gate and ravening hordes of demons erupt in {party's home country / someplace important} and so on.

Next mission becomes: stop ravening hordes of X (which admittedly is a bit tricky given that D&D 5e hasn't yet arrived at a good "mass combat" methodology).

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    \$\begingroup\$ In a world full of magic, as most of these worlds are just overwhelming so, casters are a thing... killing them first should be priority for any intelligent opponent. If the PCs do it to the NPCs it is fair that they do the same. Silence is a good one as well as rooting them within it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Slagmoth
    Commented Sep 11, 2020 at 19:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Slagmoth That can run into a bit of DM meta gaming, though, your second to last paragraph. Most Monsters/NPCs don't survive to report to anyone else what the party's tactics are. But a few might, though how they share that knowledge, and with whom, needs to make sense 'in world' or the DM is getting into Player vs DM territory. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 11, 2020 at 22:33

Add a Mythal to your location

In the Forgotten Realms, several areas are protecetd by powerful magical wards, called Mythals, that layer their surroundings with a certain effect. The Mythal placed on Silverymoon for example, prevents fire magics and teleportation.

Here's more information on Mythals.

As noted by @CaptainBumbleFudge in a comment, Mythals are legendary and their existence and effects are usually well-known. Either prep some lore about it, or have an explanation why your dungeon had a here-to-for unknown Mythal.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I've done this in a game and the party accepted it without question. Also Mythals are sweet :) One caveat is that you should make it very clear what they players are getting into, either make it local knowledge or have the players feel the loss when they enter. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 14, 2020 at 23:37

Rule 0 is still a rule.

You're the DM. A magical force prevents your teleport spell from working. To quote the DMG:

You're the DM, and you are in charge of the game.

The introduction to the Dungeon Master's Guide has some ideas that expand on this point, but this one should just come down to a worldbuilding exercise. Something about the dungeon prevents teleportation, and imposing this sort of environmental effect doesn't need a strict RAW solution. The rules are concerned far more with how players relate to your world, not how you build it.

Now, this is probably a pretty harsh surprise to throw at your players. This is one you would probably want to telegraph in some way. Maybe local legend has it that teleportation doesn't work in this ancient dungeon, or that powerful wizards who are known to be able to teleport have gone in and never been seen again throughout the realm:

The words of the local wiseman drift back into your mind as your teleportation spell fizzles out, "They say strong magic binds the souls who enter to the place, and even strong teleportation magic has no effect".

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    \$\begingroup\$ Whereas this is a perfectly "legal" approach as a player that has played with a DM that did this sort of "hand-waving" plot armor so as not to have to put in the effort of figuring out some sort of viable tactic, this has soured me something fierce to DMs doing this. If I, as a player, can't rely on the rules laid out for me how am I to trust a DM that just makes up anything he wants? All that said there has to be a reason for something like this to exist and it has to be used sparingly to not make everything the PCs do irrelevant. \$\endgroup\$
    – Slagmoth
    Commented Sep 11, 2020 at 19:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ That's sort of what I was getting at in my last paragraph. Don't just do it. Actually worldbuild around it a bit. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 11, 2020 at 19:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ I know.. just standing on a soap box a bit to reinforce your last point. \$\endgroup\$
    – Slagmoth
    Commented Sep 11, 2020 at 19:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ Rather than an overall magical force, perhaps start with something targeted. Like a homebrew port of dimensional anchor from previous editions. That especially helps take care of the usual scenario where people expect dungeon-wide spells to be especially high level. And the question mentions the antagonists are familiar with the PCs spamming teleports. So that level of targeting also makes sense. \$\endgroup\$
    – shhalahr
    Commented Sep 11, 2020 at 19:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ "The DM describes the environment." is RAW. It's written in the Adventuring chapter of the PHB. Nowhere in the D&D 5e rules does it say that the DM is limited to the spells and features of player characters. \$\endgroup\$
    – MikeQ
    Commented Sep 11, 2020 at 21:44

As the DM you already have a mechanism in the spell to make it more challenging to cast. The range for the spell is 10 feet, That isn’t a huge area so the party need to be able to clump together, all it takes is finding a way to isolate one of them off from the rest in a combat situation, or, if they are moving towards each other during combat that’s a nice target for some area effect attacks during the turn it takes them to get into position. Or as the spell is cast have a chance of an enemy reacting to it and pulling one of the players out of the teleport circle. I have done that one before. As the spell is being cast an outlier is pulled outside of the 10 feet the party bampfs leaving a party member behind. But you can also add your own flavor. If my casters are trying to teleport and are in the middle of a combat situation I make them make a concentration check to see if they can lock into the target they are trying to teleport to properly. Depending on what they roll there is a greater chance of mishap and if they roll really bad mishap may be that they teleport and reappear in the same room.

Also an enemy magic user with a dispel or counter magic spell will know the teleport spells being cast.

I will say though that remember this is about making things challenging not DM vs Players, there should be a logical natural reason the NPCs do what they do it should never be because you as a DM want to just stop a thing.

Where are your players teleporting to and, when they get there how are they getting back to the dungeon? Is it to somewhere they know? Remember if they are not teleporting back to a circle there is the chance of mishap and If they are teleporting back onto the dungeon then remember they have only seen it once so there is a greater chance of mishap on returning. A great chance to have them teleport to separate rooms, or into a locked room with guards outside. If they do teleport back then as suggested restock the dungeon making it harder, or, when they battle to the end have the bad guys have moved the target meaning they now need to go looking again. Your DnD world is not a computer game you can have NPCs do anything you want off screen. My players have learnt if they take to long getting to a thing because they chose to take detours or they back away every time they take a bit of damage then one of 3 things happens,

  1. the thing gets moved and they have to find it again,
  2. the thing gets used and something really bad happens (in one 40k game a guaranteed TPK due to a greater demon being summoned that was a tough lesson to learn). Or the hostage is killed.
  3. or the thing gets reinforced and extra protection. That is fun as well, watching as the players look at a thing, there are only 2 guards, that’s easy let’s do this over here, come back, now there are 10 guards and one of them is really big.

Another fun thing I have done in a similar situation was have an enemy wizard who could scry and had teleport, the party teleported away, sat there all happy thinking they where safe, only to then have the wizard and 7 other bad guys teleport in and attack.

But if your players are starting to make a habit of this then there is either no sense of risk in taking there time to complete a dungeon? Or the outcome of the dungeon is not seen as being worth the risk, or your dungeons are so hard that it is not possible to complete them without a break away. As a DM I would look at those possibilities as well, ask your players why they don’t feel any sense of urgency or a sense of need to complete the dungeon in one sitting.


Naturally blocked teleportation

I have not run across this problem in 5E (yet). However, there was an identical problem in 3rd, and my favorite answer should generalize: Teleport can't punch through everything.

When running 3.0/3.5/etc, I have a short list of house-rules to address the worst excesses of that system. The third item on my list is "40 feet of solid material blocks (nearly) all spells. 40 feet underground, you can't scry on the surface or teleport there, and vice versa."

This works amazingly well with the default D&D assumptions. E.g. why are all the weird doomsday cults holed up in abandoned dungeons? Because those are a cheap way to get yourself safe from scry & die. Why do dragons lair in caves? Because anyone stealing their hoard has to come in the old fashioned way. Etc.

I have never had anyone complain about this rule, or even seem concerned by it. However, I also advertise it up-front, and publish it on the same website we use as a campaign journal. If you want to indroduce this as a mechanics change, I recommend you do so very explicitly, along with a discussion of why you want to do it, and also that you then respect that limitation yourself.

Note: This is not my original idea. I ran across it in the Frank & K tomes, where I believe it tracked to the thickness of material needed to block divination. I simplified it for my games, and it's worked transparently and well.


In addition to the other good answers here, I would suggest finding area control effects that allow the antagonists to split the group up. Force one or more of the non-spellcasters more than 10 ft. from the spellcasters. If they can’t keep each other within range.

It doesn’t even have to be a long-lasting effect. If the PCs look like they are going to run, that means they probably feel the tide is turning. If they have like an enemy warlock with repelling blast positioned properly to keep knocking one of the PCs away from the party spellcasters, they could buy another round or two for the rest of the antagonists to take out the spellcaster.


As the DM you are responsible for driving the story and making sure everyone has an enjoyable game. That said I appreciate players using everything at their disposal to tip the odds in an encounter in their favor. So, lets re-frame the problem. I assume you have a challenging albeit winnable dungeon encounter set up with some more difficult encounters you don't want the players to "cheese" out of. I agree with Thomas Markov' answer where he says use DM prerogative. Also, there is no reason to explain to the characters why something doesn't work. If they have no reason to know why it doesn't. But, for your knowledge here are some things I've used in my games (37 years of DM'ing).

The Dungeon was the previous home of a powerful Lich, the lich created a spell that simply redirected dimensional travel. Any spells such as teleport or dimension door wouldn't work as intended but rather drop the character deeper into a more dangerous part of the dungeon. (Maybe even more ominously they instead are teleported 500 feet in the air at the same time they are subject to a targeted dispell) This could be a rumor the characters hear before entering the dungeon. This causes the characters to think deeper and not overly rely on a single spell as an escape. Maybe outside they find the splattered remains of someone. (500 feet would mean they have just about 6 seconds before they hit the ground at 122 mph - you can assign damage if you want I just call it death)

or another, There exists a planar anomaly where this dungeon exists. Perhaps it was caused many years earlier when foolish cultist summoned a very powerful demon near the site and now any attempts to travel via dimensional methods may cause the character to instead appear in the abyss. As an alternative maybe an attempt to use dimension door or teleport warps this anomaly so that instead a demon is brought in. This could be a surprise to the characters or something known and warned about.

Perhaps instead there is a powerful magic item somewhere in the dungeon that prevents or perverts attempts to teleport. An ancient gate used by Githyanki spellcasters that was damaged. Now instead of being a portal somewhere else it draws anyone within 300 yards who uses such a spell. Instead of teleporting to safety they are now in a dire situation as certain subterranean creatures know of this and wait on wounded fools to stagger through the gate. Limitless possibilities here that could further your story.

Maybe it's not true at all but, A dire warning from a half drunken former fighter in the local tavern may be enough. He could warn them about how he and his party attempted to flee the dungeon by teleporting only to find themselves in the under-dark in the lair of Shadow Dragon. Weeks later he stumbled to the surface the soul survivor and swore he'd adventure no more. Do they risk it? Is it true? If they dare what happens? These are the story points a DM should work not getting wrapped in the details of game rules.

In conclusion don't let the rules get in the way of a great encounter and enjoyable game, and remember the characters are not omnipotent they only know what they know. You aren't playing DM vs Players you are just trying to have an enjoyable game. Sometimes the players need to outsmart the BBEG and get a cheesy win other times they need to do it the hard way.


Teleport without preparation with a chance of a mishap. Make sure you enforce this. This won't stop the strategy but it's part of the plan.

I'm assuming your party are risk-averse since they're going with this strategy and want to minimize this. Fortunately for them, that's trivial to do. An associated object or a teleport circle and they have 100% chance. Curses!

There is one downside to this strategy that a truly diabolical enemy can exploit of course. It takes a bit of work, but the result will be incredible.

During the first encounter, take something from the party. Disarm a weapon or better still, make a big deal about taking a lock of hair or spilling some blood in a suitably ritualistic manner. Force them to flee.

This is where we break out the ace in the hole- Scrying. With a -10 to the will save from the sample (making a big deal about it in the fight foreshadows it), this should succeed easily. You could use the old Scry & Die here and teleport at them but that's too tame.

Now that you know where they flee to, send some minions there. Next encounter, focus on ruining one of the teleports and force them to flee with the other to that same teleport circle where your ambush is waiting.


As mentioned above, you could tax them, or penalize them in some manner, but i feel like creating more danger will only result in more problems. Understand why they are using this approach. Incentivise them to not rely on it.

  • Have some areas of the dungeon warded against teleportations. Most active structures above and under ground that have magically-protected chambers, and there are still many that are completely protected by means that players typically dont have resources for or access to.

  • Make teleportation an inconsistent ,not ineffective method.

  • Your npc spellcasters could teleport away from them when they start to lose, and come back when they recover. All the more frustrating when some important enemy that they want to kill eludes them with the same strategies. Give your baddies temporary magic items, like a spell gem that stores an invisibility spell. The PC's can't counterspell effects, or spells they can't perceive.

  • Have them mocked for fleeing so quickly. Let word of their cowardace spread, so that people don't take them seriously or trust them with important things.

  • Give them a rival that takes advantage of their habits. They can be a mage, or hire mages to set up glyphs of warding to trigger any number of spells to harass them "when (creature or named persons) attempt to teleport in/out" It should be unpredictable when and where these glyphs are, the PCs should still have a chance to find them as normal, and the spells should be as varied as possible. Have fun with it. Random curses and spell effects will keep them on guard when dealing with runes and glyphs.

  • There are/were magical diseases associated with frequent teleportation, and well as the 5e teleportation mishaps. Give them Summoning Sickness, Caster's Cough, or especially Displacer’s Malalignment.

  • Make the dungeon encounters less dangerous, but more numerous, so that they use their spellslots on other things. Soften them up before the big bad.


As an experienced DM, I've never had that issue. But, if I did, I would make everything easier for them. This way, they realize they don't need to teleport away. And maybe situate something where they wish they had memorized a different spell they could of used instead of teleport.

But if you have an issue with players being afraid of things getting too dangerous, then adjust the risk/reward. If they teleport too much, then give a small reward and say "Well, you guys teleported away and it gave the enemy time to evacuate their treasure".

I try to run my adventures like a movie. Set things up, add a plot point, add something to bring them down, then something to bring them up, then a climax. Make things unpredictable, like teleport in more monsters to scare them, then when they teleport away, let the monster teleport with them. As a DM, you can do anything you want. You don't have to follow the rules. They are just guidelines to me.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to answering questions on rpg.se please use the help center for guidance. Generally, we want answers to base on expertise - in this case, how have your suggestions worked out at your table? \$\endgroup\$
    – Akixkisu
    Commented Sep 14, 2020 at 12:41

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