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I am trying to work out a way for an NPC wizard to teleport the players to another location on the same plane, but without using a teleport circle and without having to travel with them himself. This will be a willing action, he is sending the party into the wilderness to complete a quest but saving them the time it will take to travel there as it is time dependant. The party size is 8 players.

The party will be returning to the wizard by foot, he is convincing them he is helpful but also trying to get them out of his hair for nefarious reasons.

The party has a wizard so trying to find a RAW way of doing this to avoid that player trying to gain the same ability in the future.

There do not seem to be any spells in the official list that a wizard would have access to, so I am expanding this to all in game methods.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Is there a reason that this needs to be done via the same rules the players have? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Apr 29 at 16:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ We need to know the party size. \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Markov Apr 29 at 16:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ Has the wizard ever been at the destination? Or have they ever seen the destination? Do the players have to come back to the wizard? \$\endgroup\$ – Eddymage Apr 29 at 17:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ Does this answer your question? What spells are available to teleport willing characters? \$\endgroup\$ – TylerH Apr 30 at 13:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ The above is definitely a canonical target for this question that exhaustively covers every option. \$\endgroup\$ – TylerH Apr 30 at 13:20
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NPC's are not restricted to the same spells the players use.

You can just say the NPC's version of teleport allow them to exclude themselves. Chapter 10, Spellcasting, points out that there are far, far more spells than those listed in the existing books.

Uncounted thousands of spells have been created over the course of the multiverse's history, and many of them are long forgotten. Some might yet lie recorded in crumbling spellbooks hidden in ancient ruins or trapped in the minds of dead gods. Or they might someday be reinvented by a character who has amassed enough power and wisdom to do so. (PHB, p. 201)

NPC's are not restricted to the same spells as players; spells for players are created for balance and playability. It is entirely possible, if not expected, that an NPC might know a spell they players don't or has a different version of the spell. Page 283 in the DMG has guidelines for creating new spells.

If you need the NPC to be able to teleport the players, they can. Whether it is by spell, boon, scroll, magic item, or a ritual requiring twelve apprentice mages and the alignment of the stars. You as the DM define the world.

You can make it subtle or obvious. From "Bob points a stick at you says a single word and you disappear" to "Bob the wizard and 5 of his apprentices form a circle around you and begin chanting for ten minutes" If your players try to identify the spell and succeed at their arcana check, you can say "Bob the wizard appears to be using a variant of the teleport spell"

If you're worried about balance, put restrictions on it. Maybe the spell only works from a permanent glyph the NPC has spent months making (A reverse circle of teleportation so to speak). Maybe it requires 6 other people with spellcasting abilities and takes ten minutes to cast. Maybe it requires rare, hard-to-find material components that are consumed. Maybe it does not actually teleport them but fires them into the sky in a ball of energy that streaks to the target location in a matter of hours. You can even have fun with this by having the spell dump them high in the air and they then have to expend spells or resources to make it to the ground safely. You can even scare the players with Bob the wizard saying prior to launch: "Be careful I haven't worked out all the bugs in this spell yet, landing can be a little wiggy".

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    \$\begingroup\$ Your third section, basically 'have fun with this', is a refreshing change from some of the RAW-centricism we often fall into (myself included) \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Apr 29 at 19:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ Given there does not seem to be any viable in game option as I was hoping I will go with this approach, I do always dislike making in world NPC solutions to problems that the players don't have access to so will probably homebrew a teleport variation, make it a higher level and then make it available in my universe if the wizard in the party ever wants to learn it. I wasn't sure if a different spell had been released, either in a sourcebook I don't own, or even UA. But thank you will take this approach \$\endgroup\$ – Richard C Apr 30 at 18:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ @RichardC that's why I gave some balance examples, one of the simplest is making it lower level but make it require multiple spellcasters and a longer casting time. your players may learn it but they will never use it. I use that for weather control spells, since that to me would be the only reason nearly every town described has a wizard. \$\endgroup\$ – John Apr 30 at 19:01
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You are the DM. You don't need to be restricted by rules. Use them as your guidelines to make your own solution.

You could have the NPC do a homebrewed Teleport spell, where he could exclude himself in the transportation.

You could give items like what @Thomas Markov recommended.

Or just give a description of a new teleportation spell that speaks as if it were unknown, new, or an advanced form of teleportation.

Also, how about as if the NPC have found a portal that directly connects to that place?

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    \$\begingroup\$ "The D&D rules help you and the other players have a good time, but the rules aren't in charge. You're the DM, and you are in charge of the game." - DMG, page 4 \$\endgroup\$ – smbailey Apr 29 at 18:39
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Outsource it

I agree with the other posters that your wizard is an NPC - they should have an NPC spell / ability / item that covers this, because it is what you want for your plot.

However, if you insist on having the NPC use only the magic available to PCs then they can outsource it by scribing or purchasing a scroll of teleport and having the party bard, sorcerer, or wizard read it.

Or, purchasing a scroll of Wind Walk and having the party druid read it. Caveat: wilderness location must be within a few hundred miles of current location.

Or, by purchasing a scroll of Word of Recall and having the party cleric read it. Caveat: The cleric who wrote the scroll must have also prepared a sanctuary reasonably close to the target location to serve as the drop point for the spell. Perhaps an abandoned or ruined shrine in the wilderness.

Related: What spells are available to teleport willing characters?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Also consider Glyph of Warding. This is a weird usage, but it probably works. \$\endgroup\$ – Mooing Duck Apr 30 at 16:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MooingDuck Do you mean using glyph to trigger a teleport? "When you cast this spell, you inscribe a glyph that harms other creatures". Doesn't seem valid. It it was allowed, still for a spell glyph "The spell must target a single creature or an area." Having a seperate glyph for each PC to be teleported has got to be more expensive then just getting a scroll of teleport for the party to use. \$\endgroup\$ – Kirt Apr 30 at 17:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ I was thinking the mage can set the Glyph of Warding to teleport everyone standing on it when a keyword is said. The description says "harm other creatures", but the details allows just about any spell. \$\endgroup\$ – Mooing Duck Apr 30 at 17:21
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This is what homebrew magic items are for.

"Here take this item, it will get you where you need to go" is pretty standard fare in adventure narratives. If you just need the wizard to be able to send the party to a location, just give them a single use magic item that will teleport them:

Ring of Teleport to the Wizard's Shack One Time

While wearing this ring, as an action, you instantly transport yourself and up to eight willing creatures of your choice that you can see within range to the wizard's wilderness shack. Upon arrival this ring crumbles to dust.

Or you can just have the Wizard teleport them when they're ready. I've done both of these things with my players before. In one situation, things were pretty urgent, and the characters needed to get somewhere quick and their arcane benefactor just transported them immediately. With another party, they took a contract with a local archmage to clear an old tower. The archmage gave them a single use teleport item to an old house near the tower. The single use item method gives the party time to prepare and allows them to teleport at their leisure.

You're the DM. You aren't bound by the same rules the players are.

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The ninth-level spell gate will do this

The gate spell says:

Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 60 feet
Components: V, S, M (a diamond worth at least 5,000 gp)
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 minute

You conjure a portal linking an unoccupied space you can see within range to a precise location on a different plane of existence...

You might object: "Well, but this wizard wants to teleport this party to a location on the same plane!" That's fine. The wizard can start by getting the group into a rope trick, which is an extradimensional space and should count as being on a different plane. (If the DM is very nitpicky and doesn't feel that "extradimensional" is the same as "extraplanar", the wizard may need to start with a different spell such as demiplane.)

But it's not very realistic

If this wizard is capable of casting ninth-level spells, it's weird that the only thing he's doing with all that magic is giving the adventuring party a one-way teleport. Are you sure it makes sense that he's spending time on the adventuring party and not solving the problem himself?

Even a wizard capable of casting eighth-level spells could teleport the party to the location and then use his eighth-level slot to teleport home, and it seems like that would be simpler.

If it were me, I'd probably just narrate that the quest wasn't quite that time-sensitive. I'd tell the party the wizard wasn't high-level enough to cast teleport, and that they had to walk there.

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    \$\begingroup\$ "Are you sure it makes sense that he's spending time on the adventuring party and not solving the problem himself?" Hey, he’s got other stuff to do. Powerful wizards know when they need to delegate. \$\endgroup\$ – shhalahr Apr 29 at 18:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ @shhalahr Well, smart wizards at least. And it’s important to remember that just because wizards are INT-based does not mean that ‘smart’ is the same as ‘powerful’. \$\endgroup\$ – Austin Hemmelgarn Apr 30 at 1:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ Assuming a wizard has a permanent teleportation circle somewhat near their home they could teleport the party with and return with only a 7th and 5th level slot. Using Teleportation Circle for the return trip. \$\endgroup\$ – linksassin Apr 30 at 6:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ Uhm, gate only works to other planes though... \$\endgroup\$ – Hobbamok Apr 30 at 7:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ This is a wizard capable of casting 9th level spells, he is also (unknown to the party) the BBEG, he wants the party out of his hair for a while, but is coming across as friendly. He does not want to kill them as so far they have been very useful in unknowingly helping him with his aims. He is unwilling to take physical risks himself as he is still waiting for the components to start making his next clone. \$\endgroup\$ – Richard C Apr 30 at 18:32
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Teleport + Dimensional Shackles

Dimensional Shackles is probably meant to be punitive rather than serve this particular purpose, but it should do the trick. A cogent argument can be made against this method, but it's sufficiently ambiguous.

You can use an action to place these shackles on an incapacitated creature. The shackles adjust to fit a creature of Small to Large size. In addition to serving as mundane manacles, 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. They don't prevent the creature from passing through an interdimensional portal.

You and any creature you designate when you use the shackles can use an action to remove them. Once every 30 days, the bound creature can make a DC 30 Strength (Athletics) check. On a success, the creature breaks free and destroys the shackles.

  1. Knock out the NPC wizard or otherwise incapacitate them (Paralyze, Petrify, Stun)
  2. Put shackles on them
  3. Designate said NPC wizard as able to remove them
  4. Revive NPC
  5. NPC casts Teleport, which lacks a somatic component
  6. Dimensional Shackles anchors the caster, but not the party
  7. Caster removes shackles without making a check (step 3)

The rules-lawyer argument against this lies in the phrase "prevent a creature bound by them from using any method of extradimensional movement". This ambiguous word choice might prevent them from casting extradimensional transport, or it could prevent them from being the subject of extradimensional transport.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Gouda cheese, +1 \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Apr 29 at 19:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm trying to rationalize the use of a wondrous item rather than a second 7th-level spell, and all I'm coming up with is a) their liegelord doesn't want to lose their only teleporter, or b) the NPC really likes getting incapacitated and shackled \$\endgroup\$ – Punintended Apr 29 at 19:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ That almost sounds like a taste for BDSM gone a bit wrong for that spell caster, and maybe I better stop there. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Apr 29 at 19:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ Similarly, the spell Private Sanctum has the option to prevent teleportation into or out of an area (as small as a 5ft cube), and is only 4th level. \$\endgroup\$ – DqwertyC Apr 30 at 20:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DqwertyC Ooh, that's a much better option - lower spell level than teleport, less cheesy, less violent, effectively free, can't be stolen. Put that as an answer and I'll upvote the heck out of it! \$\endgroup\$ – Punintended Apr 30 at 20:39
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Transport Via Plants

This spell creates a magical link between a Large or larger inanimate plant within range and another plant, at any distance, on the same plane of existence. You must have seen or touched the destination plant at least once before. For the duration, any creature can step into the target plant and exit from the destination plant by using 5 feet of movement.

This is traditionally a Druid spell, but as NPCs don't have player classes there is no reason why your 'Wizard' wouldn't have access to it. If the NPC hasn't been to the wilderness before, then scrying beforehand can allow you to meet the 'seen the destination plant' criteria (this is usually a judgement call for the DM, but as you are the DM I'd suggest ruling in your favour).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The querent says the wizard is capable of casting 9th level spells. If he knows Wish, he can simply Wish for the effect of Transport Via Plants. If he wants to disguise the fact that he's using Wish, and/or that the effect is a Druid spell, that's an interesting opportunity for the party to catch on to things. (If the DM decides to leave that up to chance of an Arcana roll, and/or Perception, for example.) \$\endgroup\$ – Peter Cordes May 2 at 16:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ I had considered wish but, wish in my universe is an ultra rare spell (if the players ever get to being able to use it I am still debating if I make it available to them), it is the kind of thing gifted by a god. This wizard's whole thing is that he wants to absolutley destroy all the gods, he believes all magic should be learnt and taught and that gods walking around, involving themselves in individuals lives is wrong. So wish is the kind of spell that he really would not use. \$\endgroup\$ – Richard C May 6 at 12:32
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Teleport + Private Sanctum

Very similar to Punintended's answer about Dimensional Shackles, the 4th level spell Private Sanctum can create a region that is warded against various types of magic. While the caster is able to choose any mixture of different security features, the one relevant to your wizard is:

Nothing can teleport into or out of the warded area.

There is nothing in the wording that states that teleportation spells can't be cast from inside the area, just that they can't teleport anything that is inside the sanctum. Since the region can be as small as a 5-foot cube, the caster can be inside the warded region and be completely surrounded by creatures that are within 10 feet but outside of the warded region.

Additionally, the sanctum can be made permanent by casting the spell at the same point everyday for a year. If this is something that your wizard is expecting to do often, he can have a room or area already prepared for this purpose. Also, since Private Sanctum takes 10 minutes to cast, it's not a method that can be duplicated in a combat setting, even if your players figure out exactly how the wizard is doing it.

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