It will happen sometimes that my party has captured and subdued a bad guy that we don't wish to kill (but do want to keep with us for interrogation or etc purposes). The bad guys are generally very unhappy and want to escape. If we're in the middle of the wilderness/a sinking ship/the wrong city/far away from the antimagic field/etc, it would be very nice to use some sort of teleportation spell or series of spells to get the whole group (including the bad guy) away to wherever we want to go.

However, all of the 5e spells for moving people in space I've found have specified a willing creature. Is there any way my party can take our captured baddie with us, other than tying them up and hauling them away by hand?

The further distance we're able to move with the unwilling creature, the better.


5 Answers 5


Kill them, teleport them, then revivify them.

The rules suggest that a corpse is not a creature, rather is an object. This is explored in detail in this Q&A: Is a dead creature's body considered an "object"?

Assuming this, if you have access to the spell revivify, you could kill the hostage, then teleport the party by whatever usual means you have that doesn’t allow unwilling creatures, and then cast revivify or whatever resurrection spell suits your fancy upon arrival.

It should be noted however, that the Dungeon Master's Guide has this general rule concering resurrection magic:

A soul can’t be returned to life if it doesn’t wish to be. A soul knows the name, alignment, and patron deity (if any) of the character attempting to revive it and might refuse to return on that basis. For example, if the honorable knight Sturm Brightblade is slain and a high priestess of Takhisis (god of evil dragons) grabs his body, Sturm might not wish to be raised from the dead by her. Any attempts she makes to revive him automatically fail. If the evil cleric wants to revive Sturm to interrogate him, she needs to find some way to trick his soul, such as duping a good cleric into raising him and then capturing him once he is alive again.

So it will be up to the DM if the hostage's soul is willing to return. Maybe if you're nice to them and have promised them freedom later, and they believe you, they'll come back.

You can also use gentle repose to extend the time during which revivify will still work:

You touch a corpse or other remains. For the duration, the target is protected from decay and can't become undead.

The spell also effectively extends the time limit on raising the target from the dead, since days spent under the influence of this spell don't count against the time limit of spells such as raise dead.

So kill your guy, cast gentle repose, and you've got a week and a half to revivify him. Just be careful not to attract too much attention to yourself, people might be suspicious if you're carrying a dead guy.

Weekend at Bernie's

Teleportation circle

The 5th level spell teleportation circle let's you drag them through:

Any creature that enters the portal instantly appears within 5 feet of the destination circle or in the nearest unoccupied space if that space is occupied.


Gate is a 9th level spell that creates a portal to a other plane:

You conjure a portal linking an unoccupied space you can see within range to a precise location on a different plane of existence. The portal is a circular opening, which you can make 5 to 20 feet in diameter. You can orient the portal in any direction you choose. The portal lasts for the duration.

Open your gate and carry your hostage through.

Transport via plants

Transport via plants is a 6th level Druid spell:

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.

For this one, it isn’t abundantly clear how it works with an unwilling creature forced into the plant, so you may need a bit of DM generosity for this one.

Make them willing.

I won't get too much into the details here, but there are a number of ways an unwilling creature can be made into a willing creature, as discussed in this Q&A: Can you make an unwilling creature willing? In other words, what defines “willing”?

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    \$\begingroup\$ cackle Weekend at Bernies addendum is appreciated \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 24, 2021 at 18:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ Adventure title: "Weekend at BBEG's" \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 24, 2021 at 21:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ One important caveat to this strategy is that the Dungeon Master's Guide contains a general rule against reviving unwilling characters: "A soul can't be returned to life if it doesn't wish to be." [Bringing Back the Dead, DMG, pg. 24]. Whether or not rules provided in DMG are actually followed is at the discretion of the DM (i.e. they're all technically optional rules) but a player attempting to do this at their table should probably double-check with the DM first. \$\endgroup\$
    – Xirema
    Commented Aug 25, 2021 at 0:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Xirema Revivify does not require a willing soul the way that a raise dead or a resurrection spell does \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 25, 2021 at 18:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast: Good point. And it works with the flavor of the spell (it's basically magic CPR for someone who is only mostly dead, Princess Bride-style, pulling 'em back before they enter the light). So assuming you're willing to blow 300 GP, and either use gentle repose to keep them fresh, or revive them really quickly to stay within the one minute time limit, it's a practical solution. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 25, 2021 at 19:09

Put them into a bag of holding

The rules on a target being willing for the teleport spell aren't relevant if the target has been placed into a bag of holding as you are teleporting the bag, not your enemy. Said enemy stays within the extradimensional space of the bag during the teleport so they aren't technically being moved by the spell.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Just keep an eye on the clock, you don't want them to run out of air inside the bag... \$\endgroup\$
    – Tobias F.
    Commented Aug 25, 2021 at 12:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TobiasF. I figured they'd force the person into the bag, teleport, then dump them straight back out. Then again, some players/characters can be good examples of ADD. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 25, 2021 at 21:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ Make sure to confiscate sharp objects and hog-tie them or knock them out: If the bag is overloaded, pierced, or torn it ruptures and is destroyed, and its contents are scattered in the Astral Plane roll20.net/compendium/dnd5e/Bag%20of%20Holding. An enemy who doesn't know the consequences of tearing the bag from the inside might go for it, so might someone who could handle themselves on the Astral Plane, or one who's just bloody-minded enough to spite you and damage your property. (Or thinks it will gate the party - it won't, that's bag inside bag, this is just contents) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 25, 2021 at 21:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PeterCordes I've never been sure - can you actually damage the bag in that fashion from the inside? I've always figured it has to be done from the outside, otherwise you'd run the risk of damaging the bag just by putting sharp objects inside of it. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 25, 2021 at 22:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ I assumed you did need to be careful with a Bag of Holding, e.g. putting sharp things in their scabbards or otherwise protecting the bag from them, just like when putting them into normal bags. (Except they would only have their own weight, not jostling, or compressing forces like you would from carrying around a normal bag.) Sharp objects in a Bag of Holding says pathfinder 1e BoH can be pierced from the inside. Seems like rpg.SE could use a 5e version of that question (I didn't search for discussion else) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 25, 2021 at 22:32

Options include:

  • teleportation circle - You just have to drag them through. Destination can be any circle on the plane you know about so could be very far indeed.
  • arcane gate You just have to drag them through. The destination isn't terribly far away.
  • transport via plants You just have to drag them through. Arguably might not work depending on DM's reading of "use 5ft of movement", as it could be interpreted that the creature has to use their movement. Distance depends on how far the tree in question is.
  • banishment You can use a high enough spell slot to banish the whole party and the enemy. There is less control about where you land and potential of ending up at different locations if anyone is from another plane. Distance is arguably greatest here, as you'll go to another plane entirely.
  • wish
  • Cleric using Divine Intervention and rolling less than their class level on a percentile dice. I know it isn't likely, but thought it worth mentioning for completeness.
  • You can make them willing using suggestion, or charm person or friends and high persuasion check, or true polymorph them into an object, or temporarily kill them to be an object. Then use any one of the following:
    • teleport
    • dimension door If it is just you and them, and only if they are medium or smaller, shorter distance.
    • plane shift Would be again planer travel.
    • gate Again planer travel, but this is mighty spell and high cost.
    • astral projection But you'd be vulnerable for some time getting them a color pool. Potentially planar travel, but destination might be on the prime material plane.
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm not entirely sure transport via plants would work considering that it says "any creature can step into the target plant and exit from the destination plant by using 5 feet of movement." \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 24, 2021 at 16:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ That is a sticky point, but I think the intent is that the tunnel is 5ft, not that it has to use movement specifically.... I'll add a disclaimer to that one. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 24, 2021 at 16:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ Teleportation Circle is definitely the most straightforward, but you'd better be prepared to explain to the people guarding the arrival circle why you're carrying/dragging a resistant/bound/unconscious person through their circle. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 24, 2021 at 16:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ "on the planet" I'm pretty sure you mean plane. Teleportation circle makes a great stargate. \$\endgroup\$
    – Joshua
    Commented Aug 25, 2021 at 17:32

Imprisonment (minimus containment)

The 9th level spell Imprisonment offers a number of different options for confining your foe, but the minimus containment version is best suited to your purposes. On a failed save,

The target shrinks to a height of 1 inch and is imprisoned inside a gemstone or similar object. Light can pass through the gemstone normally (allowing the target to see out and other creatures to see in), but nothing else can pass through, even by means of teleportation or planar travel.

Since you have now confined your foe inside an easily-transportable object, you can bring them with you when you use your teleport-based effect to get out of the "middle of the wilderness/a sinking ship/the wrong city".

This is similar to the "put them in a bag of holding" response, but superior because here:

The gemstone can't be cut or broken while the spell remains in effect

while for the bag it is unclear whether it could be damaged on the inside by a foe that was not incapacitated. Further, a conscious opponent inside a bag might still have access to its own teleportation magic as a means of escape, but that is specifically prohibited by the containment effect.

Other versions of imprisonment, such as burial or hedged prison, remove your foe from the field and potentially could bring them back somewhere else, but the spell does not specify and such recall would be subject to DM approval.

It may seem extreme to spend a 9th level slot on a spell that still permits a save to avoid capture, but this appears to be about as effective as the other options suggested here. "Kill them first" certainly gives you many options for transport, but depending on your foe getting them to fail a single save might be easier than outright killing them.

Gate is also ninth level and while it does have the advantage of not permitting a save, you still have to force them through it. Forced movement will likely be achieved through either a failed save or failed contested ability check.

Teleportation Circle is a lower-level, no-save option that you still would still need to force them through. Further, it has a one minute casting, which gives your foe (and their minions) ten chances to disrupt your concentration or just, you know, leave.

Transport via Plants is an inventive lower-level option and, as written, does not get a save or explicitly say it can be used only by willing creatures. Personally, I would interpret "can step into the target plant" to imply willingness, such that your foe can simply choose not to do so, and forced movement would not qualify.

Dimension Door, Arcane Gate and Vortex Warp seem too short-distance to meet OP's specifications.

It does appear that transporting an unwilling but living foe is intended to be restricted to effects of the highest level.


Vortex Warp

Vortex Warp (from Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos) is an interesting choice. It's great for battle control but not perfect for escaping. It's a Constituion save which can make it quite challenging, but if you've subdued the baddie/outside of combat you can do it several times (spell slots of course).

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    \$\begingroup\$ The objective here seems to be to teleport myself and an unwilling target long distances, and vortex warp seems to fall short of that, teleporting only the target up to 90 feet. Also, I changed the spell link, we prefer to avoid linking to sites like wikidot that illegally host paid content. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 16, 2022 at 20:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for changing the link! I do think this offers useful information because this forum is one of the top results when searching for teleporting an unwilling creature. Vortex Warp is the only direct way to do that, albeit doesn't fit the example scenario provided by OP. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mikhail
    Commented Nov 17, 2022 at 22:49

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