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I was the DM for a group of guys for whom I directed Pathfinder's Wrath of the Righteous Adventure Path. Everything went fine, the players saved the world and all of that wonderful stuff (which is actually canon as of Pathfinder 2) and for the finishing touch, I decided to host a Battle Royale through Roll20 between the PCs.

This was played in a map of my own invention, a two-floor mansion with many traps, and putting each character in a different place. After three days, it's finally down to the arcane caster (a Wizard Archmage of the Admixture School) and the melée fighter (a Champion with five classes), having slain the Bard Marshal, the Life Oracle/Sacred Shield Hierophant, and the Paladin Guardian on the way.

It's the Wizard's turn, and knowing that if the Champion gets too close he's dead, he fires up Gate, directly under the Champion's feet, leading to a very high point in some other plane where the Champion will bite the dust no matter what.

Naturally, this led to a discussion between us. The Champion's player argues that the spell doesn't work that way, while the Wizard states that it can be used that way. In the end, I agree with the latter, but let the Champion roll for Reflex against the Wizard's DC - and he fails. This leads to further discussion, but in the end the Champion's player drops it.

I still am unsure if this was the right call, and I even asked a friend who has DM'd for longer. He agreed with my stance as well, but I'm still wondering.

Can Gate be cast directly under another creature to teleport them away?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to the stack Milarqui! Take the tour when you have a moment, and have a look around the [help center] when you have several moments. I've made some edits to your question, mostly to remove some of the background information that wasn't really part of the question being asked, just to keep things focused on the question. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 23, 2021 at 18:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to the site. Take the tour. Just to be clear: This was the first time the wizard had tried to use the spell gate in this fashion, correct? He didn't try the same trick earlier in the campaign on, like, some huge golem lumbering toward him or whatever? Anyway,—even though the answer probably hinges on the word travel of all things— thank you for an interesting question. And, of course, have fun. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 23, 2021 at 18:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ No, the Wizard had never used gate in this way. I think that it may have actually be the first time he used that spell in the entire campaign. \$\endgroup\$
    – Milarqui
    Sep 23, 2021 at 18:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ I keep coming back to this wondering how a 20 (I assume) +Mythic martial character survived without reliable constant flight \$\endgroup\$ Sep 24, 2021 at 22:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ The wizard can throw a gate, the champion can't avoid a fall? Now, it's possible to gate someone to a plane they don't have suitable defenses for, but what plane is certain death? \$\endgroup\$ Sep 25, 2021 at 2:09

2 Answers 2

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Can Gate be cast directly under another creature to teleport them away?

Yes

The Gate spell is a Conjuration spell, but it's not a Teleportation effect. The subschool line of the spell tells us that it's a Creation or Calling effect. The Calling does not apply here, because the Gate wasn't used to call a creature, so this use of Gate was a Creation effect. As such this is not subject to the rules on the Teleportation subschool, but the Creation subschool.

The Gate spell itself does not specify the possible targets of the created gate, so we have to fall back on the general rules of the Creation subschool; and the first sentence there tells us all we need to know:

A creation spell manipulates matter to create an object or creature in the place the spellcaster designates. If the spell has a duration other than instantaneous […]

So yes, the Wizard can create the Gate underneath the Champion.

As for the created gate being a horizontal disk instead of the vertical one:

The gate itself is a circular hoop or disk from 5 to 20 feet in diameter (caster's choice) oriented in the direction you desire when it comes into existence (typically vertical and facing you). It is a two-dimensional window looking into the plane you specified when casting the spell, and anyone or anything that moves through is shunted instantly to the other side.

A gate has a front and a back. Creatures moving through the gate from the front are transported to the other plane; creatures moving through it from the back are not.

The spell makes it very clear that the caster decides about the gate's orientation. That it even says "typically vertical" proves that it doesn't have to be vertical.

As for being moved to the other plane:

Planar Travel: As a mode of planar travel, a gate spell functions much like a plane shift spell, except that the gate opens precisely at the point you desire (a creation effect). Deities and other beings who rule a planar realm can prevent a gate from opening in their presence or personal demesnes if they so desire. Travelers need not join hands with you—anyone who chooses to step through the portal is transported. A gate cannot be opened to another point on the same plane; the spell works only for interplanar travel.

The bolded part is not to suggest that you can only move through voluntarily, but is a modification to the mentioned spell Plane Shift, which has the following target line:

Target: creature touched, or up to eight willing creatures joining hands

The bolded part modifies this part, removing the necessity of the referenced spell Plane Shift. Gate itself uses this language to describe its travel:

[…] and anyone or anything that moves through is shunted instantly to the other side.

There is no reference to only those who willingly move through are shunted to the other side. This is why it also works with the Calling version of the Gate: The shunted creature need not willingly move through. However, since the travel works like Plane Shift, let's take a closer look at it again, especially this:

Saving Throw: Will negates Spell Resistance: yes Description: You move yourself or some other creature to another plane of existence or alternate dimension. If several willing persons link hands in a circle, as many as eight can be affected by the plane shift at the same time.

A creature can resist being moved either by succeeding on a Will save or the caster failing the spell resistance check on the creature. Spells that only affect willing creatures have the "(harmless)" addition in its Saving Throw and/or Spell Resistance lines. Plane Shift references "willing persons" only as another option of the spell: Either move 1 creature (willing or not) or move up to 8 willing creatures.

The Wizard was right that he could create a Gate in this way, but the Champion should have received a Will save (and spell resistance check) instead of a Reflex save.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Why do we assume that gravity would pull the target down into the gate? \$\endgroup\$
    – tbrookside
    Sep 24, 2021 at 2:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ @tbrookside well, gravity is pulling them downwards, and even if it ceases interacting with them when they contact the gate, they will have nonzero downwards velocity. So unless the gate actively resists that, they'll be pulled down (though slowly, if you don't think gravity should affect them after they contact the gate) \$\endgroup\$ Sep 24, 2021 at 8:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ @fyrepenguin so any chance they come out... squished? since the "bottom" of them isn't moving anymore when the "top" pushes? IS THAT HOW DWARVES WERE CREATED?! \$\endgroup\$
    – Patrice
    Sep 24, 2021 at 18:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ I would rule that gravity pulls them to the lip of the gate, since gravity is still functioning everywhere but in the rectangle of the gate itself. So instead of falling through the gate, they fall athwart the side of the gate. The description does say "anyone or anything that moves through is shunted instantly to the other side" - I'm not sure whether this would mean that if you put a fingernail through, the rest of you is instantly shunted through. \$\endgroup\$
    – tbrookside
    Sep 24, 2021 at 20:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ @tbrookside wouldn't they then be immediately subject to the gravity (assuming there is such, as there is with many other Planes) on the other side of the Gate? \$\endgroup\$ Sep 24, 2021 at 22:57
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No, Gate for Planar Travel must be voluntary by RAW.

The language for gate's spell description suggests that a creature can only pass through voluntarily.

It is a two-dimensional window looking into the plane you specified when casting the spell, and anyone or anything that moves through is shunted instantly to the other side.

Specifically, creatures must choose to enter the portal.

Travelers need not join hands with you–anyone who chooses to step through the portal is transported

From a literal reading, a creature cannot unwillingly fall through the portal. If the mage cast a horizontal gate under the champion, and the champion didn't choose to enter, then the champion could simply walk across the portal as though it was a solid disk.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This also explains why the environment doesn't flow between portals (e.g. "I roast the Champion by opening a portal pointed at the Champion that leads to the heart of the sun"). \$\endgroup\$ Sep 23, 2021 at 20:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ Well, plane shift doesn't directly state it cannot be used on unwilling targets either, yet I've seen it being legally used to send people to another plane. And gate states it functions like plane shift in regards to planar travel. Plus, I'd bet there's chances of creatures using the spell to kidnap people from other planes. \$\endgroup\$
    – Milarqui
    Sep 23, 2021 at 20:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ That said, Plane Shift is more set up to be used offensively since it offers a Will save to unwilling targets while Gate does not. And Gate can be used to kidnap creatures from other planes, but by using the calling version rather than the travel version. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 23, 2021 at 21:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ This is why I find the whole RAW concept frustrating. It leads to conclusions like this: "anyone who chooses to step through the portal is transported" = "Specifically, creatures must choose to enter the portal." In other words, I may choose to jump off a cliff, therefore it's impossible for you to push me off the cliff. Makes no sense. \$\endgroup\$
    – barbecue
    Sep 24, 2021 at 21:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ The fact that one rule says "anyone who chooses to step through the portal is transported" does not invalidate the other rule that says "anyone or anything that moves through is shunted instantly to the other side". Whether or not someone chooses to step through, if they move through, they get warped. (Taking the "chooses" part literally would imply that the mere choice to step through is enough to activate the warp, even if they don't end up actually going through the gate.) \$\endgroup\$ Sep 25, 2021 at 3:39

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