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We're players in a homebrew campaign, and have recently knocked out some sort of wizard that can use spells such as fly, fireball, shield and misty step.

We've tied him up and put something in his mouth so he can't speak. Unfortunately we also want to interrogate him, for which he needs to be able to speak.

How do we ensure that the wizard cannot misty step away from us (or cast other spells) while we're interrogating him?

A few things I thought of were

  • using telepathy (however, I'm unsure if this is available to us)
  • making the room dark so the wizard cannot see (and thus has no valid target to misty step to (however, any kind of light will ruin that plan, and not all of us have darkvision))
  • using a small room so we can easily catch him when he inevitably does attempt to escape.
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8 Answers 8

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There are a few options

Blindfold him

You cannot cast Misty Step while blinded, since it requires you to see the target:

you teleport up to 30 feet to an unoccupied space that you can see

Leave him gagged

Speaking aloud isn't the only option to answer questions. One can use gestures, writing, or maybe telepathy (via Sending spell or a similar ability).

Use magic

Detect Thoughts is specifically described as useful for an interrogation:

Questions verbally directed at the target creature naturally shape the course of its thoughts, so this spell is particularly effective as part of an interrogation.

Use antimagic

There are spells like Antimagic Field purposely designed for spellcasting prevention.

However, I'd suggest your DM to introduce more sources of information into the game aside from capturing and interrogating. The latter can be troublesome (see this question for example). Out of combat violence like torture and deprivation are hardly supported by the game rules. D&D in general belongs to the heroic high fantasy genre, so the rules are designed around quite specific things like adventuring and heroic battles.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Or gouge his eyes out, if you don't have a blindfold handy. \$\endgroup\$
    – nick012000
    Jan 21 at 14:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ That escalated quickly. \$\endgroup\$
    – Novak
    Jan 21 at 17:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ Message is not telepathy. You have to "whisper a message", so a creature which cannot speak wouldn't be able to reply. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 22 at 13:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ Detect Thoughts might be a better tool than Sending when it comes to telepathic interrogations. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tim C
    Jan 22 at 20:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Novak not a big deal in a world where clerics have Restoration handy. \$\endgroup\$
    – Trang Oul
    Jan 23 at 12:22
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I will revive an old, but clever answer from Thomas Jacobs to this conundrum and recommend that you put the Wizard in armor they're not proficient in.

If you'll recall, a spellcaster is unable to cast spells while wearing armor they lack proficiency in:

Because of the mental focus and precise gestures required for spellcasting, you must be proficient with the armor you are wearing to cast a spell. You are otherwise too distracted and physically hampered by your armor for spellcasting.

So slap the Wizard in plate mail and ask away.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Bonus points if the plate armor has rusty (or welded) joints or has small rhomboid shapes inside to make it really cozy and ensure cooperation. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 22 at 19:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ Would an iron maiden count as plate armor for the purposes of this? It'd certainly be distracting. \$\endgroup\$
    – lupe
    Jan 23 at 15:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ @lupe it'd be a DM call. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 23 at 15:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ @lupe You can infer (but inference is DM approval) that the point of "no casting in non-proficient armor" rule is that the caster is physically constrained in a way that hampers their casting. However, this can be nitpicked apart - wouldn't binding the caster's limbs then achieve the same? I would say that you either take this rule purely as an armor-banning rule (thus only applying to worn armor), or you apply it more broadly to anything that constrains movement but then it's way easier to tie someone up than it is to carry an iron maiden with you. \$\endgroup\$
    – Flater
    Jan 23 at 23:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm interested to see how DMs would rule on this armor trick for spells that only rely on verbal components. Out of universe, I'm aware that the goal here is to ban casters from benefiting from armor that imbalances them (pun intended: therefore stating that non-proficient armor imbalances them physically), but the justification given does give rise to certain questions, such as verbal-only spells and (separate question) other movement-constraining effects. \$\endgroup\$
    – Flater
    Jan 23 at 23:15
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It's a conundrum. You don't know what else the wizard has prepared. Aside from misty step, there are multiple other spells that the wizard may be able to use to escape that rely only on verbal components and do not require sight, for instance, dimension door and teleport. And you mentioned this is a homebrew campaign, so we can't know what other spells might be available.

Examine his possessions

You can learn a great deal just from his possessions. Any maps, letters, notes? Items that tell a story, like a signet ring, or badge of office? Also useful to note that there may be items he would be loath to part with, like a spellbook or magic items.

Eliminate his ability to cast spells

Hopefully.

Verbal spells

Definitely start with the gag. There are no rules for gagging that I am aware of, so it's possible your DM could rule that if the captive can talk around the gag, even a little, they can get a verbal-only spell off, so to be safe, make it a really thorough gag.

Sight spells

And you definitely need a blindfold, to stop line of sight spells, should the captive manage to get one off. Maybe even a couple layers over the eyes, like a bag and a cloak, just so there's no chance of seeing around a blindfold.

Somatic spells

And immobilize your captive's hands to prevent spells with only a somatic component. It doesn't seem like there's much in the way of somatic-only spells that would be useful to a captive, but unless you know all the spells that exist in your (homebrewed) world, you can't be sure.

Put 'em in armor

Pyrotechnical's answer makes the excellent suggestion of putting your captive in armor, which by RAW will stop the ability to cast unless the captive is proficient in that sort of armor. This is pretty good. I have some slight concern that it seems somewhat dubious that being in armor stops a caster from verbal-only spells, but that's the RAW of it.

So . . . double-blindfolded, well-gagged, hands immobilized, possibly armor-bound, maybe, just maybe, you've eliminated this caster's ability to cast.

Maybe. Of course, there could be some shenanigans that neither you the player nor you the character are aware of that will allow a tricksy trickster to still somehow do something clever.

Having counterspell available, or even antimagic field (see Dale M's answer), is highly advisable.

Hard-core solutions

Of course, you could go hard-core, and poke out eyes, cut out tongues, cut off hands, and the like. Me, as a player, playing that sort of game doesn't seem much fun, and so I generally avoid that sort of thing. And practically, that sort of mutilation, however, reversable in D&D, is perhaps not likely to encourage cooperation.

Having the conversation

Having secured the subject, you're ready to talk.

Perhaps obviously, at this point, limit your conversation to questions that can be answered with nods or headshakes.

Once you've obtained some level of at least apparent agreement, you can proceed to remove the gag. Of course, there are no guarantees at this point, but hopefully you've convinced your captive that it's in his best interest to at least talk before unleashing teleport or power word kill, or whatever.

Negotiate

So maybe you can negotiate. Give him a reason to want to talk with you. You may be able to get agreement just through head nods to where you're willing to take the gag out. "Look we just want to talk. There's a way you can walk away from this, with your stuff, nod your head if you're willing to talk about it, no funny business, and we'll take the gag out."

Give him a way out

For instance, suggest that there's a way he gets to walk away, with his possessions, he just needs to answer a few questions. (Or even make a suggestion.) Of course, under duress, it is reasonable to assume that any answer is false. But since you've got his stuff, you have a bargaining chip. And if he teleports away, at least you've got his stuff.

Find common ground

Suggest that you can find common ground. (Again, maybe make a suggestion.) You may have goals or enemies in common.

Speak with dead

Of course, sometimes you have to nuke them from orbit. You may decide he's just too dangerous to let go. Speak with dead is imperfect in many ways, but at least you know he'll stay in one place for the conversation.

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If time isn't of the essence, This is where Dimensional Shackles are useful.

The shackles are rare (though most DMs I've talked to agree that this is not really what the rarity should be), and prevent any form of extra dimensional movement, which includes teleportation.

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Use a room that is only 5ft by 10ft wide, and 5ft tall, with a solid door.

The rules say: "Briefly surrounded by silvery mist, you teleport up to 30 foot into an unoccupied space you can see"

It's a little metagamy, but the wizard has to teleport to an unoccupied space. So, if one character is in the room with him, with the door shut, there are no unoccupied spaces, hence no valid targets for misty step.

You're going to want to use a gnome or halfling for the interrogation, because of the ceiling height, though.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Why five foot tall? Even if you count spaces in the Z-axis, what good will do the wizard to teleport above a character (who we can assume has a ready action to grapple the wizard)? \$\endgroup\$ Jan 22 at 19:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MindwinRememberMonica it gets the wizard free from any bonds. It might not be perfect, but if you've got the wizard tied to a chair, well, their situation has improved. They might beat a grapple check, at which point they might manage to cast \$\endgroup\$
    – lupe
    Jan 23 at 0:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ Still, it takes quite a bit of thought stretching to consider five feet above the ground as being a "new space". Unless the wizard can fly, aerial combat rules have no place among landlubbers. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 23 at 13:16
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Give him ink & quill and let him write down his answers.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It is dangerous to leave at least one hand free: there are some spells with only somatic components that could be used to escape and to fool the party, one among of them is Mislead. \$\endgroup\$
    – Eddymage
    Jan 21 at 11:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ Is he still blind folded? It isn’t clear how those solves the problem. Please explain how this prevents misty step. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 21 at 11:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov it is pretty clear though, Misty Step has a verbal component. If he's still gagged, he won't be able to cast it - it doesn't matter if he has his hands free. Of course, there are probably other spells that only need somatic components, but Misty Step is off the table. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 21 at 11:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PixelMaster mislead it is perfect \$\endgroup\$
    – Eddymage
    Jan 21 at 12:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ and he writes .. "I prepared explosive runes this morning .. " \$\endgroup\$
    – Ditto
    Jan 23 at 16:26
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An interesting way you could interrogate them is enchantment. Your party could cast charm on the spell caster while they are unconscious, and then wake them up. The spell caster will "regard you as a friendly acquaintance," and the spell caster won't feel the need to escape. Place them in heavy armor that they are not proficient with to limit they're spell casting, or interrogate them in a random hut or shed to limit they're sight, so they can't escape you, because misty step requires you to see the location they are moving to. The enchantment and not very hostile setting (compared to being blindfolded and gagged.) Hide they're material components, and place them in heavy armor so they can't spell cast effectively. Because they charmed, they will tell you much more information than they would normally. what I would really be worried about is the spell Dimension Door, which does not require sight, and only requires voice components. The heavy armor should stop this though.

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It's been a while since I played D&D, and I don't have the rules available at the moment, so maybe I'm entirely wrong about this, but here we go.

If it is indeed a wizard, he must prepare his spells daily, after a long rest. To prepare his spells, he needs his spellbook. If you take away the spellbook, wouldn't he be incapable of preparing spells?

This would leave him two choices:

  • Stay awake for as long as possible, risking death by exhaustion, hoping someone comes to save him
  • Take a long rest, and don't prepare any spells, making him unable to escape with magic

Preparing spells also requires focusing on the preparation for at least 1 minute per spell level, so keeping him unable to focus would stop him from preparing spells.


Edit: Having had time to read the rules, I found this as part of the wizard spellcasting section, under "Preparing and Casting spells"

To cast one of these spells, you must expend a slot of the spell’s level or higher. You regain all expended spell slots when you finish a long rest.

You can change your list of prepared spells when you finish a long rest. Preparing a new list of wizard spells requires time spent studying your spellbook and memorizing the incantations and gestures you must make to cast the spell: at least 1 minute per spell level for each spell on your list.

This confirms what Joakim said in the comments: A wizard must spend time with their spellbook to prepare new spells. Spells they prepared when they last prepared spells stay prepared, unless they swap them for another spell.

So if the wizard has already prepared Misty Step, this would not work. Although I would argue there is room for interpretation here, and the GM has the final call.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This is the correct answer. Simply wait for the next day and since he's tied up and doesn't have his spellbook ready, he'll be without spells and you can just untie and ungag him and interrogate him normally. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tom
    Jan 22 at 9:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ A wizard does not have to prepare spells daily. They only have to spend time with their spellbook to prepare new spells / change their list of prepared spells. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 22 at 10:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ Your answer could be improved with additional supporting information. Please edit to add further details, such as citations or documentation, so that others can confirm that your answer is correct. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center. \$\endgroup\$
    – Community Bot
    Jan 22 at 10:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ As Joakim M. H. says, a wizard does not have to prepare spells daily. "You can change your list of prepared spells when you finish a long rest." Waiting til the next day just gives the wizard fresh spell slots. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    Jan 22 at 11:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ If you look in the PHB, you will find that the wizard has certain spells prepared. It requires the spell book to change the ones prepared. If the spell book is lost, wizard is stuck with the ones prepared and can't cast rituals out of the spell book. That's the limitation; he's a low grade sorcerer without the spell book;; the last ones prepared are the wizard's spells known. That is why I down voted this answer. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 22 at 16:47

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