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I want to cast a 5th level Banishment on two party members who are both native to the Astral Plane. Theoretically they will both fail their save (Silvery Barbs and a high save DC). We are currently on the 4th layer of the Nine hells and my Word of Recall spell failed as the DM ruled teleportation doesn't work there.

My DM is still mulling over how he wants to handle it, but I thought the question was intriguing enough to ask here. Note, I'm not asking where they go, as this has been answered already here. Do they both go to the same location or separate ones?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to the stack Ryan_Zibell! Take the tour when you have a moment, and feel free to peruse the help center for more in-depth info about the site. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    Commented Apr 25 at 19:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Ryan_Zibell You say "I'm not asking where they go, as this has been answered already". Did you have in mind a specific question and answer that addresses that? I took a look and did not see one. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    Commented Apr 25 at 19:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Jack I added a link to the question that i think deals with that. Thanks for the tip. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 25 at 19:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ Not a full answer, but I've actually had this scenario come up, except it was 4 individual banishes (to get the whole party out of somewhere nasty back to the Material). I ended up ruling that they all ended up in the same place, but where was partially randomly decided and partially decided by me (they had no control). Worked pretty well. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 26 at 17:53

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Obviously, the DM will have to decide

The spell says:

If the target is native to a different plane of existence than the one you’re on, the target is banished with a faint popping noise, returning to its home plane.

That's all it says. Usually it doesn't matter; after all, if you're just getting rid of a pesky planar interloper, who cares, right?

But in your case, it matters, a lot.

Absent any rules guidance, and I am unaware of any, the DM may want to let the narrative drive the answer.

Some things for the DM to consider:

Where would each target go if they alone were the target of the spell?

In some sense, the spell is sending you "home". Maybe a reasonable destination within the home plane, is near the target's "home", or something approximating that. For instance, you're from some town in some country on some continent in or near the narratively important portion of the material plane . . . then maybe that's where you get sent to.

So in your case, perhaps individually the astral dwellers would get sent "home" to the astral plane, and end up somewhere near whatever they consider home within the plane.

Maybe you get sent home

So, maybe, both subject to the same casting of the spell, they both get sent to their "homes", whatever that means, within the astral plane. Maybe they're from the same place, or maybe they aren't.

Maybe affinity matters

They are both subject to the same casting of the spell, they are physically close to each other, they know each other, maybe they have other bonds.

So, maybe the DM rules they go to the same place on the astral plane, wherever that destination is, on the logic there are multiple factors binding them together, and so that causes them to go to the same place.

Maybe spellcaster intent matters

The spell doesn't give the caster any ability to specify location, but maybe the DM takes into account the caster's intent anyway. Magic's weird, right?

Maybe the desires of the targets matter

Okay, probably not, but again, magic's weird, right?

Having expressed a desire to go to the same location, the DM could choose to narrate it that as the magic is sucking you into the interplanar vortex, you grab each other, and appear in the same location in the astral plane.

Maybe the needs of the story matters

What services the story better? Same or different destinations?

One DM's opinion

I would consider the needs of the story first, then the desires of the caster. If that wasn't sufficient to drive an answer, I'd consider the other factors I've mentioned.

As a hypothetical, assuming the caster wants the two to go to the same spot, and it served the story, then that's what I would do.

I would likely not tell the caster that they know for sure they can send them to the same place. Although . . . maybe this particular caster knows a lot about banishment. Or maybe there's an arcana check involved.

It sounds like you're (smartly) discussing with the DM beforehand. In such a situation, I might tell the caster, you think you can influence their destination, but you're not sure; what do you, the caster, want to happen?

Or, when the caster cast the spell, I might ask, so, just out of curiosity, where do you want them to go?

Some players would immediately start looking for a loophole to exploit. They might ask, "will it always work that way?", and busily start imagining, 1. Cast banishment, 2. ????, 3. Profit. Use it as a way to infiltrate the Holiest of the Holies, or the National Treasury, or whatever.

If asked, I would shrug and say, "Hmmm, you're pretty sure that you did that, that you made them go to the same place, but you're not sure. You're welcome to research it. You think maybe you could do it again, but again, you're not sure. You're certainly welcome to try."

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    \$\begingroup\$ Well reasoned and thorough. I didn't think it was obvious since I am unaware of any spell in the game that can target two creatures and send them to two completely different places, which Banishment can do RAW anyway. Thanks. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 25 at 20:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ It's an interesting question. You might consider, after the issue is resolved in your game, coming back and self-answering how it really worked out. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    Commented Apr 25 at 20:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ My DM ruled that since a fireball does the same damage to each creature unless it can't, then a casting of Banishment would produce the same effect to each creature it targets, unless it can't. I think that's reasonable \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 29 at 17:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @RyanZibell That sounds perfect. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    Commented Apr 29 at 19:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ Your first point has me now thinking of every banished creature showing up in front of its family on it's home plane with some explaining to do. Either they didn't know they were out fighting the good fight, or they did and just got sent packing after a failure. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 5 at 23:26
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RAW - the spell doesn't say

The spell text tells us only that the targets go to another plane - not where they go or whether multiple targets of the same spell arrive together (emphases mine):

You attempt to send one creature that you can see within range to another plane of existence...

If the target is native to a different plane of existence than the one you’re on, the target is banished with a faint popping noise, returning to its home plane. If the spell ends before 1 minute has passed, the target reappears in the space it left or in the nearest unoccupied space if that space is occupied. Otherwise, the target doesn’t return.

The JC quote you cite in comments (twitter link here), saying 'Who knows where?' on the home plane you end up confirms that there is no intent for the spell to tell you where.

RAI - it must be somewhere safe

Spells do what they say they do - and nothing in the spell description says that when the banished target is returned, it has been affected by being away. It has not been harmed, it has not had any conditions applied or removed. If you were dropped into a random location on RL Earth, there are plenty of places that would be severely damaging and possibly fatal within a minute - the bottom of the ocean, the top of K2, the caldera of an active volcano, a building that has been targeted for a drone strike or missile attack...Given the number of possible dangerous locations on a fantasy plane in D&D, one thing we know about the spell is that it cannot send the target anywhere immediately harmful.

RAF - this is a chance for worldbuilding

Like many spells, banishment begs the question 'How does it know?' How does the spell determine the home plane of a creature and then send it there? For DMs, this is a chance to establish something about the way that magic works in their campaign. Does it detect the different chiralities of their biochemistry and find a matching home plane? Does it sense the vibrational frequencies of your subatomic particles and look for a plane that matches your resonance (in the way that, say, plane shift might)? Does it conduct a quick aspecting and determine the alignment of stars and planets under which you were born and send you somewhere close to your birth place? Does it probe your psyche and find the place that carries the greatest emotional weight for you - even if you have never been there? Does it sample your planar residue and find the place you were last when you left your home plane? All of these and more are possibilities.

Your DM could work from theory forward, determine how they want the world to work, and go from there. Or, they could start with what makes a compelling story and then work backward to find the theory that supports where they want the narrative to go. Either way, it is a chance to add depth to your world!

Note: Dream of the Blue Veil

The spell dream of the blue veil comes from TCoE and thus was written long after banishment. One of the uses of the spell is to transport a creature from another "world" on the Material Plane back to that world. When it does so, it explicitly transports them (and possibly others included in the spell) to "a safe location within 1 mile of where that creature was born." There is no particular reason to think that the two spells function similarly, but for a DM interested in 'how magic works', dream of the blue veil might be considered when making a ruling on banishment.

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DM has full control, but Simplest is Best.

Rubiksmoose said in an answer here:

When a spell effect is vague or unclear it falls to the DM to adjudicate the results. That is part of the 5e design ethos.
In this case banishment provides no guidance for the placement of a creature ejected from the plane that they are currently occupying, so it is entirely up to your DM.
In this case, you better hope your DM is in a good mood and at least puts you on dry land!

Based on the accepted guideline that a spell does what it says and no more, I believe two interpretations are equally valid, and both come to the same conclusion. If we ignore the intent of the caster (because there is no mention of it in the description) and we ignore the desires/heritage of the targets (because banishment implies involuntary), we can say that the spell either sends the targets the minimum amount of distance conceptually to satisfy the description (a la the shortest distance between two points), or we use the simplest to understand explanation (a la Occam's Razor for make believe). Possibly the last meaningful place the target was before plane-hopping would suffice. Both would keep the two PCs together.

When you banish someone IRL, it wouldn't be to their house


In most cases, the least amount of mental gymnastics required to satisfy the spell description is favored. As one GM's opinion, I would put them in the Astral Plane close to a color pool to the plane they just left, but sufficiently far that they couldn't get to said pool in 1 minute.
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    \$\begingroup\$ I like the appeal to the KISS principle. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 6 at 18:26

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