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Here is the problem: we want to use the spell Teleport, Greater to reach a place we only have basic info about:

  • We have a map of our continent (scale 1cm for 500km) and we know the general location on this map of the region we are heading for (which is about 10,000 km from our current location). That map was made by a NPC that has general knowledge of the place but never was there. Actually the place is pretty wild and icy.
  • We also know of some guy that we might encounter there.
  • We suspect that some huge artifact could be hidden somewhere near that place.

Our DM told us that we don't have enough information for the greater teleportation spell to succeed, so we are looking for some kind of divination spell that could help us collect enough data, either by seeing it through some kind of magic vision, or by gathering enough geographic information to meet the spell prerequisites.

We are not especially looking for a precise location (well if we could figure out the surroundings of that guy that would be ideal), but rather for finding out a safe place to teleport to, avoiding us having to travel 10,000 km. Once in the correct region, we will fall back to usual investigation to find out about the quest objectives.

Once we know what spell to use, we will ask our artificer to craft a scroll with this spell. Since he is not very strong (well, about level 8), the lower the caster level of the spell, the better.

I was pretty confident there was a spell to watch a distant place you have never been to, but could not remember which. Anyway, any suggestion allowing us to meet the objectives is welcome.


BOUNTY: Since the bounty comment is all messed up, I will report it there:
Even if the solution might not be as straightforward as I first thought, I have the feeling that we are far from having explored all possibilities. With how the system is made and how it is sometimes easy to exceed the previsions of the authors, I am pretty confident that there should be clever and simple ways of teleporting to a general region of the world.

I am expecting that a clever combination of magic items, spellcasting, or even magical beast with special properties. @DuckTapeAl's answer is an illustration of what I expect: with two plane shift we could arrive within 500 miles of the targeted location. Unfortunately I am not accepting it because, you know, the question is about teleportation and we don't have the resources handy for casting Plane Shifts. As another illustration there is the possibility I discussed with @Hey-I-Can-Chan of teleporting to the moon, make a geography check to spot the region we are aiming, and teleporting back to that region. Surviving in space might be an issue but I like the imaginative effort and creativity it shows.

I will be prioritizing answers that are:

  • as safe as possible (for example when using Plane Shift you take 2 times the risk of arriving in an unfriendly area).
  • as simple as possible (It's okay if there are complex preparations for the first time, but from there on further applications should be simple)
  • as cheap as possible (solutions requiring a 250,000gp item are interesting but we can't afford it, so....)
  • make usage of teleportation or fly powers (Phantom Steed is also okay)
  • use the least possible magic, because we have no spellcaster in the group, so it is always a pain to find a NPC to cast for us or to have to buy a scroll.

    Allowed rulebooks are: Core 3.5 (PHB I&II, DMG, Monsters Manual I-IV) plus Eberron related books, all Complete XXX (e.g Complete Warrior), Compendiums (e.g MIC). Some supplementals also (I think book of vile Darkness, unearthed arcana and alikes should be).

    Banned books are: Dragon and Dungeon Magazines, Tome of Battle, Sword and Fist and generally speaking, all books that are rather anecdotic or too unbalanced.

    Universe is restricted to the universe of Eberron (note this allows for flying boats and other steam-punk related magic). Other universes like Forgotten Realms are banned. Alternative systems like Psionnics are also banned.


Party Resources:
There have been a lot of comments about this part so I am going to sum up everything here:

My PC is a human from Orien's house with all levels (least, lesser, greater, syberys) in the dragonmark of Passage. I also have 2 level of Dragonmark Heir and 1 level of Blade of Orien It gives me access to the following spells (day basis):

  • Dimension leap (4)
  • Mount (0)
  • Expeditious retreat (1)
  • Dimension Door (2)
  • Phantom Steed (0)
  • Overland flight (1)
  • Teleport (0)
  • Teleport, Greater (1)

Some additional feats I have taken make so that when I use one Action Point I can use any of these once more. I also have a feat that let me sacrifice once per day one dimension leap to gain a temporary AP for one round. Thus I can use every of these spell. My caster level for the purpose of casting those spell is 18.

There is another PC who has 8 level of the artificer class. He can emulate almost every spell but when it comes to high ranked spells there is a big risk of failure and that is mostly pure XP wasting.

And That's all. We also have a rogue that can use magic devices, other members can't cast spell useful to the party. But one can imagine we Greater Teleport to Sharn and hire some high ranked spellcaster for the purpose of casting some spells. When it comes to the real traveling event, we are on our own though.

As for the disposable resources, there are not a lot of things to mention. Our artificer can create wands. We have a Censer of controling air elementals. We have some magic items we could sell for around 50,000 gp, but we would rather not because our artificer can decraft those to use the xp for crafting something else. But our DM enforce that any craft duration is proportional to the market cost, for example the Censer took 100 days to craft for the homonculus of our artificer. Our artificer can also craft scrolls. I believe some PC also have their own economies. As for myself, I lost all my wealth in some game of destiny so I only have kept my equipment.


Resolution:
I am awarding the bounty to @Sandwich because his answer about using the spell Forest eyes is the one which fits the most in regard to the bounty's conditions. I am accepting the answer of @Hey-I-Can-Chan because this is the one we actually ended to use in our session. Thank you all for all your contributions.

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The restriction on the 7th-level Sor/Wiz spell greater teleport [conj] (Player's Handbook 293) is that

you must have at least a reliable description of the place to which you are teleporting (such as a detailed description from someone else or a particularly precise map). If you attempt to teleport with insufficient information (or with misleading information), you disappear and simply reappear in your original location.

Ask the DM if there exists reliable descriptions that can be acquired that allow the spell greater teleport to reach the destination you want. Are there folks you can interview? Books to read? Tavern tales to absorb? Paintings to study? Sculpture gardens to enjoy? If a way of getting that reliable description exists, do what you must and find the destination that way.

If reliable descriptions don't exist, try scouting the area using an acquaintance.

If there's a creature with which you're familiar in or near the area to which you want to teleport, target that creature with the spell sending [evoc] (PH 275-6) (which is an evocation spell with no saving throw and that doesn't allow spell resistance), explaining to the target who you are, that you'll be casting the spell scrying [div] (PH 274-5) on him in just a minute, and that the creature is to fail the saving throw. The creature can do that.

Cast the spell scrying on the creature and study the area around the creature. If you can, do this a few more times to increase your familiarity. (Although the caster can't be Off Target with the spell greater teleport he still rolls on the chart for the 5th-level Sor/Wiz spell teleport [conj] (PH 292-3) when using the spell greater teleport because the possibility for a Similar Area or Mishap remain). Use this accumulated information as the destination for the spell greater teleport. Alternately, get all the information needed to use the spell greater teleport by targeting the acquaintance the 8th-level Sor/Wiz spell discern location [div] (PH 222).

If you can neither find a reliable description nor contact a friend, you're left with either getting a detailed description the hard way or getting a particularly precise map.

Getting a Detailed Description

First, find a creature who's been where you want to go. Then extract the detailed description from the creature's mind.

"What?!"

The DM's made it clear that no amount of book learnin' or other research will do. The only remaining (even semi-)reliable descriptions are the memories of creatures who have been to the destination to which you want to teleport. Have the caster who is going to cast greater teleport use one or more of the following spells on that creature.

  • The 2nd-level Sor/Wiz spell vision of fear [div] (Dragon #333 73), for 24 hours, grants the caster firsthand knowledge (suitable for scrying attempts and teleport destinations) of the caster's choice of either the target's most recent fear or the target's greatest fear. Note: That's awfully specific, though, but waiting by the docks or the trading post and interviewing recent arrivals from the region might find a suitable target.
  • The 3rd-level corrupt spell absorb mind [div] (Book of Vile Darkness 84), for 1 min./level, grants the caster, after eating a portion of the dead creature's brain, "the creature's memories and knowledge to some degree, so that she has a 25% chance of recalling any important fact known to the creature." Note: I house rule this to 1 attempt per minute. The spell often requires me to ad lib the ridiculous.
  • The 6th-level Sor/Wiz spell probe throughts [div] (Spell Compendium 162), for as long as the caster concentrates up to 1 round/level, grants the caster the the ability to "learn the answer to one question per round, to the best of the subject's knowledge.... and the answers to those questions are imparted directly to [the caster's] mind."
  • The 7th-level Clr spell brain spider [div] (SpC 38), for 1 min./level, grants the caster, among other choices, the ability to eavesdrop on another creature's thoughts and learn that creature's "thoughts and memories... in detail."
  • The 9th-level Sor spell mindrape [ench] (BV 99) grants the caster the ability to "enter... the mind of a creature, learning everything that creature knows."

One of those should get a description that's sufficient for the spell's caster to also use the spell greater teleport, but it's possible the DM may rule it's also necessary to retain this information perfectly to teleport accurately. If that's the case, use the following spell.

  • The 3rd-level Sor/Wiz spell magic memory [div] (Wyrms of the North column "Deszeldaryndun")1 grants the caster the ability to "absorb the sights, smells, sounds, tastes, and/or textures of [the caster's] immediate environment and magically record them in... memory." Then the caster "can later share [the] experience with another willing living creature simply by maintaining direct physical contact and letting the memory replay." Note: Confirm first that the DM allows this method of memory retention to work with another creature's memory. (I allow it to do so in my campaigns.)

Obviously, the spell magic memory is also useful if the caster who acquired the information must relay that information to the caster of the spell greater teleport.2

Getting a Particularly Precise Map

The skill Gather Information has this covered. It says

If you want to find out about a specific rumor ("Which way to the ruined temple of Erythnul?") or a specific item ("What can you tell me about that pretty sword the captain of the guard walks around with?"), or obtain a map, or do something else along those lines, the DC for the check is 15 to 25, or even higher. (PH 74).

Emphasis mine.

I'm guessing it'll be that even higher. In fact, I'm guessing the DM will just say No. If that's the case, while there are other magical maps in D&D 3.X,3 what's needed is this one:

  • The held item Keoghtom's spidery map (Dragon #359 72) (26,400 gp; 0 lbs.) grants the bearer the ability "concentrate upon the map, searching [his] mind for a location, creature, or object. The map then acts as a find the path spell, showing in great detail the shortest, most direct physical route to the specified destination. [The owner] can only use the map once per day, and all other paths or locations on the map appear as an ever-changing blurred mass of webs."

The spidery map uses an effect like the 6th-level Clr spell find the path [div] (PH 230)--which has no distance limitation--, and it provides a destination--the crucial yet poorly defined thing necessary for employing the spell teleport et al. ("The spell instantly transports you to a designated destination..."). Pick the creature you know or the artifact you're aware of and activate the map (borrow a map from a friendly contact if its cost exceeds your funds--you only need the map once).4 That should be sufficient to use the spell greater teleport to get you where you want to go.

Alternative Means of Investigation and Travel

The 6th-level Sor/Wiz spell scry location [div] (Complete Scoundrel 102) is nearly impossible lest one possesses some connection to the location to be scried. The 6th-level Sor/Wiz spell shadow walk [illus] (PH 277) only allows travel at 50 MPH (that's, like, a week-long road trip on the Plane of Shadow--have fun!), but a level 12 caster can employ the spell phantom steed [conj] (PH 260) to go faster than that, and the 7th-level nomad power dream travel [psychoportation] (Expanded Psionics Handbook 96-7) goes faster than that--but navigation's an issue with a poorly drawn continental map (e.g. "We're going to California!" doesn't actually narrow it down that much). The DM will probably demand a familiar destination for the spell plane shift [conj] (PH 262) et al. because if folks could use the spell plane shift twice rather than risk greater teleport once, I expect most folks would; ask the DM.5

"Why Is This So Difficult?"

The ability to teleport to places with which one's already familiar is incredibly powerful. That the spell greater teleport eliminates both the distance limit ("I can see the moon, right?") and the possibility of being Off Target really is sufficient to call the spell greater teleport. Adding the ability to teleport to places unseen--if reliable descriptions or particularly precise maps are easily acquired--hurts the verisimilitude of many campaigns.

It's also possible the DM wants the PCs to reach the destination the old fashioned way--booking passage on a ship and sailing away or hiring a guide and riding hard--rather than allowing the blind teleport. It could be it's the journey that counts, not the confrontation at the end.

You should probably ask the DM if he wants you teleporting there. Maybe the plot is the PCs getting to the destination.


  1. The column appears not to be archived. Here's the spell.

    Magic Memory

    Divination [Mind-Affecting]
    Level: Sor/Wiz 3
    Components: S, M
    Casting Time: 1 action
    Range: Personal
    Target: You and one other living creature
    Duration: Special
    Saving Throw: Will negates
    Spell Resistance: No

    You absorb the sights, smells, sounds, tastes, and/or textures of your immediate environment and magically record them in your memory for as long as you concentrate (up to 1 round/level). Anything that causes you to break your concentration ends the record. You can later share your experience with another willing living creature simply by maintaining direct physical contact and letting the memory replay. For as long as contact is maintained, that creature's senses perceive the earlier recorded environment. Once the memory is replayed, the spell ends, and the memory becomes a normal memory for both you and the target.

    Arcane Focus: A mind flayer tentacle. Note: Fortunately, no gp cost. I didn't want hard-up-for-cash mind flayers selling their tentacles to the wizards' college.

  2. The only other ways to get perfect memory in D&D 3.X that I'm immediately aware of are the prestige classes Jordain vizier (Shining South 33) and shadow scout (Oriental Adventures 44)--neither of whom are casters--and maybe the cerebrex (Dragon Compendium Volume 1 72)--whose eidetic memory is a numerical bonus instead of actual memory--, although there very well could be other prestige classes or an infusion, mystery, power, soulmeld, utterance, vestige, or something else that does so. The skill Autohypnosis (XPH 36-7) only allows memorization of "text..., numbers, diagrams, or sigils;" ask the DM if a map's a diagram.

  3. There's the map of unseen lands (MIC 164) (5,200 gp; 0 lbs.) and the greater and lesser underdark maps (DrU 77 and 76) (major and minor artifact; 0 and 1 lbs.)), for example.
  4. The spell magic memory works for memorizing the map, too. Unfortunately, the 0th-level Sor/Wiz spell amanuensis [trans] (SpC 9) "copies only nonmagical text, not illustrations or magical writings."
  5. Or not. You're in the DM's hands because of 5d% miles off one always is when using the spell plane shift (unless you've greater plane shift [conj] (SpC 159) and a previously visited location). There're not-nice folks on every plane; don't expect to arrive among pleasant folk unless the DM wants you to.
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    \$\begingroup\$ I am quite disappointed there is no easy way to see a random place far away. Scanning randomly a distant place with a 500 miles error margin should not be that difficult. In our case "we are going to california" would work except the fact that we would rather arrive in a friendly or neutral place. Thanks a lot for the very detailed answer, I will probably end up accepting it if nobody comes up with a better solution. I think we might end up looking for detailed info about the location, which is basically like making another quest \$\endgroup\$ – Epeedefeu Sep 15 '14 at 9:58
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One casting of Forest Eyes

You cast the spell Forest eyes (3rd level Druid spell) which allows you to see through the plant you're touching to the plant you want to move to at your destination. Using that plant you can observe the area you want to teleport to regardless of distance for as long as you want. Once you're able to cast Forest eyes ( It's a third level spell so you can purchase a scroll of it easily enough ) you can commit that information you need to form an image of the area you want to teleport to memory.

This is when you would use Greater Teleport. You have the mental image from Forest Eyes that you can use to target the specific point that you have visited using the Forest Eyes spell. This should be sufficient for your purposes. When you've finished whatever quest you have in this far off destination you can cast Forest Eyes again on the same plant to return to your destination.

  • As safe as possible ( Casting forest eyes insures your destination is safe, as you can see through the plant at your destination).
  • As simple as possible ( It requires little more than a scroll to cast the spell if you have a rogue with Use magic Device )
  • As cheap as possible ( For the cost of the 3rd level spell scroll you have all you need to get to your destination )
  • Makes usage of teleportation or fly powers ( When you've committed the location to memory, use your Greater Teleport and off you go )
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  • \$\begingroup\$ Plants don't have will saves, so Forest eyes will always work, however you could use it and just use Forest eyes instead of Scrying. Since Forest eyes can "designate a direction and distance and let forest eyes find the appropriate type of plant nearest to the desired location." If you set the Desired location near where you're wanting to go, you can easily find a common plant there. However, I'll amend my post. \$\endgroup\$ – Sandwich Sep 28 '14 at 5:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ In the end we had a meeting today and a scrying solution worked, so I am accepting an answer that proposed it. Still this proposition is more accurate in regard to the bounty prerequisites, so I am awarding the bounty here. \$\endgroup\$ – Epeedefeu Sep 28 '14 at 18:44
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As gregory says, Scrying may be your best option. However, it allows the person you are trying to track a will save, in which case the spell fails, and can't be used again for 24 hours. Furthermore, the target gains a +5 bonus assuming you have never seen the person before, and the spell requires an expensive focus.

If the person you are finding is high level (and has good will save), you may find this next to impossible.

Additionally, if this person is expecting you (and has fled 10000 km to get away from you), they may simply protect their location from teleportation.

You may have more luck with a combination of Shadow Walk (travel at 50 mph) and find the path, for 125 hours total travel time. Not ideal as it's a 6th level spell, and will require multiple castings to get you sufficient duration. Total cost should be around 6k for enough castings, from an 11th level caster, or 4200 from a 20th level caster using extend spell. However, he would have to follow you around for the first 80 hours, and might require more payment for this.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The NPC is not hostile. Actually, as far as we know, he may be friendly and willing to be found by us. But the "Shadow Walk" plan will probably not work for several reasons, one of them being that the exit is pretty random and we are exploring a very dangerous country. But there is also the problem of the desert we need to cross and where there are no shadows, and the problem of casting the spell itself. Anyway thanks for your answer \$\endgroup\$ – Epeedefeu Sep 15 '14 at 9:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ The reason shadow walk has an error is related to it being difficult to navigate in the shadow realm, not an actual teleportation error. I would assume that Find the path would eliminate this error, but your DM may disagree. You only need to be in shadows at the start of your journey for the spell, not the entire time. Although I would argue that for up to 10 hours (night), there are shadows everywhere anyway. Although if the NPC is friendly and knows to voluntarily fail his saving throw, then scrying is a good option. \$\endgroup\$ – Scott Sep 15 '14 at 9:13
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Two Plane Shifts and a Shadow Walk.

Unlike Teleport, Plane Shift doesn't need a precise destination. You simply pick a spot on the plane, and you appear within 500 miles of that location. Since it only takes a standard action to cast, you can easily cast it once to go to the Astral Plane, and then immediately cast it again to go back to the Material, except much closer to where you were before.

As a side note, this is why I try to get an Amulet of the Planes on all of my high-Int characters. Being able to teleport reasonably close to any destination in the multiverse, with a very low chance of failure, at will, is pretty nice.

Anyway, once you've Plane Shifted back to the Material, use Shadow Walk to get to where you're going. Shadow walk also has a chance to not put you exactly where you want, but it'll most likely put you within a mile of your intended destination. It might take up to 10 hours to get to your target with Shadow Walk, since Plane Shift can drop you off 500 miles away, but that's not a difficult forced march.

Both of these are Sor/Wiz spells, but Plane Shift is two levels lower as a Cleric spell, so it'd be a little cheaper to cast it that way.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Interesting alternate way but a bit complicated. We can't afford the amulet right now (provided somebody makes a good gather info roll to figure out where it could be sold) and nobody in our party could cast Plane Shift though \$\endgroup\$ – Epeedefeu Sep 15 '14 at 8:58
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Use Scrying to get a view of the surroundings of the NPC you know. It's a level 3-5 spell that lets you view a creature's surroundings if it fails at a Will save. The more you know about the creature the harder the save is. This will give you knowledge of a location to which to teleport.

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The 8th level Wizard spell Discern Location will do it if you have the resources. I did not see enough info on party resources.

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    \$\begingroup\$ To find a creature with the spell, you must have seen the creature or have some item that once belonged to it. To find an object, you must have touched it at least once. We never met the NPC so that prerequisite is not met. Plus 8th level is already pretty high \$\endgroup\$ – Epeedefeu Sep 15 '14 at 8:47
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When In Doubt, Ask A Spirit! (Or Deity)

This could help with a very high result of Knowledge (Geography); and more "roleplaying" knowledge as interpreted by via the DM.


Spiritual Advisor

(Complete Champion, p. 127)

Divination
Level: Cleric 4
Components: V, S
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Personal
Target: You
Duration: 1 minute/level

When you chant the final words of your incantation, a soft, comforting voice seems to whisper in your ear, "What knowledge may I impart to you?"

Spiritual advisor allows you to consult with a spirit, an angel, or some other divine aspect of your deity. This advisor manifests as a barely shimmering orb that floats above one of your shoulders. When it speaks, only you can hear its counsel.

As long as the spiritual advisor is present, it helps you recall bits of trivia, history, or other knowledge. This knowledge can be as general or specific as is required, and the information gained grants you a +4 insight bonus on all Knowledge checks while the spell is in effect. You can even attempt checks with Knowledge skills in which you have no skill ranks or retry a Knowledge check you failed before casting the spell.

Comment: Use Divine Insight for a maximum +15 Insight Bonus Instead.


Heroism

(Player's Handbook v.3.5, p. 240)

Enchantment (Compulsion) [Mind-Affecting]
Level: Bard 2, Sorcerer/Wizard 3
Components: V, S
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Touch
Target: Creature touched
Duration: 10 min./level
Saving Throw: Will negates (harmless)
Spell Resistance: Yes (harmless)

This spell imbues a single creature with great bravery and morale in battle. The target gains a +2 morale bonus on attack rolls, saves, and skill checks.

Comment: Use Greater Heroism for a +4 Morale Bonus Instead.


Guidance of the Avatar

(https://www.wizards.com/dnd/article.asp?x=dnd/sb/sb20010504a)

Divination
Level: Cleric 2
Components: V, S
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Touch
Target: Creature touched
Duration: 1 minute or until discharged
Saving Throw: None
Spell Resistance: Yes

Your deity's chosen avatar imbues the subject with divine power. The creature gets a +20 competence bonus on a single skill check and must choose to use the bonus before making the roll to which it applies.

Comment: Yes please!


Knowledge (Int; Trained Only)

Geography (lands, terrain, climate, people)

Check

Answering a question within your field of study has a DC of 10 (for really easy questions), 15 (for basic questions), or 20 to 30 (for really tough questions).

For every 5 points by which your check result exceeds the DC, you recall another piece of useful information.


So what do we get? Between a +4 to +15 Insight Bonus, Possibly a +2 Synergy Bonus with other Knowledge skills, a +2 or +4 Morale bonus, and a +20 competence bonus. So roll your Knowledge (Geography) with a possible +30 up to +41 to the skill check. You only need a result of 30 to gain an answer to really tough questions, such as "What does this place look like 10,000 kilometers away?" Even if you take a 10, you will have between a 40 to 51. I think the DM would say, "You win this time. Do that again and I am throwing the DMG at you." And that isn't even considering how many ranks you have in Knowledge (Geography).

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    \$\begingroup\$ The area we want to teleport to is 10,000km away so this wont work. But it's interesting. Once we are almost on target, it might help figuring the geograpy of the region \$\endgroup\$ – Epeedefeu Sep 15 '14 at 8:50
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How about actually doing it in few shorter jumps?

Let me explain:

  • If You use Fly spell and fly high enough You can easily see thousands of miles each direction assuming good weather (which for the record You should be able to manipulate aswell as there are plenty of spells that do just that). You can also use any spell that grants long-range vision in addition to that to see even further.
  • When You're high up there just pick any landmark You see (let's say mountain top or city/village or lake) in general direction of Your target and teleport there.
  • Repeat until You've reached the desired location. If we're talking about 10.000 miles, that's basically 2-3 times the distance between rome and Alexandria by flight and I guarantee I could see both coasts from my plane circulating around the Rome when landing. This means 2-3 jumps with perfect visibility.
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