Suppose a wizard casts Teleportation Circle (or Plane Shift) and writes down a sigil sequence not corresponding to any circle the wizard knows. We're not concerned with why they would do this; maybe they made a mistake, or they just want to travel. What would happen to this wizard?

The possibilities I can think of are:

  1. The spell fails, consuming a slot but nothing happens.
  2. The wizard teleports to the circle bearing that sigil sequence, if it exists, even though this circle was not known to the wizard before casting the spell. If it does not exist, a mishap occurs as in the Teleport spell when aiming for a false destination.
  3. A mishap occurs even if there exists a circle with that sequence.

If there's a RAW way to resolve this, I would guess it says #1, but as a DM I'd be inclined to rule toward #2 just to be interesting. There are a lot of teleportation circles out there in the multiverse, and I find it hard to believe the spell "knows" whether you know a circle or not, so writing sigils at random seems like it should at least take you somewhere. Especially if you use Plane Shift so it's not limited to only the plane you're currently on.

Is there actually an established procedure for this? If not, what is the best way to make this ruling, as backed up by experience?


1 Answer 1


RAW, you would not be able to cast the spell.

The description for the Teleportation Circle spell mentions "sigil sequence you know" several times and it includes rules on how to learn a new sequence. This confirms that the knowledge of the sequence is a component required for the spell to work. If you don't have all the components required, you cannot cast the spell at all and the spell slot is not expended (PHB 203),

That being said, DM fiat trumps RAW any day and using this to kick off a new adventure could be super fun.

  • 19
    \$\begingroup\$ You could run a campaign where theres this gate thingy that whenever you put in a sequence of symbols, you go to a new unknown world - but thats just lazy storytelling, right? \$\endgroup\$ Sep 18, 2016 at 23:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ @gburton, Maybe lazy storytelling :-), but you should be able to get at least 350, or so, stories out of the concept. \$\endgroup\$
    – Makyen
    Sep 18, 2016 at 23:17
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @gburton I think you're on to something. In fact it could be the premise for a great long-running sci-fi show. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 19, 2019 at 3:30

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