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As a GM I'm planning on a surprise for my players where their PCs are 'defeated' in their encounter with the Big Bad in a way that means they end up in 'stasis' for many years to when the Big Bad has taken over the kingdom/world a la Ocarina of Time. Then they 'wake up' with the whole world around them changed to find they are now known only as legends, the few to stand up to the tyrant.

Something like Flesh to Stone which turns them into a statue so they would be unchanged for years to have the effect reverse much later with Stone to Flesh. I'm not entirely sure if it would really work that way. But what I am looking for is variety, each PC is affected by a different spell or effect which seems to have them doomed only to have a chance to fight another day.

If a target is completely frozen solid, common sense tells me they would be dead as they'd have frostbite through their whole body, but is there some way they'd be preserved?

What are the ways that PCs may end up in 'stasis'?

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@KRyan mentioned temporal stasis, and imprisonment acts the same as temporal stasis but also hides the body away and is more usually used as an offensive spell. Also, plane shifting them to a prison on any plane that has the timeless trait, like the Astral Plane or the Boneyard, will work, though they'll be aware during the interim. They could be put in different planes for variety.

They can get caught in a mirror of life trapping. A good one if you don't want your BBEG to have to have high level caster ability.

The witch hex ice tomb stops breathing, eating, and drinking but not aging. You'd only use that if you want them to be older in part 2 of your game. The witch eternal slumber hex doesn't explicitly say no eating/drinking/aging but that seems to be the intent (otherwise the duration might as well be "about two weeks" instead of "eternal").

But you also shouldn't feel averse to making something up if the exact thing you want doesn't exist. Trying to RAW-justify swinging the GM Fiat Stick can be counterproductive. All these effects allow for saves, for example... If you just want to do it, do it. I think you'll find, as many GMs before you have, that this sounds great but players (assuming they don't rebel against the general idea) will say "if you just want to screw me at least don't make me work for it."

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Temporal stasis suspends the animation of a touched creature so that it does not age or otherwise change, and has a permanent duration. It can then be undone by anything that can end a spell, e.g. dispel magic.

The quintessence psionic power produces a substance of the same name that stops time within it. Immersing the PCs in a vat of quintessence would thus do the trick, and is somewhat traditional for these things—psionics is third-party in Pathfinder, but in the D&D it was spun off from, it was part of the SRD, so the quintessence power has a long history there. Ending the effect of the quintessence is as simple as removing the PCs from it (or draining it from around the PCs).

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