Teleportation Spells

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As I said in my post on Summoning Spells, I don’t have a mechanical problem with any spell in the game functioning as it is written the rules. Teleportation magic is no exception. However, I have produced quite a large wodge of house rules on Teleportation over the years and I’m wondering if it isn’t more flavourful to hang onto some aspects of them.

Basically, the house rules said this:

  • For short-range teleportation, like dimension door, the character must have line of sight to his destination. Therefore such teleportation couldn’t be attempted while blindfolded or in pitch darkness, or onto the other side of a closed door.
  • Normal teleportation can be cast anywhere, but for he 5th level Teleport spell, the destination must be an existing teleportation circle.
  • Higher level teleportation don’t need for the destination point to be an existing teleportation circle, but if casters try to teleport “off the grid” then a chance of error applies.
  • Teleport only allows travel on the same plane of existence. Plane Shift spells are required to go elsewhere.

This is the full text of the house-ruled spells. Some of these will also appear as Domain Spells, but I haven’t added those details in yet. For comparisson you can find all these spells in the Pathfinder PRD’s spell index.

Dimension Door
Conjuration (Teleportation)
Level: Bard 4, Sor/Wiz 4
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Components: V
Range: Long (400 ft. + 40 ft./level)
Target: You and touched objects or other touched willing creature
Duration: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: None and Will negates (object)
Spell Resistance: No and yes (object)

You instantly transport yourself from your current location to any spot that you can see within the range of this spell. You must have line of sight to your destination in order to use dimension door. After using this spell, you cannot take any other actions until your next turn.

You can bring along objects as long as their weight doesn’t exceed your maximum load. You may also bring one additional willing Medium or smaller creature (carrying gear or objects up to its maximum load) or its equivalent per three caster levels. A Large creature counts as two Medium creatures, a Huge creature counts as four Medium creatures and so forth. All creatures to be transported must be touching one another, and at least one of them must be touching you.

Plane Shift
Conjuration (Teleportation)
Level: Cleric 5, Sor/Wiz 7
Casting Time: 1 hour (see below)
Components: V, S, F (a forked metal rod attuned to the plane of travel)
Range: Touch
Area: 10 ft. radius
Duration: 1 round/5 levels
Saving Throw: None and Will negates (object)
Spell Resistance: Yes

This spell functions as teleport with the exception that the magic is solely used to cross planar boundaries. You can’t use plane shift to travel to a permanent teleportation circle on the same plane, but you can use it to travel to a specific teleportation circle on a different plane of existence.

Divine casters who know this spell usually only know the sigil sequence to travel to a particular location on the home plane of their god (although there is nothing stopping them learning other addresses in time). Arcane casters will discover one sigil sequence when they learn this spell, and will probably go out of their way to discover more.

As with teleport you can use an existing permanent teleportation circle as the origin point of this spell. This reduces the casting time down from 1 hour to 1 minute. Planar travel is more complex than travel on the same plane.

Plane Shift, Greater
Conjuration (Teleportation)
Level: Cleric 7, Sor/Wiz 9
Casting Time: 1 hour (see below)
Components: V, S
Range: Touch
Area: 10 ft. radius
Duration: 1 round/5 levels
Saving Throw: None and Will negates (object)
Spell Resistance: Yes

This spell is similar to plane shift except that it is based on the greater teleport instead of the teleport spell. Greater plane shift allows travel between planes of existence, without the need for the destination to be a permanent teleportation circle. However, such jumps require a roll on the table presented in the greater teleport spell description.

Teleport
Conjuration (Teleportation)
Level: Sor/Wiz 5
Casting Time: 10 minutes
Components: V, S, M (powder, chalks)
Range: Touch
Area: 10 ft. radius
Duration: 1 round/5 levels
Saving Throw: None and Will negates (object)
Spell Resistance: No and yes (object)

You create a shortcut across the fabric of the world, linking your location with a permanent teleportation circle somewhere else on the same plane. With a step, you can move from one circle to the other. As part of performing the ritual, you must sketch out a 10-foot-diameter circle in various chalks, inks and powders. Some wizards use ominous candles, but this is purely an affectation. This temporary teleportation circle must exactly match the permanent teleportation circle at your destination. It disappears at the end of the spell’s duration.

You must know the unique sequence of runes and sigils that corresponds to the portal to which you are trying to connect. When you learn the teleport spell you will also discover two or more sequences of sigils (at the GM’s discretion). Other sequences can be found, stolen or purchased. Having a sequence of sigils does not guarantee entry through the destination portal, as some portals can still be warded. If this is the case, then the teleport spell fails and the caster is aware that warding is in place.

While the portal is open, any creature that enters the circle at the origin point instantly appears at the other location, along with anything the creature holds or carries. Any number of creatures of any size can use an open portal; the only limitation is the number that can reach the circle before it ends.

The conjured portal is opaque: you cannot see what is on the other side. It is also provides two-way transportation. Anyone on the other side of the portal can come through to the caster’s side given sufficient time. However, environmental effects at one end of the connection don’t affect the other end, so you can’t open a portal at the bottom of the ocean and flood your current location.

Teleport can link to any permanent portal on the same plane of existence. It cannot cross planar boundaries.

You can use a permanent teleportation circle as the origin point for this spell. This saves the caster having to draw his own temporary circle on the ground. If a permanent circle is used as the origin point then no material components are required, and the casting time of this spell is reduced from 10 minutes to 1 standard action.

Teleport, Greater
Conjuration (Teleportation)
Level: Sor/Wiz 7
Casting Time: 10 minutes (see below)
Components: V, S, M (powder, chalks)
Range: Touch
Area: 10 ft. radius
Duration: 1 round/5 levels
Saving Throw: None and Will negates (object)
Spell Resistance: No and yes (object)

This spell functions like teleport with the exception that your destination does not have to be a permanent teleportation portal. Teleporting ‘off the grid’ is extremely dangerous, and becomes more dangerous if the caster is unfamiliar with his destination.

If you use greater teleport to reach a destination that is not a permanent teleportation portal, the you must have some clear idea of the location and lay-out of your destination. The clearer your mental image, the more likely the teleportation works. To see how well the spell functions, then roll 1d100 and consult the following table. The definitions are given below.

Familiarity On Target Off Target Similar Area Splinched Adrift
Very familiar 01-90 91-95 96-99 100
Studied carefully 01-85 86-91 92-97 98-99 100
Seen casually 01-80 81-88 89-95 96-98 99-100
Viewed once 01-70 71-80 81-90 91-95 96-100
False destination 01-50 61-90 91-100

Familiarity: Very familiar is a place you have been very often and feel at home. Studied carefully is a place you know well, either because you can currently physically see it, or because you have been there often. Seen casually refers to places that you have seen more than once, but with which you are not very familiar. Viewed once is a location that you have only seen once, or only seen by scrying. False destination refers to a location that does not exist. The caster may have been fooled into thinking the location was real, or he may be trying to teleport to a known location that no longer exists.

Note that you can’t use greater teleport to visit a place you haven’t seen at all – you cannot define “Princess Jasmine’s bedchamber” or “the nearest hawthorn bush” and hope for the spell to work. Such attempts result in an unavoidable mishap (GM discretion). Scrying unseen destinations first before teleporting is the wisest course of action.

On Target: You appear where you want to be. Rejoice.

Off Target: You appear safely at a random distance from the intended location, and in a random destination. The distance off target is 1d100% of the distance that was to be travelled. The direction is determined randomly.

Similar Area: You arrive in an area that is visually or thematically similar to the target area. Distance isn’t a factor in this dislocation, the spell simply homes in on the most similar alternative location.

Splinched: Not all of all of you reaches the destination, and the body parts that do are often twisted beyond all recognition. Take 5d6 damage and roll again on the table. Unlucky rolls could result into you being repeatedly splinched to death.

Adrift: You are splinched (taking 5d6 damage) and cast loose into the Astral Plane. It’s up to your ingenuity and the GM to work out how you get home from here.

Interplanar travel is not possible with a greater teleport spell: the start and destination point must be on the same plane of existence.

True Teleport
Conjuration (Teleportation)
Level: Sor/Wiz 9
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Components: V
Range: Personal
Duration: Instantaneous
Spell Resistance: No and yes (object)

Using this spell, the caster can instantaneously transport himself to a designated destination on the same plane of existence. No lengthy preparation for the spell is required, the caster simply wills himself to be somewhere else and disappears.

If the target destination is a permanent teleportation circle then the caster arrives safely with no chance of mishap. If this is not the case, then the caster must roll on the potential mishap table found in the description of the greater teleport spell.

These are quite significant house rules, and they fly in the face of our Pact of Minimal Tinkering, but I like them. They’re about the only rules in fourth edition that I did like. I think this makes teleportation more evocative… more interesting.

Now, I know I’ve gone to a few lengths to introduce the above as the way teleportant magic works on Iourn. There’s a narrative reason to keep it working this way rather than revert to the house rules. However, this is so major a mechanical shift from Paizo’s published work that I am willing to ignore the story-elements in this case. If you want to use the published rules instead of the above then so be it.

So what’s it to be? The house rules, or the published rules?


Go to the Pathfinder: The New Deal index

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5 thoughts on “Teleportation Spells

  1. I really hate the standard rules for teleport, as I have said at length before. If I had my way, the long distance teleports would be excised from the game entirely. I like the journey. The build up that comes from travelling to your adventures feels much more satisfying than clicking your fingers and being there. Imagine if Gandalf could have teleported Frodo to mount doom.

    Even though we said minimal tinkering, I strongly prefer the house rules on this to the written rules.

  2. I’m happy with these house rules I think. I’ve not GMed as much at high levels, so I haven’t come across too many problems with teleporting. When I’ve encountered it, it hasn’t been a big deal – it offers different challenges and opportunities to foot/horse/boat/dirigible travel.

    However, I can see why you might not want it, especially with the Temples of Concordance as a major plot point. I don’t think it takes too much power away from particular players and it majorly handicaps devils and demons, which is nice!

  3. I was really not expecting these house rules to get much traction at all. I’m quite surprised.

    I like the journey as well, although there does come a time in an adventurer’s career when the journey is actually damn tedious. I’ve always thought teleportation spells should be used in exceptional circumstances when time is of the essence, and not as a matter of course. At least not until the highest levels in the game.

    But this isn’t about reducing the power or utiltiy of spellcasters. The published rules do that very well without my help! I’m more interested in the flavour of it all and how it affects the setting.

    I’d be interested to see what INdran says here, as the house rules for dimension door handicap the monk a little.

  4. Neil says:

    Where are the published rules for teleportation? Personally I think a powerful spellcaster should be able to teleport to other planes of existence at the click of his fingers but I agree that circles are more evocative and prevent players from potentially circumventing large bits of plot!

  5. The published rules for Teleportation are a bit spread out in Pathfinder.

    Some spells have the Teleportation Descriptor, which provides general teleportation spells. But other than that you’re looking at the text of the individual spells, all of which you can find on this list.

    I think there’s an argument either way here. I’m going to give it more thought, but I think that despite the more flavourful elements of the house rules, the published rules might be the way to go here: not least because there are other elements of the game (such as monsters) that use teleportation too, and changing it for everyone may have knock-on effects that I’m not seeing at the moment.

    The trick in D&D has always been that adventures need to take into account spells like teleport. If you have a wizard with access to that ability then the adventure needs to be written in such a way that the spell isn’t a simple “I WIN” button. Of course the spell needs to still be useful to the player so there’s definitely a balancing act.

    That’s one of the things I dislike about higher-level play. It becomes an arms race between the players and the GM. The GM has to create adventures that remain challenging without nerfing all the player’s favourite toys. Inevitably this means he does nerf the toys but tries to do so in a way that the players don’t notice.

    I like the journey and exploration aspect of the game, and teleportation can harm that. Of course, it depends on the game. Where would we be in Marc’s game at the moment if we couldn’t cross great distances very quickly?

    In any event, using the published spell-casting system will inevitably make teleport-type spells less common. I’m sure for the most part the wizard will hang on to it as a means to escape if things go south.

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