Last Updated on January 22, 2023
Teleportation is a powerful ability that should have a home in any mage’s arsenal.
A wizard, sorcerer, or bard who can cast the Teleport spell is capable of instantaneously crossing oceans, bypassing mountain ranges, and traversing entire continents in the blink of an eye.
If you’re not being careful, you can also drop yourself and your friends into the mouth of an active volcano or a dozen miles out to sea. Teleportation is a tricky business.
Welcome to our guide to (relatively safe) teleportation in D&D 5e.
While there are numerous spells and abilities (like Misty Step and Tree Stride) that allow characters to teleport over relatively short distances, we’re going to be focusing on proper teleportation today – spells and magic items with the ability to move you hundreds, possibly thousands, of miles away from where you started.
As such, we’ll be taking a close look at the 7th-level conjuration spell Teleport, how teleportation circles work, and some of the risks involved in this form of travel.
Let’s jump into that swirly, glowing portal, shall we? .
How To Teleport in DnD 5e
Teleport is a 7th-level spell available to wizards, sorcerers, and bards – all of whom gain the opportunity to prepare this spell when they reach 13th level.
With a single barked command, the caster transports themselves and either up to eight willing creatures or a single object within 10 feet to a location of their choosing.
The destination must be on the same plane of existence as the caster, and their familiarity with it determines the chances of either arriving safely or things going very, very wrong.
CASTING TIME: 1 Action
RANGE/AREA: 10 feet
This spell instantly transports the caster and up to eight willing creatures of their choice within 10 feet of them or a single object to a destination of their choice.
An object targeted by this spell must be able to fit entirely within a 10-foot cube and cannot be held or carried by an unwilling creature.
The destination must be known to the caster, and it must be on the same plane of existence. The caster’s familiarity with the destination determines whether the creatures and/or object transported arrive successfully.
Successful and safe transportation can also be ensured if:
- The caster selects a permanent teleportation circle as the destination and has memorized the circle’s sigil sequence.
- The caster has an “associated object” taken from their chosen destination within the past six months.
When the spell is cast, the GM rolls a d100 and consults the table below.
Figuring out the exact chances of the Teleport spell working as well as how to calculate what happens if things go wrong is kind of involved. Let’s define some terms.
A Permanent Circle is a teleportation circle with a unique sigil sequence (like a wizard’s version of an IP address – which raises interesting possibilities when it comes to concealing a circle’s location. Could you route it through several other portals like a VPN?) that you have memorized.
This is the safest form of teleportation. More on teleportation circles below.
As an aside, if you’re like me and already frantically planning a campaign set in a world where teleportation circles are a major form of transportation, I would wholeheartedly advise checking out Magical Industrial Revolution, a system-agnostic supplement for running your very own “pre-apocalyptic” fantasy world in the grips of an arcane transformation.
There’s extensive material on what happens when a society gets, like, really into portals. You can pick up the pdf here, or get the print version from IndiePressRevolution.
An Associated Object is anything taken from a particular location within the past six months and could include a spellbook from a wizard’s library, a piece of masonry from a lich’s tomb, or a painting from a royal gallery.
Thieves’ guilds with a powerful wizard in their ranks might pay handsomely for items procured from the homes of wealthy nobles.
Of course, there’s little way to double check the veracity of claims made by someone selling such items; as a DM, I’d absolutely use this to lure a high-level party into a trap.
A False Destination is a place that doesn’t exist. I would also rule that trying to teleport somewhere using a fake Associated Object or to a Permanent Circle that’s been tampered with or no longer exists would also produce this rest.
Arriving at a destination On Target means the caster and whoever/whatever they bring with them appear safely at their chosen destination.
Arriving Off Target means you appear somewhere pretty close to your intended destination and requires some calculation on the DM’s part to determine just how badly the spell goes.
The distance you arrive Off Target is 1d10x1d10 percent of the total distance teleported.
For example, if you try to teleport 120 miles and arrive Off Target with a roll of 5 and 3 on the two d10s, then you would be off target by 15%, or 18 miles.
The direction in which you stray from your intended destination is determined by rolling a d8, with 1 indicating North, 2 indicating North-East, 3 indicating East, and so on.
This is honestly more math than I like doing at the table (I have more pressing matters to attend to, like gazing lovingly at my artisan dice), so I would probably either have the caster do these calculations or simplify matters a little.
Keeping Off Target Simple
Keep the directional roll (that, I like), and just spit them out 1d10 x 10 miles away from their destination.
Alternatively, if you’re playing with a hex map, place the party 1d6 hexes away from their destination.
If you want to get really rowdy with it, have the caster play a round of Geoguessr. However many miles they are off is how far away they arrive in the game.
Teleporting to a Similar Area has all sorts of potentially fun implications. This result spits you and your party out in a different area that’s visually or thematically similar to the target destination.
For example, if your party’s wizard is trying to teleport home to their own tower, they might end up in the tower of a completely different wizard.
Depending on the wizard whose house you magically invade, they could simply shrug (“Happens all the time. Tea?”) or polymorph you all into frogs.
As a general rule, this result sends you to the nearest similar location to the target destination, but Teleport has no upper range, so you could wind up anywhere.
Rolling a Mishap means that something has gone terribly wrong with the process.
The caster, along with everyone else traveling with them, takes 3d10 force damage as they’re buffeted by strange interdimensional winds, and the DM rolls again on the table to determine where they end up.
This means that there’s the possibility for multiple Mishaps per teleportation attempt.
As funny as the idea of a party of dead adventurers teleporting anticlimactically into the BBEG’s throne room is, the Mishap rules are my least favorite thing about this spell.
Magic is supposed to be unpredictable, dangerous, and really freaking weird. 3d10 force damage is none of those things. More on making magical Mishaps interesting below.
How Does a Helm of Teleportation Work?
A helm of teleportation is a rare magic item in D&D 5e.
The helm has 3 charges. While wearing it, you can use an action and expend 1 charge to cast the teleport spell from it. The helm regains 1d3 expended charges daily at dawn.
How To Teleport Safely
So, we’ve gone over how to teleport, but teleporting safely (which I’d define as arriving where you want to arrive with the same number of limbs and eyeballs as you left with) is another matter entirely.
If you’re trying to teleport to a location without a permanent circle already established, then there are two main ways to improve your odds of a successful trip.
First, have a good degree of knowledge with the target location.
Trying to be the most widely traveled wizard you can is a good option (especially if you have a flying mount), but my favorite approach is to use the Scrying spell to get a good look at the target location beforehand.
Second, making good use of Associated Objects is probably the best way to ensure you always arrive where you intend.
Anywhere you go that you might conceivably want to teleport to again, pick up something small – a playing card, a picture frame, a piece of stone will do in a pinch.
Just make sure you restock your stash of Associated Objects every six months.
Of course, the most consistent way of Teleporting safely is to jump to a known teleportation circle.
What Are Teleportation Circles?
A teleportation circle is a temporary or permanent ring of arcane sigils – a string of magical runes arranged in a particular pattern – that create a fixed point in space, thus making teleportation between them safe.
Each permanent circle has its own sigil sequence, which spellcasters can memorize and travel to repeatedly.
Most places of arcane power – wizards’ towers, arcane libraries, schools of magic, large guildhouses, major temples, and the like – will probably have at least one permanent teleportation circle somewhere on the premises.
Creating a permanent teleportation circle is something of an ordeal, although a temporary one can be whipped up in as little as a minute using the Teleportation Circle spell.
CASTING TIME: 1 Minute
RANGE/AREA: 10 feet
COMPONENTS: V, M* – (rare chalks and inks infused with precious gems worth 50 gp, which the spell consumes)
DURATION: 1 Round
By drawing a 10-foot diameter circle on the ground inscribed with arcane sigils, you link your location to a permanent teleportation circle of your choice whose sigil sequence you know and that is on the same plane of existence as you.
You open a shimmering portal that leads to your chosen circle and remains open until the end of your next turn.
When you first gain the ability to cast this spell, you learn the sigil sequences for two destinations on the Material Plane determined by the Dungeon Master.
You can learn additional sigil sequences, committing a new sequence to memory after studying it for 1 minute.
You can create a permanent teleportation circle by casting the spell at the same location every day for one year. When you cast the spell in this way, you do not need to use the circle to teleport to a secondary location.
The biggest hurdles to creating your own permanent teleportation circle are obviously time and money.
Since the spell takes 50 gp to cast (and assuming your game takes place in a world where there are also 365 days in a year, which isn’t guaranteed) then establishing a permanent teleportation circle costs not only a year of your life but also 1,250 gp.
Granted, this may not be a huge investment for a group of high-level adventurers, but it explains why only major cities and powerful factions are likely to have their own permanent circles.
Also, it’s important to note that a permanent teleportation circle is not an active portal; it’s a custom, stable destination.
You can’t just walk through one and go anywhere; a spellcaster needs to cast either Teleportation Circle or Teleport and there are no inherent benefits to leaving from one teleportation circle to another.
I would personally introduce a house rule that says having access to a permanent teleportation circle would nullify the casting time and material component cost of casting Teleportation Circle.
A Teleportation Mutation Situation!?
As I said before, the Mishap result on the Teleport spell chart is pretty freaking boring.
Not only does it only deal 3d10 worth of force damage (13th-level-plus characters eat that kind of damage for breakfast, making this more of an annoying tax rather than something that would make a wizard think twice before yeeting themself into the unknown), but the only additional consequence is… rolling again.
Sure, you might get trapped in an endless, inescapable loop of teleportation mishaps, but before long you’re pretty much guaranteed to show up somewhere.
In my ongoing crusade to make D&D weird and scary again, I’ve come up with this list of teleportation mishaps that (I think) more accurately reflect the consequences of folding you and your buddies up small enough to punch a hole through the fabric of spacetime.
Whenever you roll a Mishap after casting the Teleport spell, have the DM roll a d100 on the table below. You also reroll on the Teleport table to determine whether the caster arrives off course.
On a roll of doubles (11, 77, etc) on the d100 table, roll again for a secondary Mishap.
1. Planar Rift – You are catapulted across the multiverse, arriving in a randomly determined plane or somewhere of the DM’s choosing. The point you just left is now an open portal to this plane. The teleported creatures are 1d10 x 10 miles from this portal (allowing for the geography of the destination).
2-4. Reality Cracks – You don’t teleport. Instead, a hole opens in reality and raw, wild magic begins flowing out into the world. Any creature standing within 100 feet of the rift must roll on the Wild Magic Surge Table each round.
5. Doppel-party – The party arrives 1d10 miles away from their intended destination 1 week after they left. Also, a party of doppelgangers looking exactly like the party showed up when and where they intended to go. They have spent the past week getting into fights, robbing people, insulting the local nobles, and generally ensuring the party will be met with a frosty reception (if an evil party undergoes this effect, the doppelgangers spent the past week rebuilding a local orphanage, feeding the homeless, and generally ruining the party’s bad name).
6-7. The Many Fates – Each creature that teleports must either draw from the Deck of Many Things or take 10d10 + 10 psychic damage. The effects manifest when they arrive at their destination.
8-17. Chaos Mutation – Each creature that teleports must succeed on a DC 18 Constitution saving throw or suffer a horrible, painfully disfiguring mutation chosen by the DM. Crab claws for hands, a third eye in your armpit, a skeleton on the outside, iridescent scales that glow in the presence of gold, weeping sores, fire for hair – get weird with it!
18-20. The Long Way Round – Though it only seems like the blink of an eye, you must have been teleporting for a very, very long time. Each character arrives 1d10 x 10 years older than they left.
21. Body Swap Episode – The souls of all creatures teleported are randomly redistributed among the bodies.
22-30. Grand Entrance – A 9th-level Fireball spell is cast at the party’s point of arrival. A few seconds later, the party arrives unharmed.
31-40. Split the Party – Each teleporting creature must succeed on a DC 18 Intelligence saving throw or be fired off, arriving 1d10 x 10 miles away in a random direction from the party’s final destination.
41-55. Wild Magic Surge – Each teleporting creature must succeed on a DC 18 Intelligence saving throw or roll on the Wild Magic Surge table.
56. Musical Classes – Each teleporting creature must succeed on a DC 16 Wisdom saving throw or switch classes with another teleporting creature. The DM may choose how classes are reassigned or may determine this randomly. If only one creature is affected, they reassign 1d4 levels of their current class into a new one of the DM’s choosing. This effect ends after 2d6 days.
57-60. A New Friend? – The party arrives at their destination with a new, 5th–level retainer in tow. The retainer is sworn to serve the party, completely steadfast, and swears blind that they’ve been working for them for years. Gets visibly upset if the party pushes the issue.
61-69. Stowaways – Something else arrives with the party. Open the Monster Manual to a random page. Whatever you find is what is now also with the party. The creature disappears again after 1d4 minutes.
70. Switcheroo – One randomly determined member of the party is replaced by a doppelganger (still under the control of the player, probably) with a secret, probably evil objective. The only difference between the doppel-party-member and the original is a small silver mirror they carry on their person. Inside it, the reflection of the actual character bangs against the glass. Breaking the mirror sets them free.
71-80. Transmutation – All of the party’s equipment (except magical items) is transmuted into … something else. Swords are now made of glass. Armor is made of cheese. Your boots are made of diamonds. Your hat is made of snakes. Items contained within a Bag of Holding or other magical receptacle are unaffected.
81-85. Tongues – Each teleporting creature loses the ability to speak up to 1d4 random languages they know, gaining an equal number of random languages in exchange.
86-89. Time Nonsense – The party travels not in space, but in time, arriving a number of years in the past or future (flip a coin) equal to the number of miles they were trying to travel.
90-92. Erasure – The party arrives in a world where anyone, everyone, swears they never existed.
93-95. Arcane Conduit – Every teleported creature gains 1d6 levels in Wild Magic Sorcerer.
96-99. Fusion – Every teleported creature fuses into a massive, Cronenbergian blob of limbs and random eyeballs. It’s upsetting and painful. The blob has all the abilities of the creatures combined to make it. To determine each stat, choose the highest available one from among the party – with the exception of Charisma, which becomes 5 as a result of the blob only being able to gurgle and scream. Players take turns driving.
100. Ascension – One random creature begins to slowly attain godhood. They level up once per day at dawn, all their abilities are never off cooldown, and when they reach 20th level, they cease to be under their player’s control, passing into the hands of the DM.
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I played my first tabletop RPG (Pathfinder 1e, specifically) in college. I rocked up late to the first session with an unread rulebook and a human bard called Nick Jugger. It was a rocky start but I had a blast and now, the better part of a decade later, I play, write, and write about tabletop RPGs (mostly 5e, but also PBtA, Forged in the Dark and OSR) games for a living, which is wild.