Limitations on Plane Shift?

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
So my players are in search of a lost temple (the name of which they have) on another plane. The cleric wanted to plane shift right to the temple despite never having been there (and it's location has been deliberately forgotten because it contains a terrible secret). To my mind that was pushing the capabilities of the spell too far. It seems like it's built for shifting to well known locations (City of Brass is mentioned for example) or the plane in general if no location within is known.

Basically I nerfed it because it was going to wreck the player's enjoyment of exploring a new location (which my party especially enjoys), and just jumping right to the finale. This is also the final adventure for my group (they're now at level 20) so just jumping to the end of the adventure seemed like a great way to end things with a whimper instead of a bang.

The cleric's player was rightfully not super happy initially but came round once I backed up my ruling with an explanation as to how it would nerf the player's fun (including the cleric's player).

I probably should have just blocked plane shift as an option (or better yet, set the expectations clearly when the spell became available. Lesson learned!).

Anyway, for those who have had PCs with access to Plane Shift, how would you have ruled?
 

Maestrino

Explorer
Plane shift requires a forked metal rod worth at least 250gp attuned to the destination plane of existence as its material component. If they don't have that, it's a no-go. And it also sounds like you have to have at least some idea of where the destination is located, and even then, your arrival isn't super-precise unless you're aiming at a known-to-the-caster teleportation circle.
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Plane shift requires a forked metal rod worth at least 250gp attuned to the destination plane of existence as its material component. If they don't have that, it's a no-go. And it also sounds like you have to have at least some idea of where the destination is located, and even then, your arrival isn't super-precise unless you're aiming at a known-to-the-caster teleportation circle.
I skimmed the material components but you're completely correct. And now I feel like a bit of an idiot! :) But fortunately my ruling leaned in the right direction.
 
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iserith

Magic Wordsmith
That's a tough one. It would be fair in my view if you had previously established the temple as being a place plane shift could not reach (because of the "deliberately forgotten" bit). Then if the player wanted to cast the spell you could point to that lore as a reason to say it would not work. Failing that, the wording of the spell would seem to indicate that as long as they know the name of the place (which they do) then plane shift is going to work.

One of the features of high-level play is easy transportation, so when designing adventures for characters of those levels, it's something I try to keep in mind. Generally I try to build it into the adventure such that the PCs can see good use out of the spells and only sometimes limit their use to make a challenge more difficult or interesting.

Here, you likely did the right thing - admit the oversight and explain why the player should voluntarily opt not to use the spell for the good of the play experience.
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
That's a tough one. It would be fair in my view if you had previously established the temple as being a place plane shift could not reach (because of the "deliberately forgotten" bit). Then if the player wanted to cast the spell you could point to that lore as a reason to say it would not work. Failing that, the wording of the spell would seem to indicate that as long as they know the name of the place (which they do) then plane shift is going to work.
Yep, fortunately the material components requirement saves the day as @Maestrino helpfully reminded me. I sent that to the player and she smacked her head. :)
 

Salthorae

Imperial Mountain Dew Taster
You could also dust off the older Plane Shift rules for use here because of the "forgotten location" mechanic or some magic surrounding the place that "shunts the ability to go straight there with magic".

3.5 PHB said:
From the Material Plane, you can reach any other plane, though you appear 5 to 500 miles (5d%) from your intended destination.
 

Celebrim

Legend
Did they drop the limitation on the spell that prevented it from being used for precise travel? You used to always end up hundreds of miles from your intended destination.
 

Salthorae

Imperial Mountain Dew Taster
Did they drop the limitation on the spell that prevented it from being used for precise travel? You used to always end up hundreds of miles from your intended destination.
Yes. If you know the name of a place you appear in or near that place now.
 

Salthorae

Imperial Mountain Dew Taster
Why is it a problem?
Maybe it's not a problem? Depends on the table/game/DM. But there is now No chance involved.

it seems like the difficulty of getting there is part of what this DM wants to do.

And now you have DM's asking how to prevent players from going straight to a place on another plane that has been lost or forgotten in time but they know the name of it.

Previous Plane shifts were finicky by design so this wouldn't have been a problem. ON average in previous editions (2e/3.x/PF which are my wheelhouse, no idea how 4e did it) you'd end up 280 miles from your target destination.

Course you use to have the same problems with teleport and now it's either no problem or you just have to find the right formula. No chance.
 

Celebrim

Legend
Why is it a problem?
It removes some possibilities for adventure. It's the equivalent of fast travel in a video game. It's sounds convenient and there comes a point where the hand wave makes sense, but usually it destroys more than it adds.

The great thing about the random targeting destination is that a clever GM could always use it to the advantage of the game. You don't think this is a good time for extra-planar wilderness exploration? Then have the PC's land near enough to the destination that they can see it, and handwave away any of the unneeded travel.

But if on the other hand it served the adventure for the destination to involve a heroic journey, then you straight up had justification for it.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Maybe it's not a problem? Depends on the table/game/DM. But there is now No chance involved.

it seems like the difficulty of getting there is part of what this DM wants to do.

And now you have DM's asking how to prevent players from going straight to a place on another plane that has been lost or forgotten in time but they know the name of it.

Previous Plane shifts were finicky by design so this wouldn't have been a problem. ON average in previous editions (2e/3.x/PF which are my wheelhouse, no idea how 4e did it) you'd end up 280 miles from your target destination.

Course you use to have the same problems with teleport and now it's either no problem or you just have to find the right formula. No chance.
It removes some possibilities for adventure. It's the equivalent of fast travel in a video game. It's sounds convenient and there comes a point where the hand wave makes sense, but usually it destroys more than it adds.

The great thing about the random targeting destination is that a clever GM could always use it to the advantage of the game. You don't think this is a good time for extra-planar wilderness exploration? Then have the PC's land near enough to the destination that they can see it, and handwave away any of the unneeded travel.

But if on the other hand it served the adventure for the destination to involve a heroic journey, then you straight up had justification for it.
I think if anything it's a DM scenario design issue. You're dealing with higher-level PCs and getting around the multiverse is a thing they can often do. So there either needs to be an incentive to not go straight to the end or there has to be a built-in limitation specific to the adventure location.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I had to limit planeshift because the players/PCs used it to turn themselves into weekend warriors.

Now, you can only arrive at whichever of the following might apply:

a) your deity's home plane (automatically learned when you first get the spell)
b) your first point of entry to a plane* (which means you have to have been to that plane before)
c) a previously-visited temple or place otherwise consecrated to your deity
d) a place otherwise designated by your deity (this allows DMs to designate arrival points if needed)

What this means in practice is that a party can almost always use it as an escape from a dungeon or adventure but they can't so easily use it to get back; or to get there in the first place. It's worked well so far.

I've never had (and don't want to add) the costly material component.

* - and yes this means a character can use its place of birth as an arrival point, if returning to its home world
 

Phazonfish

Explorer
I think people are ascribing a greater degree of precision to the spell than the devs intended. Sure the caster can specify a location and show up in or near the location, but near could mean "the general area you described is almost visible on the horizon". The spell description even gives an example to this effect. Even then, distance isn't the only obstacle you can throw at your PC's.
 

Celebrim

Legend
I think if anything it's a DM scenario design issue.
I think that's a total cop out. It's only a scenario design issue because of changes made to the spell that created scenario design issues - as the DM in the OP is rightly complaining about.

Planeshift is a 5th level spell which traditionally had enough built in limitations that it could be safely put in the hands of low level characters. Objects which granted planeshift ability or creatures that could planeshift the PC's were reasonably safe plot devices or tools for player empowerment that would allow games to move to the planes without any sort of breaking side effects.

One obvious breaking side effect of eliminating the precision limitations, is two planeshifts can now carry you anywhere in the prime material plane you want, without the problems associated with teleportation.

As for the other means of getting around the multiverse, at the level Planeshift typically becomes available, those other means also have limitations on them that prevent you from having scenario design challenges or breaking side effects.

There might conceivably be a level of play where exploration is so played out as a challenge that it is no longer relevant to play, but personally I find that whole idea rather dull and boring. Exploration is a central pillar of most RPG play, and to remove it with a mere 5th level spell doesn't strike me as the best thought out decision.
 

Aebir-Toril

When life gives you Lenin, make Leninade!
I think that's a total cop out. It's only a scenario design issue because of changes made to the spell that created scenario design issues - as the DM in the OP is rightly complaining about.

Planeshift is a 5th level spell which traditionally had enough built in limitations that it could be safely put in the hands of low level characters. Objects which granted planeshift ability or creatures that could planeshift the PC's were reasonably safe plot devices or tools for player empowerment that would allow games to move to the planes without any sort of breaking side effects.
In 5e, it's a 7th level spell, I believe.
 

Celebrim

Legend
In 5e, it's a 7th level spell, I believe.
Hmmm, it appears teleport is now (purely) a 7th level spell as well.

So I guess you unrestrict them but then find that you now have to take the toys away so that players can't use them. I guess that's one partial solution to the problem.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I think that's a total cop out. It's only a scenario design issue because of changes made to the spell that created scenario design issues - as the DM in the OP is rightly complaining about.

Planeshift is a 5th level spell which traditionally had enough built in limitations that it could be safely put in the hands of low level characters. Objects which granted planeshift ability or creatures that could planeshift the PC's were reasonably safe plot devices or tools for player empowerment that would allow games to move to the planes without any sort of breaking side effects.

One obvious breaking side effect of eliminating the precision limitations, is two planeshifts can now carry you anywhere in the prime material plane you want, without the problems associated with teleportation.

As for the other means of getting around the multiverse, at the level Planeshift typically becomes available, those other means also have limitations on them that prevent you from having scenario design challenges or breaking side effects.

There might conceivably be a level of play where exploration is so played out as a challenge that it is no longer relevant to play, but personally I find that whole idea rather dull and boring. Exploration is a central pillar of most RPG play, and to remove it with a mere 5th level spell doesn't strike me as the best thought out decision.
I really think it may help to step out of the edition you're playing and examine this from the perspective the edition under discussion. It looks like you're operating off some bad assumptions and information that does not pertain to D&D 5e's version of the spell.
 

Celebrim

Legend
I really think it may help to step out of the edition you're playing and examine this from the perspective the edition under discussion. It looks like you're operating off some bad assumptions and information that does not pertain to D&D 5e's version of the spell.
I'm happy to use quotes from the 5e version of the spell to point out my problems with the spell in its current form.
 

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