Limitations on Plane Shift?

Celebrim

Legend
I agree that it could have neen worded better, but I think you overstate the brokenness of it.
Well, "brokenness" is your word. I think the spell is problematic. I think the designer realized just how problematic it was and that's why they wrote in the aside about the GM being able to control the destination of the spell by fiat. However, I think the designer overlooked the issue of secrets, because the aside (almost a sidebar in the middle of a spell description, which is odd in itself) makes clear you can't planeshift to exactly where you want to be but does imply that you will always get near to where you are going. And that may not be "broken" but it definitely is a problem, and the OP is right to point out how much of a problem that is.

If you want accurate travel within your own plane you need teleport. Even then, you need very specific knowledge to get exactly where you want to go.
Or you could just planeshift twice, once out of the prime, and then once back to the prime. You'll get close to where you want a go with no chance of mishap or failure, and you don't even need specific knowledge of your destination. Don't know where the Tomb of Horrors is, or even what it looks like? No need for investigation and exploration, as long as you know what plane it is on, just cast a spell and you'll be in viewing distance of the tomb.

With plane shift you can get in the general area of a place you want to go but the text gives a lot of leeway to the DM.
Some leeway, but not enough to hide a secret.

First off...how hard or easy is it to acquire the material components?
The tuning fork is not a new element of the spell. It's been around since 1e and I can tell you how this works in practice. As long as the plane isn't a demiplane, for a character of the level that can cast this spell, acquiring the material component is trivial. As I said earlier, the tuning fork material component exists only to allow a DM to hide an entire plane and force investigation and exploration in order to get there. But for well known planes the tuning fork requirement is a trivial investment in high level resources.

As for using it to find a secret location on the plane they are on...that seems to me to present its own set of interesting problems...once they get there, how do they know where they are in the world?
Does it matter. When you have instantaneous pinpoint travel you no longer have to worry about spatial relationships. Everything is adjacent to everything else. Travel by map is no longer needed.

I think you are giving the spell more power than it has. The text implies you cannot use it to get to a specific location...only general, and even then the DM has a lot of options available on how accurate he wants it to be.
Again, you are ignoring my complaint, and going off and arguing your own bit. I agree that the designer with his DM fiat side bar in the spell description made sure that the spell could not be used for exacting travel. You can't guarantee like you can with teleportation circle you land next to where you want to be. But his sidebar didn't give by rule DM's enough leeway to determine where you land. The implication is you still always get to where you are going at least in a general way - the worst case example in the text is within viewing distance. I think the designer thought this empowered the DM enough, but quite clearly it doesn't.

Considering what my players have been willing to do to make sure Teleport is reliable, I can't imagine they would even consider Planeshift to get into any hostile location if there is some other reasonable way presented to them.

But YMMV.
Yes, but Planeshift can get you to - as the OP's PC realized - a completely unknown and secret location. And that seems to run contrary to the design of all the other spells in the book.
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
@iserith: Distilled down, I'm saying that Planeshift runs contrary to the evident design goals of 5e because it allows pinpoint instantaneous travel that does not require exacting knowledge. Thus, it is incoherent because nothing else in the system allows that and the changes to the system indicate that the designers were attempting to elimenate pinpoint instantaneous travel without GM gated exacting knowledge because of the well known difficulties that this caused GMs in preparing scenarios.
To me, it fits in line with the core of 5e, rulings not rules.
Let it be as accurate as the GM rules or inaccurate as they rule to fit whatever setting, plot and other needs come to meaning in their campaign .

Beats the heck out of trying to define it with chart or table to cover all festures.

My view on plane shift is that 7th level is the preset campaign stage where you have rules basically saying "getting close" is ok and movement is a different type of challenge now. Just like how at various stages threats of certain types become obsolete or transfotm.

As for the woes of novice GMs, I doubt 7th level planeshift got into that discussion.
 

Celebrim

Legend
To me, it fits in line with the core of 5e, rulings not rules.
I think they tried to do that, but didn't make clear enough how broad of a latitude the GM should be allowed to have - probably because it's a bit weird to write a spell and then tell the player that the result of his spell is whatever the DM wants it to be. But in any event, "rulings not rules" should never be an excuse for poorly written rules.

My view on plane shift is that 7th level is the preset campaign stage where you have rules basically saying "getting close" is ok and movement is a different type of challenge now.
When people say things like this it becomes immediately clear that they are not having a discussion with me. Neither I nor the OP had any problem whatsoever with the movement that the spell allowed. When you answer with words like this, you might as well write, "Eff U" as a reply because that's precisely how polite you are being.

So again, it's not the movement that the spell allows that is the problem. Obviously, you want to have a spell that allows movement between the planes, and planeshift provides for that. Great
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
Not getting into any of the developer intent issues, I do sympathize with @Celebrim

It's odd that casting plane shift is, in many cases (as in no permanent circle or associated object) just more accurate than teleport. Heck if you're just talking about a description - it's not even close. Plane shift will get you in the general area every time, while teleport has a 73% chance of being way off.
But, unless you are going to a circle there is ZERO guarantee that Planeshift will be less "way off" more than 75%. How difficult is it to find properly attuned forks to even use it?

Teleport is risky, sure as shootin' but with the same info it wont require additional time to go get that fork you need. Likely various divinations at 5th and 6th can get you more info fir teleport by the time you can get that new fork.

Of course, maybe the GM pre-suplied by story the right fork - just like they could pre-suplied a teleport circle addy.
 

Mort

Community Supporter
But, unless you are going to a circle there is ZERO guarantee that Planeshift will be less "way off" more than 75%. How difficult is it to find properly attuned forks to even use it?

Teleport is risky, sure as shootin' but with the same info it wont require additional time to go get that fork you need. Likely various divinations at 5th and 6th can get you more info fir teleport by the time you can get that new fork.
Well, you only need 1 fork per plane - once you have that, locations on that plane are pretty easy. But yes, how easy the fork is to get is completely campaign dependent.

If you do want Plane shift to be a bit riskier - just add in the mechanic from the amulet of the planes
- DC 15 intelligence check (no sure thing even from a high level wizard) to get accurate results.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Or you could just planeshift twice, once out of the prime, and then once back to the prime. You'll get close to where you want a go with no chance of mishap or failure, and you don't even need specific knowledge of your destination. Don't know where the Tomb of Horrors is, or even what it looks like? No need for investigation and exploration, as long as you know what plane it is on, just cast a spell and you'll be in viewing distance of the tomb.
Yeah, for double the resources, you can do that. You got like two 7th-level slots at 20th level. You could also burn your 8th- or 9th-level slots if you want, but it seems less costly to me to do some lower-level scrying and then teleport if you want to travel on the same plane. If more than one character can cast plane shift, then it's less of a burden. But in any case it costs more than teleport to do as you suggest.

Don't want the PCs to transport directly to the Tomb of Horrors? Give them a compelling reason to go on foot or stick a limitation on it like a forbiddance spell or the like. Otherwise, prepare to set aside your content.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
We've been using double-planeshift - one to get off the world, the other to get back but somewhere else - as a safe means of long-range transport (and for more people than teleport can carry) for ages.

This is why I had to put some limits on arrival points.
 

Celebrim

Legend
We've been using double-planeshift - one to get off the world, the other to get back but somewhere else - as a safe means of long-range transport (and for more people than teleport can carry) for ages.

This is why I had to put some limits on arrival points.
It's always been a thing and I'm Ok with high level characters resolving issues in that fashion, but it used to drop you in a random place within a couple days travel of where you wanted to go and not right at the edge of the dungeon map. Losing the travel is an issue in scenario design, because previously when travelling in the wilderness was no longer a challenge, you could ramp up to travel in Pandemonium, Limbo, the Abyss, etc. But losing travel is not nearly as big of an issue as the loss of the investigation pillar here, since the strict wording of the 5e spell allows you to planeshift to location you can't clearly conceive. All you have to do is name it, and you'll at least get close enough to see it.

The more I look around 5e the more obviously incoherent that is. Take for example the changes to the 'Find the Path' spell. Previously you could name an unknown location and use 'Find the Path' to locate it. But in 5e they took that option out completely. One of the material components of the spell is you now have to have something from the location you are trying to find - compare Teleport and Teleportation Circle with the same (new) basic design. So once again, everywhere else in the edition we see safeguards trying to prevent PC's from easily bypassing GM created scenarios and which force the PC's to investigate and explore. And yet here Planeshift bypasses all the safeguards on the other spells. And critically, it does so very shortly after or concurrently with the arrival of instantaneous travel and travel to other planes as ideas, so it's not like this is the higher level version that shortcuts scenarios that by this point in the game will have become stale. It would be one thing to suggest after a certain level wilderness exploration ought to be something that is skipped - that would be predictable and expected. This skips pillars of gameplay exactly when it first introduces the planes as player accessible things.

And if that isn't enough, it seems to be more powerful in many ways than it's higher level version Gate. Gate explicitly calls out failure conditions. Gate requires precise knowledge of the intended destination. This has neither and only the limitation that your arrival is near to but not exactly at where you intend to go.
 
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iserith

Magic Wordsmith
It's really going to bake your noodle when you find out that, in the context of D&D 5e, casting plane shift to travel from one place to another falls right within the pillar of exploration.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
When people say things like this it becomes immediately clear that they are not having a discussion with me. Neither I nor the OP had any problem whatsoever with the movement that the spell allowed. When you answer with words like this, you might as well write, "Eff U" as a reply because that's precisely how polite you are being.
Get off the high horse, please. Disagreeing with you is not equivalent to cursing, or otherwise being impolite.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
It's always been a thing and I'm Ok with high level characters resolving issues in that fashion, but it used to drop you in a random place within a couple days travel of where you wanted to go and not right at the edge of the dungeon map.
By "used to" drop you in a random place do you mean 3e? Because in 1e you arrive right where you want to, if you know where you're going; and that's the bit that causes headaches: a party can be deep in a dungeon, planeshift home for the weekend, then planeshift back to precisely where they came from. All it takes is two castings for each trip.

Needless to say, I had to rein that in. :)
 

Coroc

Adventurer
....

* - and yes this means a character can use its place of birth as an arrival point, if returning to its home world
Now that one is super cool, great logic conclusion which is somehow obvious, but wouldn't it eventually be the place of the reception (which does not necessarily have to be the place of the act) ? Since technically mother's womb is not actually outer plane or is it :p ?
 

Coroc

Adventurer
@iserith: So let's start with what seems to be the fundamental basis of your objection, the claim that this is no different than a party acquiring the ability to fly and the OP has simply failed to engage in proper encounter design. Now, flight can put severe constraints on encounter design and there is a point beyond which all encounters have to assume that the party can fly if they are to provide credible challenge. But the first access a party is like to get to flight is the flight spell at 3rd level, which only has a 10 minute duration. So the constraints that puts on encounter design is rather weak. There is a point beyond which wilderness exploration no longer presents a credible challenge to a party with access to magic because they will have magical protection against the elements, magical portable shelters, the ability to conjure food and drink, magical transportation or even teleportation, and as such none of the challenges normally associated with survival in the wild are really relevant. But, again, that point is at a relatively high level, and there is a ton of space in which to design wilderness adventures with survival challenge components where magic might provide some help but doesn't provide a ready solution to every problem.

However, there is a categorical difference between the design constraint on scenarios and encounters that the 5e version of Planeshift imposes and something like the 3rd level flight spell, and that is that the Planeshift spell is likely the first means of reaching the planes the players are likely to have. So there isn't really any room below it. There is no space here between accessing the planes and nigh perfect mastery of access to the planes. This is a reliable, precise, mass means of transportation that makes no demands on the party. It whisks you reliably to where you want to go without even having knowledge of the destination. That's a totally different issue than a PC can fly for 10 minutes if he concentrates. It's more akin to a design where the 3rd level spell conjured a flying carpet for the party to use for 24 hours, resulting in reliable mass flight the first time flight as a resource was likely encountered.

This isn't a problem just for DM's playing 'gotcha' like a DM that wants to insist the players can't use fire against trolls. This isn't just a problem for a novice DM who designs a murder mystery without paying attention to the divination techniques available to the party members, or who is struggling to keep shopkeepers from being robbed by PC's because he failed to imagine a society where magic is prevalent and been in long existence and the PC's use of basic illusions and invisibility is something he can't handle. If my opinion was based on any of those sort of things, you'd expect my opinions on fire use by parties against trolls to be very different than they are.

Certainly you could make an argument that such things are a problem that DMs shouldn't have to deal with and that spells like invisibility or flight or persistently misleveled for historical reasons considering the profound impact those abilities can have. But no such argument is necessary for what I'm talking about.

A reliable precise means of mass instantaneous transportation provides severe constraints on encounter design that goes beyond just needing to deal with flight or create food and water. It's not just exploration that potentially goes away - even though exploration on the outer planes is often a good next step in wilderness exploration once the challenges of more mundane exploration go away and this blocks it. The new design of the spell also challenges investigation challenges since the PC needs no special familiarity with the new location at all.

And this is incoherent because the 5e designers otherwise went out of there way to address this as a problem, making changes to the game which are obviously designed to prevent instantaneous transport spells from easily wrecking scenarios.

Again, consider the changes around teleport. Not only did teleport move up to 7th level, giving DMs more space to design encounters that couldn't be bypassed by teleport, but 'Teleport Without Error' went away entirely. The new teleport isn't reliable and can't teleport to an unknown location. You need some degree of familiarity just to get there even with repeated tries. Attempts to go to an unknown location reasonably go very badly. You need at the very least an accurate description of the location you are attempting to go to.

But Planeshift at the same level has no such restriction. It is reliable and doesn't require an accurate description and is precise to the level of per the description at least delivering you to the general area. So the alterations to how Teleport works are undone by the alterations to how Planeshift works. That's incoherent.

Some indication that what the designers were trying to achieve is eliminate reliable mass pin point instantaneous transportation can be found in the built in ambiguity of the spell. Namely, the spell specifically calls out that the DM by fiat may block pinpoint transportation if such transportation wouldn't make for a fun scenario. But the designer seems to think it sufficient for the purposes of the spell that the DM will be able to place the party in the starting location of his choice - essentially at the entrance of the dungeon. As the OP points out though, this call out doesn't handle the problem of a hidden or secret destination. Teleport is blocked from working in that situation, but Planeshift allows this restriction to be bypassed.

I understand the intention of the DM fiat callout. Planeshift in its utility mode has always been a defacto DM tool for simultaneously allowing access to the planes and controlling it. The DM has always had the option to fudge the 'miss' roll and locate the players in a position best suited for the needs of the scenario. Removing the random factor and empowering the GM to make a ruling is I think intended to empower the GM to do this without fudging. But, if that's really the intention, why leave open the ability to Planeshift to completely unknown locations? The designer could have called out that Planeshift was only semi-reliable and if shifting to an unknown location, it was highly likely that the party would not land within eyeshot of the destination or have a clear idea where it was located.

But then, I suppose that would make too obvious that this spell running on GM fiat was really a GM tool and could be used in an adversarial way? Point is that the design is weird and stands in contrast to the designs applied elsewhere in the addition. It creates problems without really providing much in the way of a solution. The only real benefit is that a GM might not feel hidebound to force the party to land 300 miles away when such a journey doesn't suit the pacing of the game, but again, if that's the case, just go ahead and say, "Party lands at a destination the GM feels is appropriate." or use some sort of random distance depending on the familiarity that the party has with the destination in parallel to and complementing the implementation of Teleport.
Yo, I totally agree with you on that some means of transportation should be optional gimmicks,
(Teleport fly planeshift levitate etc.) and I also agree that if teleport could per definition end with errors, then the much more complicated planeshift should also have this possibility under circumstances.

What is not accurate in your post is that planeshift is the first encounter / method /means for PCs to encounter other planes. I sent my party three or four times to some ravenloft enclave during their ongoing greyhawk campaign already, with none of them having planeshift as a spell.

Also while I want an built in element of randomness into planeshift for certain scenarios I would also want to have a possibility to arrive in some "safe and secure" locations like the teleport circle for other scenarios. Having a low level party shifted to hell (or Ravenloft) without any direct means to get back is a pet peeve of mine.
But I also want the possibility to run some sophisticated high level planescape campaign, where the tactical use of planeshift spell is part of everyday campaigning.

So I need a rule which fits for both and is optional. E.g. no planeshift in Darksun unless you want to visit, ahm, I meant to say die on one of the elemental planes :p.
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
I think they tried to do that, but didn't make clear enough how broad of a latitude the GM should be allowed to have - probably because it's a bit weird to write a spell and then tell the player that the result of his spell is whatever the DM wants it to be. But in any event, "rulings not rules" should never be an excuse for poorly written rules.



When people say things like this it becomes immediately clear that they are not having a discussion with me. Neither I nor the OP had any problem whatsoever with the movement that the spell allowed. When you answer with words like this, you might as well write, "Eff U" as a reply because that's precisely how polite you are being.

So again, it's not the movement that the spell allows that is the problem. Obviously, you want to have a spell that allows movement between the planes, and planeshift provides for that. Great
Ok so, the reason I quoted you was to address how I disagreed with you on the incoherent, etc. That early ruling not rules.

The second part was me adding my own views on the spell and what it means in the context of the campaign. Last time I checked that is permitted round here - even, amazingly, if it disagrees with your viewpoint.

So, yes, in azway, that part of my post was not "a discussion with you" - it was just me expressing my views more broadly. But that is a long long long long long way from it being am eff you.

To me there is a huge gulf between expressing an opinion that agrees and expressing an eff you. If not to you, well, not my problem.
 

Celebrim

Legend
By "used to" drop you in a random place do you mean 3e? Because in 1e you arrive right where you want to, if you know where you're going; and that's the bit that causes headaches: a party can be deep in a dungeon, planeshift home for the weekend, then planeshift back to precisely where they came from. All it takes is two castings for each trip.

Needless to say, I had to rein that in. :)
Yeah, I haven't looked at the 1e version of the spell in some time, but if it is pin point precise, then yes, you'd need to reign that in.
 

Celebrim

Legend
What is not accurate in your post is that planeshift is the first encounter / method /means for PCs to encounter other planes. I sent my party three or four times to some ravenloft enclave during their ongoing greyhawk campaign already, with none of them having planeshift as a spell.
Yes, but I wasn't talking about PC's encountering other planes. I was talking about PCs controlling their ability to go to other planes. If you "sent them" some place, that isn't the players with the power to transport themselves to other planes. That's you using your powers of fiat over the setting to arrange for adventures in other planes.
 

Celebrim

Legend
Ok so, the reason I quoted you was to address how I disagreed with you on the incoherent, etc. That early ruling not rules.
Yes, and as I said, I get that. But, I still insist that having rule zero does not give you a pass to write poorly thought out or unclear rules. I also note that the section of the spell description that calls out DM fiat over how the spell works is an unusual inclusion in a spell, since most spells just describe how they work. The fact that they need to include a section specifically calling out "rulings not rules" in the midst of a rule is itself a bit of warning bell that something is going on here. My objection is that they've written a spell that says it works one way, but then upon realizing that working in that manner is problematic, the designer called out DM fiat to override how he had just written the spell to work. And, to add insult to injury, the examples he gives of DM fiat are not broad enough to cover all the problems that could result from the spell - problems the designer at least partially foresaw or they wouldn't have called out the fiat exceptions.

In particular, the designer does not call out that if the party has no knowledge of the location, they are very unlikely to arrive anywhere near where they want to go. This is particularly odd since every other spell when converted from earlier editions to 5e added this restriction on magical travel, and even powerful divination spells like 'Find the Path' were nerfed to prevent using the spell to circumvent this requirement. So it very much seems like an oversight to go the other way and make Planeshift far more accurate in this situation than it was in prior editions.

The second part was me adding my own views on the spell and what it means in the context of the campaign. Last time I checked that is permitted round here - even, amazingly, if it disagrees with your viewpoint.
Absolutely. And if that part of your post was not directed at me, then I apologize. However, in the context of the discussion and in the context of you quoting at me, it did very much appear directed at me. And the problem I have with directing such statements at me is that they have absolutely nothing to do with my opinion.

As for your opinion, the problem I have with suggesting that the campaign has reached a stage at 13th level where the party ought to be able to without acquiring knowledge of a location travel there instantly and be close, is that it's at about 13th level that I'd expect a GM to need the planes to provide challenges and Planeshift is the first real spell that empowers a party to go to other planes. So you are essentially saying that the first time the concept is introduced, that not only should it empower travel to other planes but it also and at the same time should deprecate travel and deprecate research.

And even if you feel that it should, it doesn't address the incoherence argument I make above.

To give an example of why your explanation feels weak to me, suppose the 5e had a spell 'we all fly' that allowed wingless high maneuverability flight, had a duration of 24 hours, didn't require concentration, allowed up to 8 targets, and was 1st level. Would you be OK addressing complaints about the impact this had on scenario design with respect to classes with and without access to a caster that could cast 'we all fly', by saying, "Well, clearly by the level this spell becomes available pit traps are no longer intended to be a problem?" But given the level that it becomes available, when would pit traps be intended to be a problem? Planeshift is the first real player initiated mass planar travel that comes on line, and it's better at dealing with lack of accurate knowledge than it's 9th level counter part gate. That doesn't strike you as a wierd?

It's all well and good to say that 13th level parties are no longer challenged by providing light in a dungeon, feeding themselves, finding shelter, and protecting themselves from normal climate extremes, and wild animals because you've had some rather lengthy part of the campaign to feature challenges like that. But, that's not equivalent to what is going on here.

To me there is a huge gulf between expressing an opinion that agrees and expressing an eff you. If not to you, well, not my problem.
Ordered from least insulting to most insulting, I would rank the following:

3) "FU"
2) "You SOB"
1) Setting up a strawman, going off on a tangent, and using your strawman to slander me.

I could really care less about trigger words and insults. Those don't really hurt me, and if someone really wants to hurt me that is not how they go about it.
 
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Aebir-Toril

std::cout << "Hi" << '\n';
3) "FU"
2) "You SOB"
1) Setting up a strawman, going off on a tangent, and using your strawman to slander me.

I could really care less about trigger words and insults. Those don't really hurt me, and if someone really wants to hurt me that is not how they go about it.
Yes, but the problem is, that is clearly not what the poster was doing. Perhaps they misunderstood you, but they are clearly not explicitly trying to demonize your arguments.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Now that one is super cool, great logic conclusion which is somehow obvious, but wouldn't it eventually be the place of the reception (which does not necessarily have to be the place of the act) ? Since technically mother's womb is not actually outer plane or is it :p ?
Until you're born you're still part of the mother; actual birth is when you-as-you first arrive on the Prime Material. Otherwise a pregnant female would count as two (or more, if twins etc.) people for the purposes of things like plane-shift passenger limits, and I didn't want that.

I gave this some thought quite a while back, side-along with wondering if a pregnant female dies and is then revived, what happens to the fetus; and a bunch of similar pregnancy-related questions - all relevant at the time as one (or two?) then-current PCs was pregnant.

EDIT to add: come to think of it, in each of my three major campaigns there's been at least one PC have a baby; and each time a) the father was another PC and b) the conception and birth both took place during those PCs' played careers.
 
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