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5E Standard security features of a permanent Teleportation Circle

To everyone saying "just put it outside the walls", you're not engaging with the question.

Directly from the spell description it says:
Many major temples, guilds, and other important places have permanent teleportation circles inscribed somewhere within their confines.
That's the canon rule. That's the RAW that defines D&D 5E's implied setting. I am trying to engage with this as a starting assumption. So my question is: Given the assumption that the PTC is already inside the building, how would you defend it?

Come on! Stretch that imagination. How would you do it?
 
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One solution in earlier editions was that some PTCs require a 'key' or item as well as the address/activation code. Therefore only those with such a key could actually activate or arrive at the destination. No reason you couldn't make that a part of some of your circles as well.
Well of course if we change the rules then we get different results. I'm trying to engage with the RAW and extrapolate what the implied setting would look like, given the RAW. How would people react if the spell description in the SRG (which doesn't mention keys) is all you get?

Just remember, PTCs can really change the culture of your game. If they are common, and cheap to use, then you end up with a indistinct cultures, vast international markets, cheap goods, localized production of specialties (because it cheaper to import food than to grow it), etc.

I like to keep them uncommon, expensive, and dangerous. In short, mystical!
Yes! This is very true. However you do need to cast either Teleportation Circle or Teleport use a PTC, so barring Helms of Teleportation being a dime of dozen, the amount of travel is limited to how often high-level wizards are willing to play ferryman. They get a limited number of spells per day, and you can only teleport a limited number of people per spell. Even the Teleportation Circle spell is limited to however many people can run through the gate in a single round. Trading of bulk goods would probably not occur this way, but maybe small high-value goods (spices, gems, magic items, books, etc.) would.
 
Question to throw out here. If using a PTC to teleport to another PTC, is a spell required? If so, do you require the same casting time and material components? I missed it if this is covered directly in the rules.
I would be inclined to require no components (since the circle is already drawn), and reduce the casting time to an action.
I only know three ways to Teleport:
1. Teleportation Circle. 5th level spell. Casting time of 1 minute and 50gp in materials.
2. Teleport. 7th level spell. Casting time of 1 action and V components only.
3. Helm of Teleportation. Magic item. Max of 3 charges.

Note that all three methods only teleport to Permanent Teleportation Circles. PTCs are essentially just homing beacons, not launch pads.

You can introduce methods of traveling between PTCs as you describe, but those would be house rules.
 
Oh, also, I obviously missed that Private Sanctum can be made permanent by casting it in the same spot every day for a year. The material components aren't very expensive either. And it's only a 4th level spell. So anyone who can make a PTC can only make a Permanent Private Sanctum.

So that solves the "No teleporting into the Sanctum Santorum" issue.
 

Quartz

Explorer
I'll go for the trapping route. Sure you know the PTC, but unless you know the daily password then Bad Things happen.

Glyphs of Dimensional Anchor followed by Cloudkill seems a good start. Or perhaps a point-blank Meteor Swarm?

Perhaps you could mandate a trap that has to be disabled by someone on site before you teleport in. Perhaps the PTC is on a trap door. You teleport in without sending a Message first and you'll be dumped into acid with more pouring from the roof.

A very nasty one would be Imprisonment.
 
Perhaps you could mandate a trap that has to be disabled by someone on site before you teleport in. Perhaps the PTC is on a trap door. You teleport in without sending a Message first and you'll be dumped into acid with more pouring from the roof.
I like this one! Low tech, and doesn't rely on high level magic to work. But fairly effective, and doesn't need to be maintained or watched continuously.

But also defeated by a Levitation spell, if the incoming Teleporter knows about the trap.

Obviously you beat the Levitation (or Fly) trick by also dropping a couple tons of rocks straight down, pushing everyone in the tube like a giant plunger straight down to the acid. :D

I'm starting to think that traveling to random Teleportation Circles may not be a great idea ... :)

A very nasty one would be Imprisonment.
Yes, although the material component is a drawing or carving "in the likeness of the target", and since you don't know ahead of time what the target looks like, I'd say the spell wouldn't work.
 

Lehrbuch

Villager
So my question is: Given the assumption that the PTC is already inside the building, how would you defend it?
The whole point of a permanent teleportation circle is that it makes teleportation error free.

The problem with most proposed defences is that they create a lot of opportunity to accidentally kill oneself (or unexpected friendly arrivals) by stumbling into the defences. So, negating the point of having the teleportation circle. Not to mention that many of the proposed defences are downright dangerous to have around, and need to be properly contained themselves etc.

Also the defences are all very easy to bypass. If the enemy can infiltrate an agent non-magically into the temple, then the agent can simply purloin an object which the enemy can use to error free teleport back to the location using the object as an Associated Object.

Finally, if the defences are very effective, and the enemy can't simply infiltrate an agent, then an enemy who can and wants/needs to teleport into your temple will simply run the risk of teleporting in based on a description. The (probably not fatal) risk of a mishap when teleporting via description is much better odds than certain death via a trapped permanent circle. Especially, if the first person teleporting is a minion/scout; who can purloin an object, which the main enemy force can subsequently use to return via error free teleports.

So, I think that the realistic answer is still that if you want to defend a PTC, it is "outside the walls". So, if you have a PTC within the walls, you are basically saying that you have chosen not to defend it directly.

The best indirect "defence", I think, is to control who knows the corresponding sigil sequence.

I guess another option is to routinely change the PTC, so legitimate users need to keep up to date. On the other hand, if that is the solution a better option would be to not have a permanent circle at all and to use Associated Objects to target the teleportation. Legitimate users would just need to teleport in every few months to pick up a new Associated Object.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
To everyone saying "just put it outside the walls", you're not engaging with the question.

Directly from the spell description it says:


That's the canon rule. That's the RAW that defines D&D 5E's implied setting. I am trying to engage with this as a starting assumption. So my question is: Given the assumption that the PTC is already inside the building, how would you defend it?

Come on! Stretch that imagination. How would you do it?
A simple answer is that you have a big box you put on top of the circle. Someone messages the guard (presumably with a password) and the guard moves the box for long enough for the teleport to happen. Easy peasy.
 
Come on! Stretch that imagination. How would you do it?
Let's run down the list:

Major Temple: This one is easy; put the teleportation circle in the entryway to the chapel, off to the side enough that people walking in aren't suddenly crashing into those teleporting in. The point being that you put just as much security on the circle being used to get into the temple as you do on people just walking in off the street - nearly none at all, because the point is to get people into the chapel - it's all the other parts of the temple that have locked doors.

Guilds: Another easy one; teleportation circle goes in the commons or some other area that is designed as primarily public in function. Just like how the entrance from the street typically leads into a commons or a reception area, rather than straight into the workshop/vault/etc..

For other important places, I will assume they mean significantly large cities, and castles/keeps:

Large City: Think of it like an airport - it's not too far from where anyone coming in will need to be, but is nearer to things like hotels, restaurants, and entertainment than it is to things with higher security priorities. If the city has many walled-off districts, which is common in D&D city maps, then it isn't even that big of a hole in security to have a teleportation circle in the middle of the market district or some grand plaza, because such an area can be open and in clear view of the folks tasked with shutting the gates out of that district if anything arrives that seems dangerous.

Castle or Keep: This is the sort of place where you probably mix physical security with a social element - you put the circle either in an open area like a courtyard or bailey that is under watch of guards, or you put it in an isolated locked chamber with guards positioned outside and the best lock you can afford on the door, and you keep the sigil sequence a secret only a few people share. That way anyone wanting to use the circle has to not only know the right sequence, they also have to have a key to the door (because the guards specifically do not have one as a security measure), and be on the list of persons the guards aren't meant to sound the alarm at the sight of.

And, as a bonus:

The party in one of my campaigns will very likely be making a teleportation circle on their airship permanent, which will remain secure by way of only the party members knowing that the circle exists since it is located in the private apartment the party keeps on the ship, where the crew and any passengers or intruders cannot easily access (it being hard to get on the ship unnoticed, and then to get away from designated areas unnoticed, and then not be spotted by someone going about their own business while you deal with the arcane locked door from the common area of the ship to the private area).
 

Saeviomagy

Villager
Putting a circle outside the walls and then not securing it is still a massive security risk. Each casting of teleport circle can dump about 2000 well organised troops through. You really don't want to be defending a kingdom where the enemy can move troops like that, especially since they can follow that with a casting of private sanctum to stop you responding.
 

Blue

Orcus on a bad day
I agree with those who've said that PTCs need to go outside your defences - your castle or city walls. Having one inside the building will always be a major weakness and should be avoided unless you are certain it can be kept secret, which seems unlikely - if the enemy capture someone who knows the address they are likely to be able to charm/interrogate/torture them & get the code.
Outside defenses defeats some of the points. Say you are under siege you've just denied yourself use of it, both outgoing for your casters who can cast 5th but not yet 7ths, and incoming. Can't bring in reinforcements or anything. Heck, at that point your enemy may get more use from your expensive-to-create circle than you.
 

S'mon

Hero
Outside defenses defeats some of the points. Say you are under siege you've just denied yourself use of it, both outgoing for your casters who can cast 5th but not yet 7ths, and incoming. Can't bring in reinforcements or anything. Heck, at that point your enemy may get more use from your expensive-to-create circle than you.
That seems a fair point. I tend to think a world with common TP circles would look very alien.
 

Saeviomagy

Villager
The party in one of my campaigns will very likely be making a teleportation circle on their airship permanent, which will remain secure by way of only the party members knowing that the circle exists since it is located in the private apartment the party keeps on the ship, where the crew and any passengers or intruders cannot easily access (it being hard to get on the ship unnoticed, and then to get away from designated areas unnoticed, and then not be spotted by someone going about their own business while you deal with the arcane locked door from the common area of the ship to the private area).
Scry is the same level as teleport circle, so assuming people will never see your circle is poor security, no matter what mundane precautions you take against it.
 
Scry is the same level as teleport circle, so assuming people will never see your circle is poor security, no matter what mundane precautions you take against it.
Scry would only be able to help in an unusual circumstance. You can see creatures, but that only lets you learn the sigil sequence if the creature stays within 10' of the Circle for a full minute. You can see places, but only places you've seen in person before, so you'd probably already know the sequence. The only real time Scry would help is if you had been through the Circle before but were rushed through so you couldn't study it. Scry would let you go back and memorize the sigils.


if the defences are very effective, and the enemy can't simply infiltrate an agent, then an enemy who can and wants/needs to teleport into your temple will simply run the risk of teleporting in based on a description. The (probably not fatal) risk of a mishap when teleporting via description is much better odds than certain death via a trapped permanent circle. Especially, if the first person teleporting is a minion/scout; who can purloin an object, which the main enemy force can subsequently use to return via error free teleports.
Presuming that Private Sanctum hasn't been cast over the whole area, right? That defeats Teleport, Scrying, and most methods of observation from outside the Sanctum.

You raise a really good point though, that the defenses of the Circle have to consider the "substitution effects". Once you've defended the Circle enough to discourage its use by strangers (and encouraged them to use other means to sneak into the area) there's no point in defending it any further. Or being a hazard to yourself.


Let's run down the list:
Good list, and excellent point that many destinations will have a mix of public and private spaces. The main weakness I see of having a relatively unguarded Circle in one of the public spaces is the change that a deliberate spy will come through already covered in Invisibility, Silence, etc. will be close enough to the sneak into the secure areas with the spells still effective. But I guess you run the same risk as someone just walking into the area and ducking behind a wagon to quaff a few potions, so maybe that's good enough.

Castle or Keep: This is the sort of place where you probably mix physical security with a social element - you put the circle either in an open area like a courtyard or bailey that is under watch of guards, or you put it in an isolated locked chamber with guards positioned outside and the best lock you can afford on the door, and you keep the sigil sequence a secret only a few people share. That way anyone wanting to use the circle has to not only know the right sequence, they also have to have a key to the door (because the guards specifically do not have one as a security measure), and be on the list of persons the guards aren't meant to sound the alarm at the sight of.
Good thoughts. Probably a room in one of the towers of the curtain wall, with very thick interior walls. That way anyone who exits the room would exit into the main inner courtyard where anyone on watch on either the curtain wall or Keep wall would be able to see them.


The party in one of my campaigns will very likely be making a teleportation circle on their airship permanent
Huh! I hadn't every thought of putting a permanent Circle in a thing that moves, but I guess there's no rule against it. Cool idea.
 

Ahglock

Villager
Putting a circle outside the walls and then not securing it is still a massive security risk. Each casting of teleport circle can dump about 2000 well organised troops through. You really don't want to be defending a kingdom where the enemy can move troops like that, especially since they can follow that with a casting of private sanctum to stop you responding.
You and I have vastly different opinions on how many people can get through a 10' portal in 6 seconds.
 

the Jester

Legend
I wouldn't allow a player to say "I get to pick the sigil I know, so I pick the master villain's secret base circle". The DM should provide them with the code for a circle useful to the mage in the context of the game - presumably the one in their home town.
Whereas I often give them coordinates to circles in new or unknown areas of the milieu. Useful? Not so much. Cool hooks for exploration? Hells yeah!
 

dmnqwk

Villager
I like to think of Teleportation Circles as a variant of Stargates.

Each TPC has an "address" which is geographically represented by the sigils, meaning it would be possible for a player to figure out how to access a TPC by way of knowing it's location and attempting to teleport there (though the chance of an accidental teleport akin to the old system would be more fun here).

On top of it, I would have each TPC vary in location as well as protection, for example:

1) The PCs find a TPC address written on a strange flyer, written in an obscure dialect of Gnomish. They attempt to contact it (with no chance of failure due to the exact address) and find themselves in a shopping emporium, located in a strange city where everyone is a curious mixture of human and dwarven blood.
2) A dying man lies on the side of the road, beaten heavily. Before he passes away, he tells the PCs about an ordinary-looking mansion which harbours a cult of yuan-ti. He tells them about a TPC located beneath the south wing of the dwelling. If they try to teleport to it without properly researching it's location their address will be inaccurate, allowing them a higher chance of failure (and possibly a catastrophic failure chance) than if they spent time getting plans of the house, finding a map of the area or having a single rogue sneak in to explore.

I know the TPC isn't directly written to function in this manner, but I do miss the old chance of teleport going a-wry, as well as ensuring that the TPC opens up a new system of exploration and adventure.
 

Gadget

Explorer
I can't check right now, but couldn't you cover the circle with a rug and still have it function? That way people coming in would have no opportunity to learn the sequence, and things like Scrying would not work either. That would go along way to keeping the sequence secure.
 
Scry is the same level as teleport circle, so assuming people will never see your circle is poor security, no matter what mundane precautions you take against it.
Scry, as Erik points out, isn't actually that big of a risk in this situation - especially considering the majority of the people that might like to scry on the party don't know them well enough nor have much of a connection to avoid the party member they choose to scry upon having a bonus on the saving throw to avoid it.

Plus, scrying is thwarted by Mordenkainen's private sanctum which can also be made permanent.
 

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