[RPG] way to replicate the effects of 5e’s Teleportation Circle spell in 3.5e


In D&D 3.5e, teleportation circle is the name of a 9th-level conjuration spell. The purpose of the spell is to create a circle that remains for 10 minutes, and subjects everyone who enters it in that time to a greater teleport to a specific location.

In 5e, however, teleportation circle refers to a 5th-level conjuration spell. This spell also creates a circle, and everyone who enters it before the end of the caster's next round is teleported to pre-existing, identical circle. A receiving circle can be made by casting this spell in the same place every day for a year.

Is there any official way to replicate the effects of the 5e version of this spell in 3.5e? If not, would it cause any inherent problems if it were put in the game as a custom spell?

Best Answer

A really key point to consider here is that 5e’s teleport is a 7th-level spell, and without an associated object, attempting to teleport to a location without a permanent teleport circle is only 75% accurate even if you are very familiar.1

By contrast, teleport is a 5th-level spell in 3.5e, the same as 5e’s teleport circle, and if you are very familiar,1 it is 97% accurate. So unlike 5e, where a permanent circle is necessary to teleport long distances with a 5th-level spell at all, in 3.5e all it would really do is improve your accuracy by 3 percentage points.

So no, D&D 3.5e doesn’t have anything that’s all that similar to 5e’s teleportation circle, because 3.5e’s teleportation magic is far more powerful and doesn’t need one. Adding something like it—unless you made it a lower spell level than 5th—won’t change very much and doesn’t seem like something that would be worth very much effort for destinations to set up. If you make it lower-level, and thus make long-distance teleportation—to particular destinations, but still—available at a lower level, that’s going to change a lot about your world. It also is maybe weird with how spell levels progress—if you make it 4th level, it’s the same level as dimension door, which is very much short-distance teleportation, and highly limited teleportation at that. Might be kind of weird.

On the flip side, if you removed 3.5e’s teleport, teleport object, greater teleport, teleportation circle, and any other long-distance teleportation found in supplements, and then added 5e’s teleportation circle and teleport as replacements, then these permanent circles would have a purpose—much the same as they have in 5e. (You probably want to move plane shift up to 7th spell level for clerics, too, in this process.) The effect of this would be to limit the availability of long-distance teleportation—which in my mind, is probably a good thing. Teleport is an incredibly game-warping spell, pushing it off another four character levels helps. Makes it so scry ‘n’ die is only an option that much later, which is good. The really big problem, though, is the mountain of 3.5e material out there—you would have to you would have to find and rework every existing long-range teleportation spell from supplements, to make them work appropriately in the new system, and then you’d have to worry about every monster that could be summoned, called, or turned into, as those may provide ways to circumvent the rule, and so on. Handling that on an ad hoc basis is probably fine—probably the only realistic way to do it—but you have to have a group that is mature and on-board enough to respect the houserule and not look for ways to circumvent it.

  1. Being “very familiar” can occur by “studying carefully,” which is basically the same process as studying the sigil sequence for a circle, so in most cases that is the appropriate comparison—though I suppose one could have a copy of the sigil sequence to study without ever having visited the circle.

Just as an aside, the closest thing actually in 3.5e that I can find for this is Faerûn’s portals.

Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting has the Create Portal feat, with associated rules for portals in Chapter 2. A portal, however, is almost like the opposite of 5e’s teleportation circle—a permanent place you can teleport from, rather than to. More importantly, though, they can be used by anyone—no need to know and cast a 5th-level spell to use them. Anyway, a portal is valued at 100,000 gp, so creating one costs 50,000 gp and 4,000 XP, and takes 100 days, so there is some similarity in the process. (In D&D 3.5e, hiring someone to cast a 5th-level spell costs 450 gp, so doing that every day would cost 164,250 gp, so substantially more than the portal but in the right neighborhood.)

Similar to these portals is making the 3.5e teleportation circle permanent with the spell permanency, which produces something quite like these portals. Thanks to Lino Frank Ciaralli’s answer for pointing that out.

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