Why would merchants use ships instead of teleportation to transport cargo?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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Sailing ship
Ship cost: 10k
Carrying capacity: 150 tons
crew 20
Speed 50 miles/day
Cost/ton 15ton/k
Cost/day 40 GP
trip time 40 days
trip cost 1600 GP

Brachiosaurus: 9k GP
Heavy lift belt (saddle): 2k GP x2
Mule back chords: 1k
clear spindle: 4k
total: 16k
carrying capacity: 240 tons
crew 1 + spell casting
speed 2000/day
cost/ton 15ton/k
cost/day 10th level teleportation x2= 1000 GP + 10 GP animal handler

The setup for teleprotation carries freight just as well as ship (better as zombie) and costs less to cover the same distance. On top of that it is 40 times faster and much safer.

Before you say that 10th level casters are hard to come by, boots of teleportation would pay for themselves in less then two months. I know the higher caster level would cost more but reducing the uses per day would drop in more then the increase.

One pair can replace 40 ships and 1 mage could make 7 pairs in a year.

So why would merchants risk ships when magic would be available and it is 40 times better and almost risk free.

Since there would be a 3 percent chance of not landing on target you could just leave the 3rd charge on the boots.


Because pirates need business too.


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And merchants aren't wizards. Anyone remember Mercane's?


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Okay, your post was confusing for a moment, but then I realized (I think) that you mean to put the boots of teleportation ON the brachiosaur? Is that right?

Problem is, the brachiosaur can't activate them. That requires intelligence. You have to command them to work, and you have to know where you are going. Dinosaurs lack these qualities. And you cannot activate a wondrous item that is equipped on somebody or something else.

But as a general answer to your question as to why merchants don't always just use teleportation, you are free to create a high magic world where such methods are the norm. That is the difference between a high magic world and a low magic world. In a low magic world, merchants may simply not have enough wizards around to do the job, or they may be too superstitious to want to have anything to do with spellcasters.

That's just for starters. You can come up with about a hundred other reasons why teleport would not be the norm.


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I think it has more to do with the chronic lack of trained Brachiosaurus.


How many crafters do you think there are capable of creating boots of teleportation in a given city? Maybe one? If that. I'm pretty sure it's easier to chop down a bunch of trees and hire a crew than it is to find a dinosaur and try to get boots on it.

Not to mention that these are dinosaur-sized boots, so you could only put them on dinosaurs.


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Wizards want to be more than "taxi" or "taxi builders". And they certainly don't like other people telling them what to do.
That's why they usually build towers in the middle of nowhere, so the can study their creepy books on magic without being disturbed.

Could they make money with this? Sure. But a 10th level wizard can make money with other ways far easier. If he even still needs money and isn't just content with what he has (or the things he wants to acquire might require something other than money to get).

In other words: Merchants might be up for this. Wizards probably aren't.


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Because spellcasters feel the higher (selfish) calling of magic over greed?

Because wizards refuse to be the middle men to merchants?

Because all spellcasters know they must set out in small war bands and engage in heroic Nietzschean struggles to unlock real power and become powerful Übermensch spellcasters. Trade or teleporting a brachiosaurus for trade, won't cut it.

Because trade is not that interesting (compared to spell research/adventure).


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The world as per the spells and capabilities of characters/npcs does not match the world as typically presented by world builders. Any issues are generally glossed over with half-hearted justifications.


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Because the last merchant who set up a teleportation transport system was shown the effectiveness of ship transport with a trip to all the ports of the Inner Sea courtesy of the longshoreman's guild. It is rumored that some parts of him were even found in Tian Xia.

Shadow Lodge

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The overwhelming majority of the population is commoner or expert. Of the rest, the overwhelming majority are other NPC classes. Of the rest, the overwhelming majority is of a pretty low level.


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Wizards need money too guys, so doing this a ton of times seems pretty reasonable.

2000g for 36 seconds of work? Yes Please


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Meh, why bother with the brachiosaurus. A portable hole is 20k and will bring along 1000 cubic feet of material and you dont have to feed it, water it or clean up its enormous mess.


cnetarian wrote:
Because the last merchant who set up a teleportation transport system was shown the effectiveness of ship transport with a trip to all the ports of the Inner Sea courtesy of the longshoreman's guild. It is rumored that some parts of him were even found in Tian Xia.

If we are talking greater teleport to remove the distance limitation then I dont think a level 13 wizard or 14 sorcerer is going to be terribly concerned about a group of soon to be redundant experts and commoners.

On the other hand he may be a bit busier dodging the assassins hired by every port authority and major merchant shipping house in a ten thousand mile radius.


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andreww wrote:
cnetarian wrote:
Because the last merchant who set up a teleportation transport system was shown the effectiveness of ship transport with a trip to all the ports of the Inner Sea courtesy of the longshoreman's guild. It is rumored that some parts of him were even found in Tian Xia.

If we are talking greater teleport to remove the distance limitation then I dont think a level 13 wizard or 14 sorcerer is going to be terribly concerned about a group of soon to be redundant experts and commoners.

On the other hand he may be a bit busier dodging the assassins hired by every port authority and major merchant shipping house in a ten thousand mile radius.

So not only do I get money from transporting cargo with teleport, bags of XP come straight to my doorstep?

Sign me up!


Mathius wrote:

Sailing ship

Ship cost: 10k
Carrying capacity: 150 tons
crew 20
Speed 50 miles/day
Cost/ton 15ton/k
Cost/day 40 GP
trip time 40 days
trip cost 1600 GP

Brachiosaurus: 9k GP
Heavy lift belt (saddle): 2k GP x2
Mule back chords: 1k
clear spindle: 4k
total: 16k
carrying capacity: 240 tons
crew 1 + spell casting
speed 2000/day
cost/ton 15ton/k
cost/day 10th level teleportation x2= 1000 GP + 10 GP animal handler

The setup for teleprotation carries freight just as well as ship (better as zombie) and costs less to cover the same distance. On top of that it is 40 times faster and much safer.

Before you say that 10th level casters are hard to come by, boots of teleportation would pay for themselves in less then two months. I know the higher caster level would cost more but reducing the uses per day would drop in more then the increase.

One pair can replace 40 ships and 1 mage could make 7 pairs in a year.

So why would merchants risk ships when magic would be available and it is 40 times better and almost risk free.

Since there would be a 3 percent chance of not landing on target you could just leave the 3rd charge on the boots.

Teleport like fly has always been a game breaker. They remove achievement and the wit required to get around problems. this suits some people.

Flight and teleport also utterly negate the cool architecture and scenery design that make for a fantasy setting - castles etc.

If you change the game world accordingly it becomes a drab depressing place where all kingdoms/rulers reside under ground, the mapping/nightmare of maze like passages to remove lines of effect and rooms that can only fit 2 people so as to negate burst effects taking out your entire offensive/defensive force.

Try it on PCs and they will soon dislike the blind corners, no effect lines and inability to successfully all attack foes which pretty much proves that its the way the world would adapt.

Its why some campaign settings and modules have banned these things to allow for a game that is sensible AND enjoyable.


Also magic user of that level are ment to be fairly rare and would probably not be interested in becoming a petty cargo hauler


andreww wrote:
cnetarian wrote:
Because the last merchant who set up a teleportation transport system was shown the effectiveness of ship transport with a trip to all the ports of the Inner Sea courtesy of the longshoreman's guild. It is rumored that some parts of him were even found in Tian Xia.

If we are talking greater teleport to remove the distance limitation then I dont think a level 13 wizard or 14 sorcerer is going to be terribly concerned about a group of soon to be redundant experts and commoners.

On the other hand he may be a bit busier dodging the assassins hired by every port authority and major merchant shipping house in a ten thousand mile radius.

While many longshoremen would be experts & commoners the guild has specialists on hand for those cargoes which accidentally get left off the manifest and it would be a shame to bother the customs officers about. Likewise there are guild members who handle difficult contract negotiations, whether that negotiation be with a nobleman with a house full of armed guards or a pirate captain with a ship full of bloodthirsty scoundrels. If that's not enough, the guild has "family" connections who benefit from receiving a good chunk of the merchandise which falls off the back of ships when the longshoremen are unloading, and the "family" are always willing to help the longshoreman's guild.


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Apart from the problem of severe front-loading of the merchant's expenses*, which leads to increased risk, there's also the problem of teleport needing to be cast at CL 24 in order to bring a Gargantuan creature. Even with boots, the brachiosaurus can't activate them itself, so you'd still need CL 24 boots for the animal handler.

*(49k gp for boots + 18k gp for brachiosaurus with assorted items results in a total expenditure of 67k gp before he makes even a single copper piece in return; alternatively 19k gp with a teleporting wizard in place of the booted animal-handler; both compared to only 11.6k gp of expenditure for the initial trip with the ship)


The expenses aren't front-loaded. This isn't supposed to replace a ship, it's supposed to replace a massive fleet.


The risk of mishap may be small but once you've seen it happen, you'd rather use a ship.


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Animals aren't intelligent enough to use magic items.

If you can clear that hurdle then:

For every 100 mariner merchants there might be 1 or 2 spellcaster willing and able to craft said boots. And if they aren't already too busy selfishly using their crafting time to make magic items for themselves (or worse, some player characters who need Demon bane swords and quick runner shirts to save the world) then that crafting wizard still needs the merchant to pay the crafting cost up front.
I don't know many merchants who've got that kind of money lying around.

Then there's the lack of trained brachisauruses. How did you get the 9k cost for a trained brachisaurus?

Also. Most merchants don't pay the building cost for a ship up front. They enlist a crew of steady hands and carpenters, most of whom will work for hardly anything at all, a bowl of cheap food every 4 hours and a roof to sleep under, perhaps a copper or two on a good day.

Keep in mind that if the GM declares "this is a high fantasy story" to begin with then the dinosaur teleport action service instantly becomes the status quo. And it wouldn't be the first.
Remember erberon? One artwork features a group of heroes aboard a flying boat sailing in the city of towers surrounded by goons on magic green hover disks, those must be very VERY rich goons because each hover disk is worth 20k gold.
The moral in this story is that it doesn't matter how expensive it is so long as it looks good.


Bob790 wrote:
The risk of mishap may be small but once you've seen it happen, you'd rather use a ship.

Greater Teleport has no such risk and in any event you can simply cast again if you go of target. It's not as if Teleport can instant kill you any more. I would certainly take that risk over the vagaries of long term sea travel, especially in a world with crazy conrol winds using druids, raiding shark men and krakens.


It seems that practically, this wouldn't work terribly well in a setting world. For one, it seems that brachiosauri are hard to get to, much less train for most people. Second, the boots, the magic gear, and all that sort of cost is an up front expense. The Portable Hole option is even worse, since that's double the price of your teleporting dino idea. Unless the wizard's offering lay away, the ships allow for a more spread out method of paying for crew members and the like. It's like how people rent instead of owning their apartments, you may save more money in the future, but that's a price you can't afford NOW. Lastly, if there is a mistake via the teleportation, there's a chance that a good amount of profit that goes up in smoke.

Now, if the wizard was the merchant and was crafting these things at half cost for his own magic marts, maybe things would be different.


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The bigger question might be why has some enterprising level 17 caster not set up a series of permanent teleportation circles linking together the major trade hubs of the world. Sure some governments might be leery of a doorway into the heart of their cities but with sufficient security around them you are still looking at a huge increase in convenience.


Andreww, that makes me think of another possible reason. It could be that the laws of major cities state that shipments of such a size may only be brought in via ships and not magically altered in any way. If you throw so much magic around, how do the city officials know you're not trading in contraband as well?


I imagine dinosaurs being rare...also how much food do they eat?


HarbinNick wrote:
I imagine dinosaurs being rare...also how much food do they eat?

Using an elephant as an example, an elephant can eat up to 600 lbs of food in a day. And is much smaller.


I imagine it depends on your campaign. Maybe they don't have dinos in some games, or that magic is rarer so there are less wizards willing to dedicate themselves to playing transporter.

Alternately, it could be an interesting way to build your world. I wouldn't want it as the default for the setting, but it can make for a different approach for the players to deal with.


aceDiamond wrote:
Andreww, that makes me think of another possible reason. It could be that the laws of major cities state that shipments of such a size may only be brought in via ships and not magically altered in any way. If you throw so much magic around, how do the city officials know you're not trading in contraband as well?

I could see that but the advantages are huge they probably outweight the disadvantages. Say you have a major port hub city dealing with trade. If you want to protect yourself you set up your teleportation circle hub on an island a mile or two off the coast and then layer powerful defensive effects all round it. You probably introduce some sort of Stargate style cover for the entry point to block it if needed and perhaps insist on a prior coded sending before any transport. Then your arrival port is defended and when goods do arrive it is easy enough to transport them the short distance to the trade city. The guild of shoreman dont have to ask the "family" to help out, the city prospers, various trading fleets go bankrupt and almost everyone is happy.


HarbinNick wrote:
I imagine dinosaurs being rare...also how much food do they eat?

With sufficiently advanced magic there is no such thing as rare! Whether it is getting want you want with a few castings of Polymorph any Object or sending teams into the jungle to hunt them down with blanketed Locate Creature spells magic will find a way.


@andreww: One caster could connect every major city on the globe in less then a year.

Why would the dino have to wear the boots? If the handler wears them he can bring the dino along.

Someone did point out the major flaw in this though, CL 24 is need to bring gargantuan creature. When I read the spell I thought it said 1 medium creature per level.

Replace the dino with a mastodon and belt giant strength +2. This costs 2k less then the dino and would be easier to assemble. Animal feed is cheap but we already paid for a clear spindle so we do not need to feed it.

The 1 point loss in str is made up for by an extra 200 miles of range. This only costs 200 GP from the mage.


At first I thought: 240 ton carrying capacity? That's ridiculous! A brachiosaurus weighs (per Bestiary) 37 tons - carrying six times its weight would turn it into a brachiosaurus stamp.
But then I saw the items in the stat block, and then I did the math myself... and again. And again... and my result says that the cc is even higher. 460 tons!

str 45 = 12800 lbs
gargantuan quadruped = 12800 x 24
heavyload belt = 12800 x 24 x 3 = 921600 lbs = 460 t

Scarab Sages

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If you were to put boots on a dinosaur, and it were even capable of using them, all it would do is teleport to the nearest meal. I mean, seriously.

'Oh, look, THAT tree looks yummy! It's five hundred feet away...'

POP!

*nom, nom, nom*


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Animals cannot use Ioun Stones. You could pay a druid to awaken it but then it might start demanding a fair wage, religious holidays, rest days and decent working conditions.


Cpt. Caboodle wrote:

At first I thought: 240 ton carrying capacity? That's ridiculous! A brachiosaurus weighs (per Bestiary) 37 tons - carrying six times its weight would turn it into a brachiosaurus stamp.

But then I saw the items in the stat block, and then I did the math myself... and again. And again... and my result says that the cc is even higher. 460 tons!

str 45 = 12800 lbs
gargantuan quadruped = 12800 x 24
heavyload belt = 12800 x 24 x 3 = 921600 lbs = 460 t

Rl, on its back it can carry 1-2 tons. I think the carrying capacities associated with strength are one of the things that severely needs reworking.


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If you think that's crazy, calculate how much weight it could pull in a cart crafted to match its size.


Yeppers.


Us ton is 2,000 lbs, so ...

Game terms, At max load, an elephant is about 2.8 tons. Meaning it could drag 14 tons - 28 in ideal circumstances.


Why not use Permanent Teleportation Circles for 25,880gp setup cost (also need a 17th level wizard.)

Unlimited cargo and passenger. No need to clean up after the Brachiosaurus.


I think the real question is why wouldn't kingdom's hire very high level wizards to create permanent teleportation circles. Sure it would be expensive...but then you have permanent teleportation to your designated location. Kingdom's would set up a safe area for controlling what is teleported in and out like a dock (and would likely be heavily guarded since it could be used for invasions) and would be outside of cities but nearby.

I can think of no realistic reason except casters have no interest in doing this, and even that is a stretch since I think at least one wizard of sufficient level would decide that he would like an extra 500,000 gp for very little work. Or titles, property, land, power. There is quite a lot that could be offered. The kingdom could charge for use of its teleportation circle, a tax.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

The main reason is that it is an incredible security risk.

Teleportation circles allow you to move entire armies here and there at an incredible rate of speed. This effect is how the Inspired in Eberron control an entire continent from a central teleporting 'dispatch chamber' in the capital, instead of needing to post armies in each location.

If an enemy seizes the circle without your knowledge, they have a gate to your doorstep. The security risk probably isn't worth it for most kingdoms. Likewise, the erosion of law and problems with jurisdiction from two communities so closely tied would be a headache.

However, I can totally see teleportation circles being set up in short order to move armies around one by one between distant locations, instead of shipping them here and there. Time is money, after all, and if you have an archmage on your side, it's definitely the way to go.

A wizard would have no more or less interest in doing this then his duty and/or greed demands. If someone wants to pay him 50k to set up a circle and foot the material costs, who is he to complain?

==Aelryinth


LoneKnave wrote:
andreww wrote:
cnetarian wrote:
Because the last merchant who set up a teleportation transport system was shown the effectiveness of ship transport with a trip to all the ports of the Inner Sea courtesy of the longshoreman's guild. It is rumored that some parts of him were even found in Tian Xia.

If we are talking greater teleport to remove the distance limitation then I dont think a level 13 wizard or 14 sorcerer is going to be terribly concerned about a group of soon to be redundant experts and commoners.

On the other hand he may be a bit busier dodging the assassins hired by every port authority and major merchant shipping house in a ten thousand mile radius.

So not only do I get money from transporting cargo with teleport, bags of XP come straight to my doorstep?

Sign me up!

Make a fort save...

Better keep making them, you are almost swimming in poison.


Immunity to Poison costs 58k and should be fairly standard for a high level caster with a weak fortitude save. Also the poisons in the CRB are generally terrible with very poor save DC's.

Alternatively Delay Poison is level 2, lasts 1 hour/level and grants total immunity.

Also you most certainly dont send members of the Assassin PrC to assassinate another caster, they are terrible and almost certainly yoked to something even worse like rogue levels. Ideally you team up with one of their rivals to take them down.


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Yeah, see, you don't actually need a dinosaur, just a bunch of portable holes.

We fixed this in our campaign, since we wanted to have seafaring be a real thing that made sense in the economy.


DM Under The Bridge wrote:
LoneKnave wrote:
andreww wrote:
cnetarian wrote:
Because the last merchant who set up a teleportation transport system was shown the effectiveness of ship transport with a trip to all the ports of the Inner Sea courtesy of the longshoreman's guild. It is rumored that some parts of him were even found in Tian Xia.

If we are talking greater teleport to remove the distance limitation then I dont think a level 13 wizard or 14 sorcerer is going to be terribly concerned about a group of soon to be redundant experts and commoners.

On the other hand he may be a bit busier dodging the assassins hired by every port authority and major merchant shipping house in a ten thousand mile radius.

So not only do I get money from transporting cargo with teleport, bags of XP come straight to my doorstep?

Sign me up!

Make a fort save...

Better keep making them, you are almost swimming in poison.

Hmm, I wonder why people keep leaving expensive poisons in my drink. Oh well, don't look a gift horse in the mouth!


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The actual question here is "why would high-level wizards use ships instead of teleportation to transport cargo?" And, when high-level wizards transport cargo, teleportation is a good option.

But, if a wizard is going to put the effort into building a teleportation network, I'd expect something more in it for them than the nominal gains from creating magical items.

At the very least, I'd expect them to run the network themselves and make ridiculous amounts of money by charging a premium and poaching customers from traditional shipping. And, if that's happened, I'd imagine competition between them and any upstarts could get... unpleasant.

Or they could use it like the Inspired to gain incredible strategic advantage for a country they're attached to. There are things much more important than gold, especially at high level.

For my time, the best use of a network like this is to set up a demonstration and then ask every trading company within teleportation range how much money it's worth to bury it for them. It's going to be cheaper for them to buy you off than assassinate a high-level wizard.

Even if you have some grudge against seafaring and caravans, a wizard capable of casting spells of that level is also intelligent enough to suspect the economic repercussions of their actions.

Is selling one set of teleportation circles worth driving several caravans or ships out of business, along with their builders and suppliers? Particularly if you're talking about a wholesale replacement of those industries, entire cities or even nations can lose their economic reason for being. It's not as though wizards don't have other, infinitely less disruptive, ways to make money.

If players want to play economics, hardball economics can make for good high-level campaigns. But there are plenty of reasons for NPCs to protect the status quo until the PCs get there.

Actual Play Example:
Something very much like this actually happened in my long-running 2nd Edition campaign. Two PCs gained control of a city and one of them built a network of free gates to connect it to the other major cities on the continent, with the goal of making their city the nexus of all trade.

They even installed a cooldown of sorts, so people would have to spend the night in the city after each hop. High-level wizards played by canny players are scary, but probably still less scary than a high-level wizard should be.

But there's no way they would have done something like that just because someone paid them. And, if someone had brought it up, they would have given that person some consideration and then made the network themselves. You don't become an archmage to do piecework for some merchants.

Trade routes were rearranged, with many drying up as trade was shunted through the PCs' city. In the course of a decade game time, many towns and even military outposts along those routes became ghost towns.

More people moved into the cities, near the gates, but it's not as though there were magically a bunch of extra jobs. And, with many roads falling out of general use and areas losing strategic importance, the routes traditionally used to pass between those cities were slowly ceded to monsters.

With a staunchly neutral city mediating all trade, there was also less reason to fear disturbing relations with other countries. The former trade power (now just one satellite of the gate network) could begin expanding militarily for the first time in centuries. On the bright side, the resulting war employed a lot of the people who had lost their jobs with shifting trade patterns.

The PCs got what they wanted... at the expense of making their city a hotbed of espionage along with trade, reducing dozens of vibrant settlements to monster bait, and embroiling the continent in a new war.

I don't suggest making all (or even most) campaigns about economics, but if your PCs want to revolutionize the world, they're handing you a major plot hook. Grab it and run.

Cheers!
Landon


tsuruki wrote:

. . .

Keep in mind that if the GM declares "this is a high fantasy story" to begin with then the dinosaur teleport action service instantly becomes the status quo. And it wouldn't be the first.
Remember erberon? One artwork features a group of heroes aboard a flying boat sailing in the city of towers surrounded by goons on magic green hover disks, those must be very VERY rich goons because each hover disk is worth 20k gold.
The moral in this story is that it doesn't matter how expensive it is so long as it looks good.

It's %^@#ing Eberron. They have Artificers who get a craft pool and at least three or more feats to make cheaper, faster, better magic items and constructs to do your crafting for you while you do whatever else you want to do. If you allow a few things from general splats (not even other campaign materials), you have free xp generation and subbing costs with xp (or those poor, poor nps). That's why Artificer is the answer to any problem where Artificer are allowed. Just substitute Artificer for ninja and there you have it.

I figure wizard organizations have already set up teleportation networks. They reserve the right to use them to higher level members and otherwise keep their existence hush-hush. This allows wizards of said organizations to be almost anywhere they need to be almost immediately without actually spending spell slots... because they are awesome. Lesser organizations make due with scrying networks to trade information.

If you find out something a wizard would rather not have generally known, s/he waves her/his hands around and says "You didn't see anything."


Stargates are a thing.


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The Brachiosaurus I don't think would work. It's a gargantuan creature so counts 8 medium creatures. A 20th level caster can't use teleport to move this beast as they can only bring 6 willing creatures. Next the Brachiosaurus needs to be willing. There is no save except for objects. Teleport only works if you are willing. I can't see a Brachiosaurus being willing.

To move 150 tons it's going to cost about 1000 GP per casting and each casting can move lets say each casting moves 1 ton. Now you could create boots of teleportation to move 3 tons per day per pair at cost 50000 gp per pair. As merchant that would buy 3 sailing ships for 750 tons and the goods arrive all at once in 40 days instead of trickling in at 3 tons per day for over 150 days. As well the ships are restricted to 900 miles.

Seem much better for the merchant to buy ships.

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