Non-magical ways to restrain casters


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I remember a time when binding hands and taking away holy symbols guaranteed nobody could cast spells. . .

Now, it's not so much. With all the different kinds of casters out there, how would a non-magical city watch restrain a prisoner who could be a spellcaster of some kind?


Unless they have silent spell, throwing in a gag would do the trick.

If they do...keep them comatose with some flavor of poison? Or drain their casting stat so they are literally unable to teleport out of their bonds. Not much else that I can think of that would do the trick.


Step up feat, and a grapple to stop their movement. Then its just you, caster, and that sweet vorpal sword.


Blinfold, gag, hands tied in mittens, drugged into delirium, and then strapped to some sort of shaker table to cause a concentration check for violent motion.


AwesomenessDog wrote:
Step up feat, and a grapple to stop their movement. Then its just you, caster, and that sweet vorpal sword.

We're looking for a way to restrain and keep spellcasters prisoner, rather than cutting them in half. While that's the simplest way to get the job done, it's not exactly what we're looking for here.

Anyways, to add on to what's already been said. Make sure to take all possessions other than(and maybe including) the clothes on the spellcaster's back, such as a spell component pouch and spellbook, along with anything else magical. Gag and binding their hands can stop V and S components, but they can circumvent that if they have the proper feats.

Tying someone up with rope gives them the "pinned" condition, and any caster that's pinned must make a concentration check to cast spells. That can go a long way in stopping any unruly spells from getting out.


Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Sow their toes and fingers together. Sow all orifices shut. Cut off head. Impale head with a silver spike. Burn body and head in different locations.

That should do the trick.


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Wire the jaw shut ( or rip out their tongue for repeat offenders) and break their hands(or cut off hands for repeat offenders). Well at least that is what one the cities in a campaign setting did....yes those were not nice people....though they never had many repeat offenders using magic.

Sure if the caster has still or silent spell they still cast...but how many do you know prepare spells with both?


AwesomenessDog wrote:
Step up feat, and a grapple to stop their movement. Then its just you, caster, and that sweet vorpal sword.

Or your merciful greatsword. Nonlethal, definitely. I think there's a trait that lets you use your weapon nonlethally. Perhaps pick up Enforcer and Cornugon Smash and Power Attack to let the casters know you're not kidding. Oh, and rogue levels. This should shut down psychic spellcasting pretty effectively, too.


My Self wrote:
AwesomenessDog wrote:
Step up feat, and a grapple to stop their movement. Then its just you, caster, and that sweet vorpal sword.
Or your merciful greatsword. Nonlethal, definitely. I think there's a trait that lets you use your weapon nonlethally. Perhaps pick up Enforcer and Cornugon Smash and Power Attack to let the casters know you're not kidding. Oh, and rogue levels. This should shut down psychic spellcasting pretty effectively, too.

Yeah I miss interpreted the question, but still if you grapple them they cant fly away or anything so the restraining is taken care of. Another way to remove spell casting is do murder their Familiar although that might be extreme...


John Kretzer wrote:

Wire the jaw shut ( or rip out their tongue for repeat offenders) and break their hands(or cut off hands for repeat offenders). Well at least that is what one the cities in a campaign setting did....yes those were not nice people....though they never had many repeat offenders using magic.

Sure if the caster has still or silent spell they still cast...but how many do you know prepare spells with both?

How many non-spontaneous casters invest in silent and still spell, relatively speaking, so the issue is more from the spontaneous ones just applying it ad hoc.


The real problem now is occult spell casters which only have emotion and logic components. They don't need their hands or tongues.

Pretty much the only way to guarantee a spellcaster can't cast spells is to use non-lethal damage to keep them unconscious.

Prior to that, placing splint mail gave a 40% arcane spell failure chance. Bind their hands on top of it. Gag them. Place a bag over their head. Break their hands.

If you're really wealthy, trap their soul in a soul gem.


The following conditions will prevent spell casting Dazed, Fascinated, Nauseated, Stunned and Unconscious. There are probably poisons or drugs that give the nauseated condition, but don’t know any off the top of my head.

There are also a lot of conditions that make spell casting difficult like grappled, pinned but don’t shut it down completely.


Java Man wrote:
Blinfold, gag, hands tied in mittens, drugged into delirium, and then strapped to some sort of shaker table to cause a concentration check for violent motion.

Would those take away the emotion and thought components for psychic casters?


darth_borehd wrote:
Java Man wrote:
Blinfold, gag, hands tied in mittens, drugged into delirium, and then strapped to some sort of shaker table to cause a concentration check for violent motion.
Would those take away the emotion and thought components for psychic casters?

Hmm, haven't read occult yet, but I would think that drugs, or a lobotomy might do the trick.


Keep a huge bottle of this around, pump it into the target until they're unconscious or every 2 hours.

Oh, and make sure they're not a Druid.


Dazed/Fascinated/Nauseated/Cowering/Stunned/Unconscious,
i.e. stuff that totally removes capacity to cast spells or do much else besides a Move Action at most, is the 100% certain route.

Otherwise, you can go for Tied Up/Gagged/Silenced to cover Somatic+Verbal stuff.

For psychic stuff, you will need Emotion effect and Concentration triggering stuff,
and Concentration triggering stuff is in fact going to be the last line of defence
vs. Still/Silent Metamagic and indeed Intuitive/Logical (Psychic) Metamagic.

A drug could very well count as emotion descriptor effect, which would negate Emotion Psychic spells.
(or Calm Emotions effect seems appropriate/useful for even an entire prison population)

Concentration stuff:
Being tied up i believe itself counts as Pinned, if on a moving platform like a ship at sea, movement triggers check.
Actually, being affected by ANY hostile spell also triggers Concentration DC, so Calm Emotions could also trigger Concentration.
Relying solely on standard Concentration Checks (even multiple ones) is rather weak,
but having at least one if not more is good, because it is especially strong vs. Thought Component Psychic spells (without Logical MM),
since they suffer a +10 DC unless they spend a Move Action to center themselves...
I think Slow is the best bet to prevent that "Centering" removal of +10 DC, (if not going all the way for Nauseated/etc)
although you would still be able to combine a Move Action "Center" action with a Swift/Quickened spell if available.

EDIT: I see, non-magical... Well, like I said Drugs could very well have Emotion effect, and why not also have a Slow effect via Drug?

I do sympathize, because unless you are totally removing their actions from very harsh Conditions,
it is very hard to totally remove possibilty of spell casting by merely mundane passive effects.
For shorter periods of time, you could have an NPC guard using Intimidate effects to acheive Cowered.

EDIT2: ALSO, an NPC/Iron Cobra/Contingencied effect (sorry, magic again) to attack/damage them if they try casting a spell, thus Disrupting it. That can be Non-Lethal damage as well AFAIK.


My Self wrote:

Keep a huge bottle of this around, pump it into the target until they're unconscious or every 2 hours.

Oh, and make sure they're not a Druid.

Druids are easy just put them in metal armor and they are done.


The easiest way to prevent a caster from casting, put them in a coffin filled with a swarm of cockroaches (Provided they're not some sort of bug loving caster type.)

It'll prevent everything from Arcane to Divine to even Psychic.

Now Psychic have a rather unique weakness as well.. Intimidate. Think someone is a psychic? YELL AT THEM! TELL THEM TO WITNESS YOU! or something like that. While they're shaken, they are under a fear effect. Poof, no more spells.


Darche Schneider wrote:

The easiest way to prevent a caster from casting, put them in a coffin filled with a swarm of cockroaches (Provided they're not some sort of bug loving caster type.)

It'll prevent everything from Arcane to Divine to even Psychic.

It'll also kill them from the 1d6 swarm damage as they're eaten alive. Makes me think of Imhotep in The Mummy. Much more humane to just execute them on the spot.


I'm not sure what exists by RAW, but drugging a caster to be just coherent enough to stay alive while otherwise being unable to cast seems quite possible, albeit a little risky. Also pretty terrifying.

Silver Crusade

There are the manacles of cooperation, but the will save is ridiculously low to beat them. Bump that up and they're pretty useful.

EDUT: oh, wait, nonmagical...um...let me think.

DOUBLE EDUT: Well, if you blind and deafen them they won't be able to cast any targeted spells aside from ones that target themselves. You could hold their familiar hostage.

...how long does a spell remain in a slot? If you can prevent them from studying/meditating/praying/whatever they won't be able to fill spell slots. Um...outside of stuff already mentioned, I'm drawing a blank.


Isonaroc wrote:

There are the manacles of cooperation, but the will save is ridiculously low to beat them. Bump that up and they're pretty useful.

EDUT: oh, wait, nonmagical...um...let me think.

The trick isn't to bump up the save, the trick is to reduce theirs. This applies to magical and nonmagical things alike. To which I say: Poison, in moderation.

Especially if you have the Unchained poison system.


Well a nat 20 on a concertration check is not auto success. A strong enough grappler can pie them and make the DC to cast spells impossible.


Darche Schneider wrote:
Now Psychic have a rather unique weakness as well.. Intimidate. Think someone is a psychic? YELL AT THEM! TELL THEM TO WITNESS YOU! or something like that. While they're shaken, they are under a fear effect. Poof, no more spells.

Not all Psychic spells, and for those Emotion Spells they just need Intuitive Spell Metamagic AKA Psychic equivalent of Still Spell.

A non-damaging swarm/something with Distraction is interesting way to get Nausea, although since you get many Saves you will eventually pass one (Nat20) and be able to cast for a round. I would rather have a drug with a predicatable duration/dosing schedule.

The Concentration DC from getting tied up (pinned) is a good one, although depends on their CMB vs. your Concentration.
Also, assuming they have Still/Silent or Intuitive/Logical available and can potentially pass Concentration,
they can still lose many checks AND spell slots trying,
so remember not to let them sleep well, meaning they can't refresh any spell slots they expend.
That also gives other non-casters a minor debuff, so why not?


So far the only way we have found to keep them from casting is to murder the f@#~ out of their familiar and then they can never cast again because you probably aren't going to release them to go get a new one, and they still don't have any spells stored in the familiar.

Grappling them works for somatic components (as does tied-pinned) since the DC is a whopping 10+Grappler's CMB +double spell level which pre spell level is already at least 30 (counting pinned penalties as increases to DC) by level 5. Not to be that guy, but water boarding the caster (by setting up a mini water wheel and restraining the caster) should work in all areas, they are restrained, experiencing drowning (afraid), gagged, and I can guarantee you wouldn't be able to concentrate through that, from a non-mechanic standpoint.

Liberty's Edge

Flash-freeze them in a block of carbonite.


Buy some used splint mail from somebody who just became 3rd level.

It ruins Druidic spell casting, saddles arcane casters with massive spell failure, reduces their move speed, prevents evasion.

On the off chance that they're a cleric and you missed their holy symbol, well, you didn't lose much compared to their unarmored AC.


Remove limbs, destroy eardrums, cut out tongue, gag, blind, pump full of Drow Poison, and leave tied up and hanging above a pit of rodents. Oh, and cover in a thick canvas.

No limbs means no material or somatic components or focuses. The majority of prepared casters will be toast because of this. No eardrums will impose a 20% failure chance for not being able to pronounce verbal components, which is a bit overkill considering that there's a 100% failure for not having a tongue/being gagged (I think). Tying up means concentration checks. Blinding means low chance of actually being able to see things. Canvas breaks line of effect. Drow poison causes unconsciousness. Rodents are insurance.

Psychic casters are a bit tougher. However, since you've got the upper hand, you can intimidate them as much as you want to block their casting.

Alternatively, you could use snakes.


Anonymous Visitor 163 576 wrote:

Buy some used splint mail from somebody who just became 3rd level.

It ruins Druidic spell casting, saddles arcane casters with massive spell failure, reduces their move speed, prevents evasion.

On the off chance that they're a cleric and you missed their holy symbol, well, you didn't lose much compared to their unarmored AC.

Or make them hold a tower shield. 50% failure.

If you're using Piecemeal Armor from Ultimate Combat, get an agile plate arm, an iron lamellar leg, and an iron lamellar torso. Enjoy your 100% arcane spell failure rate, and -7 ACP. You can increase the ACP by 2 and weight by 50% by making it out of gold.


AwesomenessDog wrote:
Grappling them works for somatic components (as does tied-pinned) since the DC is a whopping 10+Grappler's CMB +double spell level which pre spell level is already at least 30 (counting pinned penalties as increases to DC) by level 5.

Double spell level only applies to Casting Defensively.

Pinned prevents Somatic spells completely, but non-Somatic still suffer Concentration checks. (10+CMB+SpLvl)

ASF is superfluous with being Tied Up... Although this thread seems to be well within superfluous territory at this point.


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Occult Adventures has the straitjacket, which would require a DC 30+spell level concentration check provided the spellcaster has Still Spell and Eschew Materials. Add Hoodwink Cowl to Blind and Deafen the spellcaster, adding a -4 penalty to escaping the straitjacket, as well as a 20% spell failure chance unless they're also using Silent Spell.

And we did it for 125 GP. Without maiming the spellcaster.


Good find! And it even allows enough freedom (V) to think they can cast, wasting some spellslots!
Although above level 5 or so, you COULD get low level spells thru that, albeit after wasting some slots and maybe giving up.
Still, that beats all but the buffest (high CMB) Rope Tie-ers, certainly for "non-magical city watch".


Blanket party!


Quandary wrote:

Good find! And it even allows enough freedom (V) to think they can cast, wasting some spellslots!

Although above level 5 or so, you COULD get low level spells thru that, albeit after wasting some slots and maybe giving up.
Still, that beats all but the buffest (high CMB) Rope Tie-ers, certainly for "non-magical city watch".

Even casting what they cast they have no way of targeting anyone but themselves. Polymorph spells at lower level have your gear change with you so that doesn't work. You don't have line of sight for Dim Door type moves.

Besides, at those levels you would at best be able to fling out 1st level spells, maybe 2nds.

Add Fetters from ARG to add another Concentration check (DC 15+2x spell level) and an additional -4 to get out.

Total cost: 175 GP. Casting a cantrip (!) Requires Still Spell, a 1st level spell slot, a DC 17 concentration check, a DC 31 concentration check, and a 20% spell failure. At best. DC 45 Escape Artist check to wriggle out of.


There are hardly any real way to restrain a caster other than knock him out or take away their casting ability score(Cha/int/wis) somehow. Especially mythic caster. Doesn't even need concentration check because they will automatically succeed for spell that is not at his highest level.


In 90%+ of cases blindfolding, gagging and restraining their hands will work. You're then left with occult casters, very specialized normal casters and supernatural-ability shapeshifters. Most of these will need to do something before proceeding to complete their escape - blasting away the blindfold, shapeshifting into a rat or earth elemental, etc. - which gives you a moment to do something to them if there's somebody on watch.


darth_borehd wrote:

I remember a time when binding hands and taking away holy symbols guaranteed nobody could cast spells. . .

Now, it's not so much. With all the different kinds of casters out there, how would a non-magical city watch restrain a prisoner who could be a spellcaster of some kind?

Drugs to keep them unconscious.

Oh you could just make the caster really drunk so that they are either unconscious or slur their spells.


Blindfold.

They can't target what they can't see.

It counters a LOT of what they can do.

As for teleport... I dunno, get them drunk as well?


Occult spellcaster is still subject to grapple and entangle concentration checks, as well as blindness and deafness. Same applies to said very specialized spellcaster, who won't be able to circumvent the penalties until they are high enough level that magic would be essential anyway.

Druids...broken chain shirt under the straitjacket. If not, the restraints meld into the wild shape, and return when the druid reverts.

The spellcaster containment kit© now costs 275 gp, and is effective on...pretty much everything.


There are (Su) shapeshifters who aren't druids (e.g. Lunar oracles), plus druids who are followers of Gorum. You still want someone to keep an eye on the captive.


Is this a lawful imprisonment? If so:

"The casting of any spell by a prisoner is punishable by either a 10,000 gp fine or an additional 3 years in prison, or both. Escaping from prison is a 100,000 gp fine plus 1,000 gp per day out of captivity and an additional 10 years in prison plus 1 year per day out of captivity. If a prisoner remains at large for more than two weeks or goes beyond the jurisdiction of this agency, then all of the criminal's kin will be held responsible for payment and incarceration. Should the kin be unable to pay in coin, they shall pay publicly in their flesh over the course of several days or weeks, depending upon the offense."


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Pretty much none of what I've read in this thread are going to be terribly effective against one of my sorcerers, or against a psychic caster (particularly at higher levels) for very long.

My Self wrote:

Remove limbs, destroy eardrums, cut out tongue, gag, blind, pump full of Drow Poison, and leave tied up and hanging above a pit of rodents. Oh, and cover in a thick canvas.

No limbs means no material or somatic components or focuses. The majority of prepared casters will be toast because of this. No eardrums will impose a 20% failure chance for not being able to pronounce verbal components, which is a bit overkill considering that there's a 100% failure for not having a tongue/being gagged (I think). Tying up means concentration checks. Blinding means low chance of actually being able to see things. Canvas breaks line of effect. Drow poison causes unconsciousness. Rodents are insurance.

Psychic casters are a bit tougher. However, since you've got the upper hand, you can intimidate them as much as you want to block their casting.

Alternatively, you could use snakes.

technarken wrote:

Occult Adventures has the straitjacket, which would require a DC 30+spell level concentration check provided the spellcaster has Still Spell and Eschew Materials. Add Hoodwink Cowl to Blind and Deafen the spellcaster, adding a -4 penalty to escaping the straitjacket, as well as a 20% spell failure chance unless they're also using Silent Spell.

And we did it for 125 GP. Without maiming the spellcaster.

A competent caster with Eschew Materials, Silent Spell, and Still Spell (pretty much every high level sorcerer I ever make) will easily escape that trap once the drow poison wears off, which it will eventually, because it's very expensive, and the DC is very low.

technarken wrote:
Even casting what they cast they have no way of targeting anyone but themselves. Polymorph spells at lower level have your gear change with you so that doesn't work. You don't have line of sight for Dim Door type moves.

If your gear melds into you, I fail to see how it can continue restraining you. You don't need line of sight for dimension door. You could say "800 feet up" and it will take you there.


Ravingdork wrote:
If your gear melds into you, I fail to see how it can continue restraining you. You don't need line of sight for dimension door. You could say "800 feet up" and it will take you there.

Interesting situation... A blindfolded, straightjacketed sorcerer who can cast Dimension Door can teleport 800 feet at a time - but is still blindfolded and straightjacketed wherever he goes unless he can find someone to help him.


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Matthew Downie wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:
If your gear melds into you, I fail to see how it can continue restraining you. You don't need line of sight for dimension door. You could say "800 feet up" and it will take you there.
Interesting situation... A blindfolded, straightjacketed sorcerer who can cast Dimension Door can teleport 800 feet at a time - but is still blindfolded and straightjacketed wherever he goes unless he can find someone to help him.

There's no rule anywhere saying that the restraints go with him. He simply teleports out of the blindfold, straightjacket, and sack. The hard part would be beating the Concentration check.


Ravingdork wrote:
Matthew Downie wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:
If your gear melds into you, I fail to see how it can continue restraining you. You don't need line of sight for dimension door. You could say "800 feet up" and it will take you there.
Interesting situation... A blindfolded, straightjacketed sorcerer who can cast Dimension Door can teleport 800 feet at a time - but is still blindfolded and straightjacketed wherever he goes unless he can find someone to help him.
There's no rule anywhere saying that the restraints go with him. He simply teleports out of the blindfold, straightjacket, and sack. The hard part would be beating the Concentration check.

So they pick and choose what comes with them?

Or do they wind up totally naked every time?

If they pick and choose, is this a rule or an assumption?

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Slit through the neck or blade through the heart... pick one... or both.

Unless the person is a weak spellcaster, there's no sense in trying to cage one.


LazarX wrote:
Slit through the neck or blade through the heart... pick one... or both.

Doesn't have to be lethal - just keep them stable at negative HP.


Matthew Downie wrote:
LazarX wrote:
Slit through the neck or blade through the heart... pick one... or both.
Doesn't have to be lethal - just keep them stable at negative HP.

This is what we usually do.

We also get them rip-roaring drunk. Just because.


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
alexd1976 wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:
Matthew Downie wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:
If your gear melds into you, I fail to see how it can continue restraining you. You don't need line of sight for dimension door. You could say "800 feet up" and it will take you there.
Interesting situation... A blindfolded, straightjacketed sorcerer who can cast Dimension Door can teleport 800 feet at a time - but is still blindfolded and straightjacketed wherever he goes unless he can find someone to help him.
There's no rule anywhere saying that the restraints go with him. He simply teleports out of the blindfold, straightjacket, and sack. The hard part would be beating the Concentration check.

So they pick and choose what comes with them?

Or do they wind up totally naked every time?

A spellcaster has always had the ability to take or leave things when teleporting (subject to spell limitations).

Matthew Downie wrote:
LazarX wrote:
Slit through the neck or blade through the heart... pick one... or both.
Doesn't have to be lethal - just keep them stable at negative HP.

Sounds expensive. Wouldn't nonlethal damage be a better alternative in most situations?


Ravingdork wrote:
Matthew Downie wrote:
LazarX wrote:
Slit through the neck or blade through the heart... pick one... or both.
Doesn't have to be lethal - just keep them stable at negative HP.
Sounds expensive. Wouldn't nonlethal damage be a better alternative in most situations?

Get an imp to punch them every hour.

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