TRADITIONAL VS. DYNAMIC PORTALS
Portals—whether they function traditionally or dynamically—play an important part in the process of storytelling for role-playing games.
You detect a slight draft in the south junction of the temple, and in an alcove at the south-east corner of the oratory you can see a faint beam of light touch the head of Abraxar upon the altar of Arathor.
Typically, a game master will decide on whether to make a portal visible or to merely hint at the presence of a portal. The decision to make a portal obvious may have everything or nothing to do with the sequences of events and encounters that the game master has planned out for players. Yet, making this distinction between the obvious and elusive portal is the craft of the cunning game master. (The process of declaring a portal is predetermined in the master control document, or it may be annotated on the portals router with a simple hash mark or other indicator of the game master’s preference). Players who can see a portal may be tempted to enter the portal without having a better look around the environment. Perhaps, keeping the portal in the shadows will allow for a more likely encounter with pursuers coming up the rampart on the heels of the players. There are myriad reasons to consider forehand the nature of portals when plotting a router.
In essence, portals are traditionally considered a magical passageway through space/ time between two places. For the most part, this default is largely agreed upon. Dynamic portals, however, greatly enhance the overall richness of fantasy-adventure storytelling.
Fundamentally, dynamic portals are constructs of magic which are deeply rooted in ancient lore or elemental properties. To make more sense of such diversity in portals, the entire portal system is divided into a hierarchy of greater and lesser gates.
The archetypal portals, those portals which existed in the beginning of the physical universe, are classified as Greater Portals or primordial portals. Within the category of the greater portals are the primary portals (ice/ fire/ water/ air), secondary portals (metal/ poison/ gas/ necro), and the one ultimate portal (earth).
Lesser portals are those portals which are in common use, namely variants of the traditional portal. These portals include, but are not limited to, the following categories: chaos, techno, and supernatural.
The greatest exception, and by far the most diverse of portals, is the chaos portal. While chaos portals are considered lesser portals, the power of such portals is unbound by the laws of order. This means that chaos portals do not heed any laws of the greater elemental portals, and can be used to move from anyplace on one map to anyplace on the same map or any other map. Thus, chaos portals can act as a conduit between realms of extreme opposites, or simply teleport a wizard from his front door to the local tavern on the same map.
Diversity in portals procures consequences in game play, particularly for the player characters. There are as many mutations and psychological effects from some portals as there are various gifts and experience points which may be earned or bestowed upon player characters.