Friday, November 4, 2016

Traditional RPG Portals Vs. Dynamic Elemental Portals

Read PORTALS MANUAL to empower your games with portals, and expand your repertoire in game mastering with multiple dimensional constructs. Add over 40 portals of power to your bag of tricks. Implement new vorpal weaponry in your arsenal. Inscribe new Necro elite spells into your tome of power! 

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. A closed in arena, for instance, may have portals of particular elemental nature, and perhaps even a diabolic or necro portal. Warping from other elemental planes, or smashing through the locks and guards across the galaxy, monsters emerge from four towering portals (rolling d20) they attack!

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.

high level w/ portals both hidden and visible, by Thomas P. Walton
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.

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 awarded or bestowed upon player characters (See the original Portal Master’s Guide [Gui de Mestre Portal]).

Portals also present solutions to problems. Consider their myriad uses.

A necro portal, for instance, may act as a gateway to the deceased spirits with knowledge of hidden treasure rooms.

Mylia places the urn containing the ashes and bone of bygone king Ashram on the alter before a 9’ black mirror standing in the center of the chamber. A smoky mist rises from the urn, and without warning a grim and ancient face forms on the black mirror. Aritole pores over a book written in an arcane language, when his cry of “ah-hah!” startles everyone. “I’ve found the name of the long dead steward of Kryarthenon!”

While the necro portal in this example merely summons the souls of the dead into a vessel, there are far other uses for necromancy in role-playing adventures. For instance, the infamous necromancer elite has been building a series of doors between strategic areas for an undead strike on the town of Caladrake or some other realm.
portal router sample, Thomas P. Walton

A portal router will help the game master keep track of where undead emerge from, and where the players can travel to other maps, and so on.

Portals in most games are merely the pinnacle between dimensions, or the threshold between two separate places. In the Nine Portals universe such portals are the conduits of the gods, maintained by the elusive fiery spirits of the netherworld.

To be continued...

Relevant books:
Portal Master's Guide - 1st edition

Ultimate Portal Master's Guide

Book of Doors RPG

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