Saturday, 12 April 2014

3DPBMCSHMtm: gates, pools & windows

Portal Gate by Elartwyne@DeviantArt
In this part of the 3DPBMCSHMtm, some mechanisms of travel between the worlds are considered.  These are not the only ways to travel. Their relative scarcity outside Bellotra makes them noteworthy.

Gates in Theory and Practice

Gates are powerful magic indeed.  Bellotran lore on gates notes difficulty in their creation without aid from the Ten Thousand Worlds. Yet Bellotra is riddled with gates.  The nature of the gates may mean problems. Elemental Plane portals chance eruption.  Astral and Ethereal gates are unreliable due to planar weather.  Gates to other Material Planes are stable but inherently risky.  Gates to the Ten Thousand Worlds are paradoxically the most stable but least trusted.

They appear in a variety of forms.  Portals or doorways, geometric energy manifestations, even bizarre machines.  Other forms have been found elsewhere.  Yet the gate will connect two planes in space and time, allowing transit from either side.  Triggering actions may activate a passive gate.

Particularly ancient or poorly-maintained gates risk gate poisoning.  Arcane energy from elemental corrosion invisibly poisons users.  Steady exposure will slowly kill corporeal beings unless they are resistant to acid damage.  A poisoned gate inflicts one permanent point of damage each time it is used.  Poisoned gate damage requires potent magic.  Heal will only cure 1d4 damage of this kind.

Windows upon Other Worlds

For those without powerful magic, a simpler spell can create a planar window.  These are typically as large as a shield.  Windows seldom allow sound transmission (1 in 6).  Spells that expand sensory perception may be cast 'through' a window.  It is notable some windows open to disturbing vistas.

A few (1 in 12) windows are one-way and allow sound to travel through them.  These are prized by thsoe in the know.  Despite being invisible to mundane senses, they still attract attention as scrying attempts to the powerful.

Additional magics permit communication or travel through a window though the latter is often quite cramped for most spell casters.  Certain outsiders from the Ten Thousand Worlds use windows to speak via telepathy to their allies.

Table: Windows upon Other Worlds (roll d12)

  1. One-way window that allows sound. 
  2. Allows sound.
  3. Allows sound.
  4. Normal window
  5. Normal window.
  6. Colour shift towards red part of spectrum.  Violet appears black.  Infravision gets +10'. 
  7. Colour shift towards violet part of spectrum.  Red appears black.  Low-light vision gets +10'.
  8. Concealed by drape or soft furnishing. 
  9. Guarded by beast with gaze attack (DM's call).  Doesn't work through window, good for a laugh.
  10. Displays permanent illusion.  Roll 1d6.
    1. Boudoir of pleasure slaves of various races lounging about indolently. 
    2. Dusty outdoor gladiator training ground with gladiators practising their combat drills. 
    3. Aviary filled with small birds of motley hue and a human skeleton stripped of all flesh. 
    4. Log cabin with hearth filled with blazing log fire that never burns down.
    5. Never-ending rain of neon-green runes into darkness.  Oddly soothing to watch.
    6. Darkness with pearlescent runes that state
  11. Sealed with cold iron shutters and locked  from other side.  Might be a challenge, that.
  12. Disturbing vista.  This causes a saving throw or causes a viewer to become shaken (-2 to hit and saving throws) for 1d12 hours. 

Pools of Eerie Hue and Reflection

Pools are membraneous, blurry windows to other worlds.  Sound doesn't travel and the image is like a magic-eye painting.  The membrane feels warm and amniotic and can be breached by pushing against it for a round.  This lets you reach into that world and if you want, force your way into it.

From the other side, someone breaching looks odd. The membrane makes faces seem inhuman.  Once the breach completes, others can pull you through.  For some pools, this can be unfortunate.  Devils are fond of dragging unfortunates into their Hell via pools and then claiming the trespasser.

The membrane heals over after each breach, needing to be forced through each time.  The size of a pool is typically 1d20+12 inches across.  The membrane is impermeable to spells and effects.  Breaching allows the casting of magic into the otherworld.

Remaining in a breached membrane for longer than seven rounds attracts the attention of local wildlife. Creatures of animal intelligence or lower are hostile to any lasting breach and attack the breacher.  The animals experience a painful pulsing in their heads alleviated by the breach being sealed over.

Famous crossing-points

The following are referred to in various places. Musty academician texts in the Chained Library at Rulby. The Saffron Enchiridon displayed at the House of Mordiggian.  A remembrance wall along one of Nidal's Tunnels. Those who find these gates, portals and windows face wonderful opportunity and great dangers.

Green Chapel (Altorr)

Hidden in a forest, this overgrown chapel to Saint-George is festooned with saplings and brambles.  This has been abandoned for years.  Once breached, the nave is adorned with a portal made entirely of human skulls nailed together.  By pouring blood through the portal, a two-way gate to Bellotra is opened.  This gate leads to a crypt in the House of Mordiggian.  Furthermore, the crypt of the Green Chapel contains a second gate! A frost-rimed stone arch leading to and from a Carcetan tomb-arch in Klar Shkent.  Both gates enter darkened places.

Horns of Elbram (Bellotra)

In a public park, three marble crescents rise from a staired pillar five storeys high.  On ascending the stair, you have three openings. The northern one goes to an icy glacier under endless snow (the para-Elemental Plane of Ice).  Southeast takes you to a sandy beach with palm trees (Elysium) while southwest opens into an ancient coliseum under a grey sky (Hades/The Grey Wastes).  The name Elbram is lost in antiquity as is the reason for making the gates.  The gates are also one-way. Returning is an exercise for the traveller.

Machinery of Assilha (Bellotra)

Locked in a noble's basement, this ornate device is regarded as the pinnacle of gatecrafting.  Made of brass valves and panels etched with profane sigils,  it is 10' across.  Activation needs an Intelligence check.  Once this is done, travel is possible.  A second Intelligence check is needed to choose the desired location. Failing means a random location is determined (roll 1d6).

  1. The Rock of Agonies in Altorr, where atonement for your misdeeds can be earned by being chained   to it for a lunar cycle.  Watch out for the roc.
  2. A disused courtyard in The City of Brass. If visitors tarry too long, they risk arrest by an efreet for intrusion into a palace.
  3. A long-forgotten atrium in the Elemental Plane of Earth.  Dusty, dirty and quiet.  Drag marks on the floor indicate heavy items were moved. 
  4. A fast-flowing saltwater bore in the Elemental Plane of Water.  Entering enables the crossing of long distances at ten miles an hour plus the character's swimming rate.  The hard part is not being disorientated by buffeting currents.  Leaving the bore requires swimming at double the normal speed or sinking by weighing more than 500lbs.
  5. A grey cloud island spinning slowly clockwise in the Elemental Plane of Air.  Heavy enough to support anyone without flight.  Chunks of purest silver can be carved from it's edges.
  6. The northern edge of Ankanyn in Carcetus. This massive crevasse is home to shantak who launch    themselves from their edgeside nests to hunt and sing songs of doom into the abyss in Aklo.   

 The gate remains open until it is closed (this requires a successful Intelligence check)

Pit of al-Kaiss (Bellotra)

This gate is laid flat on a dais in an open courtyard in the fetid Rotten Burgs.  The gate falls into a massive, gullet-shaped pit on the Elemental Plane of Earth, studded with large quartz crystals.  It resembles nothing so much as the maw of a purple worm carved out of rock.  The Pit is used as prison and mine.  Convicts are sent in to carve out stone and quartz.  There is a 1 in 6 chance each day of an eruption.  1d6 boulders are hurled out in random directions up to 30' distance doing 2d6 damage to whatever they hit.

Sigard's Escape (Carcetus)

This is concealed in a permanent illusion of a ceiling cave-in surrounded by bubbling alkali puddles.  Walking through the cave-in reveals a chilly alcove.  This holds a sea-smelling verdant sphere of guttering illumination and scattered rust grains on the floor.  Entering gates delvers to an aurora-lit beach of ochre rust grains on an icy sea.  This southern rust beach on the Chill Sea of Bellotra is unoccupied.  Behind is a flickering red sphere.  This returns to before the verdant sphere.


  1. Good stuff! The red and blue shifts are particularly inspired.

    1. Thanks! Your stuff on the Elemental Planes reminded me of good stuff about gates elsewhere which got things rolling...

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