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The Gates of Adventure!

Written by Nicholas - Published on December 18, 2009

Nicholas is the columnist in charge of Nerd Watching and part-time Expy wrangler. He also works as the community manager, so keep an eye out for him on RPG blogs and forums.

You would be hard pressed to find a gamer who really enjoys his character walking places. The passing of days without event, except for the possibility of a random encounter. It’s not really thrilling, is it? It’s no surprise that one of the biggest perks of gaining levels in nearly every game is the availability of better travel. Being able to afford mounts, gaining flight powers and the great of all, teleportation.

Teleporting multiple people, in this case an adventuring party, generally involves opening a portal. Typically characters can access portals in their mid-levels and then life is all wonderful. But you can have all sorts of fun playing with these portal assumptions.

Portals, Portals Everywhere

In your world portals and gates might be widely available. Perhaps there is a vast teleportation network maintained by a guild who offers it to the public for a very reasonable fee. Or maybe gates are an ancient technology, relics that sit around for a forgotten kingdom. Towns spring up around these portals and peasants travel using these handy but mysterious structures. In a world like this even level 1 characters can use these portals. Why bother with the tedium of walking? This method sets ups several other potential ideas.

Hmm, Wrong Turn

Portal rituals as written get your group from point A to B very reliably. But that’s no fun, is it? Characters can be waylaid into a new adventure. Maybe the teleportation gate is damaged and misses the mark. The exit portal could be damaged so they are deposited at the closet exit point, which happens to be in a hostile area. Maybe a faulty portal even thrusts them into another plane or time! Shows like Quantum Leap, Sliders and far too many terrible fish out of water time travel movies rely on the quirks of instant travel. You can surely find a use for it at least for a few sessions.

One Way Ticket

Often we think about portal gates either going to any other gate or being a tunnel that you can take either way. What if a portal get dropped the group in a specific place, but either by accident or design is unable to make a return trip. The players might do this on purpose if they have a time critical task, such as rescuing a dying prisioner, and they have no time to think about an escape route. This can be particularly fun if the players wind up in a tough environment, like the middle of a desert.

Anything to Declare

You can make portals a more conflicting option by placing restrictions on them. Maybe portals are unable to transport metal. Magical equipment might interfere with the teleportation, so it must be left behind. Let players know about the tough choice involved in getting there quickly. Next start pushing them until they decide they have to do it.


The opposite of portals everywhere, maybe portals are extremely tightly controlled. Creating them might be a lost art, punishable by a powerful guild or simply an illegal act. That means the teleportation circles that do exist are rare and restricted. They might be maintained by powerful institutions in a political game. What favors and dark deals must the group make in order to gain access to a portal? In a more combat oriented game, gates could be a valuable commodity seized by militaries and monsters. Players can get there in a hurry but then have to fight their way out.

Do you use teleportation in your game? What rules govern it? Let us know in the comments!

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Written by Nicholas

Nick DiPetrillo is the original author behind the games Arete and Zombie Murder Mystery available at http://games.dungeonmastering.com

Nick is no longer active with DungeonMastering.com, however he is an accomplished writer and published his first game in 2009.

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Nicholas is the columnist in charge of Nerd Watching and part-time Expy wrangler. He also works as the community manager, so keep an eye out for him on RPG blogs and forums.



5 Responses to “The Gates of Adventure!”
  1. Esspkay says:

    With teleportation circles in every city, one would wonder why anyone would need to venture into the wilderness at all! That, in itself, could be an interesting world quirk. Armies amassing right in the shadow of these linked cities; untamed and all but forgotten wildernesses at your doorstep. A false sense of security is a fun thing to cheat.

  2. person says:

    the usefulness of that depends on how devious a dm you are, if you are really mean you could have enemy armies appear in the town square out of nowhere, and even without that, let’s say some super-monsters evolved in the wilderness without humanoids to kill them when they got 2 dangerous, and it could break through the walls
    it could even be as little but as important as all animals becoming their dire forms after some sort of radiation-esque magical thing on the portal “paths”

  3. Johnn says:

    My last campaign was based entirely by accident on the PCs being unable to stop the villain from opening a portal to Shadowfell.

    GMs can get additional teleport advice by watching Star Trek (especially the 60s version) and substituting the words transporter problem for teleport fumble.

  4. Elderon says:

    I remember once that I tried using a teleportation circle turns out I was a “little” TOO BIG. I hated that day. I almost lost a wing and half my tail. It took a week for them to finish materializing.


Check out what others are saying about this post...
  1. […] The Gates of Adventure! When mid-to-high-level PCs start roaming the world, they abandon their trusty steeds and turn to the nearest teleportation device/spell or the closest portal or summoning circle for getting from point A to point B. This is just a given fact, and it drives some GMs madly insane. If you’re one of those GMs, then check out the post over at Dungeon Mastering. […]

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