This January, Tales of a GM is proud to host the RPG Blog Carnival. I enjoyed connecting with so many bloggers last summer, so I wanted to repeat the experience in 2016.
The monthly Blog Carnival was launched by the RPG Blog Alliance. This group disbanded in 2015, but the Carnival was too good an idea to fade away. Thus, it migrated to a new home under the care of Johnn Four at his Roleplaying Tips website.
Every month, the host launches a new theme for the travelling Carnival. During January, this page will act as the central list for all the articles. If you have written something as part of the Carnival, then please leave a comment and a link here, so everyone can find your page. During the month I shall write a couple of contributions, probably based around some of the ideas suggested below.
At the end of January, I shall write a short compilation article uniting all the submissions. I look forward to reading the contributions.
But first, we need a theme.
Gates and Portals
Inspired by the season once again, the theme for the January Carnival is Gates and Portals. January is a transitional month for many people. We are embarking on a new year, a new adventure in life. This is the time for resolutions and fresh starts, where we try to transform some aspect of our life. January can be the gateway to a new path in life.
Such transformations can be true for the characters in our games. There are many ways to step into a new world, or embark on personal transformation. Here are some ways you could explore the topic of Gates and Portals:
- Planar Gates
- Fantastic Portals
- Gate Guardians
- God of Gates
- Personal Growth
Before examining the potential categories of Gates and Portals, here is a quick note on the inspiration for this theme. January may have been named after the Roman god Janus, as there is a strong thematic link between the month and his portfolio. The other contender is Juno, but for the purposes of this Carnival, I was thinking of Janus.
The ancient Roman deity Janus, or Ianus, was the god of beginnings and transitions. He was thus the god of gates, portals, doors, doorways and passages. Janus had a strong connection with travel and journeys.
He was commonly depicted as having two faces, representing his ability to look into the past and the future. Thus, he represented beginnings and endings of events. This broadened out his interests to births, deaths, personal transitions and even historical events.
The range of Janus’ portfolio is reflected in the scope of this month’s theme for the Blog Carnival.
The most obvious incarnation of this theme, and directly linked to Janus, is the planar gate. This topic is uppermost in my mind as our Tales of the Hero Wars campaign is currently set in Sigil. Planar Gates need not be quite the puzzle they are in the City of Doors, you could describe a simple gate location.
A gate to an elemental realm may create a perpetual supply of one element. An open gate to the Plane of Water makes for an interesting location in a desert environment.
You could choose to write about more mundane gates and portals. Anything from the gatehouse into the Imperial Palace, to an ornate stone entrance into a lost dungeon. Fantasy gaming has long been about exploring forgotten locations, and every such location must have an entrance. Perhaps there are clues or magical runes hidden within the stone carvings.
Any of the gates suggested above could have interesting guardians. The door itself may be sentient, or maybe the ramparts above the gate are heavily guarded. A well-stocked gate house could constitute a satisfying mini-dungeon all by itself.
If the trans-planar gates appeal to you, then you could write about the mages who create them. Is there a Guild of Portalwrights, who control the manufacture and operation of these planar gates? Or perhaps there is an order of sages dedicated to mapping every such gate in the land.
God of Gates
You could take your inspiration direct from the source, and add a god of gates and portals to your campaign world. This could be inspired by Janus, although you may want to find a different name. Or there could be a demon lord of gates, who waits to snatch those travellers who use a gate without the correct Ritual of Opening.
Finally, you could take the more philosophical approach, and write about achieving personal growth in an RPG.
This could just be a new Prestige Class. However, all manner of resolutions and physical transformations fit within this theme. There can be many ways for an individual to achieve a personal change, tools which act as a gateway to a new individual.
As you can see, there are lots of ways to write about gates and portals. You can choose a narrow interpretation, and write about some of the gates found in your game. Alternatively, you could explore the organisations who focus on the creation, defence or lore of gates and portals. Finally, you may take a broad interpretation and discuss personal growth and transformation. Once again, there should be enough scope in this topic for everyone. I look forward to reading your submissions to the January RPG Blog Carnival.
Please leave a link, and perhaps a brief introduction, for your submission for the January Carnival in the comments below.
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