The January Blog Carnival was hosted by Tales of a GM.
As my final duty as host, this article brings together all of the essays submitted to the Carnival. The theme I chose for January was Gates & Portals.
In total, Gates & Portals received 28 submissions, some of them I found elsewhere on the internet, and added them to the Carnival myself. For the purpose of this summary, I grouped the articles according to their content, then listed them in the chronological sequence found in the launch posts. I hope this proves useful to you.
These categories are:
- Gates in Games
- Gate Magic
- Magic Items
- Gate Guardians
- Planar Travel
Gates in Games
This is something of a catchall category, and by far the broadest section of this summary. It should be no surprise, when you ask RPG bloggers to write about Gates & Portals, that the response is a slew of articles about gates in games. While many people wrote about a particular gate, others took a broader look at the topic. These articles illustrate a deep thematic link between gates and our great hobby.
The articles about gates in gaming were:
- Ryan, at Mysterious Lever, posted a short piece discussing how to use portals as story hook.
- Alan at Mythusmage wrote a theoretical article about travel and gates.
- Fitz, at Moebius Adventures, listed the potential properties of gates. Fitz expanded on this concept by providing a detailed history for a free-standing gate.
- Rodney, at Rising Phoenix Games, wrote a general article about the story potential of gates.
- Lowell, at Age of Ravens, presented a very cool campaign structure, with nested settings and portals between them. I would love to play in this game.
- Abigail, at the Triangular Room, explored the fundamental concept of RPGs as gateways to other worlds. This was Abigail’s first ever contribution to a Blog Carnival. Despite being one of the last articles submitted, this is probably the best place to start on the metagame topic of gates in games.
- Finally, and probably most tangentially, my fourth article for the Gates & Portals presented a first look at personal growth in RPGs. Instead of the linear levelling up, Heroes can broaden their skills, or be entirely transformed.
- This topic proved so fruitful, I split my original essay into two parts. Thus, I submitted a bonus fifth article on the topic. Here I explored some negative types of character growth found in RPGs. I included a d12 table for each of the three categories of scars: physical, emotional and social.
The second category of articles deals with magic focused on the gates themselves. In a weird balance, only two articles qualify for this section: one uses magic to open gates, the other to close them.
- Aaron, at the Doom Rides to Silverado blog, submitted a Weird West contribution to the topic. His article is a fascinating look at a Traversal Ritual for FATE, alongside a pair of guides who employ the ritual.
- VA, at Leicester’s Ramble, presented the reverse angle on the topic, with this article about wards.
Many gates are magical in nature. It is therefore inevitable that a fantasy campaign involving planar gates will also feature magical items associated with gates. There were many submissions on this topic.
- The first entry is from Sean, at Sea of Stars, who described a portable assault gate which will revolutionize siege warfare.
- Next is a second contribution from Sean, at Sea of Stars. His second article was about Death’s Doorway Ring, a brilliant magical item with a clever drawback.
- Aaron, at the Doom Rides to Silverado blog, also contributed more than once. This time Aaron listed three magic items, one of which cleverly includes a riddle activation. My Players would love that combination.
- Next is yet another contribution from Sean, at Sea of Stars. Sean proved to be a regular contributor. Many thanks, Sean. This third article was about the Gatebreaker Javelin, a magical weapon designed to close portals.
- Tim, at Another Caffeinated Day, wrote an article about a magical item linked to the stars.
Not all gates are guarded by magic. Some have a guardian creature to protect them, such as found in these essays.
- Fitz, at Moebius Adventures, presented three gate guardians. One of these options references Janus, the inspiration for the Gates & Portals topic.
- My second submission to the Carnival was an essay about the Demon of the Gate. This demon lurks within the portal network, preying on unwary travellers.
When launching the Gates & Portals topic, the type of gate uppermost in my mind was the trans-planar portal. This did not prove a popular subject over the month, which goes to show both how poorly I know bloggers, as well as the breadth of interest within our hobby.
- My first submission to the Carnival was an essay about the Collegium of Planar Travel, and the portalwrights who construct the portal network.
- Mike, at Campaign Mastery, wrote four extensive articles about Portals as part of his November Blog Carnival. It is a little cheeky to include them here, as they were not written for the January Carnival. However, the depth and quality of these articles make them such great reading. I have bought supplements with less information than these essays. They are long articles, but worth the effort. I have written to Mike, and he is happy for me to link them here.
- The titles to these articles are:
- The Unexpected Neighbour: Portals to Celestial Morphology Pt 1
- Campaign Mastery: Destination Incognita: Portals to Celestial Morphology Pt 2
- The Shape Of Strange: Portals to Celestial Morphology Pt 3
- Feel The Burn: Portals to Celestial Morphology Pt 4
A far more popular subject than the planar gates were more mundane Gates & Portals. These will fit easily into many campaigns. The articles in this final category present gates, some hooks, and sometimes the broader landscape around the gate. These are a wonderful array of resources for a fantasy GM.
- Jaye, at 6d6 RPG, described three adventure seeds using gates. I especially liked the druid shepherds he mentioned.
- Malc, at Malcigg RPG, wrote about The Gate of Lamia’s Bounty, which fits easily into any fantasy setting.
- Fitz, at Moebius Adventures, was another regular contributor. This fascinating article outlined the properties of gates, accompanied by three sample gates.
- VA, at Leicester’s Ramble, also contributed more than once. Here VA wrote a clever scenario outline which works in either a fantasy or horror game.
- My third article for Gates & Portals presented a border location for a fantasy kingdom. The cool picture I used as inspiration also makes a great Player Handout.
- The final article is yet another from the prolific Sean, at Sea of Stars. Many thanks again, Sean. This article was about the Exile’s Gate, a planar portal every ruler is going to want.
Once again, the Blog Carnival drew in a fantastic range of articles. Yet again, I had fun interacting with so many bloggers. It is only a shame I have to wait until 2017 before I can host again.
How would you use planar gates in your campaign? Which gate location will you be using first? Do you have a favourite article? Has the thematic grouping of articles proved useful to you? Share your thoughts with fellow GMs in the comments below.
- Read more about the January RPG Blog Carnival at the launch page.
- Read more about the RPG Blog Carnival at Johnn Four’s Roleplaying Tips website.
- Do you need more Tales?
If you enjoyed this article, then please share it, or the associated quotations. You may also be interested in the following links:
- Something for the Weekend last week: Gates & Portals Personal Growth Part 2
- Something for the Weekend next week: RPGs & Player Growth