Feb 12

Gates & Portals Blog Carnival Summary


RPGBlogCarnivalLogoSmallThe 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.


I announced the topic, and provided some options, in the launch article.





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.


G&P Summary QuoteThese categories are:

  • Gates in Games
  • Gate Magic
  • Magic Items
  • Gate Guardians
  • Planar Travel
  • Locations


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.


Gate Magic

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.


Magic Items

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.


Gate Guardians

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.


Planar Travel

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.



Happy Gaming



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4 pings

  1. […] My five previous contributions are listed in the Carnival summary article. […]

  2. […] The host for the January event was here at Tales of a GM, where the topic was Gates & Portals. […]

  3. […] Next I ran Gates & Portals in January 2016. […]

  4. […] I summarized the Gates & Portals Blog Carnival here […]

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