I’ve been poking around at a bunch of planescape stuff, and I really do love it, but I feel that there’s a lack of good procedure*** for when players are just hopping around through all the portals everywhere into strange environs, specially in sigil which is supposed to have a portal up every alleyway. I was wondering if people had any ideas for making procedure for locating, using, and coming out of portals as well as ‘running’ through them rapidly (ideas needn’t be planescape orientated either, just general portal hopping).
I feel there’s definitely a niche open for this procedure beyond typical, describe environs, players react, since often portal hopping games assume a certain familiarity and common usage of the portals (even if the other side may be strange).
So far my thoughts are maybe some kind of encounter esq rolls for finding portals, modified by the players traveling rate?
*** Procedure being the sort of structure overtop individual potentially swap-out-able mechanics, stuff like procedure for dungeon crawling where you describe room, players react/move, roll encounters, etc… so broader structure of how you go about play.
Are you looking for procedures for actively looking for portals or rather procedures for accidentally stumbling into portals? Or both?
I’ve been working on some related planescape-y procedures recently.
When it comes to dealing with internationally accessing and opening Sigil-style portals, the simple approach I’ve been toying with is basically:
Sigil-style portals all have a key.
Drop hooks about enticing places to go through various portals and/or figure out what places the PCs want to go.
Treat knowledge (complete or partial) of what the key is to these portals and/or their location as a ‘rumor’ - I.e. something you just give the players. Make the key something interesting and likely difficult to procure, a sincere compliment from a demon, divine mucous, etc.
Then let the PCs go off developing shenanigans to get the key…adventure ensues. And then when the key/macguffin is found, they’ve got the key and can go through the portal to do something else cool. (I’ve been working on some procedures/tables geared towards quickly generating something interesting on the other side of a portal, but that’s sort of another topic.)
Both methinks, something versatile, perhaps manner of searching could be tied into some portal finding rolls, easier rolls if your just getting to known portals, harder if your stumbling upon em?
Admittedly this is not exactly a gameplay mechanic per se so maybe not quite what you’re looking for, but I came up with an idea a while back that may interest you. I was reconceptualizing the positive and negative planes, where basically they’re like different frequencies and you can filter your perception to traverse them, and somebody said they thought it could make for a cool Planescape mechanic.
I’d like to mention Paolo Greco’s Kefitzah Haderech, as there are some fun procedures and tables there. I have the print version but NOT the pdf so I can’t screencap anything. Here is a review from Endzeitgeist.
I still have not read that but it’s been on my radar for forever!
Ye something like that, maybe something with adding/changing number of dice per circumstance/how hard your looking?
Hm… I’ve run a campaign where the focus was there were portals, but it was a forbidden practice to use. So there are portals sprinkled around the world. Each had a variety of level to them; depending on its creation. eg: A quick jump to a nearby town (common) VS another plane (rare) with different mechanics eg: gravity is heavier or the air corrodes all metal.
Keys are needed where it be a phrase, item or smell. The prep itself is basic as I prepare two quick common portals for the PCs to stumble upon via rumors or chance (adds a different favour to traversing - some portals are guarded so there might be encounters within).
Then only one plane jumping one. This would require a bit more prep with hook and some puzzle solving. I would write brief location pros n cons of features of the potential world, and maybe secrets and clues to keep things on track if needed…
Though I do specify that since portals are forbidden, there are rumours of “portal watchers” still active in the realm. so there’s always that to keep timelines in check. Their sole purpose is to track and document the portals and decommission any nefarious one or one’s beings used for that reason.
I loved in Doom 3 where they’d built teleporters for shipping cargo from point A to B yet when you finally go through one there is a microsecond of flying through tunnels of screaming hot flesh. Made me think about where wormholes exist and what planes or elements they pass through.
In the game there are voice logs about people using the portals too much having side effects so I factor that into the same idea. Like going through a portal that passes through the elemental plane of water. It’s only an instant but they dream of the ocean for a week. Or you can throw in a save for repeated use and if they fail, they have nightmares of drowning and wake up vomiting seawater. Succeed and they can breathe underwater for up to an hour at a time.
Hmm, so my stumbling block so far seems to be that I can whip up something very utilitarian easily for finding doors, but I want something fun that makes portal-hopping feel like a bit of an adventure while still being procedural enough Im not having to make up whole micro-adventure setups on the fly.
Maybe setting it up like a big carousing table type deal, where you can spend resources to get higher/more specific results, but there’s a bunch of random results you could end up with in the process?
Or perhaps something that generates doors with like Costs or Impasses attached to them combined with a spend X to get results table. So you could get lucky and find what you need but you might also end up with a choose between door A) which puts you out close but not quite where you want or door B) which you have to pay a big brute gatekeeper to pass through (or knock them out or whatever)