I think it’s fair to say that I love a good portal in D&D (less so in Dresden Files, where occasionally you end up on the surface of the Sun).
I’ve been taking a look through 6 Legendary Dungeon Doors from Dreadful Dungeons – that’s the free preview supplement to Deadly Dungeon Doors.
The book gives a sample of locked and trapped doors appearing in dungeons and other legendary locations, along with ways to unlock and disarm them – and the nasty damage they do if you don’t!
And this gave me ideas for portals… less traps, more locks (though I’m not above some traps too), and for some description.
The way portals are generally handled, you need to know where one is, where it goes, and how to unlock it. You might also need to know if it’s one-way or two-way, and whether it phases or is temporary, though some adventurers won’t think to check this out.
For this post, let’s say you want to be a bit more heavy-handed with how your portals are linking their ends together.
We don’t need to be too obvious with all our permanent portals – the architecture around the main portal from Sigil to the City of Brass might be obviously Efreet in design, but what’s happening at the least-known portal? The one around the back of the flophouse, off that sidestreet over there, you know, the one you have to walk through the backdoor backwards whilst saying hello in Ignan? Pops you out in the Souk in the Brass’ foreigner’s quarter?
If we’re going with sensory clues, then walking through the door in any manner should give a blast of hot air of indiscernible origin, along with the smell of sulphur or hot metal, and maybe a snatch of conversations in all kinds of languages.
Let’s say, for some reason, you might be looking for a portal to the Rock of Bral. That’s a Spelljammer location, so let’s have some fun with it.
It’s in a seldom-travelled part of town. Nearby stones float slightly above the ground, spinning, and clouds of dust might do the same. There’s smell of ash and ozone (because let’s think about the smell of moon rock and spacecraft).
Oh, and there’s probably a Krajen, just for fun.
The portal key is either the Krajen, or some part of it (blood I guess?), or a knowledge of spelljamming focused upon whilst crossing the threshold.
At some point, I need to write a post of ideas for portal keys and portals. I’ll have to add that to my list.