GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 22: Gates

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Table of contents :
Publication History
About the Author
1. Gates and the Campaign
What Are Gates?
Gate Types
Teleportation Portals
Interdimensional Portals
Time Portals
Arranging Gates
City of Gates
Nexus of Worlds
Gate Hopping
The Hybrid Game
Portal Item
Mobile Base
Why Go In?
Gate and Traits
2. Gate Rules
Gate “Physics”
Gate Traffic Flows
Use and Abuse of Gates
Anti-Magic Gates
Damaging Gates
Password Gates
Unreliable Gates
Gates and Magic
3. Sample Destinations
Islands in the Clouds
Jester Gates
Ape World
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GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 22: Gates

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Written by PETER V. DELL’ORTO Edited by SEAN PUNCH Illustrated by GRANDE DUC GURPS System Design z STEVE JACKSON GURPS Line Editor z SEAN PUNCH GURPS Project Manager z STEVEN MARSH Production Artist z NIKOLA VRTIS GURPS FAQ Maintainer z VICKY “MOLOKH” KOLENKO

Chief Executive Officer z PHILIP REED Chief Creative Officer z SAM MITSCHKE Chief Operating Officer z SUSAN BUENO Director of Sales z ROSS JEPSON Page Design z PHIL REED and JUSTIN DE WITT ­­­Art Direction and Prepress Checker z NIKOLA VRTIS

Reviewers: Steven Marsh and Phil Masters Special Thanks: Raggi’s Roughnecks (Andy Dokachev, Jack Dokachev, Mike Dokachev, Mike Hornbostel, andi jones, Marshall LaPira, Owen LaPira, Vic LaPira, Jon Lay, John Milkewicz, Sean Nealy, and Tom Pluck) GURPS, Pyramid, Warehouse 23, the pyramid logo, Dungeon Fantasy, and the names of all products published by Steve Jackson Games Incorporated are trademarks or registered trademarks of Steve Jackson Games Incorporated, or used under license. The fictional Felltower setting and all associated people, places, and events are the property of Peter V. Dell’Orto, and used here with permission. GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 22: Gates is copyright © 2021 by Steve Jackson Games Incorporated. All rights reserved. Some images used under license from The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this material via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal, and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage the electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.


Version 1.0 – September 2021


Contents Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2

Publication History . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 About the Author . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2

1. Gates and the Campaign . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 What Are Gates? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 About GURPS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Gate Types . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Teleportation Portals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Interdimensional Portals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Time Portals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

3 4 4 4 4

Arranging Gates . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Hub-and-Spoke . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . City of Gates . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Megadungeon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Nexus of Worlds . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Gate Hopping . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Hybrid Game . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Portal Item . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Mobile Base . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5

Placement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Why Go In? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6

Gate and Traits . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6

2. Gate Rules . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Gate “Physics” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Gate Traffic Flows . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Use and Abuse of Gates . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Anti-Magic Gates . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Damaging Gates . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Password Gates . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Unreliable Gates . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

7 8 8 8 8 8

3. Sample Destinations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Gates and Magic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8

Olympus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Islands in the Clouds . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Jester Gates . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Ape World . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10


One promise of GURPS – implied if not directly stated – is discussions of gates in GURPS Magic and GURPS Dungeon the possibility of cross-world gaming. You could have worlds Fantasy 21: Megadungeons. with magic, worlds with other powers, worlds full of animal-men, worlds full of . . . anything. The bout Basic Set offers Infinite Worlds, a campaign of travel to such realms. It matters not how the uthor This idea isn’t new to GURPS, nor to fanstrait the gate. Peter V. Dell’Orto was raised tasy gaming. Gates to other worlds, strange in New Jersey. He started roleportals dropping delvers into steaming jun– William Ernst Henley playing in 1981, with Dungeons gles straight out of monster movies, devices & Dragons, and has played taking adventures to settings lifted from GURPS since Man to Man. He has been active as a GURPS classic fiction, and so on abound in the early history of fantasy playtester, editor, and author since 1996. Peter is the author roleplaying games. The idea that there are other dimensions, of numerous GURPS articles for Pyramid magazine; author other realities for your sword-and-sorcery-wielding treasure of GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 12: Ninja, GURPS Dungeon hunters to go to is central to the cosmology of most fantasy. Fantasy Denizens: Barbarians, GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Video games show this a lot of love, too – nothing beats a Monsters 3: Born of Myth & Magic, GURPS Dungeon doorway to another universe to let you mash up genres or Fantasy Treasures 3: Artifacts of Felltower, and GURPS locations without a lot of philosobabble and handwaving. Dungeon Fantasy 21: Megadungeons; and co-author of It is high time for GURPS Dungeon Fantasy to tackle GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 15: Henchmen, GURPS Dungeon this directly! Gates got a short mention in GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Monsters 1, GURPS Low-Tech, GURPS Low-Tech Fantasy 21: Megadungeons, but there’s so much more that Companion 2: Weapons and Warriors, GURPS Martial Arts, can go into gates and gate-centric campaigns. Let’s cast and GURPS Martial Arts: Gladiators. He also writes the Scry Gate and see what stepping through might bring to blog Dungeon Fantastic at, your games. where summaries of his 150+ sessions of play can be found. Outside of gaming, his hobbies include martial arts (he has ublication istory fought amateur MMA in the SHOOTO organization in Japan and submission grappling in the U.S., and holds a shodan rank This is the first edition of GURPS Dungeon Fantasy in kendo), fitness, and studying Japanese. 22: Gates. All materials are new to this work but build on









Chapter One

Gates and the Campaign Gates can have a tremendous impact on a campaign. They can be a useful way to connect a “mundane” fantasy world to odder or more specifically fantastical realms. They allow

connections between disparate places without all the trouble of traveling between them. But what are they, how do you use them, and what rules affect them?

What Are Gates? A gate is a supernatural connection between multiple locations, allowing those who pass through it to move from one place to another without traveling across whatever lies in between. These destinations can be remote physically, in time, or in reality from one another. They might be other dimensions, or just other spots in the same or similar worlds. Gates are also known as “portals,” “doorways,” or “wormholes” (at least when in space or a void of some kind). This work uses “gate” and “portal” interchangeably. Gates can have many possible origins. They might be created by wizards casting Create Gate. They could be opened when beings called by Planar Summons or Summon Demon

spells bring in more of their own kind. They might be literal wormholes left behind by Elder Things burrowing through reality – the hole between where they came from and where they went stays, allowing other travelers to use it! Too many such holes may warp the fabric of reality around the gates: High mana! Massively elevated odds of wandering monsters! An area Weirdness Magnet! Too many gates in one place could even threaten the world itself, making closing gates a priority . . . after you’ve used them to kill monsters and take their loot. Shutting down a given portal could require Control Gate, Remove Enchantment, a unique ritual, killing its creator, etc., as the GM likes.

About GURPS Steve Jackson Games is committed to full support of GURPS players. We can be reached by email: [email protected]. Our address is SJ Games, P.O. Box 18957, Austin, TX 78760. Resources include: New supplements and adventures. GURPS continues to grow – see what’s new at Warehouse 23. Our online store offers GURPS print items, plus PDFs of our books, supplements, adventures, play aids, and support . . . including exclusive material available only on Warehouse 23! Just head over to Pyramid ( For 10 years, our PDF magazine Pyramid included new rules and articles for GURPS, plus systemless locations, adventures, and more. The entire 122-issue library is available at Warehouse 23! Internet. To discuss GURPS with our staff and your fellow gamers, visit our forums at You can also join us at or Share your brief campaign teasers


with #GURPShook on Twitter. Or explore that hashtag for ideas to add to your own game! The web page for GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 22: Gates can be found at gurps. Store Finder ( Discover nearby places to buy GURPS items and other Steve Jackson Games products. Local shops are great places to play our games and meet fellow gamers! Bibliographies. Bibliographies are a great resource for finding more of what you love! We’ve added them to many GURPS book web pages with links to help you find the next perfect element for your game. Errata. Everyone makes mistakes, including us  – but we do our best to fix our errors. Errata pages for GURPS releases are available at Rules and statistics in this book are specifically for the GURPS Basic Set, Fourth Edition. Page references that begin with B refer to that book, not this one.

and the



Gate Types

There are three main kinds of gates: teleportation portals, interdimensional portals, and time portals.

Teleportation Portals These allow travel to and/or from other spots in the same world. Such a gate is a simple connection point between two places. These locations can be far apart – the frozen regions near the poles might be connected to a ruined temple to Elder Things in a steamy topical jungle – or close, such as another building, dungeon, or room mere yards away.

Interdimensional Portals These connect worlds or dimensions, letting delvers visit a place such as a parallel “mundane” world, the modern-day world, the realm of the Olympian gods (p. 9), or – always a classic – Hell itself, or some equally hellish world or netherworld. Visit a fictional locale, drop into a book or movie, or


explore a different genre or space by throwing down a convenient shimmering hole in reality. The basic reality of the destination can be wildly different: less magic, more magic, strange physics, etc. It could even be a dream world or afterlife, visited in all-too-physical form via the gate!

Time Portals These are rare in typical dungeon fantasy: They connect a point in a fantasy world with the same or another point in that world but during another era. They’re uncommon because most treatments of time travel feel too “scientific” – but also because Dungeon Fantasy normally assumes “TL Olden Times,” so going forward or backward in time generally only changes the people and places encountered. Travel to hightech, post-apocalyptic, or other science-fictional worlds is possible as well, but cross-TL looting (“Let’s bring X-ray laser pistols home!”) and technological skills (p. B168) can give the GM headaches. Alternatively, treat all high-tech items as alien artifacts (p. B478).

and the



Arranging Gates A campaign can feature gates just put down without a plan, as needed for a specific adventure, or opening and closing at random. But if gates are to be a central campaign element, a systematic treatment generally works better. Three approaches cover most of the possible ground.

standing doorways, or whatever) each of which contains a gate, or similar. Your basic maze-of-gates, seven-eyed wizard sitting at the heart of it all, gathering knowledge, is optional. Such places need a supernatural explanation (such as that wizard!) to explain why they aren’t inhabited, guarded, and/or treated as a resource by a wealthy and dangerous “benefactor.”

Gate Hopping

A “world of the week” game can let the GM play with ideas that might not be ideal long-term. Hub-and-Spoke

A gate-hopping campaign is possible without a single town or city – or even a central game world. Delvers simply travel from world to world, using the gates located in one to reach the next, or to return to a previous one. Depending on the players, the delvers might need a reason to travel. Some players will want to put down roots, or to fully exploit a location before moving on. Others may wish to jump around frequently. Worlds strung together by one-way gates can encourage “finishing” a world, as the heroes can’t come back. Two-way gates encourage travel back and forth, but can lead to one place becoming a de facto hub (see above). The downside to such a campaign is that the GM needs a constant supply of new destinations or reasons to revisit old ones. The upside is that new locations are inherently interesting. A “world of the week” game can also let the GM play with ideas that might not be ideal long-term, such as a world overrun by demons or peopled by only one race.

A hub is a central location that the delvers travel from – and back to – using gates. Adventurers might spend most of their time there and use the gates as additional delving locations, or just treat the hub like town and mostly delve beyond the gates. Either way, the hub provides a place to put the gates. There are many options for a hub. Below are a few common approaches.

Some campaigns feature elements of a hub-and-spoke structure and gate hopping.

City of Gates

Portal Item

An earthly city in a weird world of travelers from many planes. Such places make excellent hubs, but if they’re more interesting than the gate destinations, delvers might decide to stay there instead of leaving on adventures! If the city is heavy on law and order but freely accepts loot plundered from other worlds, it’s a good “town” and the gate destinations serve as “dungeons.”

A magic item can act as a hub. Examples are a deck of cards, each depicting a new place, perhaps with only a random draw pulling a card that works as a gate; a brush that can paint a gate on a surface; or a door with a new destination behind it each time it’s opened. Such a game is much like a hub-and-spoke campaign, except that the delvers can essentially choose the hub’s location. Unless the item works only in a specific world, or is tied to a very limited selection of gates, it can result in a floating gate-hopping game where the PCs use the gate to avoid obstacles they feel are too challenging.

Megadungeon A huge, sprawling dungeon encompassing a large area and often a great depth. One level, multiple levels, or all levels may boast gates to elsewhere in the dungeon or other worlds. The dungeon itself provides plenty of adventure, but the gates help to explain the “monster hotel” mixture of creatures found there, allow for widely varying challenge levels, and make the place a magnet for both delvers and crazy evil wizards (are there any other kind?). A nearby town – perhaps GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Setting: Caverntown – can provide all the shopping and training the PCs need between delves.

Nexus of Worlds A tunnel system with exits to other worlds, a labyrinth of odd passages that end in gates, a valley full of caves (or tombs,


The Hybrid Game

Mobile Base Another hybrid is the gate-hopping campaign where the PCs control a base that acts something like a hub; e.g., a flying (or regular waterborne) magical ship that can sail between worlds. If the heroes own the boat, their adventures will center on it. If not, the vessel needs to be reasonably available so that the adventurers don’t risk being stranded forever in a world. This approach runs the risk of the delvers “adventuring small” and worrying more about returning to the base than exploring the world, leading to a “Never get out of the boat!” attitude instead of opening up whole worlds.

and the



Placement Where are the gates, and why are they there? A best practice for gates is to place the important ones early, with sufficient thought to how they’ll impact the campaign and the world around them. That said, they can be dropped in later. A nice feature of supernatural interdimensional portals is that no one balks at them just appearing – that actually brings up fewer questions and issues than one that’s been around and open for millennia! Exact placement depends on how much traffic the GM wants the gates to have. Difficult-to-reach or well-guarded locations are useful for portals the GM would like to preserve

for higher-powered delvers, or to save for later in the campaign, without having to insert them retroactively. It’s also a way to keep gates to easily exploited areas from, logically, having been exploited by NPCs in the past. Good places for portals that will see less-than-routine use include the depths of dungeons, remote wilderness areas, and privately controlled areas such as wizards’ towers (or wizards’ guildhalls). Gates placed in easy locations will see more routine use, especially if two-way (see Gate Traffic Flows, p. 7) and always open. Such gates may require GMs to curb abuse – see Use and Abuse of Gates (p. 8).

Why Go In? Gates can be risky – they can be one-way, with destinations wholly unlike where you came from. Realistically, there’s no assurance that the gate goes somewhere survivable (but see Scry Gate, p. 8) . . . or that the inhabitants haven’t trapped the daylights out of the destination just out of sight of Scry Gate.

But cautious players might never be willing to risk their precious delvers if gates come with unseen risks. Thus, the GM must make sure there’s cause to enter a gate in the first place. Here are three reasons to give to PCs (and their players!), to encourage them to take the leap into the unknown:

Gate and Traits Gate travel can affect certain advantages and disadvantages, listed below. In a hub-and-spoke campaign, changes often aren’t necessary; as a general rule, if the heroes spend more than half of their time in one world, use these traits as written, basing costs and usage on that world. In gate-hopping game, however, modifications to how they work may be needed to make them fair to the players and the GM alike. Absolute Direction (p. B34). Works as written on any world that has a “north.” But knowing where you arrived on a world doesn’t help you find a gate back or discover how to return through a one-way or password-guarded gate! Claim to Hospitality (GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 11: Power-Ups, p. 16). Worth its full value in a hub-and-spoke campaign, or in a gate-hopping game where the group upon which a claim is held exists in multiple destinations (and the delver can access said group!). In a gate-hopping game without multi-destination groups, it’s worthless. Cultural Adaptability (p. B46). A strict reading of this trait is that it applies “in your world” – but that limits it too much in a game where you’re expected to hop to other worlds. Consider expanding it to “all cultures of your race” regardless of world. Xeno-Adaptability would work on any race, in any world. Bards can take Xeno-Adaptability as a power-up in a gate-travel-heavy campaign. Hero (Power-Ups, p. 16). Only worth anything in a gate-hopping game if the residents of most or all worlds recognize the delver as a hero! Wealth (p. B25). In a gate-hopping game, this includes the ability to quickly make contacts for loot sales (GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 2: Dungeons, pp. 14-15) without a roll.


and the

Extra loot. The loot in places beyond gates can be humdrum gold, silver, gems, and stock magic items (“Hey, 200 copper coins and another Puissance +1 broadsword. Sell that, we all have one already.”). But gates offer an excuse to drop in unusual treasures of special value: Coins of jade, obsidian, or strangely colored gold. Magical artifacts of extraordinary design or construction – especially unique ones not found on other worlds. Gems unknown in the main game world . . . perhaps similar to Jack Vance’s ioun stones, capable of being better power items. If the goodies beyond gates don’t provide much (or anything) more than booty found elsewhere, delvers may travel to safer venues in search of riches. New and exciting places. While gates can lead almost anywhere – such as a nearby town, another dungeon, or a wilderness location – at least some of them should go to very interesting places. You don’t really need gates to have lots of dungeons, or adventures in different climates. Leverage the ability to connect anywhere with any type of location to really suck in delvers. While the heroes might not be keen on being dropped into a world of sky-castles or Greek gods, their players might be, and may jump right into gates to find such destinations. Varied risk and varied challenges make for great gates! You can’t stay here. In a gate-hopping campaign, the adventurers can have a reason to keep moving plus a reason they can’t stay. Perhaps their transport won’t stick around for long, so they can delve only until it’s ready to go. They might lose FP or HP – or suffer debilitating effects – if they linger in some places. Less draconian solutions include destinations that quickly go from lucrative and interesting to tapped-out and boring if you hang around (once you burn out the quests, there’s no reason to stay).



Chapter Two

Gate Rules How do gates work under GURPS rules? However the GM wants – but here are some guidelines based on hard-won

experience. Most important is to keep gates from becoming too easily abused (p. 8).

Gate “Physics” Gates violate known real-world physics. But they do follow some internal logic, even if it’s spurious, magic-fueled logic.

Gate Traffic Flows

Gates can be two-way or one-way. Per GURPS Magic, p. 80, if an object or willing being moves into a gate, they’re transported. Unwilling subjects may get partway in, and require 1d seconds, 1 FP per second, and a Will roll to back out of the gate without finishing transit. That assumes a “standard” two-way gate. One-way gates can be transited in only a single direction. Anything stuck into them cannot be withdrawn by any means short of the Secret Teleportation Spell (GURPS

Dungeon Fantasy 11: Power-Ups, p. 37). Items (or limbs!) stuck through must continue on or be cut off at the source to free the rest of the object or person. One-way gates may still be bidirectional – you can return through the same gate, but you have to complete transit before doing so. Others are truly one-way: To get back – or go somewhere else – you’ll need another gate. Some gates instead instantly transport anything that touches them to a new location. This bypasses the shenanigans of delvers trying to probe the other side, tying ropes to people or things so they can be pulled through, playing weird planar games by inserting only half of an object, etc. Of course, the GM may want such experimentation!

Gate Rules


Use and Abuse of Gates Players tend to exploit gates to the maximum, hopping into and out of danger, conducting arbitrage deals that turn Dungeon Fantasy into GURPS Traveller: Far Trader, using them as unassailable safe bases while exploring dangerous locales, and worse. The GM may want controls to make this more difficult, and to explain why NPCs haven’t done the same. A gate between two distant locations with great trade possibilities isn’t likely to be left sitting idle, even if it’s in a dangerous place. Here are a few reasons why a gate might be unused. Individuals with Weirdness Magnet may find these effects on all gates – even those that are fine for other people!

Anti-Magic Gates To prevent exploration by spell – Wizard Eye, Create Servant, Rider Within, Possession, etc. – gates can negate spells on anything that passes through. This can be automatic. Alternatively, roll a Quick Contest between the offending spell and the gate’s Power (typically 20, but as high as the GM wishes), remembering that the Rule of 16 (p. B349) doesn’t apply! An anti-magic gate high in the air, in perpetual flame, or in other dangerous circumstance can be effectively lethal if it cancels visitors’ magical means of avoiding damage. Coupled with an inability to scout through it with magic, this can be fatal and feel unfair. In certain circumstances – a gate to Hell, or the easy way back out – “unfair” is appropriate.

Gates needn’t reliably be present or open, or always go to the same place. They might change destinations on a schedule, or randomly. They may be open only some of the time, typically using the appearance rates for Allies (p. B36): From 6 or less for rarely open gates all the way up to 15 or less for almost always open gates; 9 or less establishes a gate as fairly unreliable. Serendipity can ensure that such a gate happens to be open – or is going to a specific destination, for a multi-destination gate. Gates may even be temporary! You can use them to visit new places, slay interesting people, and take their loot . . . and then they’re gone forever. Adventurers can’t decide to come back later, or raid the gate’s destination and return for more – it’s now or never. This might not matter for impulsive delvers, but for cautious types, it can be a lesson that opportunity doesn’t always knock and wait until you’re ready to answer.

Gates and Magic Certain Gate spells (Magic, pp. 80-87) merit additional discussion:

Damaging Gates Some gates inflict damage on anything that passes through, either by design or due to a rough ride. The type of damage inflicted determines what’s affected: Burning: Can ignite unusually flammable objects, and – with sufficient damage – clothing or hair. If this is electrical, metal armor offers only DR 1, and those who take damage passing through the gate risk being stunned. Corrosion: Can potentially blind travelers and will eventually wear out equipment subject to repeated passage. Toxic: Mostly affects living things and magically created beings. May also harm the undead, if akin to Deathtouch. Usually ignores DR. Harmful gates might deal 1 point of damage. Lethal gates can inflict 1d or more. More than 1d of damage will dissuade most everyone from going through and, if the damage affects objects, might effectively strip delvers of a lot of fragile gear: potions and similar concoctions, scrolls, arrows and other ammunition, etc. While this can curb abuse of the gate, it’s also likely to curb use.

Password Gates Not all gates open for just anyone! Some allow passage only to those who know a password. Passwords can be simple phrases, complex chants, or even magical activation (casting a specific spell in the area); the more frequently legitimate users are likely to need the gate, the less likely its password is complex. A password usually opens a gate for a set time – 10 seconds, a minute, an hour, etc. – after which the gate closes again.

Unreliable Gates

Control Gate: Gives the players control over whether a gate is usable, rather than limiting that to the GM. Decide whether this is what you want. If not, ban the spell outright or restrict it to NPCs. Create Gate: Not usually part of a Dungeon Fantasy campaign (GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 1: Adventurers, p. 20). In a gate-hopping campaign (p. 5), though, it can make a great deal of sense to allow it. The upside is that delvers can really get around, moving from destination to destination by making their own gates. The downside is that the PCs won’t need to seek out new gates to travel, but merely the energy to create their own. Creating permanent gates – like creating any magic item – should remain an NPC-only capability. Scry Gate: Having smells pass through a gate can produce odd results – especially if monsters with smell-based attacks (like foul bats, GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 2: Dungeons, p. 23) lurk beyond. Reducing the effects to “images and sounds” removes this issue. That said, images and sounds can be harmful if the PCs peer through a portal to the madness-inducing Dimension of Elder Things, or the Medusa Kingdom, but the effects can feel less odd. Seek Gate: In a gate-hopping campaign, this is critical for getting around! In a hub-and-spoke game, especially if gates are concentrated in one area (a megadungeon, “gate city,” or other central location), it can be abused to find and identify all gates far too quickly. Fix this by allowing it to seek only a specific, known gate.

Gate Rules


Chapter Three


Destinations Gates can lead anywhere. Here are three destinations from the author’s Felltower campaign (see GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Treasures 3: Artifacts of Felltower).

few “dungeons,” such as the maze of the minotaur, an underworld full of ghosts and shades of the dead, and Hephaestus’s volcanic forge.

The black Nothing of magic, the world of dreams and phantoms of the past, has its own, different, laws – Alexey Pehov, “Shadow Chaser”


This gate is at the end of a giant hallway lined with ancient Corinthian columns of white stone. The portal itself is a whitish-silver color. Through it is a circular room surrounded by identical columns. This stands on a grassy hill overlooking grasslands, rolling hills, and pastures with sheep. In the distance beyond are mountains, including a cloud-shrouded one: Olympus, home of the gods. The destination can be a specific period in mythic ancient Greece, or a Hollywood-style mashup featuring Harryhausen skeletons; cerberoi, colchis bulls, and hydras (see Pyramid #3/108: Dungeon Fantasy, pp. 11-15); harpies and medusas (see GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Monsters 3: Born of Myth & Magic); and cyclopes. Players might expect a golden age where ancient demigods and heroes such as Hercules, Perseus, Odysseus, and Achilles can be encountered as potential friends or foes. But if the adventurers arrive before the fall of the Titans, or during the great war, they might find themselves on the side of the gods . . . or fighting against them! While the characters might not be familiar with the myths and tropes, their players probably will be. The GM can play on this player-facing knowledge by granting it to the PCs through some mystical sage – or play with it by subverting and changing it. A chance to consult the Oracle at Delphi or meet Zeus might be tempting to delvers who need knowledge and experiences more than loot. Ancient Greek legend even comes with a

Islands in the Clouds

A sky-blue gate shimmers between two pillars of the finest white marble, which crackle with electricity and glint with sunlight. Through it is a world set on and in the clouds. The portal’s destination is the top of a cottony cloud, substantial enough to support visitors but too soft to sustain construction or long-term habitation. Travel between clouds requires a means of flight. Spells like Flight, Walk on Air, Air Vortex, and Body of Air are good choices; flying mounts are even better. Clouds range from wispy (unable to support any weight) to thick, cotton-like masses capable of bearing incredible weight. All are comprised of magical water, so indiscriminately using effects that eliminate magic or water – e.g., too-large Dispel Magic or Destroy Water spells – risks destroying the clouds. Naturally, the floors of cloud castles are magically protected for this reason! The clouds drift along with the winds, or are impelled by magic to move freely about the skies. The larger clouds are topped with castles and manors. Dwelling in these and on the clouds around them are giants, dragons, pegasi, and giant flying birds of all kinds. Some enormous cloud banks have “caves” in which dragons dwell. The occasional wizard from another world has come to reside here, as have small tribes of bird-men and winged elves. The lairs of all of these beings are full of terrestrial treasures taken from the ground below or from other worlds, as well as fantastical items made of moonbeams, congealed sunlight, the wispy clouds themselves, or the dreams of sleeping princesses locked in cloud castles. The ground below is largely uninhabited wilderness – untouched forests, prairies, rolling hills, and the occasional low mountain range. Unintelligent animals and some monsters dwell here, providing food and sport to the dwellers above. This land is also a place of exiled giants, dragons with damaged wings, and hermits who reject society. There are rumors of a band of merry, forest-dwelling men and elves who raid the clouds, using magic to fly up and strike before disappearing into the trees below, but they’re likely just that – rumors.

Sample Destinations


Although this destination is fanciful, it’s set up to be played straight. Those who prefer to make it a Jester Gate (below) destination may add golden geese, put the gate at the top of a giant beanstalk, and populate it with giants who fe-fi-fo-fum it up.

Early Imperial Rome. The Caesar of the apes is the smartest, strongest, and most politically cunning individual. Surrounding the civilized lands are “barbarian” cultures and totally uncivilized masses of flesh-eating apes and the greatly feared giant apes. Gorillas are typically soldiers and generals; chimpanzees, merchants and wizards; orangutans, priests and sages; bonobos, artificers, alchemists, and designers of all kinds. Lesser apes fill the roles ester ates of servants and enslaved workers; monkeys serve as Not all locations have to be serious. A gate to a silly locapets to the more-intelligent apes. Adventure can be tion is an easy way to dip a toe into goofiness even if your found as useful, disposable, unaligned mercenaries default campaign is gritty. in Simia’s ruthless politics, fighting in the colosseum In the author’s Felltower campaign, “Jester Gates” refers to against gladiator apes (GURPS Dungeon Fantasy gates to decidedly silly destinations. Players seeking a humorMonsters 1, p. 17), or raiding the less-civilized apes ous experience – but also a tough challenge and impressive of the periphery. rewards – can use them, while gamers who dislike joke-y Variations on Ape World often play on this theme; gaming can avoid them. Making them especially attractive e.g., an “Animal Kingdom” of anthropomorphic anican also tempt the characters to try them. mals (see GURPS Furries or GURPS Bunnies & In Felltower, this is managed by giving Jester Gates three Burrows for inspiration). Making Ape World a vision properties: of the far future of the current game world has precClearly marked. Such gates are physically marked with the edents, too. The latter works well if your campaign symbol of a fool’s coxcomb. crosses from the pure “TL Olden Times” of Dungeon High risk. Target destinations are silly but lethal – they’re Fantasy into a post-apocalyptic, formerly high-TL not just jokes, but also serious threats to the PCs’ life and limb. world dominated by apes. High reward. Rewards are disproportionally high for the risk. Everyone might end up dead, but any PCs who survive are going to get a lot of loot!



Jester Gates can lead to many different types of places. Felltower has its rumored “tavern level,” Diablo II had its Secret Cow Level, and Gary Gygax’s Castle Greyhawk included an homage to Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland. Other ideas are lethal versions of children’s TV classics the group grew up with, video-game tributes, and nightmarishly humorous clownthemed levels (GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Encounters 3: The Carnival of Madness, anyone?) – whatever the group would most enjoy. Humor is tough, because what’s funny to one group isn’t necessarily funny to another (e.g., none of the example destinations on pp. 9-10 are intended to be humorous, but any of them could be, to someone). Use Jester Gates with caution . . . but they are a great way to give silly gaming a try without committing your whole campaign to it. If everyone hates the destination and the results, it was “all just a dream”; everyone earns a few character points and returns home without the consequences of a Jester Gate gone wrong.

Ape World

The gate to Ape World (a.k.a. Simia) looks like any other. Its destination is a clearing in a subtropical jungle. Nearby is a very human-looking city, but scaled up for its larger-sized inhabitants: intelligent, militant, and civilized apes of all kinds. The entire world is dominated by apes, and completely lacks humans, elves, orcs, and other “standard” races. Simia has a martial, multi-simian culture of gorillas, chimpanzees, orangutans, and so on. Their arms, armor, and names are reminiscent of an ape-themed

Sample Destinations



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