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 Portals and Gates

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Gary Dallison Posted - 13 Jan 2021 : 07:52:38
So, do people distinguish between the two and if so how.
16   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
PattPlays Posted - 16 Jan 2021 : 20:18:58
Aw yeah! I always wanted to see the Shadow Path portals in artwork all cinnected to one another and stuff. Man, underdark portals are so cool.. Makes me tempted to resurrect some random thread on Toril bein hollow that I know is around here somewhen..
Returnip Posted - 16 Jan 2021 : 10:26:59
I really need to get my map of all known portals and gates in Faerûn done.
Gary Dallison Posted - 14 Jan 2021 : 17:41:20
Spoken to the Oracle and the answer is that he does not consider there to be a distinction.

However, found in secrets of the magister that one of the magister was turned into a gate and that a gate was defined as a connection between two portals so heres my thoughts.

You make a portal, it goes somewhere it's one way. If you go through it and make a portal in the same place back to your origin then you have a two way portal.

These portals are ephemeral, magic doorways with no physical indicators unless the caster makes the portal glow or shine or shimmer etc.

A portal can only go to somewhere within range of the casters expertise and only on the same plane. These portals degrade over time and can malfunction but otherwise are the same as all portals we know

However, Halaster knows that if you create a magically enhanced physical gateway (like an arch) with a portal in it then it stabilises the portal and makes it larger than normally possible and allow for it to connect to other portals thus allowing planar travel.

Now outsiders cannot create portals to the material world otherwise every planet would be overrun with fiends. But people from the material plane can create a connection to other planes if they use a gateway. However even on other planes the ruler is not going to want portals appearing everywhere in his domain so he must have a gateway portal already constructed that foolish mortals can connect to and then anyone can march through while the connection is open.

So A gateway allows you to connect to any other gateway portal just like in stargate even if it's on another plane, you just need to know enough about it (location, key, foreword,etc). A gateway also allows you to open a portal to another place on the same plane over a greater distance than normal portals (like a faraway planet full of orcs).
Gateway portals are more stable and dont degrade and can be large enough to fit several people through at the same time.
Not sure about control of gateway portals, I get the feeling it would be more interesting if you could force a gateway portal to remain open from the other side if you wanted (and had your own gateway portal it was connecting to, which would explain why the hellriders rode into avernus to try and close the gate)
Gateway portals can also be redirected to open portals elsewhere or connect to other gateway portals.

I think that would account for various lore canon scenarios without in validating anything.
bloodtide_the_red Posted - 13 Jan 2021 : 21:13:56
Somewhere in Planescape lore I think it says something like a Gate is travel between planes and Portal is travel to and from Sigil.

With five editions you have 'five editions' of lore. And worst starting in 4E you get the crazy idea that "everything in this edition is how everything has always been always."

3E/3.5E is a bit softer where a couple of times they at least add a bit of vague text. So they do mention there are "other" ways to do things like make gates/portals then ONLY the feat. And that "other" strange and unknown magic does exist. This at least could lessen the hostile players that obsess about every letter of text in "THE RULES". The DM could point to "look the Official Rule says right there on that page that there ARE "other" gates that exist OTHER then just what is listed in these couple paragraphs." Then the DM could have a homebrewed Ghost Gate and players would not go insane that the DM was not playing the "official game by the official by the book rules" only!

Gates and Portals in all the lore are both freestanding in space and built into physical frames. You could say Gates are freestanding and Portals are in frames, but that is not supported by the lore. Though the Realms does have a sort of third type: often lore mentions at gate that once long ago was inside a frame (often a stone arch or circle or square) that has long ago crumbled away to dust. BUT the gate is still there and active, now floating in midair.
AJA Posted - 13 Jan 2021 : 20:03:28

"Gate" was the standard term in 1E and 2E. Someone more familiar than I with the setting can confirm if Planescape started the "portal" trend towards the end of 2E?

I don't have sources on hand to provide proof, but I have read/heard that WOTC made the design decision in 3E to use the term "portal" over "gate" when discussing magic doorways. Maybe George or Eric can confirm.
Originally posted by Gary Dallison
So, do people distinguish between the two and if so how.

I feel like "gate" and "portal" are largely interchangeable terms for the most part. As already said, I tend to think of a "gate" as a larger, more stable opening and a "portal" as a smaller, more limited opening. Probably some visual influence from the movie Stargate going on there.

EDIT: Well, yeah, ^ what Ayrik said

Ayrik Posted - 13 Jan 2021 : 19:55:11
The terms are roughly interchangeable. Planescape lore only specified one over the other when the distinction was necessary because spell descriptors or planar properties treated the mechanics a little differently. Realmslore tends to use whichever terms sounds more like mystical prose in each situation.

I expect that those who understand and cast such magics will each have their own preferences and exacting terminology. And that they will disdain the ignorant commoners who casually use this preferred terminology incorrectly. Realmslore has many examples of mages naming their magics as they like, especially those who research or "invent" spells which already exist.

One version of the Stargate portal in D&D is Elminster's worldwalk spell.
Kentinal Posted - 13 Jan 2021 : 19:00:32
Originally posted by Gary Dallison

Just some exploratory musings at the moment

One way portals or gates seem an incredibly dangerous idea (you have no idea where it will dump you or if it even works)

If gates are physical artefact like items then do you need another gate at the other end to connect it to somewhere, is there a network of gates that you can dial up like the stargate and just repoint them. Or do you only need a gate at both ends to create a stable two way connection.

One way portals indeed can be dangerous, unless you know where they go. One example The Menzoberranzan Portal is one way and very safe for followers of Eilistraee and not very good at all for followers of Lolth.

Planer travel with an item is also possible. Clearly a two way gate at safe locations are the best for travel, planner or same plane.

D&D does not lend itself to a stargate type portal as best I can tell, most of the spells descriptions indicate location(s) are determined at creation. In theory a Gate can point to different places and be keyed to key, however only to locations known at the time of casting. If a new location was to be desired it would require casting a new spell to add it.
sleyvas Posted - 13 Jan 2021 : 18:46:57
The original "gate" spell didn't require two sides to be established actually if I'm thinking right (in fact, I don't think it even needed one side established as a physical door or anything). Basically, think like the whole way Skeletor would just open a split in the air and step through to the other side. But then at some point, there started to be a version of teleport that worked between planes, so then what's the difference. The problem is that the terms have been so "inter-used" over the years that it starts to lose meaning to my ears. Its kind of like "primordial"... which when I originally heard it, made perfect sense of an elemental being who formed from nothingness, but has been used to mean so many things now that it becomes hard to categorize. In the same way "goblinoid" used to mean one thing to me and included kobolds, orcs, and ogres, but now doesn't, and "fey" to me still means elves, but to others it doesn't.
Gary Dallison Posted - 13 Jan 2021 : 18:38:57
Well rules and lore do not always match. The fact that Halaster knows lost gate magic that the twisted rune wants (despite having portals linking their lairs) indicates that the two are different (I shall have to ask Ed).

That a gate spell is always two way is interesting I shall have to look for any instances of planar travel using a gate (or portal if the names are sometimes erroneously used interchangeably) where the traveller coming through might want to return but did not.

If they are separate things then any instances of planar gates might require a physical artefact that can be found and closed or reopened and maybe repurposed.

The gate beneath dragonspear castle seems to be a permanent and long lasting thing (from what I've heard). The gate used by calim, memnon, and the atamir of imin .right still be around waiting to be reopened. I vaguely recall a demon lord was brought to imaskars capital using a gate. The orcgate we know about already.

Halasters connection to imaskar and shoon and living in the calimshan Emirates puts him near dragonspear castle, so plenty of opportunities for gate research.
Kentinal Posted - 13 Jan 2021 : 18:25:52
Well taking a look at SRD 3.5 and SRD 5.0

They both appear to indicate that the Gate spell makes a vertical Gate to another plane with a front and back.

That Teleportation circle can be made horizontal on the ground to another location on the same plane.

neither actually list portal as a spell. offers this text
Travelers need not join hands with you—anyone who chooses to step through the portal is transported. A gate cannot be opened to another point on the same plane; the spell works only for interplanar travel.

So with that research it appears that Gates can be called Gates or Portals.

Also Portals can be vertical or horizontal, however Gates are not horizontal.

Gary Dallison Posted - 13 Jan 2021 : 17:37:29
I'm glad someone noticed that gates tend to be to other planes.

I'm wondering about this because Calim appeared with a huge army in calimshan, so did memnon, and so did the atamir of imin (although his was more a retinue of followers).

If portals are not inter planar then it was a gate, and if gates are physical artefact like objects (like the orcgate) then maybe they all used the same gate, and who created it in the first place. I'm guessing it was in the Marching Mountains.

Just some exploratory musings at the moment

One way portals or gates seem an incredibly dangerous idea (you have no idea where it will dump you or if it even works)

If gates are physical artefact like items then do you need another gate at the other end to connect it to somewhere, is there a network of gates that you can dial up like the stargate and just repoint them. Or do you only need a gate at both ends to create a stable two way connection.

Kentinal Posted - 13 Jan 2021 : 17:19:26
Well it was not a big issue with me either. When this question was poised I did have a few thoughts. They all might not be compatible.

Gates are made with a gate spell and a portal made with a portal spell (Might be a difference of Clerical and Arcane Magic?).

Portals are open all the time and Gates are open or closed and the gate needs to be open to use (some type of Key required).

The terms have been interchangeable in usage, some Perilous Gates in individual descriptions are called portals. offers a list of gates and portals that WotC offered.
Wooly Rupert Posted - 13 Jan 2021 : 16:55:56
The terms are more or less synonymous, though from what I've seen, gates tend to be to other planes, whilst portals are to other points on the same plane (or to a pocket dimension). I could easily see an argument for the planar openings to require a more obvious doorway; perhaps it acts as a kind of anchor to that other plane, or helps maintain the opening somehow.
Gary Dallison Posted - 13 Jan 2021 : 15:41:51

So nobody wondered about why the Orcgate is described as being a great big circular, metal ring inscribed with runes (of batrachi origin), but all the portals in perilous gateways and other sources are just doorways of magic (no physical boundaries unless the portal was cast into an actual doorway).

Or why Stardock describes them as "gates and portals" and how Halasters knows the "secrets of gate magic" that the twisted rune wants to discover even though they can and have created portals of their own.

I consider them to be two separate things but just wondered if anyone else did and if anyone had any contributions as to categorising something as a Gate or a Portal.
bloodtide_the_red Posted - 13 Jan 2021 : 14:53:10
Not really.

I use gate most often for common speech and talk, and only use portals for more upper class people.
sleyvas Posted - 13 Jan 2021 : 13:21:19
Personally, I don't for those two terms, because I see them both as structures created for the purpose of traversing planes usually in the form of some doorway. That being said, I can see an argument for there being another type of term for things that aren't using that terminology for things like the mist of ravenloft, the wood between worlds, etc... where you are just moving along and don't even realize that "hey, I'm somewhere else... oh, shoot, how do I get back".

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