Gates of the Gate Towns

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Gates of the Gate Towns

Post by Oryan77 » Mon Jun 11, 2018 5:29 pm

I'm wondering if I am overlooking information about the gates of the Outlands gate towns.

Each gate is described in the 2e Planescape sourcebooks and we have information about each gate within the gate town side of the Outlands. However, it seems like very few of the gates are described from the Outer Plane side that it leads to. Am I wrong about this?

For example, The gate of Ecstasy leads to the shores of the River Oceanus on the first layer of Elysium. Yet, I cannot find any description of what the Elysium side of the gate looks like and how it works going back to Ecstasy. This seems to be the case for most, if not all of the gate town gates.

I just make it up as I go. For example, when PCs step through the gate of Ecstasy, I describe that they just appear standing right in the shallow edge of the River Oceanus. Then when they want to go back to Ecstasy, they simply walk along the shoreline and eventually they will feel a calm sensation that somehow leads them to believe that simply stepping foot back into the water will transport them back to the silvery pool in Ecstasy.

Am I overlooking the official information? If not, does it exist on any fan sites or has anyone ever created descriptions for the other end of these gates?

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Re: Gates of the Gate Towns

Post by ripvanwormer » Mon Jun 11, 2018 6:42 pm

A number of the Planes of boxed sets mention what the portal to the Outlands looks like on the various planes. While it's possible that these are one-way portals, I assume they're two-way and that the "other side" of the portals are the portals in the Outlands gate-towns.

Ecstasy - You emerge from a dark cavern (according to the 1e Manual of the Planes) on the shore of the River Oceanus, a day's travel from the guardinal city Release From Care.
Sylvania - I'm pretty sure you end up in Thrassos (there's a portal to the Outlands in Thrassos's square, and also a mention of vineyards near Sylvania sliding to Thrassos)
Glorium - This one's tricky. The main portal to Ysgard is a maelstrom in the middle of Glorium's fjord and you end up in the sea in Ysgard, off the coast of Asgard (Bast's realm is on the other side of the sea). The closest thing to a "gate-town" in Asgard is the city of Himinborg, though the "gate" there is Bifrost, not the sea-gate. You can also travel between Glorium and Ysgard via Yggdrasil.
Plague-Mort - The portal to the Outlands is beneath Broken Reach, so I assume that's where you emerge if you cross through Plague-Mort's gate.
Torch - Void's Edge (I made this one up). In canon (based on A Player's Primer and the 1st edition MotP), it would simply be a subterranean cave within Gehenna's first furnace, above a black chasm in the cavern floor that leads to the scarlet orb in Torch's sky (which is why it's best to be able to fly if you want to use Torch's gate).
Ribcage - Darkspine, a former gate-town to Baator now in ruins in Avernus.
Excelsior - Heart's Faith (on the shore)
Rigus - The Battle Cube. There's no town nearby, though there are orc and goblin cities on the other faces. See Lord of the Iron Fortress.
Automata - The 1st edition Manual of the Planes says the Outlands gate to Mechanus leads to Regulus, on the smooth underside of Primus's gear. The Player's Primer to the Outlands says where they come out depends on the time of day, the position of the gears, and many other arcane factors, so the portal shifts to many other parts of Mechanus as well. Haven is another confirmed possible destination (Planes of Law).
Fortitude - The woods between the Citadel of the Lightning and Wind Kings, according to Planes of Law. Note that after the events of Fires of Dis, the former town of Fortitude should be here.
Faunel - Signpost? Wrath can send you pretty much anywhere in the plane, but Signpost would be a good first stop.
Tradegate - Yeoman is the most likely place, though the Master Trader can send you anywhere in Bytopia if the price is right.
Bedlam - There are actually a half-dozen gates to Pandemonium in Bedlam, and it's likely they lead to at least that many different places. The Madhouse, built at a crossroads, is probably the first town you'll encounter there.
Xaos - According to The Great Modron March, the portal on the other side of Xaos is in a region even more chaotic than the rest of the plane. It's detailed in that book.
Curst - I assume you end up near the Bastion of Last Hope. Not canon, but this is the most neutral of Othrys's cities, and therefore the closest to the Outlands.
Hopeless - Morglon-Daar from 4th edition's Demonomicon works really well here.

Here are the descriptions of what the portals of the Great Road look like on the various Outer Planes, as recounted in the 1st edition Manual of the Planes.

Acheron: Portals take the form of spheres that hum when they're activated; Acheron's cubes slowly orbit around them. Discordant spheres lead to Baator, harmonious ones lead to Mechanus, and silent spheres lead to the Outlands. Planes of Law says there are also portals on the surface of the cubes, so you don't always have to get there by flying or falling; the portal from Rigus is one of those, on the surface of the Battle Cube, looking very much like the Lion's Eye gate does in Rigus itself.

Mechanus: Light-green circles lead to Arcadia, deep-red circles lead to Acheron. The portal to Automata is on the featureless underside of Primus's gear.

Arcadia: Portals are arched trellises of white ivory or black steel, with a color pool open within them 10% of the time. If the portal within is black it leads to the Outlands, if it's white it leads to Mount Celestia, and silvery pools lead to Mechanus.

Mount Celestia: Portals resemble large blocks of finished stones. Black granite shot with gold leads to Arcadia, white granite shot with silver leads to Bytopia, and red blocks spattered with blue flecks lead to the Outlands. The portal to Excelsior looks like a bobbing light hovering over the ocean, according to Planes of Law; you have to chase it down.

Bytopia: Portals appear as caverns with patterns shining within. Concentric circle patterns lead to Mount Celestia, radiating lines lead to Elysium, and spiderweb patterns lead to the Outlands.

Elysium: Portals are dark caverns with no clues to which plane they lead. Those that swallow the River Oceanus always lead to the Beastlands, however.

Beastlands: Portals are large openings in hollow trees. These can be any kind of tree, but the same tree always leads to the same plane.

Arborea: Portals are crimson disks, usually surrounded by stone walls or iron gates.

Ysgard: Portals are wells. They are often marked, but tend to be unreliable.

Limbo: Portals may be wells, doors, pools, bottomless openings in chaos, archways, etc - they are usually more stable than the surrounding plane.

Pandemonium: Portals are flat squares on the sides of caverns. Yellow ones usually lead to Limbo, red to the Abyss, and black to the Outlands, with a 1 in 5 chance of error.

Abyss: Portals look like huge holes in the ground, just like the portals to lower layers.

Carceri: Portals are obelisks. Those taller than they are wide lead to the Gray Waste. Those wider than they are tall lead to the Abyss. Those with equal heights and widths lead to the Outlands.

Gray Waste: Portals to Gehenna are great spinning coins of copper, silver to the Outlands, or gold to Carceri. They're visible for miles, and often have iron fortresses built around them.

Gehenna: Portals are deep beneath the surface of the plane, appearing as black chasms in the floor.

Baator: Portals are huge hoops of reddish light, guarded by abishai and amnizu.

Some of the portals on the Great Road are known, by the way. Besides the Outlandish gate-towns, the following are canonical:

Nemmiron (gate-town to Arcadia from Mount Celestia)

Heart's Faith (gate-town to the Outlands from Mount Celestia)

Soul's Desire (gate-town to Bytopia from Mount Celestia)

Pashrita (gate-town in Mercuria, the second layer of Celestia, which leads to the realm of Savitri in Bytopia)

Portal a day's journey from Release-From-Care (Elysium to the Outlands)

River Oceanus (leads from Elysium to the Beastlands)

The Roaring Gate (portal from the Beastlands to Arborea - TGMM, 51)

River Oceanus (leads from the Beastlands to Arborea)

Thrassos (gate-town from Arborea to the Outlands)

The Ingmar Brook in Arvandor leads to Alfheim in Ysgard, presumedly moving through Syranita's realm of Whistleedge. The Gnarl, in Erevan Ilesere's realm, contains a root of Yggdrasil that can also be used to get to Ysgard (or elsewhere).

The River Oceanus (once a month it touches the Gates of the Moon in Ysgard)

Tower of the War Triumphant (portal to the Abyss, not far from Broken Reach, in Muspelheim - Warriors of Heaven, 10)

Yggdrasil (most often used to travel from Ysgard to Limbo; also connects to the Outlands, Ysgard's other layers, the Material Plane, and the Gray Waste)

The Immeasurable (gate from Limbo to the Outlands - TGMM, 67)

The River Styx (touches the first layers of all the Lower Planes)

The Stones of Draedilus (in Othrys, in Carceri, this is a ring of stones that contain portals to Sigil, Gehenna, and the Material Plane - see Hellbound: The Blood War, The Dark of the War, page 57)

Undermountain (on Toril, has a series of portals leading to the Lower Planes - during the most recent March, the modron's used this dungeon to travel from Carceri to the Gray Waste)

Resounding Thunder (in Acheron, contains Nihao, the gate-town to Mechanus, and Eight-Devils-Laughing, the gate-town to Baator; this realm is also occasionally the end-point of the gate to Rigus)

The Blue Cube and the Battlecube are also occasionally destinations of Rigus' Lion's Gate portal.

Grashmog, in Clangor (the goblin pantheon's realm), includes a portal to Forgegloom in Hammergrim (the duergar pantheon's realm in Thuldanin)

The town of Hopeglimmer in Hammergrim has a portal that leads to the Mines of Marsellin, which also contains a portal to Mechanus.

Regulus (in Mechanus, contains portals to Celestia, Arcadia, Acheron, Automata, Baator, and Sigil)

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Re: Gates of the Gate Towns

Post by Oryan77 » Mon Jun 11, 2018 8:57 pm

That's a great resource. Thanks. I always forget to check the old 1e Manual of the Planes.

Did 1st edition have a distinction between portals and gates? The mention of the portal in Elysium sounds more like generic portals rather than the cave being a gate to Ecstasy.

One thing that always puzzled me was the fact that the writers would mention where the portal/gate dumped you, but no description of what that portal/gate looks like from the other end.

Then there are things like gates that are liquids that you have to step into or sometime submerge yourself within. Then no description of what happens exiting the other side. Do you just appear on solid ground? Or do you exit another pool of liquid and end up soaking wet?

Of course I just make this stuff up as needed, but I always found it strange that the exits are never explained very well.

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Re: Gates of the Gate Towns

Post by ripvanwormer » Mon Jun 11, 2018 9:22 pm

Oryan77 wrote:
Mon Jun 11, 2018 8:57 pm
Did 1st edition have a distinction between portals and gates? The mention of the portal in Elysium sounds more like generic portals rather than the cave being a gate to Ecstasy.
No. Second edition didn't either.

The first edition Manual of the Planes, page 74: "Conduits are also called wormholes or gates. They usually have one mooring in the Prime Material and the other in a specific location in an outer plane (although there are also conduits that lead from one outer plane to another)."

First edition Manual of the Planes, pages 76-77: "In addition to travel within a plane, there is movement from outer plane to outer plane—from the Twin Paradises to Elysium, for example. This occurs via magical portals similar in function to conduits. These whisk the traveler to either a specific or a random location in the other plane. The appearance of these portals varies from plane to plane, as well as from portal to portal. In the plane of Arcadia, a portal may appear as a thin fog stretched between two apple trees, while in one of the lower planes it may appear as a foul-smelling, foreboding cave... The portals between outer planes are often (50%) one-way and very often (50%) intermittent (lasting a few hours or a few weeks) with the rate of their appearances varying from Prime Material days to years apart. There is no apparent pattern to where they appear on other planes, so two portals that are adjacent in Olympus may lead to radically different areas of Gladsheim."

The Planewalker's Handbook said (on page 34): "Originally (a long time ago), the term "portal" referred only to a doorway leading to and from Sigil itself. This distinguished portals from gates, which were any magical links between two areas. If one end of the link wasn't anchored in the Cage, then it wasn't really a portal, it was a gate. Nowadays, "gate" and "portal" are virtually interchangeable terms. A few people stick with the strict original definitions, but most see no reason to do so. The portals of Sigil work the same way as gates everywhere else."

Based on that, I assume the gate to Ecstasy works the same way as other generic portals. There may be one with a unique appearance, though, if you prefer.
Then there are things like gates that are liquids that you have to step into or sometime submerge yourself within. Then no description of what happens exiting the other side. Do you just appear on solid ground? Or do you exit another pool of liquid and end up soaking wet?
I don't know the official answer to this, but in this thread I suggested that the portal in the Gray Waste leading to Hopeless was an identical well full of black tar. Your mileage may vary. It could be a spinning silver coin, as the Manual of the Planes suggested.

Note that there isn't necessarily (and in some cases, as in the portals in Faunel and Tradegate, definitely isn't) an "other side." Portals in the gate-towns could simply throw a traveler into a random part of the other plane. Wrath in Faunel and the Master Trader in Tradegate get to decide where travelers end up. I prefer the idea that the portals in the gate-towns are stable on both ends, though, for the most part. Of course, if there is a stable portal in Elysium that always leads to Ecstasy then it shouldn't just be an anonymous cave; it should be marked and guarded and there should probably be a settlement built around it, with docks in the nearby River Oceanus for boat trade with Release-From-Care. If there are a number of anonymous caves that travelers might end up in, though, it might be harder to mark them all and even natives might not know all the possible portals. Travelers from Ecstasy might not appear in a cave at all.

The article on Ecstasy in Dragon #351 says that the portal is permanent and two-way, and that those who step into the pool on the Bone Plinth "emerge onto the banks of the River Oceanus on the layer of Amoria, only a few hours walk from the sapphire spires of the guardinal city of Release-From-Care."

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