I've always been a fan of the television show Sliders, and while I was watching old episodes on the Sci-Fi Channel, I realized that a more chaotic method of spherewalking could enhance the Everway game. Everway already had the concept of the "timer" embedded in the random time it took to travel between gates (and thus recover from them). I finally worked on it one day, and this is the result.
<[>Obviously, the name "Heisenberg Gates" is not going to be an in-game term, since it's more "hey, this is just how the gates work" in games that use this optional rule. I think it's a useful moniker for out-of-game talk, though. Heisenberg Gates were meant to change as little of the established Everway setting as possible, especially the area of Roundwander and Everway itself, while changing the flavor of the gates themselves.
This was originally posted on the Everway-L Yahoo! mailing list.
Whenever a spherewalker enters an active, working Gate, it activates, unless that spherewalker is aware of the Gate and purposefully decides not to use it. If unprepared, or choosing to travel without a destination, the hapless spherewalker is sucked into the roulette wheel of the stars, where she is bounced around until finally spat out another Gate. This process takes a variable length of time (although it always seems near-instantaneous to the spherewalker), and the resulting destination is effectively random. As in standard Everway, spherewalking is a grueling process, and one generally needs R&R between trips equal to the time spent between worlds.
An experienced spherewalker (GM's discretion), when moving across a path between two Gates, can remember that path, assuming she is awake at the time. Later, with some preparation, she can repeat that path between those same Gates. The easiest way for one person to teach a particular path to another is to simply walk it with them, bringing them along. Spherewalkers can always choose to travel randomly instead, and they will still move randomly if they move through a Gate without preparation.
The Laws of Gates
- The Law of Uncertainty - No travel between Gates is guaranteed to bring you to your destination. Most scheduled trips do not fall prey to fortune, and this Law will most often be invoked through Drama. Fortune, however, can always come into play. Whenever a spherewalker crosses through a Gate, draw a card - if this is the same card as the character's Fate, he is sent astray.
- The Law of Similarity - If many people use a Gate for a single destination over time, the chances of reaching that destination becomes more likely. As long as a Gate is well-traveled between two particular destinations, even those who have never traveled that way before can usually make the trip. Like any trail, of course, if it stops getting used, eventually it can grow over. Sometimes these trails only go one way - the Gate going from Everway to Market might be pretty well-traveled, but the people of Market likely use that same Gate to travel to multiple destinations, thus making the return trip less likely to be stumbled upon. This rule is pretty much entirely used with drama.
- The Law of Contagion - Groups or individuals entering Gates at roughly the same time are likely to reach the same destination, regardless of intention. This is a big reason why caravans travel the Gates in groups - the Law of Contagion makes it very unlikely to get lost. It also, incidentally, makes it easier to bring non-spherewalkers along - Contagion allows a spherewalker to bring a number of non-spherewalkers equal to his Water score across the Gate - or in the case of multiple spherewalkers, add their scores together, and multiply it by the number of spherewalkers. If there's a conflict of interest in terms of destination, this is generally determined through Karma, by comparing the combined Water scores of all spherewalkers going towards a particular destination; the highest score generally wins.
- Many spherewalkers don't know where home is, and don't know how to get back. "Finding your way home" becomes a very powerful reason to travel the Gates. The average first spherewalking experience is likely something like this: The individual passes through their first Gate. Some time later (though it seems instantaneous to them) they emerge from the second Gate. They explore, briefly, but eventually go back through the second Gate. Without preparation, or having learned anything, they manage to arrive at a third Gate. If this second trip is too quick, they likely pass out at this point. Either way, they are lost.
- Strangerside is even stranger, due to the variety of Outsiders. Roundwander has 71 gates, the most of any Realm, which makes it more likely that a random spherewalk will terminate there than any other sphere. So Strangerside is now populated with all types, from everywhere, without the need to worry about the direct path of how they got to Strangerside.
- Everway, the city, remains a nexus. Thanks to contagion and similarity, the Gates leading out of Roundwander generally work as they should, to the 71 realms listed. However, individuals who know how to use them to get to other realms can use them for that purpose too. A lot of people in the city might even believe the Gates only go to one location, as per the normal myths - after all, knowledge is often incomplete for those who have little need to learn.
- GMs using Heisenberg Gates can send their players to an unplanned destination Gate any time they choose, without having to introduce a new Gate in an established universe and coaxing their characters over. This feature allows spherewalking to become "what sort of path can I make for myself?" instead of "what sort of path is out there for me to follow?" This also makes it easier to have the "two cultures who have never possibly interacted" connected by a single gate.
- Spherewalkers can know different ways of getting to the same point - the knowledge of how to get from X to Y can be a very valuable commodity, though not always an easy bit of knowledge to transfer.
- The law of contagion allows players who are "hunting" someone to track them even if he moves randomly, as long as they leap through the Gate shortly after he does... thus providing a different but still valuable reason to abandon a world and move randomly. And if they manage to lose him, then drama easily allows the villain to be re-introduced whenever the story demands it.
- Games with the Heisenberg gates probably will include less Realm-to-Realm intra-sphere travel, as player-characters will tend to stick close to the Gate they came through, rather than exploring whole Spheres. So far, this is the closest thing to a downside that I've imagined.