Down Dread Portals

This year has been the year of the Multiverse at The GROGNARD files with Planescape and the Sundered Worlds of Moorcock. We were intrigued to hear about the new Multiversal game from Newt Newport’s D101 written by Paul Mitchener. The kickstarter is now open, funded and reaching the stretch-goals.

Beyond Dread Portals is an eye-catching title for an RPG – what’s the pitch?

Newt: Beyond Dread Portals is an exciting roleplaying game of world-hopping fantasy. The easy-to-learn rules are built from a core loosely based on the world’s first fantasy roleplaying game tailored to fit the setting.

This is a d20 game familiar to players of that other game, why did you take that approach, rather than using D101’s OpenQuest mechanics?

Newt: Mitch was rather taken with what I did with Crypts and Things (D101’s take on 80s Brit RPG Swords and Sorcery), hence the bespoke D20 system and the setting. Which comes from an old AD&D 2nd Edition campaign of his. It’s a game that celebrates that glorious period in the late 80s to early 90s. When TSR did other settings, such as Dark Sun, Ravenloft and of course, Planescape.

I have been playing a number of multiverse games in 2023, what is their appeal, and what does BDP do differently than the others?

Newt: It provides a playground for exploration. There’s enough detail in the setting that players can quickly pick up on the themes and run with them, without the Referee being overwhelmed with having to know large amounts of detailed game lore.  Also, there’s room for plot twists galore with all the game’s Guilds and other factions.

Does magic and other abilities adapt, change, and behave differently depending upon the plane?

Newt: Not in a mechanical sort of way, because at the end of the day, it’s a straightforward fantasy game. But there are definite cultural implications. Certain magic will mark you out as a member of one of the game’s factions, one of which is especially risky to be a member of in Ys itself due to being made illegal. 

What are the themes of the different planes, what characterises them and which one is your favourite?

Newt: I’ve been quite taken by Erebus, a living cavern complex world. No surface and no sky. The Empire tried to set up shop there but failed because of the monstrous local inhabitants. So, there’s a whole failed colony vibe. It’s a nice place to have the players go visit in a desperate sort of “get in, do the mission, get out before you alert the big monsters” way.

The city of Ys is the central hub where adventures begin. What’s that like?

Newt: A vast megalopolis on the scale of Ancient Rome or London. Whose streets and buildings move about periodically. Like in the film Dark City. It’s got a ridged social structure of the Guilds, which has been upset by the Autarch’s invasion. So, it’s a society in crisis, with a big gap between rich and poor, where everyone is struggling to maintain, or even increase their position, in the face of a ruler that doesn’t care for their livelihood. So, there’s a huge theme of Decadence and Decay in play. 

Will there be supporting scenarios for the game?

Newt: Absolutely. Mitch and I have been running it online and at conventions for over five years. If it funds, there are three of these up for grabs as stretch goals. Further out, I’ve got a Great Tour of the Worlds of Ys campaign at the planning stage. I’m sure if we do individual guides to the Worlds, there will be adventures in those as well.

Small creators like D101 depend upon ‘getting the message out’ how does the current environment of a multiverse of social media make things more difficult?

Newt: It’s been not easy getting the word out beyond our core audience at times. But with the help of friends such as yourself and the Smart Party (Ben and Gaz), we are slowly getting there. Also, this is a new thing from D101, which I hope will be as big as OpenQuest, because the system is so much fun, and I want it to power other D20 games I have in mind.

What are the details of the Kickstarter?

Newt:  We open on Kickstarter on Monday, 23rd October and we are live for a month until Sunday, 19th November.

Author: Dirk

Host of The GROGNARD RPG Files podcast. Talking bobbins about Runequest, Traveller, Call of Cthulhu, T&T, AD&D and others from back in the day and today.

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