The Infinity ∞ Files: Designing Incursions

The nature of portals ensures that GM’s have total control over how incursions manifest, and thus over the exact nature of adventures in the setting. From small mysteries that only obliquely involve other Realities, to a massive, full-scale invasion from another world that’s spread across several states, converting entire regions to the intruding Reality, the nuts-and-bolts of portals allow the GM to run the game he wishes.

Each incursion is different. A portal may allow beings from another world to cross over. It may allow PC’s to enter the alien world. (And adventure there as long as they wish.) Since portals open and close all the time, the effects need only last as long as the GM desires.

Portals can be customized in other ways. The six Threat levels (see Post II) allow for a great variety of possible incursions.

At the lowest level, weird things just happen. An adventure that deals with low-level spontaneous phenomena that emanate from another Reality is possible, such as an entire town suddenly being affected by post-cognition. (Touch your spouse, and you experience what they’ve done in the past. Chaos ensues.)

Or, an artifact left over from a previous incursion suddenly goes active (a Threat-2 situation). There are myths of ancient beings who visited an area? They left behind a mysterious sculpture, carved from an unknown substance, that is supposed to be a mechanism but it does nothing. A second incursion, and it goes active, causing any one of a number of effects. Perhaps spontaneously uplifting animal species, making pets sentient. (Not to mention what happens at the local zoo.)

These kinds of incursions require far less work than a Threat-4 or higher. As the alien Reality isn’t directly involved, the GM only need devise the specific phenomena or artifact, not an entire Reality. Higher Threat incursions require more work, but are usually more spectacular.

Threat-3 situations occur when people in our world begin acting like people from another world. Imagine an entire city suddenly granted super-powers and the 4-color morality of the Comics Code. Monologuing villains, stalwart heroes, and helpless innocents. Bright costumes, dastardly plots, and battles that level whole buildings. Now, instead of “superhero comics”, substitute “fantasy world” or “cyberpunk dystopia” or even “cyber-fantasy dystopia”. (Or, really, any setting/genre the GM wishes.)

Portals allow for all of that.

[Continued in Part V.]

2 thoughts on “The Infinity ∞ Files: Designing Incursions”

  1. Do the agents have anything in their standard loadout that can detect “portal energy?” Even if they do have some kind of device for that, I would recommend that lower-level incursions be essentially undetectable by technological means; this would help the GM keep a useful level of mystery. Sometimes there should be a question of whether a happening is portal-related, mundane weirdness, or perhaps some other supernatural source. Maybe only threat-level 3 and higher are detectable?

  2. Glen:

    Do the agents have anything in their standard loadout that can detect “portal energy?”

    I’m considering it. What I’m thinking is that, when using the 5-Stage campaign model, such abilities (inherent powers, gadgets, spells, what-have-you) wouldn’t become available until Stage-3. That’s when things get rolling.

    Before then, the whole question of portals and the like is, as you suggested, pretty mysterious. Incursions are generally lower Threats (1-4), and the game has an investigative feel.

    Stage 3 would be where things begin to break open. Portals become more common and Threat-5 events start popping up.

    Of course, this all needs developing, so details could change. And, even though its kind of a cop-out, I’m leaving a lot of the setting up to GM desires. If they want such tools available, they are. If they don’t, they’re not.

    (One kind-of copout: the nature of our Earth. Sure, the default world is exactly like our own, except for the portals. But what does that mean? For me, it would mean that all supernatural events are portal related. If magic existed in Earth’s past, it was the result of a portal. Other GM’s might like cryptids, Age of Superstition magic, and the like. They can set the Magic, Spirit, and Psi Development Ratings higher. I like the flexibility of saying “here’s the default, here’s how you can change it”, but I can certainly see where people would think its wishy-washy.)

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