How do you manage access to portals?

I'm curious how folks manage or control your party's access to portals to the various Junctures.
Do you keep a list of specific portals and who's controlling those portals?
Or do you just say "Sure, you can find a portal to the Ancient Juncture", whenever they want to go there.

In my game, I've established a few portals that the heroes know about.

Hong Kong Contemporary Juncture - The Dragons have control of a noodle shop in Hong Kong, and its back alley is a portal into the Netherworld, for those who know how to find it. The shop itself is protected by the powerful ghosts of a waitress and gangster who had a forbidden love in the 1960s and were killed by a powerful gangster.

Future Juncture - A portal to the Future Juncture exists in the domain of Huan Ken, the Thunder King, and he controls access to it, and requires payment or favors for its use. The portal itself is a cliff leading down into an endless chasm. To go through the portal, you drive (or jump) off the cliff, and when you land, you're roaring down a rocky mountainside in the desert wasteland of the Future Juncture.

Ancient Juncture - A portal to the Ancient Juncture is controlled by the Guiding Hand, opening up in an abandoned shop in Chang'an, capital city of Emperor Wu Zetian.

Past Juncture - One portal to the Past Juncture is controlled by The Dragons, leading to a cave in 1850 New Mexico, where the ancestor of one of the Dragons has established a mining empire that continues to the present day. I know there's also been a portal to the Past Juncture in China that the heroes have access to, but I don't think we ever established who it belongs to in detail.

How do you manage it in your games?


From what I generally know of portals, you can generally only access portals to other junctures by going through the Netherworld, as the Netherworld is basically the realm that connects all points in time. Unless things got changed by the Chi Bomb (always a possibility), that rule should still be in effect.

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My group usually only plays Feng Shui as one-shots, so it's rare anyone wants to explore the portals (they're usually focused on chasing the clue trail, so portals are just an excuse to get the party together.)
The one longer campaign we had also didn't make the portals an issue because each character's motive (find my kidnapped sister, stop the Architects, avenge my partner) just happened to make exploring time holes filled with monsters their lowest priority.
If I was to run a longterm Feng Shui campaign, I'd probably just have players think up their own excuse right off hand about why they disliked using the portals.
If I WANTED a portal exploration campaign, I'd just have clue trails lead to the next portal I wanted the PCs to use!
Battle in 69AD? The kidnapped male models are being taken to the Eaters of the Lotus shrine in Kowloon.
Gunfight in the Old West? The Buro Agents have been mining a rare mineral only ever found during a late gold strike in 1850. (The mine is played out now, so the only answer is they're getting it from the past!)
Harryhausen-esque Sinbad Swashbuckling against one-eyed ogres in the Indian Ocean? The bad guys have a villa on Reunion Island with a Naga-guarded pool that doubles as a portal where they're getting the components for a strange narcotic from ancient alchemists. (or from a mad scientist lab on the island in the dark future)
That sort of thing.
It would be unusual for a character's motivation to specifically be mapping the underworld, but even in that case, you can still wave ancient relics with maps on them, broken keys to forgotten portals and shards from forgotten pasts as bait.
It's all about the next setpiece in my style of Feng Shui, I'm afraid.

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Remember there is also the J-meter which allows the PCs to find portals. Not something to let them have straight away but once finding portals and then finding a way through them starts to loose its interest earning a J-meter could become an adventure in its own right.

Once they have a J-meter then they can always find an unguarded portal.

At first I thought that portals to the netherworld are valuable and would all belong to a faction who jealously guard them. Bet then I realised that portals have two sides. You don't just have to control the side in a juncture, you also have to defend the side in the Netherworld. That opens them to attack not only by people from the juncture but from everywhere else including Netherworld factions.

If they are very numerous it's probably not worth anyone's time to defend them all. Particularly if they are in an annoying or just not very useful location. Who cares to defend the portal in the bottom of one of the settlement tanks at the local sewage works?


@CeramicBadger that's a great point! I haven't really used the J-meter, except around Pop-up Junctures. I never thought of having a J-meter actually seek out and detect other portals!