Gears and Portals

Steampunk Fantasy in the Multiverse

This setting is for use with Risus: The Anything RPG which is freely provided at the Risus: The Anything RPG site.

What is Gears and Portals?

It's a Steampunk Fantasy setting for use with Risus: The Anything RPG.

The Basic Risus Campaign Rundown:

  • Genre: Steampunk High Fantasy

  • Tone: Serious/Humorous (a little bit of both)

  • Campaign Options: Hooks and Tales, Pumping Clichés, Lucky Shots

  • Points/Dice: 10 Dice

  • Description: In a city in between the worlds, Magic and Technology collide to create opportunity for adventures.

The Multiverse

The multi-verse consist of a large number of Worlds, Planes and Alternate Realities pervaded by the energies of the four elements all connected through the energy of the fifth element, the void. Each world can be thought of as having an elemental 'address', At the centre, as it were, of this web is a central point: Portcullis: The city of Doors. It is from this city that it is easiest to change from one world to an other. This a place of passage for travellers and a place of exile for outlaws.

The Portals

Portals are the lifeblood of Portcullis, they supply Portcullis with its daily needs, provide the rich with rooms in different places and they are the doors through which most of the trading and commerce is done.You can find them in any shape, size and form in the city.They are created by activating and tuning a void shard. This is not something everyone can do however. There are few on Portcullis that can unlock the energy in a shard in such a way that it generates a portal. Usually shards are used for other purposes, such as elemental magic and in cogworks. See below for both of these disciplines. Once a portal is activated it can be stabilized by building a gate structure around it like a door frame.

Permanent portals

These are void shards which have been activated and set into a gateway with a continual supply of elemental power. This keeps the portal open and always active. Because they remain open they always lead to the same place in the same world. Permanent Portals tend to be big and lead to the major worlds of the Multiverse. Their gateways often have intricate designs and are used by many people and are the most common type of portal.Most of them are two-way, though some gates have locks that prevent travel in one or both directions without codes, keys or other methods. The bank vault doors in Aurum an example of one-way locks.

Recovered portals

Once a shard has been activated it will open a portal for as long as the right levels of power are supplied to it. If the power is cut the portal will close. Restoring the power will reopen a portal, since the shard remains activated, but not necessarilary to the same place. The discovery of activated shards is always of interest to The Council, the government of Portcullis since it allows expansion into new places. But the use of dormant shards can be dangerous since there is no telling where the portal will lead to save for travelling through it. The exploration of these recovered portals is a serious business and not for the faint hearted. Once on the other side the priority is to begin the retuning process, (assuming it is safe to do so!) and fix the portal to a new destination. Of course, tuning a portal changes the power requirements and runs the risk of closing the portal, possibly trapping the adventurers.

Wild portals

Shards come in two distinct types, minor and major shards. Minor shards can only absorb one type of elemental energy. Major shards canabsorbenergy from more than one element. It follows then that minor shards cannot be used a portals. Major shards are required for 'outbound' travel since some elemental energy is required to 'address' the portal. However minor void shards can be used in various constructs and for elemental magics and for creating an elemental creature. Though rare, Void Elementals, have someunusual powers including the creation of wild portals. These portals are even more dangerous than recovered portals since there is no telling where they will end up, the 'elemental address' being supplied by the Elemental creature. Such portals can be used to reach new, unexplored places, which invariably are places of great value and danger.

Major worlds of the Multi-verse

Portcullis: The City of Doors (0)

This comopolitan city sits in the center of everything. All the known planes and worlds have a door from somewhere in Portcullis. The city is a chaotic blend of cultures drawn from the different planes of living. Everything can be found or lost if you try hard enough in the City. What makes the city complex is that nothing is stable: from gravity to time, every part of the city is different. And it’s said around the tavern fire that if someone concentrates enough he might be able to make the city obey him. Some say it’s the city of wonder, others the city of lies or the city of thieves, But nobody that ever visited Porticulis can forget the sight of it. From Portcullis someone can reach any reality in the multiverse and the crowds that populate the city are composed of refugees from many different worlds and portals.

Scrapland: The Land of Iron (e1f1)

The first thing one notices when setting foot on this plane is the vast field of junk that fills the space. One can walk days without seeing the naked ground. It seems like every lost thing find it’s way to Scrapland. It’s the Homeland of the cogkin and the gobber. It’s also where they wage the wars that tear apart those two races. The major settlements in The land of Iron are underground. Vast industrially built tunnels and vaults serve as shelters. People of this land have learnt to use every ressource that the junk provides so they are expert salvagers and tend to wear and use many weird devices “scrapbuilt” from different things.

Arcadias:The Lifetree (e1w1)

This plane consists of a single gigantic forest wrapped in mist. At the centre is the lifetree, a gigantic tree whose top is lost in the mist.The denizen of Arcadias have made their homes on the branches and around the trunks of the trees, building often intricate and complicated structures. They shun the forest floor as a place of darkness and danger. This place is Home of the Feyfolk court (home of the fairy queen and king) and is also the land of the simpler Treefolk. This plane is somewhat gentle and calm. The everwatchful spirits of the Lifetree roam around the forest, tending to the trees and guarding the rare glades where sunlight reaches the ground.

Aetheria: The Elemental Islands (e1f1a1w1)

This plane consist of aninnumerablearchipelago with a islands ranging from the arctic to the tropic. Nowhere is very far from the smell of ocean and the sound of surf. The people and architecture arereminiscentof the era of Japanese feudalism. Many of these islands are simply savage. And the few that are populated are spread out. This is the land of the elemental forces, so it’s usual to see great wild elementals roaming the land. They are often worshiped by the Zenjin, and the human inhabitants of this land. It is also the main place to find Elemental crystal shards. Crystal mines dot the islands and the major settlements have seen their share of Outlanders seeking shards. Some of the best known sorcerers have their Towers or Schools here in the Elemental Lands, but getting to the front doors of such places is always a challenge and sometimes, quite deadly.

Major Races of the Multi-verse

(NOTE: Although you can choose to play G.& P. with the classical fantasy races an effort was made to break the mold of the usual Elves/Dwarves/Orc,etc.. race choices)

SCRAPLAND (land of Iron)

  • Cogkin: This a race of small folk ( a mix of Dwarf, gnome and halfling) that are Mechanically inclined. They are inventive and tend to get their way around in big Mechanical golems, constructs and apparatus. They are often good engineers and love to create new stuff. But many of them tend to lack social skills, so they often favor the company of machines over men..

  • Gobber: They are the distant relative of the cogkin. They have more of a goblinoid look (goblin, kobolt, gremlin and the like). The major difference between the cogkin and the gobber is that where one constructs the other one destructs. The Gobber are master in the art of blowing stuff up and of tearing things to pieces. There are also good salvagers and some are decent merchants (they have to make a profit off the stuff they break)

ARCADIAS( The Lifetree)

  • Feyfolk: They are the fairy from the tales (more from Grimm tales than from Disney one). Coming in many shapes and form. They are keeper of the great Lifetree and of nature in any form. They are often pranksters, and tend to sing, dance and drink a lot. They tend to have an optimistic way of getting throught life in general.

  • Treefolk:They are a breed of intelligent talking tree critters from squirel, to oppossum to racoon and koala) they evolved so they can use tools (sword and the like ...) . They tend to be goodscavengersand thief. They are a very indivialist race except for family ties.

AETHERIA (Elemental Land)

Zenjin: We can categorize the zenjin in 4 subracial groups. Each of these group is link to one of the prime elements. The Zenjin social structure is close to the Medieval Feudal Japan. The only major difference is instead of priorizing a swordweilding warrior class (the Samurai) it's a Elemental magic shardweilding one.

  • Air Zenjin: the air zenjin then to have fair skin ranging from bluish white to light tan and they have pale grayish eyes. Their hair is almost always white and its traditional to keep it in long flowing braids. The Air zenjin are the tallest of all the zenjin ranging from 6’ to 7’5’’. They are all slenderly built.

  • Earth Zenjin: they are the strongest of the zenjin. They tend to have dark skin from ebony black to dark redish browns. They have dark eyes too from black to hazelnut brown. They have little to no body hair. They then toward ritualistic marking (Branding, Scarring). They are small but powerfully built ranging from 4’5’’ to 5’10’’.

  • Fire Zenjin: the color of their skin range from fiery red to light orange, it’s the same thing for their hair. They always have black eyes with no visible white in it. They are mostly average height and built. One strange thing about their skin is that when they age the colour tends to change making intricate designs of red fire.

  • Water Zenjin: they have blue skin ranging from grennish aqua to royal blue. Instead of hair they have a fin spike across their head. They are smaller than the air Zenjin but are still tall ranging from 5’6’’ to 6’9’’. They have webbed feet and hand and sometime they also have webbed arms.

Many many other races live in the diversified Metropolis of Porticulis, so the players can get wild and invent wierd new races. As always the GM is the last judge of the validity of them.

Magic in the Multi-verse

How Magic Works:

Magic in the Multi-verse is a natural force coming from the raw elemental power. This raw elemental power is stored and released from special crystals that can be found throughout the mutiverse, but most abundantly in the caves of the Land of Aetheria. These crystals are extracted by crystal miners and shards of them are sold. But only one attuned with the arcane can harvest their true power.

In order to cast spells the “Mancer” must have a shard with enough elemental power of the right element. One can try to tap on the elemental force of the land alone but this is an arduous and exhausting task. In Risus terms, if one casts a spell without an suitable shards the difficulty is harder and you temporarily lose one level of the magic cliché because the task is tiring.

Shards are often molten and transformed into beautiful and useful objects by a Shardsmith (a lesser kind of magic user). These object are often useable by “Non-Mancer” thus creating magical artifacts. "Mancers" often carry their shard in Smithed form (Staffs, wands, rings, Amulets,daggers, etc.)

Particularly powerful Shards can make the casting of powerfull spell easier (lowering the casting difficulty). Legends speak of forgotten shard of Positive or negative energy capable of making worlds bloom or decay.

The Shardsmiths are not able to cast spells as other "Mancers" do. All they can do is make magical object to serve them.

Clichés of the Multi-verse

Racial Clichés

(see Major Races of the Multi-verse)

  • Humans

  • Cogkin

  • Gobber

  • Zenjin (fire,air,water,earth)

  • Treefolk

  • Feyfolk

Professional Clichés

You can use any of the traditional fantasy Profession clichés as well as some of the more contemporary ones... Here some that are specific to the setting

Druids - Keepers of nature ways

  • can speak and command with plants and animals

  • Have a good knowledge the natural means of healing one self.

  • Good at hugging trees

Engineers - Cog and screws workers

  • Operating, repairing and designing, Mechanical construct and gimmicks.

  • Lore of ancient and new mechanical inventions

  • Never knowing why there’s always a screw left

Scavengers - Recycling masters

  • Find anything in piles of junk

  • Jury-rigging things

  • Making friend with rats

Tomb raiders - Finder of old relics and treasures

  • Ancient history Lore

  • Dungeon crawling skills

  • Accurate map navigation

  • Good Evaluation skills

  • Smelling like old dust

Pistoleers - Elemental gunslinger

  • Gun-play and duel skills

  • Lesser elemental Arcane lore

  • Etiquette and Savoir-vivre

  • Knightly charm that makes virgins blush

Dragoneers - Fire crackers and demolisher

  • Blowing thing into little pieces

  • Making fire and handling gun powder

  • Knowledge of siege weapon

  • Knowledge of castle weak points

  • Smelling like BBQ

SkyDogs - Privateer and pirates of the vast sky

  • Sail the air currents

  • Operating an Airship

  • Drink strong Ale and not fall down

  • Sing-a-longs and Old Tales

Headhunters - Bounty collectors

  • Tracking and bringing back felons

  • Knowledge of criminal life and hangout

  • Looking bad ass in leather

DeathTalkers - Spirit and undead confessor

  • Communicate with Spirits and Undead

  • Turn Evil spirits

  • Exorcise and control dead

  • Spook the hell out of everyone



  • Fire Mage (needs a fire-shard to power his spells)


  • Water mage (needs a water-shard to power his spells)


  • Air mage (needs an air-shard to power his spells)


  • Earth mage (needs a earth-shard to power his spells)


  • Void mage (needs a void-shard to power his spells)


  • Magic item maker, Enchanter and Shards Shaper (use any kind of power shards but can't directly cast spell)

Inspirations for Gears & Portals


  • Labyrinth

  • Dark Crystal

  • The Neverending story I & II

Video Games:

  • The Myst collection

  • Arcanum

  • Planescape Torment


  • The Discworld Series by Terry Pratchett

  • Sandman comicbook series by Neil Gaiman

  • Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman