Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Savage Eberron: Teleport vs. Travel in Eberron

Mark of Passage
The teleport power in Savage Worlds is dramatically different than in Dungeons & Dragons specifically in regards to range. In Savage Worlds, it seems to be based on combat distances or designed to limit functionality for purposes of not bypassing story.

In fact, facep0lluti0n on the Pinnacle forums asked about the presence of psionic powers, including long-range teleport, in the Science Fiction Companion (which +Pinnacle Entertainment Group plans to release today):
I've yet to see a few of the more classic psychic powers from space opera and sci-fi - stuff like remote viewing/scrying, long-range teleport, mind-link or telepathic communication, etc.
ValhallaGH replied:
I'm pretty sure you'll be disappointed. Those abilities tend to be plot devices; and PEG stays away from powers that negate adventures (investigation, travel, and interrogation adventures, respectively). 
My internal reaction: "Teleport is important in some settings!"

Of course I was thinking about Eberron.

In the past, the short range of teleport in Savage Worlds always bothered me, especially with respect to Eberron and the services House Orien provides via its Greater Mark of Passage (as described in the D&D v3.5 Eberron Campaign Setting). I never understood why it was so limited in scope. Why couldn't longer ranges be achieved with more power points?

I should note that when the Horror Companion first came out, Rituals became my workaround solution to such limitations of powers in Eberron, and I immediately incorporated them into my Savage Worlds Eberron Conversion Companion. It seemed fitting from a cost and effort perspective as it allowed for such commercial services to be available but in a limited yet accessible way.

Back to the point of this post.

Recently, while rereading the Explorer's Handbook, I discovered the following passage [no pun intended] on page 12 that up until this point I had either skipped, overlooked, or ignored.

Travel or Teleport?

At its essence, exploration is travel, and travel is the act of moving from one point to another and encountering all the obstacles and opportunities for treasure along the way. Teleportation, however, can easily make travel obsolete. Every experienced Dungeon Master knows that when the player characters get free access to the teleport spell (or can somehow afford to hire it, most commonly from a representative of House Orien with the Greater Mark of Passage), carefully planned sets of encounters can be completely bypassed. With much of Eberron’s unique flavor arising from its elemental-powered vehicles and the multicontinental nature of adventures, special care should be taken to consider the impact of teleport and related spells in the campaign.
The section continued with ten ways (reasons, really) that teleport should or could be applied sparingly. Some of those reasons included plot considerations and general practicalities.

This resonates with what ValhallaGH said, and gave me pause to think about the role and scope of the teleport spell in Eberron. At first, I disagreed with this apparent shunning of teleport, but even +Keith Baker wrote a Dragonshards article titled "Heroic Journeys" discussing the values of both "riding the redline" and enduring long journeys.

Ultimately, I now feel comfortable with the teleport power's effects in Savage Worlds as written with respect to the feel and intent of Eberron—ubiquitous, low-powered magic providing technological conveniences with more powerful magic being present but rare.