In the setting I am working on there is a sort of "subspace" torrent of energy (called Essence) that wraps around the world. Imagine magical, and definite, lines of latitude. This torrent of energy is directly responsible for increasing the rate of planetary rotation, as the planet originally took months to complete a day cycle. The passage of time eventually resulted in day and night cycles similar to Earth and thus allowing for Earth-like life.

Once the day/night cycle stabilized, somewhat regularly spaced intervals in these torrents of essence appeared, shockingly near lines of longitude. These intervals were places where the boundary between subspace and the world are thin enough that Essence has passively bled into the world, imparting magic to the peoples and creatures inhabiting it.

One of the nations in my setting, a totally-not-expansionist-Republican-Rome,is the first to successfully figure out how to safely open portals into the torrents of essence and emerge out of a portal downstream. They are reliably able to choose the number of intervals that they want to travel down before exiting. However, they are unable to use the Phaseways (as the peoples in the setting refer to it) to travel in the direction they came. Short one way trip, return trip much longer.

Question to ponder:

  1. If travelers are ejected from the Phaseways like a bat out of hell, imagine 60+ mph, are there precautions (wagons, etc) that could realistically survive such a forceful ejection?


  1. Please assume a baseline of no magic aside from being able to manipulate the portals. Said portals can be opened however wide or as long as necessary for the application intended, maxing out at about 1 hour per attempt. Feel free to add commentary on how magic could spice things up.

    Thank you so much!

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    $\begingroup$ Are you aware that the world is round, and one-way trips don't need to be? $\endgroup$ Jan 16, 2019 at 19:45
  • $\begingroup$ @WhatRoughBeast If I am understanding your comment... I hadn't expanded on it here but once a full revolution is made through the phaseways you're basically getting onto the galactic highway. This setting has a large number of habitable planets being interconnected in this manner, but not to the knowledge of those on-planet. $\endgroup$
    – Govinator
    Jan 16, 2019 at 20:26
  • $\begingroup$ Rome would never became the Rome that we know (circa 44 BC) if it wasn't expansionist. $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Jan 16, 2019 at 21:20
  • $\begingroup$ I honestly don't understand how the query is too broad. The answer is either yes or no. We have a pretty good idea from written records, illustrations and surviving Roman era wood work (Pompeii) what they actually constructed. VtLO. $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Jan 16, 2019 at 22:12
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    $\begingroup$ If the trips are one way, how do they know that the vehicles need to be reinforced? How do they know the pathways go anywhere and aren't just an instant death phenomenon? $\endgroup$
    – ShadoCat
    Jan 16, 2019 at 23:52

3 Answers 3

  1. The government of a nation could deal with outside threats or issues with its colonies more quickly. Depending on the directions, they could send troops/messages/supplies very quickly or they could get messages very quickly. Either way, it cuts their response time in half (not exactly half as messengers in the non-magic world don't take as long as marching battalions).

  2. Governments would invest more in roads and other travel infrastructure. Because now it is possible to go longer distances and make round trips more quickly, so they'd want to maximize this effect. The Romans were great with roads to begin with, so there might not be a huge difference, but in some places in your world, there will.

  3. Rare goods from far away will become more commonplace (and cheaper). Goods that were already available but still pricier because they came from other countries would also be more available and cheaper. The trade routes at the time could be very time consuming. It could take a year or longer to make a round trip using a combination of land and sea. Now trade is faster (the round trip time is more or less cut in half) and about half as dangerous too. It's also under government control.

  4. Whoever controls the Phaseways also controls trade. Sure, you can still have trade with the old fashioned methods, but it would be hard to compete. Some traders will be able to take advantage of cheaper prices for boats and caravans going in the direction of the Phaseways (because they still have to get vehicles back to the starting point to use them for opposite way trips) but there will be competition for upstream land/sea trips.

  5. Portals should open on to waterways to allow a safe landing. This will greatly increase the shipbuilding industry. And change what they build. Most boats used for transport in the Phaseways would not make it back to the starting points. They won't need full sailing ships, just sturdy crafts that can be towed (or rowed) to shore.

  6. Wood will become a scare commodity. Unless there is a lot of it upstream.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ This is an amazing answer, thank you Cyn! I updated the question per some earlier commentary but I will take this to heart, gladly. Thanks! $\endgroup$
    – Govinator
    Jan 16, 2019 at 20:09
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah, I saw the edit come in when I was almost done writing my answer. So I'll just note for others that the original question asked for more wide-ranging effects on the civilization. $\endgroup$
    – Cyn
    Jan 16, 2019 at 20:11

So long as you invested heavily in breaking systems (parachutes, stabilizers, wheels that could take it, there would be no problem.

Landing areas would need to be closed off, and gated, and channel vehicles away from the landing area.

A necessary side effect would be the vast improvement of road and canal systems leading BACK to Rome, or the system would soon become an expensive toy, as the ability to trade would be vastly one-sided, causing a your goods to become too cheap to be able to export if you don't have a reciprocal arrangement.

One major trading item heading back to Rome would be the recovered braking systems.... Ideally, they would be modifications on transports that could be removed and shipped back. The logistics of it all would be your biggest obstacle.

Also, if trade was more risky going through your portals, you'd have insurance concerns and a tendency to avoid them for all but the longest trips. Expect to have trade deficits with your local neighbors and surpluses with the more distant ones.

Breaking methods would be parachutes, sails, flaps to cause drag, and wheels rigged to either disintegrate, or aid in rapidly decelerate by having a spring system that would wind like a watch, absorbing the kinetic energy... could lead to a new sport of self-propelled chariot races as well.

While your Rome is not expansionistic, this technology would encourage more of your neighbors to ally with you. Nothing quite like having a friend be able to send a legion to help out at a moment's notice if you are invaded.


If travelers are ejected from the Phaseways like a bat out of hell, imagine 60+ mph, are there precautions (wagons, etc) that could realistically survive such a forceful ejection?

From Wikipedia's article on pillows:

Ancient Europe

The Romans and Greeks of ancient Europe mastered the creation of the softer type pillow. These pillows were stuffed with reeds, feathers, and straw in order to make them softer and more comfortable.

I think the technicality of the whole thing is self explanatory. It's all a matter of having enough oadding on whatever and whomever you are sending.


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