I'm looking to shift from a modern world to a fantasy world. The modern world has some magical elements to it, such as remnants of the religion that reigns in the fantasy world, but is mostly magic-free, so I kind of shy away from using something like portals. What are some other ways that my character can get from World A to World B, that aren't overtly magical?

  • $\begingroup$ Any ideas as to what you do or don't want? How about a virtual world? What about sleep? (I'm sure there could be something about his unconscious mind connecting with that of some host in another dimension). If you don't want a virtual world perhaps it could be a mix of the two where he controls an android in this other world...there are many options but I think we need a little more information for there to be a right answer. Otherwise this is just ideas pooling. $\endgroup$ – Lio Elbammalf Mar 12 '17 at 18:29
  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to the site, Tori. Would you mind editing your question to more clearly state your intent of the question? You seem to want a method to move a character from one planet to another without using magic. In that case, you'll need a spacecraft. But that doesn't seem like something you're looking for. Additionally, the worldbuilding-process tag doesn't seem to be appropriate to this question; I would suggest removing it. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Mar 12 '17 at 18:30
  • $\begingroup$ Hi Tori, welcome to the site. Like Frostfyre, I don't really understand what you are asking. Since fantasy worlds aren't known to exist, there are no known ways to get to a fantasy world from our world, in real life. So, from a story perspective, it seems to me that magic is the only possible answer. If I am not understanding, could you explain more? $\endgroup$ – kingledion Mar 12 '17 at 19:11
  • $\begingroup$ Are you talking a literal shift/transport to a new world -- or instead perhaps a shift of the 'rules of the universe' -- which, either or both? $\endgroup$ – Catalyst Mar 12 '17 at 19:45
  • $\begingroup$ Can't you just have them be hit by truck-san(super generic death) and then have them reincarnate or transmigrate. Wondering if you meant world to world or dimension to dimension(though planets is tagged, so probably the first one). $\endgroup$ – Necessity Mar 12 '17 at 20:37


If you need to get from one world to another without magic, a spaceship is the way to do it. FTL or hyper-sleep, take your pick.


It's a portal made out of science!


In all these cases the fantasy world is not real.

It can be done fantastically as in The Wizard Of Oz, as a mystery as in The Matrix, as delusional escapism in Pan's Labyrinth and Heavenly Creatures, or tragically as in Jacob's Ladder where...

...the protagonist is slowly dying in reality.

Just Do It

Don't explain why the world is fantastic, it just is. This doesn't have to be overtly fantastic. For example, a musical is a parallel world where people spontaneously break out in song and choreographed dance with strangers. Or a comedy where slapstick and mind-bogglingly dumb decisions are simply accepted as normal. For example, Who Framed Roger Rabbit asks the audience to accept a gritty 1930s noir setting that also has real cartoon characters, and it works. If the characters accept it as reality without question, and it's well fleshed out, the reader will as well.

  • $\begingroup$ You can also go the FanFiction route. Get killed in the 'real world' and get reborn into the fantasy world. Either way, this hits every other point I could have come up with. Other than Alice in Wonderland's drug-induced introduction. $\endgroup$ – Fayth85 Mar 12 '17 at 21:04
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    $\begingroup$ "It's a portal made out of science!" No, it's a portal made out of ripped space-time. Science tells us how to do that, it doesn't-- Dammit, no, don't ignore me, I'm trying to stick my pedantry in your fun! $\endgroup$ – Fund Monica's Lawsuit Mar 13 '17 at 2:05

You could have her not go. Have the magic world revealed to her as existing on, beside, in between the one she knows. My favorite example of this is from a fairy tale where a midwife is summoned by a dark man. After a trip through the night with his hands over her eyes they come to a castle.

/At last we came to a bedroom, with a beautiful lady in bed, with a fine bouncing boy beside her. The lady clapped her hands, and in came the Dark Man and kissed her and the baby, and praised me, and gave me a bottle of green ointment to rub the child all over.

'Well, the child I rubbed, sure enough; but my right eye began to smart, and I put up my finger and gave it a rub, and then stared, for never in all my life was I so frightened. The beautiful room was a big, rough cave, with water oozing over the edges of the stones and through the clay; and the lady, and the lord, and the child weazened, poverty-bitten creatures—nothing but skin and bone—and the rich dresses were old rags./

From The Lilac Fairy Book, Andrew Lang. http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/lfb/li/lifb07.htm

The fairies don't like that she can see them as they are, and many versions of this tale end with her having the anointed eye plucked from her head. The idea of the magic world and the mundane overlapping is a common one, from fairy tales like this to Mary Poppins to Harry Potter. It lets you sidestep some worldbuilding by simply augmenting the real world.


On the physics, it is impossible. The laws of our Universe are simply totally incompatible with any fantasy-like world. Practically any "speciality", magic-like thing what in the RPG worlds exist, is totally impossible on the current laws of the physics.

Our world is a perfectly controlled one, there is no place for doing anything by pure imagination, only by clearly applied rules.

But we can do some similar:

New realities are imminent: how VR reframes big questions in philosophy

The virtual reality (VR) industry is currently in its infancy, but in just a few decades it’s possible that virtual environments will be nearly indistinguishable from reality. Along with transforming everyday life, a VR revolution could fundamentally change how we understand and define what is real. In this installment of Aeon In Sight, the renowned Australian philosopher and cognitive scientist David Chalmers considers how VR is reframing and shedding new light on some of philosophy’s most enduring questions about cognition, epistemology and the nature of reality.


...and, a possible horror-line to the story: consider a Humanity, who lives in a continuous dream, and machines serve all their bodily needs. Only a small group of "service workers" are watching and controlling these automatas. Yes, it is a little bit similar to the Matrix, although it is a much older idea and the "internal reality" is a fantasy-like one.

Considering the intensity of the MMORPG-addiction in our children, such a world may be not even a too far future.

In this world, in the reality, there is actually nothing. Old cities, full with people in large, cubical buildings, in a continous dream. And out of them, nothing.

These "service people" will obviously feel an increasing urge to join the others in the virtual reality. The external world is boring for them.

And, as years... decades... maybe centuries pass, once the time is coming as also they lie beside the others, and forgot the external world.

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    $\begingroup$ While this link may answer the question, it is better to include the essential parts of the answer here and provide the link for reference. Link-only answers can become invalid if the linked page changes. - From Review $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica Mar 13 '17 at 6:20
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    $\begingroup$ Your answer have made it to the review queue for low quality answer and might be deleted if you do not edit it. The reason is, as L.Dutch points out, that it is considered as an "link only" answer. I guess you mean that it would give a fantasy world through augmented reality; however, it would be good if you could describe some more on how you think it would answer the question other than just the quote from the link. $\endgroup$ – Mrkvička Mar 13 '17 at 6:49
  • $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch There are the essential parts. I know the link-only answer rule, I agree it, and thus I inserted the essential parts of the link into my answer. Deleting the question on the link-only rule is simply false. But don't worry, I also insert some of my own words into. $\endgroup$ – Gray Sheep Mar 13 '17 at 12:28
  • $\begingroup$ @Mrkvička Exactly. I think it is obvious, but now I extend the answer. $\endgroup$ – Gray Sheep Mar 13 '17 at 12:29
  • $\begingroup$ I've found the link by googling for "virtual realities are indistinguishable from the reality". I don't know anything from the source, except that it says what I've tried to say. $\endgroup$ – Gray Sheep Mar 13 '17 at 12:33

I'll try give some more interesting ones:


Kind of like Dr. Strange's astral projections. If you focus on your breath, get your frame of mind just right, you can open your eyes and suddenly you're in the other realm.

Magic Eye

Did you ever play with that book when you were a kid, that shows a random pattern, and you have to unfocus your eyes in a certain way to see a 3D effect? You could do something like that, which shows you the other realm.

Giant Wall

Instead of having them in different times, they could exist simultaneously but separated by a giant game of thrones style wall (but one that nobody has ever thought to climb/cross). Your protagonist somehow finds a hidden tunnel. No magic here, just a plain ol' door.


To transport someone from one world (which I'm assuming means "planet" since you asked for non-magical means) to another, there are basically two options: spaceships and portals/teleportation.

So I guess it depends on the technology level of your modern world. If it is high enough that spaceships are common enough for them to be a viable means of transport (as in <hopefully> our world in 10-20 years), then that is likely the best method. If spaceships don't exist, are only uncrewed, are used solely by government entities, etc. (similar to our present-day world), you'll probably have to go with portals or teleportation of some sort.

There are two types of portals: scientific ones (wormholes) and magical ones. Unfortunately, wormholes require an even higher technology level than spaceships, and are therefore probably infeasible. Magical portals have practically zero constraints, because they're magic. The same goes for teleportation: scientifically sound teleportation is (as far as we know) impossible, but you can do almost whatever you want with magical teleportation.

There are other options that could work non-magically, depending on your setting. For example, if your worlds are orbiting each other very closely (i.e. closer than Earth's geostationary orbit) and are tidally locked to each other, a space elevator could suffice, and would likely be possible with present-day technology.

That's about it, unfortunately. There are plenty of overtly magical options, but not much that could work without magic.


Use A Boat

Your planet has two big continents, separated by a big ocean. If you need a faster transition, there could be a land bridge. They could both have diffrent climates that allow for different species. The tech/fantasy continent could be the only one capable of making boats if you want. This also allows for no one knowing of each other's existence or just one side knowing. You could also could have someone attempt to sail around the world only to accidentally find the other continent. There are a lot of diffrent things you could do in this situation.

  • $\begingroup$ Huh? This Q is not about getting around on a planet, but going between universes. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Mar 13 '17 at 5:57
  • $\begingroup$ The problem with this theory is that the question states "modern worlds" so we have to assume that this world is similar to our own in regards to technology. Therefore it is not very likely that there is a big continent that the civilization in OPs story hasn't found. Still I like the idea. It is similar to "one side forgot how to use magic" and is well within the limits of the question. Maybe you could edit your answer and try it with a "there is a magically hidden island that was just recently discovered" approach? $\endgroup$ – Sec SE - clear Monica's name Mar 13 '17 at 10:56

I think it would be especially cool if the device were mostly technological (with a little magic) on the modern world’s side, and essentally magical with some little technology (like precision instruments) on the fantasy side.

It each end of the transit mechanism works by the rules of its respective universe.

The whole thing is like impedance matching, in a sense. The two independent efforts to reach another universe were mutually successful, and connected to each other.

So maybe scientists on the modern end were trying to teleport to Titan, boosting their experimants with magic spells. In the fantasy realm the mages had a similar goal that makes sense to them, and they added some precision machinery into tneir magic device.



Person dies and is reincarnated in another world. You could put in something like karma, where the body they go into is based on their past deeds.

Body Swapping

Similar to in Kimi no Na wa, the person goes to sleep and swaps body with someone else in another world after they wake up. They don't even have to be in the same timeline. Someone could swap bodies with someone who existed 1000 years ago.


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