This article became necessary because of a couple elements I felt obligated to include in Part Two of the Codex of Doom post series. Enjoy, as I continue to work on Part Two!
The Atlanteans were a civilization that fused magic and technology into a well-balanced whole. Science, engineering, and spellcraft were intellectual and practical disciplines that cross-polinated each other, and the Atlanteans spread their imperial colonies across the galaxy and even onto other planes of existence.
While spaceships were used to move the vast amounts of people an equipment between worlds, magic teleportation circles were often used to move around on individual planets. Nobles, high-ranking military and government officials, and skilled sorcerers preferred this modie of travel because of its safety and swiftness.
Up to 12 living beings and any items they are wearing or carrying may be transported via a teleportation circle at one time. Once all travelers are within the circle, the command word is spoken, and they are all teleported to their destination with a flash of magical energy.
ATLANTEAN TELEPORTATION CIRCLES
There were two kinds of teleportation circles in wide use during the Golden Age of Atlantis, which included the centuries they maintained colonies on Earth: Permanant and Temporary Circles.
Regardless of what kind of teleportation circle being used at the point of departure, Atlantean teleportation circles always took travelers to a preset destination. There, a permanent ritual circle designed to recieve arriving teleporters was carved into the floor of an otherwise barren room that typically only had one obvious exit. The destination circles, were often warded by secondary enchantments (25% chance), such as forcefields that required a password or passkey to deactivate. Back before the destruction of Atlantis's colonies on Earth, there would be guards present in these rooms who could vett those arriving and release any wards. Now, if someone were to end up in one of these warded circle, they may well die trapped within it before discovered.
Permanent Circles: Permanent teleportation circles are carved into the floors of caves, at the center of stone circles, or in chambers deep within Atlantean pyramids or underground fortfications. They are usually ten feet in diameter and at the center of a space that is at least twice the size of the circle. While most are obvious to all but the most unobservant, some may blend into the patterns of tiled floors with elaborate patterns.
Only specially trained magical artisans in ancient Atlantis knew how to make these circles, and they used highly specialized tools and components to create them. It usually took thirty hours (spread over three days) to create a permanent circle, with a main artisan and his or her apprentice working steadily.
Permanent circles are works of art. While their designs contain certain basic symbols and patterns needed to focus and channel, as well as the command word to activate the magic, each circle is adorned with lines of poetry, artful patterns, symbols representing various magical traditions, and whatever else the creator of the circle might find beautiful, moving, and worth preserving and sharing with others. No two permanent circles are alike.
Indviduals with knowledge of Atlantean magic systems or culture may take a full round action to examine the circle and make a Spellcraft skill check (DC12) to determine the phrase that activates the circle--which is usually the circle's destination. ("Posideon's Citadel", "Imperial Guard Head Quarters", "Beachhead", "Gardens of Olympus", "Immortal's Rest" and so on.)
Permanent circles are always created at locations where ley lines intersect. There is no chance of failure unless the destination circle has been damaged or is at least partially buried. In such instances, the teleport circle doesn't function.
Temporary Circles: Temporary teleportation circles may be created by any character who has the ability to cast 5th-level spells and has at least 7 ranks in Spellcraft. The creator must also have a stick of red or green chalk and a stick of charchoal that have been enchanted by an Atlantean Master of Conjuration.
The creator of a temporary circle must either have a diagram to work from, or have memorized the diagram at some point in the past. (A character working from memory must make a Spellcraft skill check of DC17 to successfully). It takes 10 minutes minus the character's Dexterity bonus to draw the circle correctly. Just before it is completed, all characters who are to be transported must be within the circle, as well as the creator. Once the circle is complete--with the outer circumference being the last part to be finalized. The teleportation circle is then consumed in a flash of magical energy, and all within it are transported to the destination determined by the circle's design, leaving no trace behind except a faint aura of conjuration magic.
Designs for temporary circles are always bare-bones and feature none of the artistry of the permament circles; they are strictly utilitarian. They usually take travelers to the same locations as the permanent circles--with the destinations built into the design and automatically triggered once the circle is completed--but they may also be tailored to pre-arranged locations where a temporary arrival circle has been made. For this to work, an arrival circle must be created.
Creating a temporary arrival for a teleportation circle requires either a diagram of a destination circle, two hours of time, and a successul Spellcraft skill check of DC20; or extensive knowledge of Atlantean magic systems with an emphasis on Conjuration, five hours of time, and a succssful Spellcraft skill check of DC25. Like the temporary teleportation circles, the arrival circles are also one-and-done ritual circles--they are consumed by the magic that brings travelers to them.
Circles going to temporary destinations have the same chance of going awry as regular teleport spells. A check is made seperately for each person being teleported, and they are based off how familiar the creator of the teleportation circle is with the location of the temporary destination circle.