Teleportation is the act of traveling from Point A to Point B directly without passing through all those annoying intervening points. The word was coined by legendary weirdologist Charles Fort to explain the mysterious appearance and disappearance of things. He didn't neccessarily beleive in teleportation himself, but that never stopped him from writing about something. Note that teleportation is traditionally assumed to be more or less instant.
The ability to appear and disappear in a puff of smoke was an attribute of wizards, Jinn, demons and other professional magic users. In more modern fiction, teleportation is achieved through psychic means or through the manipulation of higher dimensions, such as through a tesseract. Alternatively, for any civilisation which has mastered the mass-energy conversion, teleportation can be carried out by converting the traveller into data formatted energy, transmitting them to their destination and then reassembling them into matter at the other end. Note, however, that supernatural teleportation can also quite handily happen by state conversion or space folding so it's not an either/or things…
Some other abilities, such as being capable of moving through alternate dimensions or simply running very fast can also look a lot like teleportation. Things with no physical body are also liable to be able to do this sort of thing much more easily.
Setting conventions will need to determine who can teleport, under what circumstances and from where to where - one in which anyone can teleport from one public teleportation booth to another on payment of a small fee is very different to one in which a powerful wizard can simply vanish and pop up somewhere else.
Game and Story Use
- It's important to keep in mind that widespread long-range teleportation can seriously mess with your setting. Not only are travel times much shorter, but forming a line or a wall isn't much good against scry-and-die.
- Also, people who can teleport are much harder to catch.
- More generally, instantaneous point to point travel eliminates a lot of journey narrative which would otherwise be fundamental to adventure.
- Of course, to be truly effective teleportation needs to be accurate and reliable … although a TPK caused by an optimistic PC wizard dropping the entire party into solid rock will also ruin your campaign but in a different way.
- "Hostile teleporting" whether in the form of traps or as a direct magical attack, is a different thing altogether.
- Accurate short range teleporting (sometimes called blinking) may or may not be as much of a game breaker - at this level it's on a par with being superhumanly fast.