Moongates are magical doors made of moonlight, and a fast, easy and safe way to travel through Britannia. There are four known types of Moongates, the properties of which have changed through the ages. The naturally-occurring blue Moongates are most common; there are also the artificially created red, silver and black gates.
Blue Moongates appear at eight places in Britannia, where the Moonstones are buried in the ground. Their function and destination is pending on the twin Moons Trammel and Felucca. Only very powerful artifacts, like Lord British's Amulet, can create a Blue Moongate somewhere else. The system of the Blue Moongates changed several times in the series.
- The Blue Moongates were first seen in Ultima III. Back then, Trammel's phase decided which gate was open, while Felucca's phase determined the destination gate. The same system applied without changes to Ultima IV (although the entry/exit points had changed significantly since the re-forming of the land after the great cataclysm). Both Moons at the same phase either meant no travel, or at double Full Moon to the Shrine of Spirituality.
- In Ultima V, the system changed significantly; the moon highest in the sky determined the destination gate, and the Moongates only opened at night. The same applied to Ultima VI, but the Moonstones were stolen by the Gargoyles. When both Moons were at the same height on the horizon, the gate led to the Shrine of Spirituality.
- By Ultima VII, the Sphere Generator of the Guardian disturbed the Moongates greatly in their function. One gate only led to the next higher one, and they were open all the time. In the end, the destruction of the Sphere closed the Moongates, ending their existence.
A Blue Moongate was mentioned in The Book of Lore as being the way that Lord British used to arrive to Sosaria. It appeared shortly after an amulet appeared on a rock-bordered clearing on Earth, and it transported British to Sosaria.
Another, similar Blue Moongate was the gateway used by the Avatar to get to Britannia in Ultima IV and Ultima V. This one also appeared in a rock-bordered clearing. In the first game, the Moongate left an ankh amulet in its place. In the second, the Avatar summoned the gate by placing the amulet and the Codex Coin (which had been magically sent from Britannia) in the clearing.
- New Moon (0): Just NE of Moon
- Crescent Waxing (1): Just outside the Snake Dungeon
- First Quarter (2): Tiny mountain enclosure by towne Devil Guard
- Gibbous Waxing (3): S edge of map, S of the Hidden City of Dawn
- Gibbous Waning (5): On the Isle of Fire (location shown, but not Isle itself)
- Last Quarter (6): Just E of the towne Devil Guard
- Crescent Waning (7): Just S of the Dungeon of Time
- New Moon: Moonglow
- Crescent Waxing: Britain
- First Quarter: Jhelom
- Gibbous Waxing: Yew
- Full Moon: Minoc
- Gibbous Waning: Trinsic
- Last Quarter: Skara Brae
- Crescent Waning: New Magincia
Red Moongates are created with the Orb of the Moons, a very powerful and ancient artifact. They can lead practically anywhere, according to the Orb's placement and distance. With a Red Moongate, travel between Worlds becomes possible. However, the more distant the travelling destination, the more precise the placement has to be.
The first Red Moongate appeared in Ultima V, when Lord British used it to escape dungeon Doom; a little later, Lord Blackthorn left Britannia through another of these gates. In Ultima VI, the Orb of the Moons was used frequently and often, after the Avatar first used a Red Moongate to travel to Britannia. At the end of Savage Empire, a Red Moongate is used to leave the world of Eodon. A modified Orange Moongate was created in Martian Dreams by manipulating the Orb; see "Silver Moongates" below for more information.
There are other Red Moongates that have been seen that may not have been directly created by the Orb. In Ultima VII, the Time Lord sent a Red Moongate to bring the Avatar to Trinsic. A Red Moongate also blocks access to the Sphere Generator.
With the destruction of the Guardian's Sphere Generator, the Orb ceased to function, and no more Red Moongates were created.
See "Orb of the Moons Locations" for how to use the Orb properly to create a Red Moongate.
Silver Moongates, also known as Time Doors or Time Gates, are used for time travel. The destination in time each gate leads to is fixed, and can't be changed. They were not bound to any phases of the moons, but appeared and disappeared frequently.
They are a rare and unusual type of Moongate known to exist only in Ultima II. A result of Minax meddling with time itself to destroy Earth, they vanished after the end of the game. These gates connected the following times:
See List of Timegate Locations for a deep insight of the system.
Although not appearing as silver, a Cubic Black Time Gate appeared in the first installment of the Worlds of Ultima series, The Savage Empire. This gate was an artificial creation of the Queen of the insectoid Myrmidex species, in a plot to destroy her race's one-time masters, the reptilian Kotl. It was created by using a corrupted Moonstone.
In the second and final installment of the Worlds of Ultima series, Martian Dreams, another kind of gate was used for time travel. In this case, the Avatar travelled with Dr. Spector back in time to the year 1895 by way of electrical manipulation of the Avatar's Orb of the Moons, using equipment found in Nikola Tesla's Secret Lab. The resulting gate was an unusual shade of bright orange, possibly the silver of a timegate mixed with a red Moongate as the result of artificially creating a timedoor with the Orb of the Moons.
Black Moongates are artificial creations that allow travel through space and time. They differ from other types of Moongates in that they are made not from lunar energy, but instead constructed from a mysterious substance known as Blackrock. They are not governed by Britannia's lunar cycles as are traditional Moongates; Blackrock Gates must be powered by external power sources, such as planetary conjunctions like the Astronomical Alignment or Pagan's Titanic Objects.
Other known Blackrock portals were the Black Jewel found in sewers beneath Lord British's Castle in Ultima Underworld II, the Black Obelisk at Serpent Isle used by Batlin, the Black Obelisk of Pagan at the end of Ultima VIII, and possibly the Cubic Gate manifested by the Myrmidex Queen of Savage Empire.
Purple moongates appear solely in Ultima IX. While one of the game's developers jokingly said that the purple moongates were a mix of red and blue gates, there is no in-game explanation for this change, nor for the reappearance of moongates in the first place in light of the events of Ultima VII.
Since the moons are out of alignment during the events of the game, it is not known if they affect their behavior. They can only be summoned through an Orb of the Moons, which works quite differently from the ones that historically called forth red moongates.
Purple moongates also appear out of thin air rather than rising from the ground.
The Siege Perilous
Not a moongate by definition, the gateway known as the Siege Perilous was the means by which The Stranger entered Sosaria prior to Ultima IV. It is possible that it was created through sheer force of will by Lord British, as he envisioned the kind of hero his people needed in the three Ages of Darkness, or it may have been created by his Orb of the Moons. Whatever the true case may be, the inner workings of this mysterious portal are still unknown.
From a bed of dry leaves, the glint of metal caught his eye. It was a silver medallion in the shape of a great serpent. In his hand, the medallion felt unusually warm. Suddenly a line of blue light rose from the leaves, expanding into a door of shimmering light. The youth stared, astonished, then stepped through. The door disappeared and autumn with it. Green fields now surrounded the youth.
A new, much larger Siege Perilous has been discovered. The gateway will now hold four adventurers instead of just one... Total concentration among the party is necessary for the gateway of the Siege Perilous to open. A moment of transition is experienced, then... After the darkness of transition clears from thine eyes, a sample view of Sosaria appears.
The greatest transport are the hidden Moon gates. They are similar, but less powerful, to the Siege Perilous that hast brought thy Party hither. Passing through a Moon Gate when it is active will teleport thy Party to hidden powers. Access to many glens of the old knowledge are restricted by the Moon Gates. No creature of the Dark can ever break through the wards that protect them. The coming and going of the Moon Gates is somehow related to the twin Moons, Trammel and Felucaa, that grace out skies. The cartographer, Hawkwind, was supposedly greatly excited about a discovery concerning the true nature of the Moon Gates, when he was attacked. The success of thy quest may well hinge on thou solving this ancient mystery.
Under the auspices of Lord British, studies of the properties of the Moon gates are beginning to yield a clearer understanding of the Gates' mystical workings. People forecast that future citizens will use these gates as a normal means of distant travel. The destinations of the gates appear to be rigidly bound to the phases of the twin moons Trammel and Felucca. The appearance and disappearance of the gates are represented on most maps of the realm as phases of the moons. The gate active is indicated by the phase of the moon Trammel. Once a gate is entered, thy destination is indicated by the phase of the moon Felucca.
Many tales are told of knights traveling from towne to towne, even across water, merely by stepping into a wall of light. There are few verifiable reports of moongate travel. However, sifting through those reports that are verifiable, it has become clear that they operate as follows.
Each night at the apex of the first moon, Trammel, the eight moongates appear, rectangles of shimmering blue light rising from the ground. They remain until Felucca reaches her apex. While the moongates are open, a traveler entering one will be instantly transported to another moongate in a different locale. The traveler's destination is determined by the phase of the moon closest to midheaven. Moongate travel is said to be fast and safe; however, there have been confusing and conflicting reports of what transpires when the moons are equidistant in the midheaven. Moongate travelers should exercise caution.
There exists an extraordinary cosmic association between the gravity of the moons and the delicate fabric of time and space. As though pulling the strings of some cosmic marionette, the moons cause radiant moongates to appear on the land below. Step through one of these shimmering corridors of light and you will be transported to a new time or place. Moongates generally appear at locations where fragments of extraterrestrial rocks called "moonstones" have been buried. There are at least two types of moongates - blue and red.
Blue moongates, generated by moonstones, generally focus on destinations in but a single world - the world in which they appear. Their power, awesome though it may seem, is limited, allowing the traveler to teleport only from the location of one moonstone to that of another. The moonstone the user travels to is determined by the phase of the moon that appears directly overhead in the sky. Through experimentation and observation, the moongate traveler can correlate the phases of the highest moon with the destination the gate will select.
Red gates, generated by the powerful Orb of the Moons, can send the traveler anywhere in Britannia. In fact, the holder of this black stone can teleport to worlds other than his own. I, Lord British, have used the red gates often, but there is, no doubt, much more to be learned about these gates.
During this time of magic, a strange form of travel existed, through doorways of light that were often called "Moongates." There were at least two types of Moongates - blue and red. Blue Moongates sprang up wherever fragments of extraterrestrial rocks called "moonstones" were buried. These gates allowed magical travel from one gate to another.
Red Moongates are generated by the powerful artifact known as the Orb of the Moons. A red Moongate can take a traveller anywhere in Britannia. It has even been said that it can also be used to travel to other worlds. There have only been two red Moongates in all of known existence - one used by Lord British, and the other by the Avatar.
Little is known about these gates, but like magic spells, Moongates no longer function as they once did. Use of Moongates today cannot be discouraged strongly enough. They are dangerous and their use in this less-than-reliable state has resulted in numerous fatalities.
- Richard Garriott borrowed the concept of Moongates from the Monty Python movie Time Bandits.