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These are often referred to as "portals".
On the world map, area boundaries are marked as small white/bluish vortexes.
These mark where you can move from one zone to another. An area boundary is represented by a glimmering curtain of bluish-white light in Prophecies and Factions, and as a thick ring of golden light in Nightfall and Eye of the North. Through the portal you can see the adjacent area. Walking through this curtain results in the next zone being loaded.
Most area boundaries have a Resurrection Shrine nearby. Many of those that don't will act as resurrection shrines so long as at least one resurrection shrine exists in the zone and none are yet activated.
The following mechanics exist with regards to passing through a portal:
- If one party member passes through the area boundary, all members of the party will be transported with him, regardless of where they were. This can be useful to reunite lost or dead party members (the dead will be resurrected), although going back and forth between areas is usually not the preferred method of resurrection. When you re-enter an explorable area, all mobs the party encountered will also be resurrected, and reset to their initial positions.
- Passing through a portal while one or more party members are not loaded (gray health bar in the party window) will kick them from the party.
- If heroes or henchmen pass through a portal, they will be teleported to the location of a human party member, and any flags that sent them there will be removed. This has the advantage of allowing you to discover the true location of a portal without having to trigger the normal transition, which is useful if you wish to cross that portal without doing so as described below.
Crossing Portals without Triggering Transition
- If you go from the The Black Curtain to the Cursed Lands sticking to the left hand edge of the north portal, you can cross this portal without triggering the normal transition. An end of the world can be encountered in Cursed Lands.
- The methods described below are often easier if you know the "true" location of the portal. For many portals, the visible portal is different from the actual area that triggers the transition. Though it is often only by a step or two, it can be enough to make a difference when using the methods listed below. You can find this location more easily through one of the following methods:
- Use flags to place a hero or the henchmen next to the portal. If they teleport back to you and the flag is cleared, they crossed or at least stepped into the boundary; place the flag farther away from the portal until this doesn't happen. Otherwise, move the flag closer to the portal, and sometimes even beyond the visible portal, until the hero or henchmen teleport back to you and the flag is cleared.
- Simply approach the portal slowly with heroes or henchmen, stopping repeatedly to allow them to take their usual positions in front of you. When they get close enough to the portal, they will repeatedly run into it and teleport back to your location.
- You can fight and kill an enemy through a portal. If you do, you can teleport past the portal with Necrotic Traversal. If you approach the portal from "behind", you will be teleported to where you would be if you had approached it from the right direction.
- If an enemy is still alive while on the other side of the portal, you may be able to use any skill that shadow steps to a foe to cross the portal without triggering the transition.
- It is occasionally possible to shadow step to an ally on the other side of the portal using Death's Retreat, Recall, Return, Shadow Meld, or Ebon Escape.
- The easiest method currently available is to use Heart of Shadow or Viper's Defense. These can be used on your character to immediately bring you across the portal, or by using it on a hero and then using the above method. Either way, this is best done with at least two characters or a conveniently placed NPC in order to control the direction of the shadow step initiated by these skills. Otherwise, these skills initiate shadow stepping in random directions.
- In some cases, this method does not work on the actual area boundary, but it is occasionally possible to shadow step through the walls just to the side of the portal instead. They do not always prove to be an obstacle to shadow stepping, and often this will not trigger the normal rezone even when other methods do.
Historical note: Heart of Shadow and Viper's Defense always initiated random shadow stepping before the May 14, 2009 update. This still allowed crossing some portals without triggering the transition in some cases, but those attempting to do so usually had to make many attempts and endure many accidental transitions before this would work.
- This is a useful trick for anyone wishing to view ends of the world, and finding one of these seems to be the most common result by far.
- In some cases, more than one explorable area share the same terrain block. This can allow mob-free exploration of some zones for the Cartographer titles.
- Some areas not otherwise accessible, or otherwise accessible only during special events, can be accessed using these methods, allowing cartographers to gain additional exploration progress.