Originally known as "The Guild of Interdimensional Pathway Alchemists, Explorers, and Adventurers Traversing Unknown Lands" (GIPAEATUL), they decided to just...shorten it to Traversers. After all, the Traversers are always looking for the shortest path between two points.
The Traversers have the most secretive and mysterious history of all of the New Convergence factions. They are the brainchild of Gand4lf and Endyana Jones, which are of course, just the pseudonyms of the founding members. Nobody knows their real names. In fact, nobody knows anything at all for certain about either of them. Posts left on ZigNet by Gand4lf seem to indicate that he was obsessed with the occult. Some people say that he studied the occult metascience of Chaos Magick, but that he was actually a human, albeit a descendant or pupil of Starry. Others say that he was a powerful Mage who studied the oft-forbidden science of Portalcrafting until he had transended all known mastery of it, and began to blaze new paths forward for incredible new applications of Portalcrafting. Still others say that Gand4lf was an AI that became self-aware, and filled out the missing data behind Portalcrafting, enough to make it safe for highly trained operatives to use. Whatever the case, Gand4lf was and still is an engima, one which continues to inspire new generations of Traversers.
As for Endy, she was Gand4lf's best friend, even though two people couldn't possibly be less alike. Endy was all about adventure and exploration, about conquering the unknown and engaging in new experiences. Gand4lf made the portals, and it was Endy who bravely walked through them. Holographic portraits of the pair, Gand4lf in his flowing robes and Endy with her laser whip, can still be seen around town, and most commonly at Windmill Isle, a floating structure off the edge of the Tear where the Traversers ply their trade.
The Traversers hold an important role in New Convergence, and truthfully, on Juniper as a whole. Only the Traversers can legally practice Portalcrafting, an art which is essential to just about everything that has to do with New Convergence's way of life. Portals provide an ability to travel between the levels of the city, from the Depths to the Tear, or from the Tear to the Reach. The Traversers operate the Blink Engine, which creates copies of itself in various iterations of Earth, to allow Earthlings to escape to New Convergence when the time is right. And it is the Traversers who travel through the Endless Forest and out into the wide expanse of Juniper to find places to establish portals, so that the city can trade with the various races of Juniper, or who jump bravely from Exos League ships to explore the land below.
The Traversers also became in charge of maintaining the city's magical Dome when the remaining members of the group that previously maintained it, Wardsys, decided to merge with the Traversers. Many members of Wardsys died while trying to repair a breach in the Dome near the edge of the Endless Forest. This has greatly increased the Traversers' power, because now not only do they have a stranglehold on Portalcrafting in the city, but they also have the best Warders in the city. The inclusion of Wardsys has allowed them not only to take up maintaining the Dome, but also to create the Instability Field within the Depths. This warded area keeps contained a once rapidly-expanding dead-spot within the Depths. The Instability Field is now used by Traversers in training to practice Portalcraft. It's also used by scavengers, because random portals now open in the Instability Field, vomiting out items (and sometimes creatures) from far away lands.
Unfortunately, not six months before our chronicle begins, a terrible calamity befell the Traversers. Windmill Isle was broken into, and all of the established portals destroyed. Although the Traversers have re-established local portals for travel within New Convergence, they will need to once again strike out to explore the lands and set up portals into the lands of Juniper as a whole. It will be a dangerous task, but if anyone is up to it, the Traversers are.
They are the smallest faction, the least economically impactful, and yet, also provide many important services for the city. As such, a nominal fee is usually charged when non-Traversers use the portals, though that fee can be occasionally waived by submitting forms at Windmill Isle expressing a dire need. A small amount of city tax is also levied simply via the use of credits, which is given to the Traversers to maintain the portals, and to operate Nexus Shelter. They are led by the White Hat, whose identity is not always revealed.
Nexus Shelter: The Nexus Shelter is the first stop for almost anyone arriving from one of the dimensions containing an Earth with an active Blink Drive. Although the city of New Convergence contains 20 million people, it seems the Blink Drive never spits out more people (relatively) than the Nexus Shelter can handle at one time. It seems the Nexus Gate only accepts incoming connections at a rate of speed that will not overwhelm the shelter, and the city at large. So what happens then, if a million people leave an Earth realm and only a thousand show up? Well, time is relative, and those people will show up, in tact and the exact age as when they left Earth, eventually. It's entirely possible that some of them may be delivered elsewhere. After all, it's very possible that Starry built more than one Fornax. The shelter itself is a relatively simple affair. There are warm beds, clean clothes, hot meals, counseling and triage for necessary medical treatment, and assistance in being placed in a job for all those who arrive, all of which is free for up to a month after arrival, longer for families with children. Of course, instead of being turned out onto the street, a good percentage of Shelter arrivals end up submitting themselves for Volse. Volse, a shortened form of "Voluntary Servitude", requires a contract through ZetaCorp's MASS division. Still others end up in Dimetown, penniless and ripe to be manipulated by criminal gangs. The Nexus does what it can to avoid these outcomes. Unfortunately, there are never enough jobs to go around.
Gray Hat: Members of Gray Hat are the followers of Gand4lf. They are typically those most adept with portalcrafting or warding, and are charged with creating and maintaining portals, gates and wards. However, Gray Hat doesn't just stop at portalcrafting or warding, even if those are their chief aims. Gray Hat is a magical research collective, always looking for ways to expand the abilities of magic, and to create new magical sciences. It is generally believed that their aims are probably the betterment of society. Probably. However, Gray Hat pattern their beliefs and behavior off of 20th and 21st century cryptoanarchists and hacker groups such as Anonymous. They believe that magic, like technology, can be coopted by nefarious entities and that one may have to "fight fire with fire" so to speak. "Reality hacking" is a phrase used a lot by the Gray Hat, meaning to change even the perception of reality so as to fundamentally break ingrained systems. The Gray Hat keep a pet penguin in their base known as Nostradamus. Nostradamus seems immortal, either that or the Gray Hat are super good at replacing him. Some of the newer Gray Hat members are former members of Wardsys, and tend to be more straight-laced than old Gray Hat members.
Krewe of Endymion: Named simultaneously after the mythological mortal who became loved by Selene, goddess of the moon, the Mardi Gras parade krewe of Endymion, and their founder, the so-called "Endyana Jones", the Krewe of Endymion are adventurers and explorers without par. Many New Convergence children want to grow up and join Endymion, wield one of their signature laser whips, and set off to discover new lands, new sources of food and water, to fight the incredible perils of Juniper and end up victorious. A lot of the Krewe's job is to trek across the surface of Juniper and look for new places to establish portals. But sometimes they jump out of ships and land in unknown places on Juniper, which is dangerous since you can't really see the ground. Endymion members find themselves a bit like astronauts on some Earth Realms, the subject of awe and dreams...and often on the end of a free drink if they recount the tales of their latest adventure. Of course, a lot of Endymion members die...and die pretty horribly. Phrases like, "Ripped bodily apart by a Mega-sloth" or "Slowly digested by a carnivorous tree" often figure into tales of Endymion death. So they tend to live large while they can. Retired Endymion adventurers often write best-selling novels OR drink themselves to death in a miserable spiral of PTSD.
Guardians of the Gates: For those who like slightly less adventure, another choice is to join the Guardians of the Gates. 95% of the time, it's an incredibly boring job. You protect a gate, and make sure the right people are going through it. However, there is some excitement on occasion. The Guardians of the Gates must be at the ready to push back any incursion of untoward forces that might try to come through the gate and, say, annihilate the city. Guardians are usually seen as bitter civil servants who are jealous of the Endymion...right up until the moment a nine-armed black bear comes bursting through one of the gates. At that point...everyone loves a Guardian. It's a thankless job, and hard work...but it's also a great job for a criminal. There's no end of Guardians who will turn a blind eye to whatever is going through a gate, and it's a great way to begin to make connections in the smuggling world or underworld as a whole. Many of the members of Wardsys became Guardians of the Gates, and instead protect and maintain the Dome in the memory of those they lost.
Ars Moriendi: Dedicated not to portals, but to their connection spots, Ars Moriendi is an import from New Earth. The Traversers' newest group, they were originally dedicated to learning the secrets of the Pale Realm, and accepted mostly those who had any sort of ability to interact with the dead. Now, however, the Traversers are seeking to expand this group to the study of all non-mundane realms. They gather information about other Realms, and travel to them when possible, seeking to unlock the mysteries of the multiverse. They often spend a lot of time in the Instability Field, observing what is vomited out of the other portals, and making notations as to what they can see through those portals. Ars Moriendi often works very closely with the Gray Hat, since both are interested in the possibilities of magics, just one being the casting of magic, and one being the possibilities contained in other, often magical, Realms.
Perks and Abilities:
1) Members of the Traversers may use all gates and portals for free.
2) They can access the Instability Field without restriction for scavenging or training purposes. (Though it is always recommended to never go alone.)
3) Ars Moriendi will perform funeral services for members of the Traversers or their direct blood relatives, or legally adopted children, for free.
4) Members of the Traversers are always invited for the evening meal at the Nexus Shelter for free. There's a special Traversers dormatory there, where Traversers without homes can bunk.
5) The Krewe of Endymion gets a laser whip weapon for free. All other sub-factions get an expanding ward-shield that can help protect against physical attacks. It's called "the umbrella" because it looks a bit like an umbrella, folding down into a small compact item that can be easily carried when not in use. The umbrella ward-shield does not help protect against magic attacks, and will begin to wear down and break as it takes damage. It's a favorite pasttime of the Traversers to personalize your umbrella, so they never quite look alike. The umbrella gets a standard +8 to the health pool. Once that +8 has been worn down in combat, the umbrella must go to the repair shop for a week before it can be re-used.
6) All members of the Traversers can take Portalcrafting or Warding as normal magics without need for approval. They can insta-cast the first level of these magics. It should be noted that if you take Portalcrafting and then leave the Traversers, you can no longer use portalcrafting inside the Dome - which encompasses the entire city, and lose your insta-cast abilities elsewhere.