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Each of the roles has a specific Gate when the game starts, and those tiles are marked with the color of that role. For example, the red engineer starts at the Bronze Gate. After the game starts, the Gates just act like any other tile, but what if the weirdness of Forbidden Island tied those locations to those roles in some way?
In this variant, as the game starts and Forbidden Island begins to sink, some paranormal event has "tuned" each of the Gates to the person who started there. For some reason, the Pilot and Fool's Landing do not have a similar link. During the game the Gates mystically exchange people who cross by their path with the player who started there.
In both versions of this variant, there is a requirement that all Gates must not be sunk. If any become sunk then the magic of the Gates is nullified.
1) In the easy version, whenever a player is on a gate, they may spend an action to exchange places with the player who began at that gate. For example, the Messenger spends one action moving to the Gold Gate, then another action to change places with the Navigator who started there. The Messenger is now where the Navigator was.
2) In the extreme version, whenever a player lands on a gate, they automatically exchange places with the player who began at that gate. While this costs no action, it is mandatory and could work to disadvantage. Players should feel free to exclaim: "Why do I keep coming back here?" whenever they player is forced back to their starting position.
Whenever two players switch places, the active player may spend additional actions to give treasure cards to the person they switched places with.
Another idea: when a gate sinks, that character's special ability is lost. (That's some weird-ass magic, admittedly..)
One problem is that it makes the Pilot even more powerful, relative to the other characters. Maybe the Pilot loses the ability when the landing is flooded?