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Portal-using Time Travel


Michael Hopcroft
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How would one effectively run a campaign using time travel over which the PCs have no conscious control?

 

The basic idea iwa first described in a Different Worlds article by Tony Lee that I still wish I have. Basically this fantastically powerful being has recruited agents to go all over time and space to 'fix" what he sees as having gone wrong. They go on their mission, leave the area through a "nexus" portal, and emerge fully healed, rested, fed and recovered 9but with no conscious memory of eating, sleeping or healing) at the site of their next mission. Since the portals are completely under the control of the superbeing, the PC agents have no control over where or when they go next.

 

Sometimes they would be fighting an enemy organization of time travelers trying to change hisotry in their favor, who have more control over where they go and would love to locate and kill the superbeing. other times they would just go someplace, fix whatever is wrong, and leave.

 

Would players put up with a campaign in which theyhave no control over what happens next after the adventure? or would the right sort of players roll with the punches and keep going, hoping to either meet the superbeing face-to-face or return to their original homes?

 

Since the superbeing bought the time portals, the PCs might not need time-travel pwoers of their own besides a device that tells them where the next nexus point in the world they are currently in is located. Basically nexuses appear where and when the superbeing wants them to -- and only then.

 

Possible storylines include preventing the extinction of Neanderthal Man, stopping someone from completing a 'supertask" experiment and thus destroying the universe, and preventing the use of anacrhonstic technology to change history. The scope would be the entire omniverse, but the GM would only need to plan one adventure at a time -- there need not be an overweening plot arc.

 

Great TV series, but terrible RPG campaign?

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This sounds a lot like the basic premise of the old TV series The

Time Tunnel (two guys moving through time and landing in

different points in Earth's past or future at random, while the

folks back at Mission Control try to find a way to bring them

back to the present), and to a certain extent Quantum Leap

as well.

 

Now there's an idea for a cinematic time-travel campaign

scenario: have the Time Tunnel guys land somewhen in

the '70s or '80s at the same time that Doc Beckett is "leaping"

into another person's life, only to find that he's landed in the

body of one of the other two time-travellers.

 

C'est diabolique, oui?

 

Space Cadet :D

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This sounds like a campaign that I would like to play in. Although I would not like the hassles of running it. I even have thought of a wicked character that would fit in with this campaign but that will come later. Basically the way that I would handle the time travel is to disallow the PCs the ability and since they can only travel between adventures make that (and any other effect) to be simply a game effect, under full control of the GM. Although I would prefer for the game not to get to the point that the PCs are chasing the great evil being or some such plot.

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Originally posted by McCoy

Disads would be difficult. No DNPC's, no rep, no hunteds, no rival unless it was a PC; would have to lean toward Psych crocks and Physical crocks.

 

Also makes a difference if they were stranded accidently, shanghied by the FPB, or voluntiered.

 

Actually, as far as disads go, you could possibly get away

with taking Hunted as one of your disads, especially if it was

in the form of the Floating Hunted disadvantage from Dark

Champions: Heroes of Vengeance.

 

Space Cadet :cool:

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some thoughts

 

Reminds me a lot of the game "Fringe Worthy" - gee, that dates me.

 

I would say that players won't mind the concept since it is interesting but your players may vary. I have one player that loves fantasy (using Hero no less) but can't stand superpowers at all. So your mileage may vary.

 

As for disads, you certainly could have hunteds (rival time travelers were mentioned). DNPCs would be more problematic but certainly possible.

 

There are so many disads you could take though - I mean you start out as a fish out of water no matter what and that compounds the fact that most likey you have to hide the fact that you are a time traveler.

 

Imagine finding yourself on a mission. It appears to be a medium sized industrial town in Japan. A calender in the room you Teeped into show's it's early August 1945... and all that that implies...

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Re: some thoughts

 

Originally posted by CorpCommander

Reminds me a lot of the game "Fringe Worthy" - gee, that dates me.

 

I would say that players won't mind the concept since it is interesting but your players may vary. I have one player that loves fantasy (using Hero no less) but can't stand superpowers at all. So your mileage may vary.

 

As for disads, you certainly could have hunteds (rival time travelers were mentioned). DNPCs would be more problematic but certainly possible.

 

There are so many disads you could take though - I mean you start out as a fish out of water no matter what and that compounds the fact that most likey you have to hide the fact that you are a time traveler.

 

Imagine finding yourself on a mission. It appears to be a medium sized industrial town in Japan. A calender in the room you Teeped into show's it's early August 1945... and all that that implies...

 

The tail end of CorpCommander's post reminds me of the Ray

Walston episode of the time-travel series Voyagers, when

his character (a retired Voyager) decided to spend his remain-

ing years on a South Pacific island. Only problem was, the par-

ticular island was about to be used for an above-ground atomic

test.

 

Space Cadet :cool:

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Disads for this game are EASY-

 

Watched- By the Guy in Charge of the Nexus- MoPow, All the Time, Punish

 

Nexus Crew Member- Heck, the poor PC's have almost NO support structures in place when they arrive on mission sites. Much like Star Gate. This would easily be a 15-25 pt disad, imo, every pc could take. Nothing like going in blind to a potentially hostile world every few days, with no say in the matter.

 

Psych Lim- Wants to go home (likely a common one in the game) all the time, total/strong

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I'm actually running a game very similar to this, right now. Except it's not through time, it's parallel universes. The PCs are agents working for a mysterious organization called "Central" that provides them with package deal superpowers and a selection of James Bond style gear based on their mission. (Different worlds have different rules about what tech or magic works, etc.)

 

It's interesting. I handwaved disadvantages almost completely - they have about 50 points from the campaign itself (Watched, Duty, Social Lims, etc.). Just required that everybody have interesting personalities and backgrounds.

 

I have to say it's more work than any game I've ever run (by a considerable margin), but it's neat being able to change all the rules on demand. I imagine time travel would be about the same, except with the advantage of more familiar settings.

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Why not have the best of all universes and run the campaign in such a way that you can go through time, space, AND paralell universes?

 

The whole point is that the characters, once they are in the service of the FBE, never know WHAT they will face when they step through the next portal. They could go from a SF starship to a wizard's tower in a single step, and go from fighting Nazis one day to Orcs the next and Xenovores the next....

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Why not have the best of all universes and run the campaign in such a way that you can go through time, space, AND paralell universes?

In the campaign you're proposing, it'd cause no trouble at all.

 

IMC, there are technobabble reasons to avoid it:

1) The rules for time travel vary from world to world, as do the consequences. And this is in places where it's possible at all: there are plenty of places it just doesn't work.

2) Time travel tends to generate dimensional "static": large quantities of unexpected parallel universes. This tends to mess with Central's ability to target gates.

 

As a result, when the PCs asked about it, they were simply told that Central's official field policy on time travel is, "Just say no."

 

After edit:

So to answer your question: it's just not how I pictured my world fitting together. :)

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