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Quietus
2011-04-24, 08:08 PM
I ask you, People of the Playground, what does this phrase bring to mind for you? Yet again, my brain is trying to twist off ideas in random directions, despite me not being able to put another game on my pile right now, so I'd like to explore it a little here, and put some ideas in the storage locker for a later plot.


The gist in my head : I want a game that somehow incorporates time travel. I'm not sure how to handle that, but I want the PCs to only be limited by the mortal danger they place themselves in. Theoretically, if they decide to simply wait things out, I want that to be an option. I'm thinking some kind of location-centric, literal plot device that can be used to transport characters back and forth through time. What they have to stop.. I'm not sure of yet. Perhaps an equally savvy time traveling abomination, and the PC's plot device was derived as a way to go back in time and fix the apocalypse the world has been subject to. Think Chrono Trigger after the Day of Lavos to start things off, and then allow time travel from there.

So, I ask you - if your DM came to you and pitched a game like this, and titled the storyline "Time means nothing", what does that bring to mind for you? What would you expect? What would you hope not to see? And what would you try to manipulate/abuse for profit and lulz?

Xefas
2011-04-24, 08:11 PM
You might want to look at this thread by Yuki (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=193033). It gives me the kind of vibe that I think you might be looking for.

Mutazoia
2011-04-24, 09:43 PM
GURPS has a whole time travel suppliment and generic campaign idea. Personally I've run this type of campaign and based it on the old "Voygers (http://www.voyagersguidebook.net/)" Tv show from the 80's. In short, the characters in the show have a device (called the Omni) that transports them to specific points in history, where they have to make sure that events unfold the way they are supposed to. The Omni has a red light that tells the characters that something is wrong with that moment in history, and a green light when things are fixed.

The drawback was that the campaign was rather eppisodic and played more like a TV show than an ongoing campaign so I had to introduce a rival group that was trying to establish a different future.

I also did one based on Heinlein's "Number of the Beast." Where a scientist discovers a time/continua device that transports the main characters through alternate worlds (they visit Oz, and make a very brief stop in E.E. Doc Smith's Lensman series, for example) while being hunted by a very determined mysterious race of beings bent on killing them.

So, I would suggest watching a few episodes of Voyagers (Netflix has them) as well as reading some of Heinlein's books (Number of the Beast and most of his books written after it) to get some ideas.

BayardSPSR
2011-04-24, 10:15 PM
Rip off Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask as much as you can? That was the first thing to come to mind for me.

Jamin
2011-04-24, 10:48 PM
Rip off Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask as much as you can? That was the first thing to come to mind for me.
Chrono Trigger is much better. Majora's Mask's time travel annoyed me and Ocarina's time travel felt unneeded.

NichG
2011-04-25, 01:02 AM
I've run games involving time travel before. It can be interesting to do if you're quick on your mental feet in figuring out consequences and the like.

"Time means nothing" is an interesting catch phrase for this. The obvious interpretation is 'we have complete control of time, and therefore time is irrelevant to us' which might be a good starting point for the party. You could then graduate from that as the plot goes on to the discovery of beings for whom, quite literally, time is meaningless (not necessarily Lovecraftian things, though I guess thats traditional).

For instance, maybe there's a guy who no matter when the party goes to meet with him, all their meetings just coincidentally seem to be sequential. So if they go back before, this one guy remembers previous 'future' meetings. Maybe there are other Glitches (or Timeless, or some other capitalized descriptive noun for these kinds of beings) that remember things across time.

The campaign could culminate in the party dealing with having to exist in a universe where time and sequentiality threatens to collapse, where time becomes meaningless in the face of some ineffable chaos of acausality. The Glitches are symptoms of this, but also the key to salvation, as they represent a sort of lighthouse of ordering of events when traditional time breaks down, since their lives are always encountered sequentially.

Another take on it would be that the PCs are beings that somehow were saved or spared or whatever a short time before their final death. They can exist 'forever' timelessly outside of history, but every moment they spend in time eats away at their clock (thus 'time means Nothing' would be the reading, as if they spend too much time in the universe they become nothing). Perhaps they have been grabbed from time for a purpose, and can continue to operate on the borrowed moments of others from lost timelines, repurposed to let them do their job as temporal auditors, auditors who are always on a short leash a few days from destruction to prevent them from abusing the power they wield.

Bang!
2011-04-25, 03:36 AM
I ran a game where my goal was to make the PCs into every important figure in the game.

It was pretty lighthearted space game. Kind of Red Dwarf-modeled, with the PCs as goofy inept redshirts on a spaceship. They were supposed to be guarding an alien-space-thingy during a space pirate boarding (it was a humans-only universe, so that macguffin was special). They did everything right to guard it, but it disappeared. They ended up stealing the crappy pirate shuttle and running off to get the alien-space-thingy back.

I was going full-bore into the uncharted unknown thing, and was tossing all sorts of space monsters and stuff at the PCs to throw the players off a little bit. Eventually the party got in a space fight with the biggest baddest class of spaceship around, just outside of an asteroid belt, and let them get their asses kicked (but still survive).

That's when I started adding timey-wimey space holes, but I didn't let onto it immediately. The players ended up seeing their original spaceship, getting into space banter with its crew (I was able to drop a couple lines that I'd mentioned over the intercoms in the first session), taking fire, and crashing onto an uncharted planet. Some rogue human outposts were found. Shadowy plots were revealed, involving the party's original employers. Then I distracted the players a little bit with time-hopping alien monsters.

The players eventually gunned down an alien spaceship and captured it, but its life support systems were broken. The specific piece they needed to replace it looked awfully familiar to the group's tech guy. The players decided that they'd have to steal the part that had been stolen from their spaceship in the first session, and that the best time would be while they [in the pirate shuttle] were distracting the gunnery of their original employers and while the least competent and most predictable guard crew [them] was on duty. Hijinks ensued.

I tried not to let the game get too directly involved with the players screwing with themselves, but I let little repercussions keep emerging, and I slammed the PCs whenever the players let paradoxes happen. Eventually, the players got their hands on the spaceship I'd established as the biggest baddest thing around. I think they lost track of who they were fighting, and in a space fight with a crappy pirate shuttle, just outside an asteroid field. They wound up easily disabling the thing. I was starting to feel pretty slick working the party back into their own plotline. And then, without making a big deal about it, the players blew the crappy pirate shuttle up.

Just saying "Alright. The End" was surprisingly unsatisfying. But the game was still really neat, even if I couldn't have gotten the PCs to tie up loose ends (I never did manage to get them to get themselves to be the sinister archvillains, which was my main goal in the game).

Quietus
2011-04-25, 06:47 AM
Hmm... good ideas all around, so far. I'm glad to hear that Chrono Trigger is a better example than Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask... mostly because, sad as it is, I haven't played either of those.

So far, I'm liking NichG's ideas quite a bit here; The distinction between "Time means nothing" and "time means Nothing" is small, but interesting. Perhaps a mix of both - maybe the players have already seen their own deaths, and have a certain period of "real time" to work with - and in order to accomplish things in the past, they have to jump into people Quantum Leap style, borrowing bodies periodically in order to achieve goals. Thus, "Time means nothing", because they can spend entire lifetimes within someone else, and when they get bored, hop to someone new. But they have only a small amount of time - days, perhaps - to work with in their own time, before someone else who's attempting to achieve a particular result through the same means causes all of existence to collapse into a time paradox, erasing everything. Thus, "time means Nothing".

Hm. Then the question becomes : do I only allow players to leap into their own past selves, or do I give them free reign to grab random NPCs? I'm leaning toward the latter, otherwise it's going to seem just a little too convenient when their past selves happen to be wherever they're needed. Plus, if I have them face off (in the intellectual sense, though I suppose physical is an option) against an opposing team of time travelers in borrowed bodies, that can help bring in the Glitches/Timeless - they could be caused by having been "possessed" by the party, and gained an element of time warp. Plus this way, I can TRY to steer them into a cool "You're fighting yourselves!" reveal like Bang! has done.. I'm not sure I can pull that off, but I think it'd be neat to try.

Traab
2011-04-25, 07:58 AM
I pictured a dungeon were it seems like reality itself is warping. Where encounters can be anything from grunting cavemen style enemies, to more "modern" types of bad guys like armor clad gun men. Where you could mess with the rules on who rolls when because time is all screwed up. Depending on your own dice rolls, the bad guys may get 2-3 turns in a row, or the heroes might, or spells which have an effect that lasts a certain length of time normally is completely random for how long it lasts.

Radar
2011-04-25, 08:06 AM
As far as running onto oneself scenario goes, you can arrange it the other way around (as it was set in Continuum - a thread about this system is here on the forum): "Ok, I need assistance right now, so a future me will walk out of that door now." Then you have to arrange this to actually happen to stabilise the time-loop. You can even leave items for yourself this way: "There will be a set of lock-picks glued under the table."
It can get really crazy, but reveals the true power of time travel.

Trinoya
2011-04-25, 08:14 AM
The gist in my head : I want a game that somehow incorporates time travel.

This here was your first mistake, bad! *whack with newspaper*


I'm running a game that had a plot a few years back that dealt with time travel. It ended up being very interesting... but unless your players are fine dealing with the, "because I said so" attitude of DMing you're going to have your work cut out for you.

Long story short: First figure how time travel works in your world. Is it one way, is it dozens of way. Whatever you decide make sure to work out all the mechanics of it. Having a reality that attempts to 'correct' itself helps this a lot.

Next up: Once you've figured out what time travel methods you are using determine how you're going to allow the PCs to understand their impact. Little plot items like newspapers or trinkets from the future help a lot in this endeavor. It also denotes to the PCs that their items may not be safe from the effects of time travel, even if they are (for one reason or another).

Finally: REALLY consider the impact this will have on your established world. Do some research into things like butterfly effects and what not. To limit this type of stuff you'll want to consider just how far back, as well as where, you want to send them.


After doing all of that, if you're confident your players will enjoy being, and to quote one of my players, "walking talking paradoxes," then go for it, they will have a blast and so will you.

dsmiles
2011-04-25, 08:15 AM
First thought that popped into my head when I saw this was, "OOOOHHHH!!! Somebody's converting the 2e Chronomancer supplement!!! :smallbiggrin:"

But then I was all, "...but this is the Roleplaying Forum, not the Homebrew Forum. :smallconfused:"

And then I was like, ":smallfrown:."

Bang!
2011-04-25, 08:28 AM
As far as running onto oneself scenario goes, you can arrange it the other way around (as it was set in Continuum - a thread about this system is here on the forum): "Ok, I need assistance right now, so a future me will walk out of that door now." Then you have to arrange this to actually happen to stabilise the time-loop. You can even leave items for yourself this way: "There will be a set of lock-picks glued under the table."
It can get really crazy, but reveals the true power of time travel.
Continuum's model* has the added benefit of coercing players into completing their time loops. Running that sort of game without blatantly stealing its Frag mechanic* would be a nightmare.

*See Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure
*See Back to the Future

Quietus
2011-04-25, 02:57 PM
I pictured a dungeon were it seems like reality itself is warping. Where encounters can be anything from grunting cavemen style enemies, to more "modern" types of bad guys like armor clad gun men. Where you could mess with the rules on who rolls when because time is all screwed up. Depending on your own dice rolls, the bad guys may get 2-3 turns in a row, or the heroes might, or spells which have an effect that lasts a certain length of time normally is completely random for how long it lasts.

As entertaining as this could be - and I might crib it at some point - I'd prefer the time travel gimmick to be in the plot, not the mechanics.



As far as running onto oneself scenario goes, you can arrange it the other way around (as it was set in Continuum - a thread about this system is here on the forum): "Ok, I need assistance right now, so a future me will walk out of that door now." Then you have to arrange this to actually happen to stabilise the time-loop. You can even leave items for yourself this way: "There will be a set of lock-picks glued under the table."
It can get really crazy, but reveals the true power of time travel.

Yeah, the Continuum thread was linked earlier. Unfortunately, it's been out of print for about five years, so I won't be able to get hold of it. I'd like to allow something along these lines, but I'm not sure how to go about it - I want the players to be able to more or less go freeform in terms of what they're doing, and for the story to override mechanics, generally. A small, easy-to-bookkeep way of injecting mechanics into story would be good, though.


This here was your first mistake, bad! *whack with newspaper*


I'm running a game that had a plot a few years back that dealt with time travel. It ended up being very interesting... but unless your players are fine dealing with the, "because I said so" attitude of DMing you're going to have your work cut out for you.

Long story short: First figure how time travel works in your world. Is it one way, is it dozens of way. Whatever you decide make sure to work out all the mechanics of it. Having a reality that attempts to 'correct' itself helps this a lot.

Next up: Once you've figured out what time travel methods you are using determine how you're going to allow the PCs to understand their impact. Little plot items like newspapers or trinkets from the future help a lot in this endeavor. It also denotes to the PCs that their items may not be safe from the effects of time travel, even if they are (for one reason or another).

Finally: REALLY consider the impact this will have on your established world. Do some research into things like butterfly effects and what not. To limit this type of stuff you'll want to consider just how far back, as well as where, you want to send them.


After doing all of that, if you're confident your players will enjoy being, and to quote one of my players, "walking talking paradoxes," then go for it, they will have a blast and so will you.

Hm. One of my concerns HAS been the possibility of players going to vastly out-of-the-way places and me essentially having to build an entire world several times over for different times. Perhaps have a "Bubble" of sorts around the area where their time travel Plot Device works; Leaving this bubble in any time that isn't your own takes you back to your present, in the future.

Note to self : Must learn to make more confusing time-related comments like that, and do so easily.

Hm. Paradox : I'd like the overarching plot to basically be "We have to prevent the paradox someone is going to create in... three hours", or something to that effect. Maybe limit the duration of the campaign by giving them X number of charges they can use the Plot Device? So, for example, they could have (Random Number) : 8 times traveling through time, and perhaps some method of talking to someone in the present through this, and when they use those up, they have 3 hours left to use whatever they've learned to fix things. I could allow them to go back and place things where they need to - but it would mean that one of their uses are "fixed", so saying "There will be lockpicks glued under the table" means that they have to have at least one of their remaining time travel zaps take them back to a time when they can do so.

If they fail to do so? Then the entire mission fails, and reality collapses into Paradox. Game over.

Traab
2011-04-25, 03:03 PM
As entertaining as this could be - and I might crib it at some point - I'd prefer the time travel gimmick to be in the plot, not the mechanics.

Ah, then maybe you should rephrase it so it doesnt seem to imply that time has no meaning there. It seems to imply that the regular rules of time and reality no longer apply, not that you will control it in some way. Perhaps "Time is Our Plaything" or "Didnt That Already Happen Tomorrow?" That last one is a nice way to imply the time travel paradoxes and such the players might run into.

Quietus
2011-04-25, 03:21 PM
Ah, then maybe you should rephrase it so it doesnt seem to imply that time has no meaning there. It seems to imply that the regular rules of time and reality no longer apply, not that you will control it in some way. Perhaps "Time is Our Plaything" or "Didnt That Already Happen Tomorrow?" That last one is a nice way to imply the time travel paradoxes and such the players might run into.

Really, I just like the ring of "Time means nothing". And really, you have so much of it; you could theoretically jump into a bunch of elves early in their adulthod, live several hundred years, and that would only count as one "jump". What you would accomplish over that time, however... well, that's up to the players. And the rules of time DON'T apply, really, to people who have even a limited ability to go back in time and save themselves. Hell, what better way to get a True Res than have your buddy use one of his Jumps to go back, show up just in time to grab you, and go back to Realtime? Unless you're really limited, of course.. then an actual True Res might be a better option.

Actually - what if this were run Paranoia-style? If you die in a Jump, and it only kills the person you've Jumped into, booting you back to Realtime? Hmmm... that might be a way to go and give things a real limitation if I wanted to only give players a certain number of hours/days to work with, and count their actions against that. Another variant, perhaps, wherein you (might) get unlimited Jumps, but they work by sending your mind back instead of your body? So you still have X amount of time, but the clock keeps running while you're Jumped..

NichG
2011-04-25, 03:39 PM
So this is a little bit of a tangent, but here's an idea of how to deal with paradox conceptually in a time travel game. Its a bit of a wall of text, so I'm going to spoiler the bulk of it. The basic idea is to measure how bad a paradox is in terms of how unlikely it'd be for thermal/quantum fluctuations to just have made things go that way.


Lets say you're operating in a universe that has some sort of self-consistency rule. That is, there is some force that acts to make events self-consistent. In order to capture this, there has to be a degree of freedom that can be set in order to enforce self-consistency. For sake of argument, lets say this is the local analogue of quantum mechanics - basically, that there are multiple possible outcomes for events microscopically, and randomly one of them is picked according to some distribution of probabilities. This leads to macroscopic non-determinism when such 'choices' are made. We now assume that the choices are used to make the universe self-consistent.

So, what does this imply?

Lets say one of the PCs goes and makes a paradox. The universe must 'explain' the paradox. It has several ways to do this: it could have it so that extremely unlikely events (e.g. 1 in 10^(10^(100)) sorts of things) occur that conspire to outright construct the missing elements of the universe from thermal fluctuations. Or it could do something that is more probable by essentially using the butterfly effect to cause various factors to come together and conspire to produce self-consistent events.

If the universe can solve it with the butterfly effect, then there are side-effects to paradox due to the couple of higher improbability events that are needed to resolve it. These tend to cluster on the people who are most central to the paradox (e.g. the PCs), so they get most of the downsides of being randomly rewritten to make the universe self-consistent.

If the universe can't solve it merely with the butterfly effect (a Grand Paradox), then the time of the fluctuations used to correct the situation is pushed further and further back, changing and erasing more and more of history until at least it reaches the very initial conditions of the universe. This wipes the entire universe and replaces it with an entirely new one in which the whole sequence of time travel events never could happen. The new universe could be (but need not be) close to the old one. This is the really hard-core 'game over' condition. Before that happens though, larger and larger scale local events tend to happen that would solve it (e.g. freak fluctuation causes an asteroid impact in the past that wipes out civilization before it can develop time travel).

Time travellers have developed technology to measure Improbability events, and so there are many cosmic organizations responsible for policing Improbability (because universes in which there weren't fell to time travel paradox long ago). They have two duties: the lesser duty is to guide Improbability in the resolution of minor naturally occuring paradoxes so that it is minimally harmful to civilization. The greater duty is to prevent a true Grand paradox that would unwrite the entire universe. Unfortunately, paradox has been weaponized by time travelling cultures, who use it to create causal connections to their enemies, making them 'responsible' for the paradox and thus the ones to suffer the effects of Improbability.

Improbability would be a measurable signature that would basically suffuse the entire time period between the paradox-causing event and the present. It'd be measured on a double-log scale (that is, 1 in 10^10^100 is a '100' on the Improbability scale). If the Improbability reaches certain thresholds, that indicates different levels of destruction, so the party can basically see how bad the situation is. Something like a '1' would be pretty trivial - some guy finds a penny on the street and is distracted at just the right time that he misses his bus and doesn't say the wrong thing to a time traveller at the bus stop.

A paradox that forces an object to exist that didn't previously exist would be something like a '20' on the scale. This'd be 'a PC says 'I'm going to put a gun under the table for me to find'' and never does it, and there's no other plausible way for it to get there. An unresolved '20' is enough to cause massive problems on a city scale, or to really screw over a PC or a handful of PCs (all of your levels are now Monk levels and you have the Shaky flaw so you didn't bother to try to materialize a gun back there, paradox resolved).

Above a 40 it starts to be easier for the universe to eradicate your civilization than to fix the paradox. 50 is theorized to be the threshold for the Grand Paradox.

Radar
2011-04-25, 03:46 PM
Yeah, the Continuum thread was linked earlier. Unfortunately, it's been out of print for about five years, so I won't be able to get hold of it. I'd like to allow something along these lines, but I'm not sure how to go about it - I want the players to be able to more or less go freeform in terms of what they're doing, and for the story to override mechanics, generally. A small, easy-to-bookkeep way of injecting mechanics into story would be good, though.
There aren't many mechanical details needed. The only thing, that comes to mind, is resolving paradox situations and significant change of past in general. I don't know, how to make it flow properly, but it might be possible to just wing it (the timeline can stretch a bit, but if you push it too hard, it will snap and reform into nearest stable position with some unexpected changes).

TinselCat
2011-04-25, 03:55 PM
I like the dealing with paradox ideas, sounds like fun, but I can see the PCs getting a little annoyed at the universe resetting all of their master plans.

My idea deals a little more with the limitations of the time travel that I personally would put in place.

With ďtime means nothingĒ, I just think of either immortality or just plain patience. Immortality isnít something Iíd consider in the setting. Taking the other option, I would think of something that would cause the PCs to plan and wait, where something makes them a bit more unhurried. Or impatient, which is probably more likely with this scheme.

Whenever I handle time travel (I donít much, so all of this is made up right now) I would limit when and where the PCs could move to. To prevent them from failing at something, traveling back in time 10 minutes and trying it again, I would add an interval of time which can be accessed. One can only go back in intervals of (arbitrary number here) 50 years. Time will progress at the same rate as the present day for every interval of time. Spend a week in another time, and it will have progressed a week in the present day as well.

So the year 150 would have four accessible times: year 0, year 50, year 100, and the present day. Fifty years later, year 200, there will be five times accessible. Each fifty years there is a repeat of all of the significant events of the time, but if one of the earlier times is altered, the rest will immediately alter to match, since this is still one long continuum.

Not only that, but when the PCs go to warp to a new time, it will be in the same specific location in the world. Either all gates to different times are accessible there, or the PCs can warp from anywhere in the world, but that place is where they end up when they arrive in their destination era. Depending how far you go back, this location could be on an island, a mountain, in the middle of the ocean, in an underground cavern. The landscape will change drastically. Maybe three gates in a row are inaccessible because that specific location for those years was buried in a cave in and wonít be uncovered until years later. (Hey, maybe the PCs caused it. Nice going. Youíll have to wait 50 years to reach that disaster event to try to change it back.) Why this one specific place? Add your own plot reasons.

Now, since these intervals are a distance apart, and some significant event they want may be still 5, 10 or more years into the future, thatís where the patience and waiting comes in. (Or finding a third option in a more readily available moment) Itís a really terrible thing to do to a PC, especially since the characters wonít stop aging, but it might make for a very interesting story. The ďtime means nothingĒ bit may not be specific to the PCs, since they only get to see a limited number of chances (different-race characters in the same party would add an interesting twist as some age faster than others) and they all will eventually age and die. But in 50 years another chance will arise again for them or a new generation. Unless THE END is coming in 49 years. Thatíll put the pressure on.

Bang!
2011-04-25, 06:21 PM
There aren't many mechanical details needed. The only thing, that comes to mind, is resolving paradox situations and significant change of past in general. I don't know, how to make it flow properly, but it might be possible to just wing it (the timeline can stretch a bit, but if you push it too hard, it will snap and reform into nearest stable position with some unexpected changes).
The one thing that helped me was its Frag mechanic, which can be summarized in a sentence or two and ported into anything:

As characters create paradoxes without resolving them, they accrue Frag. As they gain Frag, they gradually become less functional as humans. (I honestly think that's the only rule in that game worth keeping.)

I don't know if it's in the Continuum rules, but I also made unresolved Frag fester and increase with time*, just to keep them scrambling.

*as it was experienced by the PCs... time travel language is hard. :smallconfused:

EDIT:


My idea deals a little more with the limitations of the time travel that I personally would put in place.
But.. but that's much too sane! :smalltongue:
It sounds like a good idea for a campaign that jumps from Western to Samurai to Space Explorers.

Archpaladin Zousha
2011-04-25, 09:57 PM
The idea that sprang to my mind was similar to a previous proposal of including creatures of a Lovecraftian nature, to whom time is meaningless, but somewhat different. Perhaps the villain is someone who the PCs need to escape from until they're strong enough to confront him, but said villain is immortal, or something resembling immortal, like a lich or minor god or something. Said figure has been around for a long time, and thus, he doesn't feel the need to "pursue" the PCs on their time-travel. He just keeps constant tabs out for them throughout his existence and whenever they pop up in an era, he's quickly tracking them down. It doesn't matter where or when they run, he's there, and he will find them. They can't travel into the future to hope he dies out, because he'll be waiting for them there, and they can't go far enough into the past to prevent him from being born or something. So, their only solution is to keep moving and stay alive, growing in power until they're finally ready to turn and face him, ending his shadow over their entire history.

Radar
2011-04-26, 05:47 AM
I like the dealing with paradox ideas, sounds like fun, but I can see the PCs getting a little annoyed at the universe resetting all of their master plans. (...)
Paradox resolution doesn't have to mean, that everything is reset. IMO the best freeform way of solving a paradox is to do something like this:
DM: Ok, we cornered ourselves into a paradox. *pulls out timeline sheet* Here is complete history of your shenanigans. Now help me solve this with as little changes as possible.
For every change needed and maybe severity thereof there should be some sort of penalty to those responsible and some random changes might occur as well.

This way paradox problems become part of the game itself. There should be incentive to keep using stable time-loops, but solving timeline issues in a team effort should work without being a bore. Seeing your actions put in a perspective might be fun as well.

Mark Hall
2011-04-26, 10:16 AM
First thing that pops to my mind?


"It's just a jump to the left..." (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_7u3nhANa4)

Traab
2011-04-26, 10:47 AM
The idea that sprang to my mind was similar to a previous proposal of including creatures of a Lovecraftian nature, to whom time is meaningless, but somewhat different. Perhaps the villain is someone who the PCs need to escape from until they're strong enough to confront him, but said villain is immortal, or something resembling immortal, like a lich or minor god or something. Said figure has been around for a long time, and thus, he doesn't feel the need to "pursue" the PCs on their time-travel. He just keeps constant tabs out for them throughout his existence and whenever they pop up in an era, he's quickly tracking them down. It doesn't matter where or when they run, he's there, and he will find them. They can't travel into the future to hope he dies out, because he'll be waiting for them there, and they can't go far enough into the past to prevent him from being born or something. So, their only solution is to keep moving and stay alive, growing in power until they're finally ready to turn and face him, ending his shadow over their entire history.


This one is actually kind of cool. An immortal threat, one that doesnt follow them through time, and just patiently waits for them to reappear. The only issue is you would need to either make him eternal, so they couldnt go back in time far enough to strangle his pregnant mother, and find a way to make his power creep and seep fair. For example, going into the future, you would expect him to get stronger and stronger, while they remained static since they just time traveled, but it would be too simple to just go back in time to when he was weaker and kill him then.

Heres an idea, that tip toes through the idea of paradoxes. The bad guy is this immortal lich, who is unstoppably powerful. We are talking wrath of god level of difficult. This immortal lich cant be killed before he is born, he cant be killed in the past either. Because history shows that he already exists, hence, paradox. What CAN be done however, is to appear at specific points in time to disrupt rituals he used to make himself ungodly strong and unstoppable. These tiny changes, done in different time periods, can be used to weaken him. Then you come back to the present and face him in his weakened but still powerful form, thus defeating him in a way that doesnt tear the time stream apart.

The reason that disrupting the rituals isnt as big of a paradox is due to a time travel theory I read once. Basically, the easiest way to change things in the past, is to make it look like you didnt change anything. As an off the wall example. A forest fire tears through 10000 acres of woodland, killing thousands of animals. You go back in time to just as the fire is spreading, and manage to remove the animals, while leaving realistic facsimiles behind. Drop off the animals elsewhere. Searchers in the woods see all these "dead animals" and the time line isnt twisted much at all.

On the other hand, going back and shooting the guy who started the fire in the face so he cant set it changes a world wide news event, altering the memories of billions of people. This is too huge of a change and tears the person attempting it apart. The more people the change effects, the harder it is to pull off. Wrecking the lichs time sensitive rituals weakens just him, and the knowledge that he did run them isnt very wide spread. So the strain on the timeline wouldnt be enough to rip the adventurers apart. Especially if done separately.

ka_bna
2011-04-26, 11:43 AM
My first idea: a campaign where time would be an etherlike substance, which can be bottled up and traded. What would be the currency for time? Something more deep and sinister... PC's would investigate a black market of time, they would come across a spring of time (which ends up in a sparkling invisible river) and... then it gets too complicated for me:smallredface:

NichG
2011-04-26, 02:19 PM
This one is actually kind of cool. An immortal threat, one that doesnt follow them through time, and just patiently waits for them to reappear. The only issue is you would need to either make him eternal, so they couldnt go back in time far enough to strangle his pregnant mother, and find a way to make his power creep and seep fair. For example, going into the future, you would expect him to get stronger and stronger, while they remained static since they just time traveled, but it would be too simple to just go back in time to when he was weaker and kill him then.


You might expect that, but if this is a Lovecraftian horror from outside time, why would its power change at all necessarily? It could even remember future encounters with the PCs when it meets them in the past. Maybe its main weakness is that, no matter how much it might want to in order to deal with the PCs, it is incapable of real change - from within a temporal paradigm it just IS, since time is like space to it. Going to the future is like taking a step to the right - it doesn't necessarily make you any stronger.

Furthermore, if you kill it in any era you kill it in all eras, which plays into the 'Time means nothing' idea. Pick the era where the world is best suited to deal with it. Bonus points if somehow the best era isn't the far future filled with supertech, so there's some real thought involved (maybe the far future is desolate because of what it has done, and so you either get a small number of supertech-users, a moderate number of modern era soldiers, or a huge number of medieval knights).

navar100
2011-04-26, 02:34 PM
I ask you, People of the Playground, what does this phrase bring to mind for you? Yet again, my brain is trying to twist off ideas in random directions, despite me not being able to put another game on my pile right now, so I'd like to explore it a little here, and put some ideas in the storage locker for a later plot.


Literally? Columbia's solo in Time Warp.

:smallbiggrin:

Cerlis
2011-04-26, 04:59 PM
I remember an episode of Star Trek Enterprise. The captian was plagued by a strange virus that would periodically wipe out entire bits of his memory, I think only the memories before he was infected where what he had after a whipe. So to him he was basically jumping forward in time and finding himself older. or married. or having a 10 year old son he didnt know. (heck, first i thought it was some plot. I believe in another star trek series someone made a fake future universe to try to extract data from...Picard i think).

The thing was in the far future when the captian was finally dying, the doctor managed to accomplish a risky cure. What was interesting is before they started the procedure they looked at his various scans over the year and realized that the strange virus existed outside of time. Meaning it existed in him in the future and past at the same time. indepenant of Time. So when the climax happened, and they where under attack and everyone was dying they realized that if they risked their lives to save the captian (and indeed everyone ended up dying 'cept the captian maybe) rather than defend the ship (since they didnt know if the cure would work or not) then the captian of the past would be cured as well and none of this would every happen.

So they did and it did and it was awesome, i think. And i loved the idea. I like in video games whenever you have to go to the past or future cus the enviroment is different and blah blah blah. But i love the idea of something existing at all times. You coudl really mess with that. Imagine the group splitting into two, the past group communicating to the future group by carving into the wall. Perhaps they are able to move something because in their time there is water lifting it up, and as they do the future see it floating around like it weighs nothing.

It would be fun if an encounter happened and when it was going south the future group saw the skeletons of their comrades pop into excistance and realized they needed to port back to help.

Traab
2011-04-26, 05:20 PM
You might expect that, but if this is a Lovecraftian horror from outside time, why would its power change at all necessarily? It could even remember future encounters with the PCs when it meets them in the past. Maybe its main weakness is that, no matter how much it might want to in order to deal with the PCs, it is incapable of real change - from within a temporal paradigm it just IS, since time is like space to it. Going to the future is like taking a step to the right - it doesn't necessarily make you any stronger.

Furthermore, if you kill it in any era you kill it in all eras, which plays into the 'Time means nothing' idea. Pick the era where the world is best suited to deal with it. Bonus points if somehow the best era isn't the far future filled with supertech, so there's some real thought involved (maybe the far future is desolate because of what it has done, and so you either get a small number of supertech-users, a moderate number of modern era soldiers, or a huge number of medieval knights).


With the future encounters bleeding into the current ones, it gave me an idea. It is omnipresent in the timeline, and so its thoughts actions and reactions arent always synched with the present. The dm could have a long list of actions and reactions it could have all decided on the roll of a dice, instead of based off what the players just did. For instance, it might start off the fight trying to heal itself, even though its already at full hp. Or it might cast a lightning bolt at a spot on the map it sees as a future location of a player. Obviously this wouldnt happen all the time, but it would add a bit of flavor to an encounter with perhaps some speaking going on between rounds to show its confusion. And it would be more likely to give the adventurers a chance at victory against something that by all rights should be on par with fighting a god or worse.

Quietus
2011-04-26, 06:59 PM
Mm.. I'm liking the idea of a creature that exists simultaneously in all times. Giving a preselected group of times that the players can Plot Device to is probably a good idea, just to keep things sane for me, and then having a collection of items that can be accomplished in each that would gain them some advantage.. I'm liking a lot of these ideas. I also think, though, that I'd like to inject a little bit of tragedy into it, and examine - what happens to the people that fight a creature that exists outside the path of time? They wouldn't walk away from it unscathed, I'm sure. Basically, at what price victory?

What I don't want to do is crib too hard off of Chrono Cross - the whole thing with that was a circular time loop that ... well, spoiler warning :

In the Chrono Cross universe, there exists a creature called the Time Devourer, that is pretty much exactly what's being talked about here - a monster that exists outside time, basically in a pocket dimension. At some point, it threatens to break loose, and a group of people fling everything back in time, restarting the whole cycle. This has been continuing over and over, and as the main player, it's your job to stop it, before the Time Devourer eats all of existence, again.

So, I don't want to crib off that too much. Something that exists outside time is an interesting idea, but I'd also like to keep with the "Everything ends" at a certain period of time - preferably by the actions of antagonists, rather than lovecraftian horrors - as a result of paradox. That WOULD make the whole plot more difficult, however, though I think the antics of two groups of time travelers seeking a way to bring about futures that they specifically want, using time travel magic that draws off of a creature from beyond the fourth dimension... would make an awesome campaign.

Traab
2011-04-26, 07:18 PM
How about, if there is a group of antagonists, height of evil types, who want to rule the world, and have contacted a lovecraftian horror to power their attempts to rewrite time to shape history in their image. The problem is, the horror has no intention of just being a battery, it wants to use this link to reenter our plane of existence and engulf everything in an everlasting empty void. Your adventure party is contacted by some other high end being of good alignment, and charged with going back in time to fix these events, and stop the antagonists before they draw on the being too much and are used by it to destroy creation. Make up some reason why they cant do it themselves and need mortals to do the dirty work. Something about no direct interference, just chosen champions blah blah blah.

Prime32
2011-04-26, 07:47 PM
I remember an episode of Star Trek Enterprise. The captian was plagued by a strange virus that would periodically wipe out entire bits of his memory, I think only the memories before he was infected where what he had after a whipe. So to him he was basically jumping forward in time and finding himself older. or married. or having a 10 year old son he didnt know. (heck, first i thought it was some plot. I believe in another star trek series someone made a fake future universe to try to extract data from...Picard i think).

The thing was in the far future when the captian was finally dying, the doctor managed to accomplish a risky cure. What was interesting is before they started the procedure they looked at his various scans over the year and realized that the strange virus existed outside of time. Meaning it existed in him in the future and past at the same time. indepenant of Time. So when the climax happened, and they where under attack and everyone was dying they realized that if they risked their lives to save the captian (and indeed everyone ended up dying 'cept the captian maybe) rather than defend the ship (since they didnt know if the cure would work or not) then the captian of the past would be cured as well and none of this would every happen.

So they did and it did and it was awesome, i think. And i loved the idea. I like in video games whenever you have to go to the past or future cus the enviroment is different and blah blah blah. But i love the idea of something existing at all times. You coudl really mess with that. Imagine the group splitting into two, the past group communicating to the future group by carving into the wall. Perhaps they are able to move something because in their time there is water lifting it up, and as they do the future see it floating around like it weighs nothing.

It would be fun if an encounter happened and when it was going south the future group saw the skeletons of their comrades pop into excistance and realized they needed to port back to help.That was Star Trek Voyager and the character affected was Kes.

Vemynal
2011-04-26, 09:18 PM
my initial thought was "immortality" because to he who can not die the passage of a moment could be eons.

But I also really like the idea of players moving back in time. Maybe a once a day time travel device?

Players have to talk to people to find out how the world ended up like it did in their time and figure out when to go back to. When they go back in time they discover what really happened and slowly unlock the events that caused the destruction...

a little like future hiro from Heroes in season 1 =x


They map out what happened in the past to destroy the future but as they change the past by interfering with it they inevitably change their own present (not being born etc)

Mokomi
2011-04-26, 09:57 PM
you went pretty much away from something that i really liked but i'll say it anyways. In futurama they
there was an episode where time would skip no one would remember how they got there but would still act as normal.
like in a basketball game alright were tied we can win this, time jump, we are now losing and i don't know how we are losing but we are and there best man is down. something like that.

Cerlis
2011-04-26, 10:49 PM
That was Star Trek Voyager and the character affected was Kes.

Must have been in both, cus i distinctly remember the whole ordeal of T'pol wasting her life taking care of him :smalltongue:


Really, I just like the ring of "Time means nothing". And really, you have so much of it; you could theoretically jump into a bunch of elves early in their adulthod, live several hundred years, and that would only count as one "jump". What you would accomplish over that time, however... well, that's up to the players. And the rules of time DON'T apply, really, to people who have even a limited ability to go back in time and save themselves. Hell, what better way to get a True Res than have your buddy use one of his Jumps to go back, show up just in time to grab you, and go back to Realtime? Unless you're really limited, of course.. then an actual True Res might be a better option.



this reminds me of eternal darkness. In which an old god manipulates multiple champions in different times and dimensions. sometimes the person seems to only discover the plot only to die soon after. but whether the different champions end up doing alot or just a little its all part of a bigger picture. The last couldnt have succeeded if not for all the others. what linked this in my mind was an elf wizard spending his entire life, people thinking him insane moses style, to make multiple magic items for some nameless "friend". The PCs manipulating him (be it possession or negotiation) and end up coming back to his tomb later to accept their gifts representing an elf's lifes work.

NichG
2011-04-26, 10:51 PM
Mm.. I'm liking the idea of a creature that exists simultaneously in all times. Giving a preselected group of times that the players can Plot Device to is probably a good idea, just to keep things sane for me, and then having a collection of items that can be accomplished in each that would gain them some advantage.. I'm liking a lot of these ideas. I also think, though, that I'd like to inject a little bit of tragedy into it, and examine - what happens to the people that fight a creature that exists outside the path of time? They wouldn't walk away from it unscathed, I'm sure. Basically, at what price victory?


Well, I could think of several ways this could end, from really bad end to really good end.

On the bad side, 'Congratulations, you have ended the existence of the beast from outside of time. Therefore, it never existed in the universe. The past and future have changed, and are now much better, but no one will ever know what you did, what you sacrificed to achieve it. For in this universe, you never were.'

'Neutral', tragic ending. 'You slay the beast from beyond time and watch its body dissolve into motes of temporal energy. Standing here in this timeless place, you wonder about the new future you have just wrought. As you leave, motes of paradox weave around you, integrating you into this new present. Yet something is wrong. You look about to see a strange world, very different from the one you knew, the one you fought to protect. Without the influence of the beast, the past has gone very differently. Your friends, your loved ones, they belonged to another history, one that never happened. You have sacrificed much to guarantee the future of this world, and the only ones who will know are your comrades in arms, who stand by you to watch the dawn of this new world.'

'Good' ending. 'As you deliver the final blow to the horror from beyond time, you feel a strange pang. You feel the world slip from you, a place you can never go, for without the beast, time went very differently, and never gave birth to you. And yet, for some reason you continue. You look down over yourself to see the blood of the creature staining your skin, seeping in like the melting of hoarfrost, and you realize what has happened. You never were... but you always are. Time means nothing now to a creature such as yourself, a being that stands across eras. You see the eons stretched out before you like a hallway, open for you to explore. The world has no place or time for you, but when has that stopped you?'

You could do various gradations between those, with the time travellers ending up being anything from totally eradicated to alienated to ascendant.

Kalirren
2011-04-26, 11:09 PM
Basically, the easiest way to change things in the past, is to make it look like you didn't change anything[...]

I really like this idea. It's very similar to one I had before, and I think makes for a good setup to a story.

The basic idea is this. There's a lot of paradoxes that result from the idea that you can travel "backwards in time" and do things which "retroactively" affect the present. So how do you resolve these paradoxes? The way I thought of was to look at this and recognize that the evolution of the universe is itself non-deterministic on a quantum level. Given a complete state of out universe now at time t, you have a probability distribution for what out universe looks like at time t+dt.

Flipping this around, this universe could have come from any number of universes at time t-dt. So the natural extension of this is that time travel in a time stream, whether "forwards" in the normal sense of passing time, or backwards in some magical sense, is inherently nondeterministic. In particular, the chance that you come back to your original time stream after somehow having left it is 0. The less you change while in the past, the more recognizeable the present that you return to is, but it's never actually the same universe.

So even if you were to successfully kill your grandmother before your mother were born, you would still never have a grandmother paradox because it is literally impossible to come back to the universe you were originally from if you make that major of a change. As far as everyone else in your original universe sees, if you said you were going to go back in time and kill your grandmother in the past, then fire up your time travel spell and proceed to do it, they would never see you again and they would assume you succeeded once you failed to show back up. Their records would still show that your grandmother gave birth to your mother, who gave birth to you, and now their records would also show that you became lost in the time stream. Everything works out.

This sort of relativistic, non-deterministic interpretation of timestreams (not relativistic in the Einsteinian sense, just in a more typical sense of the word) leads to questions about how you deal with the potential of multiple time streams that evolve in parallel. What is their topology? How do they relate and interweave into one another? How can they influence one another? Draw a few diagrams and it gets pretty complicated pretty fast. Plenty of material for a convoluted but parsable plot.

Vemynal
2011-04-26, 11:50 PM
Well, I could think of several ways this could end, from really bad end to really good end.

On the bad side, 'Congratulations, you have ended the existence of the beast from outside of time. Therefore, it never existed in the universe. The past and future have changed, and are now much better, but no one will ever know what you did, what you sacrificed to achieve it. For in this universe, you never were.'

'Neutral', tragic ending. 'You slay the beast from beyond time and watch its body dissolve into motes of temporal energy. Standing here in this timeless place, you wonder about the new future you have just wrought. As you leave, motes of paradox weave around you, integrating you into this new present. Yet something is wrong. You look about to see a strange world, very different from the one you knew, the one you fought to protect. Without the influence of the beast, the past has gone very differently. Your friends, your loved ones, they belonged to another history, one that never happened. You have sacrificed much to guarantee the future of this world, and the only ones who will know are your comrades in arms, who stand by you to watch the dawn of this new world.'

'Good' ending. 'As you deliver the final blow to the horror from beyond time, you feel a strange pang. You feel the world slip from you, a place you can never go, for without the beast, time went very differently, and never gave birth to you. And yet, for some reason you continue. You look down over yourself to see the blood of the creature staining your skin, seeping in like the melting of hoarfrost, and you realize what has happened. You never were... but you always are. Time means nothing now to a creature such as yourself, a being that stands across eras. You see the eons stretched out before you like a hallway, open for you to explore. The world has no place or time for you, but when has that stopped you?'

You could do various gradations between those, with the time travellers ending up being anything from totally eradicated to alienated to ascendant.

Heck, maybe this is your villain. He saved the world from some threat but completely lost his own world in the process. Now he seeks to go into the past and prevent himself from saving the world///seeks to take up the role of the previous threat///wants to destroy this world in revenge to avoid losing his true lover/McGuffin.

Maybe this character has trapped himself outside of this new reality when it was created so he's trying to break back into it.

Or maybe he's lived for eons on this new world but slowly has descended into despair/corruption. "You either die or see yourself live long enough to be the villain"

Fiery Diamond
2011-04-27, 12:56 AM
I really like this idea. It's very similar to one I had before, and I think makes for a good setup to a story.

The basic idea is this. There's a lot of paradoxes that result from the idea that you can travel "backwards in time" and do things which "retroactively" affect the present. So how do you resolve these paradoxes? The way I thought of was to look at this and recognize that the evolution of the universe is itself non-deterministic on a quantum level. Given a complete state of out universe now at time t, you have a probability distribution for what out universe looks like at time t+dt.

Flipping this around, this universe could have come from any number of universes at time t-dt. So the natural extension of this is that time travel in a time stream, whether "forwards" in the normal sense of passing time, or backwards in some magical sense, is inherently nondeterministic. In particular, the chance that you come back to your original time stream after somehow having left it is 0. The less you change while in the past, the more recognizeable the present that you return to is, but it's never actually the same universe.

So even if you were to successfully kill your grandmother before your mother were born, you would still never have a grandmother paradox because it is literally impossible to come back to the universe you were originally from if you make that major of a change. As far as everyone else in your original universe sees, if you said you were going to go back in time and kill your grandmother in the past, then fire up your time travel spell and proceed to do it, they would never see you again and they would assume you succeeded once you failed to show back up. Their records would still show that your grandmother gave birth to your mother, who gave birth to you, and now their records would also show that you became lost in the time stream. Everything works out.

This sort of relativistic, non-deterministic interpretation of timestreams (not relativistic in the Einsteinian sense, just in a more typical sense of the word) leads to questions about how you deal with the potential of multiple time streams that evolve in parallel. What is their topology? How do they relate and interweave into one another? How can they influence one another? Draw a few diagrams and it gets pretty complicated pretty fast. Plenty of material for a convoluted but parsable plot.

This is pretty much the way Chrono Trigger time travel works.

Time travel has always been a bit of a sticky subject for me, because it both fascinates me and repulses me. Let me explain.

1) Stable Time Loop: You already did something in the future is the best way to paraphrase this, and it has been discussed. It violates traditional understanding of causality but is the only really self-sustaining time travel (which involves only a single universe, see below). There are two "forms" of it: the one where items come to exist without having existed (the "I bring you this time machine from the future...now you will bring this time machine from the future to yourself here" paradox) and the one where all items involved in transfer between times do have a discernible source, if not a discernible cause (the "Don't mess with time" message in that annoying Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality fanfic). I greatly prefer the latter, since other than assuming causality doesn't work like we think it does, it isn't really a paradox.

Stable Time Loops are my favorite method of time travel, since although they destroy our understanding of causality, they are sustainable and don't "diverge," "overwrite," or "rewrite" reality.

2) Divergent Time Lines: The stuff mentioned in the post above and variations of it. This also fails to produce irredeemable paradox, and so could be called sustainable as well. However, it defeats the whole purpose of time travel. Why on earth should you care what happens to the world if it isn't really the same world? Which of those friends and loved ones would you call "real"? Any of them? They aren't the same people, they're different versions. They might as well be clones with fabricated memories for all it matters. And could you even call the ones you initially loved real?

If you're not allowed to interact with the timelines you came from, this is despair-inducing and enough to make you never want to time travel again. If you ARE allowed to interact with those timelines (like in Chrono Cross - the two worlds), you have the issue of ... well ... which ones do you treat as "real?" Suppose you make friends with Liddy in universe A and Carla in universe B. How do you feel when encountering B!Liddy or A!Carla? In short, it strips the very concept of individual identity away.


[Note, the terms Overwritten and Rewritten in the following two could potentially be reversed, I just wanted to distinguish the two types below from each other]

3) Overwritten Time Line: You change the past. Now, the present is different. Things played out differently in the reality of reality than the reality of the Time Travelers. The Time Travelers are immune to the effects of overwriting; they have their own memories of how events played out, it just so happens that this doesn't match anyone else's tales. You punched out the guy that Susie was going to meet and end up dating, so she never met him. Everything in her life that was affected at all by her interactions with him (which is a lot - ripple effect and all that) is replaced by what is now the case. People who died might still be alive, people who would have been born might never have come into existence, and all the baggage that goes with it. This situation is similar to the Divergent Time Lines, above, except that previous Time Lines cease to exist entirely rather than simply being inaccessible. So you run into the identity crisis issue of having completely changed the makeup of someones identity, or if you look at it another (even worse) way, you erased people from existence and put new ones in their places.

There is, however, a second way to handle the Overwritten Time Line which sidesteps the worse interpretation, and depending on how far it is taken, sidesteps the lesser interpretation to a great degree as well. (Although the people not being born who would have been had you not Time Traveled, if you caused this, is still on your shoulders.) What is this second way? It's the way Zelda's Shenanigans at the end of Ocarina of Time effect people in the very good Zelda fanfic "The Return." (In that same story, Link's own Time Travel follows the stable time loop method, which is how it works in the game as well.) Essentially, people "remember" events that happened in the unchanged time, even though they didn't actually happen from their own point of view, thus preserving their essential makeup of individuality (still affected by their experiences even though those experiences didn't happen). There are several degrees to which they might "remember." They might have only a vague feeling, or perhaps just a subconscious effect. They might get de ja vu whenever an event they "remember" proceeds to happen. Or they might "remember everything fully. If they do "remember" everything fully, these "memories" might come to them gradually at the same time as the events would have happened, or they might "remember" everything that now cannot come to be (either all as soon as you make it impossible or when that time that it would have happened comes to pass), or they might "remember" everything only when they reach the point where you made the choice to travel. There are other possibilities, too.

It's pretty obvious that this one doesn't self-sustain, but rather gets more messed up the more instances you change time (note that it isn't necessarily the amount of things you alter, but the number of times you alter things). This can work well (especially if everyone "remembers" to some degree) for single, drastic changes, but quickly falls into chaos the more it is used.

4) Rewritten Time Line: You changed the past, invalidating the reason you left to go to the past. Congrats, you now have now reason to go to the past. Cue reset. Pick up wherever you feel like, depending on how much you changed. Did you save a friend from death two days ago? Bam, it is now two days ago and the you of two days ago is who you are, the time-traveling version of you now no longer existing. This can be handled in two ways: the flip-flop paradox (since the you who watched your friend die now no longer exists, he didn't go to the past, meaning your friend died, which means...) or the "something inexplicable happened for no reason" route (your friend, rather than being saved by future you, still survives, due to some unexplainable miracle or subtle alteration in events). This route allows for you to wipe yourself from existence. You kill your previous self? Great, rewind to that moment: you just up and die. The first route produces a divide by zero error, the second route fixes that with universe adjustments to smooth over the error. This, similar to the above, erases people, but it doesn't exempt the Time Travelers from the erasing, which means the Time Travelers... never actually time travel, since the version of the Time Travelers that actually Time Traveled is erased.

5) Shadow Time Line: The aforementioned forest fire thing. The knowledge of this, by necessity, must be kept from the ones who did the Time Travel in the first place (so as to ensure a stable time loop-like occurrence for their behavior, if not for the actual events). However, while this seems to be unique, it's actually Overwritten (with minimized effects on the world as a whole until the point where the Traveler went back in time).

-All of the above (except for Rewritten) suppose a subjective Time Line for the Travelers that differs from the objective Time Line. When you start dealing with "outside of time" it begins getting very strange indeed. You also have inconsistent Time Travel where it just works like however the DM/writer feels like at the time (which, by the way, fits in very well for the "outside of time" bit).

-Of course, it's also possible to mix and match: Stable Time Loops tossed in with Divergent Time Lines (it only diverges when it isn't stable, for example) or with Overwritten (only overwrites when not stable) or even with Rewritten (only rewrites when unstable). And you could even combine Rewritten with Overwritten: it's really Rewritten, but select people (everyone? Just the Time Travelers) have the "remembering" thing I mentioned as a possibility in Overwritten.

Basically, one big headache that has many ethical concerns (except for Stable Time loop, that's just a puzzler and doesn't have any ethical concerns).

Edit: Why in the world did I just spend two hours typing about time travel instead of going to sleep?

Cerlis
2011-04-27, 02:51 AM
Most people usually make time one of two scenarios.

-Time is a Flower:Time grows and is fragile. Existence is being written as we speak. If you find a way to move across the stem of time, you can cut off the stem and let a new flower grow. To fix that you have to cut off the new bud and let it grow as intended. Its fragile, its made as you go. its subject to paradoxs simular to the "i kill myself" scenario
-Time is Destiny: Usually most people in shows, when they deal with time travel, think Time is a Flower, but realize they are wrong. All the future and the past basically exists at the same time. So anything that will happen is preordained. If you would get the complex timeline you would see all the astrix and notations pointing out where and how every time traveler that will ever exists and how they altered the physical reality that is tied to the temporal reality. In this scenario it doesnt matter what you do. Sure from someone's perspective you may cease to exist for a while, but eventually someone came and fixed that and all was as it should be. Its ok that he interfered with the past, because he was That Guy, that DID IT, but no one saw his face. This is the harry potter way and you will see it in most fantasy. When they realize that things played out exactly as they should have.

what i propose is that the universe, even if it is made mostly of nothing, is still made of space and time. Its to vast and powerful to be changed completely (or even implode as Back the the Future would say) because of one person punching it in the eye. I'm not TO familiar with time travel but i believe most paradoxs are fixed with the notion that Time is ever existant. fully formed, and multi-layered. Like a wound that heals even if a paradox is created its just one tiny bit of the universe. It somehow eventually assimulated the weirdness into the time stream. however, it doesnt need to usually. Because its fully formed, ever existent and multilayered. Imagine with me that a man goes back and kills his past self. It should create a paradox. but it wont. Time passes, and the moment the guy is dead it is in the past and though linked to, is not necissarily part of the present. The rest of the universe exists as it should so there is no problem. The future self doesnt wink out of existance. and the fact that he exists in the present is stronger than his past self's death affects the present. So you might say there are two timelines, and the future self came over from the second and killed the other timelines past self. this is true but to a greater extent. There are infinite possibilities but only one reality. if something happens to be cut, pasted or moved it doesnt matter because all of reality is to big to be affected so its like a big rainbow and what actually happens is just a small mark on it.

-So time passes, but altering time means nothing. everything exists and if it changes nothing changes. Time passes but it means nothing
-I have no idea if i'm explaining myself well at all. but basically time exists in the normal way people exists but the all of reality doesnt shift unless you do something like throw a giant meteor at the planet that evolves the race that takes over existance or something major like that (less major things are applicable. but the idea of all of existance collapsing cus one guy commits homocidal suicide is redonkulous)

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since we are throwing ideas out there, i liked the idea of the Eternal being part of of existance. If we wanted to get a little crazy i know a twist that would allow for a continuing of the campaign at a higher level. in fact it would be a great transition to the whole "epic level characters changing the world and maybe becoming Gods" scenario.

The creature has always existed, would have always existed. but what? thats his whole stiche? he just exists outside of time, or in time. what have you.

So the epic fight happens and the PCs destroy it. it dies. the universe is swirling around them. time and space flying around. when things start to form around them. reality is retaining form. grass forms in the distance, they look around at the blue sky. you point out a dead tree with strange vines coming out of it and some of them realizing they are standing on a strange paved pebbled road. Suddenly a loud noise sounds in front of them and the toughest character is knocked away at high speedings, bouncing across the ground. They see the strange red metal carriage speed off.

This eternal time being was the source of all magic. without its presence magical races didnt develop, magic didnt develop. The Gods lost followers as technology started to develop at higher speeds (and perhaps though godly magic did exist, it wasnt as strong without the Eternal) leading to our world.(kinda like how in full metal alchemist there was great technology, but it was slightly behind ours because they had "magic" (alchemy) to fix all their problems)

Now they have a few choices left to them. Stay in this world where the only magic is what they themselves wield . Using what residual magics that have radiated them when they killed it to restore their previous world. With that magic they could become masters or gods of their own world. Or they could bring magic back in this new one. unless they decide to just hide their magic and maybe race until they die of old age (which may be impossible as long as they stay radiated with time magic?) they are going to be doing something epic. becoming the effective (re)creators of their old world (which would probably scare the **** out of the gods, who maybe have died out in our world with no followers) or a powerful wave of change in our world. they could horde their magic and be like gods, they could use their new ability to become mini Eternals and share their magic with others. great wars would errupt.

just a thought.

Mutazoia
2011-04-27, 07:59 PM
Heck, maybe this is your villain. He saved the world from some threat but completely lost his own world in the process. Now he seeks to go into the past and prevent himself from saving the world///seeks to take up the role of the previous threat///wants to destroy this world in revenge to avoid losing his true lover/McGuffin.

Maybe this character has trapped himself outside of this new reality when it was created so he's trying to break back into it.

Or maybe he's lived for eons on this new world but slowly has descended into despair/corruption. "You either die or see yourself live long enough to be the villain"

Even better, your villain isn't a villian. He killed the beastie and changed the universe, but that doesn't mean a happy ending for all. Perhaps, because of the new time change, a war that was averted to fight the beast actually happened so millions of people died, and now the Hero who killed the beastie looks like a villain for starting the war. Now the PC's are on a quest to stop him from starting the war, realizing afterward what really happend, so THEY have to kill the beastie, setting themselves up in the new time line as the "evil villains" for a group of time traveling hero's to stop...ad nausium :smallbiggrin: