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Laurellien
2021-07-15, 02:49 AM
TLDR: I'm looking for ideas to include in a dungeon that can be exploredi in the present and centuries in the past via time travel.


Towards the climax of my current campaign, the PCs are going to need to retrieve a divine relic to be able to destroy the BBEG. They will infiltrate an ancient, ruined temple/dungeon, only to discover the item missing ó research will reveal that it was stolen centuries before.

To get the relic, therefore, they will have to travel back in time and become the thieves who stole the item from the same dungeon in the first place ó but in that time the dungeon would still be unruined.

What sort of things could I do with this dungeon to have two versions of the same thing, centuries apart?

Ideas Iíve had so far
- Certain passages only existing in the present, having been carved out by earlier explorers
- Certain rooms only existing in the past, having collapsed in the intervening centuries
- Certain secret doors being so well hidden when originally built that they can only be easily discovered in the present once the dungeon has decayed.
- Magical puzzles or traps that donít function in the present
- Fighting undead monsters in the present and their former living selves in the past
- Activated traps in the present that remain hidden in the past
- An immortal guardian (maybe a lich) that in the present remembers the party as the ones who destroyed it
- The boss of the present dungeon being an elder dragon that was very young in the past

Rogan
2021-07-15, 03:58 AM
TLDR: I'm looking for ideas to include in a dungeon that can be exploredi in the present and centuries in the past via time travel.

<Snip>

Ideas I’ve had so far
- Certain passages only existing in the present, having been carved out by earlier explorers
- Certain rooms only existing in the past, having collapsed in the intervening centuries
- Certain secret doors being so well hidden when originally built that they can only be easily discovered in the present once the dungeon has decayed.
- Magical puzzles or traps that don’t function in the present
- Fighting undead monsters in the present and their former living selves in the past
- Activated traps in the present that remain hidden in the past
- An immortal guardian (maybe a lich) that in the present remembers the party as the ones who destroyed it
- The boss of the present dungeon being an elder dragon that was very young in the past

It sounds like an interesting premise, but time travel can be difficult. If they can (and should) use it here, why don't they use it on other occasions as well? If they lost a fight and had to retreat, why don't they go back in time, warn their former self about the fight and the dangers it presented and thereby turn the defeat into a victory? It might be impossible for some reason, but you should think about those reasons before.

Some of your ideas are totally fine, others are a bit more complicated.
Everything the party does in the past will influence the present, but the present will be played out before the past.

What happens if they kill the young dragon in the past? How could he live to be the end boss? Similar, what happens if they choose to avoid the lich instead of fight him? What happens if they destroy a hidden door in the past that was fine in the present?
Causality and time travel have problems with each other.

Some of these problems can be solved by asking the players to play along and avoid doing things in the past that conflicts with the present. They could even be asked to play a minigame of "you know the present, make sure it makes sense".

If you want to include this, maybe hide some very useful but niche items somewhere with a note like "remember to buy them" but the party has to aquire them before they travel back in time.

Otherwise... a moldy path in the present, with hints of being flooded in the past? If they remember, they could get something to go through this passage in the past, otherwise they have to take a deture.

Some parts could play out exactly as before. Especially something like a self resetting magic trap. This should not happen too often, but at least once.

Laurellien
2021-07-15, 05:32 AM
The time travel will be quite limited and based on a magical item/material.

In detail: There is a meteorite made of a strange magical stone called chronite that has temporal properties. To travel through time, the PCs will need to harvest a chunk or chunks of chronite (which will cause the meteorite to timetravel once this is done).

The chronite will make a single talisman keyed to a number of amulets that will allow the bearers of the amulets to travel through time when the talisman is activated. The size of the talisman will determine how far the time travel is, and the cut/milling of it will determine the direction of time travel. Time travel will cause the chronite to lose its power, so the time travel allowed will only be temporary. I'm not sure yet whether this will allow the users to phase in and out the past, or if it will be something more like a sun rod.

This should limit the scope of what the PCs can do in the past, but frankly, if they want to mess about a bit, I wouldn't object to that. Players doing that in a previous campaign has led to all of the "Mordenkainen's" "Rary's" etc. spells now being named for Merlin instead.

If they kill the young dragon in the past, then the dragon in the present was its mate. If they avoid the lich, then the lich will come to them.

farothel
2021-07-15, 07:29 AM
Interesting premise. Given what you told about the method, you can limit the amount of time they can spend in the past. The chronite stabilizes the time flux and becomes slowly corrupted by the time weighing on it. When it is spend, the players are pushed back into the present, no matter what they do. That gives them a clock to work against. The more chronite they have, the longer they have in the past. If they go back far, they can stay only a short while, but if they don't go back that far, they can stay longer. A bit like Scuba diving (the deeper you go, the faster your air tank empties).

You also mentioned their past selves. As you also mentioned that the theft was centuries before, are they all long-lived? Otherwise that bit is going to be difficult. Also their past selves will be quite low-level, so easily pushed aside. And you don't want to go into the paradox of having met your past self if you can avoid it, so I would not do that. But meeting the lich before he became a lich is quite possible of course. Maybe even make it so that the PCs are the reason why this person started their descent into darkness (and lich-hood).

Vahnavoi
2021-07-15, 07:57 AM
How paradox tolerant are you? Because Legend of Zelda series have a lot of examples of time travel back and forth, but some of them get... weird if you think about them.

For example:

1) A door in the present that has been opened with a key. The key is still in the lock. In the past, the same door is locked, with the key missing. The only way to unlock that door is to take the key from the present to the past.

2) A part of the dungeon that's unfinished in the present and in the process of being built in the past. The players have to help the builders in the past so that the dungeon gets built in time for the present.

For extra screwiness, the door in 1) is in the part of dungeon in 2).

SimonMoon6
2021-07-15, 10:33 AM
In the present day, rotting tapestries (or images carved into the rock walls) show the adventurers taking certain actions. That could result in either clues for what they should be doing in the past, foreshadowing for events that will occur in the past (perhaps ominous warnings of what will happen), or even signs of disaster (like them getting eaten alive or having their heads cut off).

And an extra wrinkle could be the "unreliable narrator", meaning that the monsters or people who created the tapestries or carvings may have had their own motivations for creating those images. Maybe there's an image of them healing after bathing in a pool of water, but the pool is actually full of acid or monsters or both.

Faily
2021-07-15, 10:44 AM
TLDR: I'm looking for ideas to include in a dungeon that can be exploredi in the present and centuries in the past via time travel.


Towards the climax of my current campaign, the PCs are going to need to retrieve a divine relic to be able to destroy the BBEG. They will infiltrate an ancient, ruined temple/dungeon, only to discover the item missing ó research will reveal that it was stolen centuries before.

To get the relic, therefore, they will have to travel back in time and become the thieves who stole the item from the same dungeon in the first place ó but in that time the dungeon would still be unruined.

What sort of things could I do with this dungeon to have two versions of the same thing, centuries apart?

Ideas Iíve had so far
- Certain passages only existing in the present, having been carved out by earlier explorers
- Certain rooms only existing in the past, having collapsed in the intervening centuries
- Certain secret doors being so well hidden when originally built that they can only be easily discovered in the present once the dungeon has decayed.
- Magical puzzles or traps that donít function in the present
- Fighting undead monsters in the present and their former living selves in the past
- Activated traps in the present that remain hidden in the past
- An immortal guardian (maybe a lich) that in the present remembers the party as the ones who destroyed it
- The boss of the present dungeon being an elder dragon that was very young in the past


Check out Castles Forlorn (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castles_Forlorn). The adventure is about navigating a castle that exists in different time-periods, and has maps that cover the changes over those different time-periods (which does in fact include missing or collapsed rooms, magical puzzles, monsters to fight, etc).

I know one person who has run it as a GM, and he said it was quite a challenge to juggle the different time-periods and changes from each one.

Laurellien
2021-07-16, 02:43 PM
Thank you for these suggestions everybody, they are really useful for dungeon ideas and also on how to make the time-travel conceptually work!

To answer farothel's question: it's not so much that the PCs are long lived and might meet their past selves, so much as that they will be part of a causal time paradox. The ancient relic was stolen in the past, so the PCs have to go to the past before it was stolen and take it themselves - in doing this, they become the people who stole the relic and caused themselves to need to travel back in time in the first place.

To answer Vahnavoi's point: a lot of my inspiration for this has actually come from two Zelda games. In Oracle of Ages, you have the Mermaid's Cave, a dungeon that exists in both the present and the past, and which needs to be explored in both. The talisman is modelled of the time-shift stones from Skyward Sword (except I don't know whether they should be activatable at will or not).


Again everybody, thank you for the ideas, they will be very useful.

Rogan
2021-07-16, 03:28 PM
Thank you for these suggestions everybody, they are really useful for dungeon ideas and also on how to make the time-travel conceptually work!

To answer farothel's question: it's not so much that the PCs are long lived and might meet their past selves, so much as that they will be part of a causal time paradox. The ancient relic was stolen in the past, so the PCs have to go to the past before it was stolen and take it themselves - in doing this, they become the people who stole the relic and caused themselves to need to travel back in time in the first place.

To answer Vahnavoi's point: a lot of my inspiration for this has actually come from two Zelda games. In Oracle of Ages, you have the Mermaid's Cave, a dungeon that exists in both the present and the past, and which needs to be explored in both. The talisman is modelled of the time-shift stones from Skyward Sword (except I don't know whether they should be activatable at will or not).


Again everybody, thank you for the ideas, they will be very useful.

Do you expect / intend to have them doing many small jumps between the temporal instances? Or one big jump to the past, where they have to cross the dungeon in one go?

Many small jumps would allow for certain challenges, but the way I understood the time travel mechanic, they would not have many parts of the necessary material.

Laurellien
2021-07-16, 05:21 PM
I'm not sure. The chronite amulet will have a charge lasting 24 hours. I'm currently trying to decide whether it should be activatable repeatedly (but cutting an hour off the time each time), or if it should be a continuously running ability that can't be turned on or off.

Millstone85
2021-07-17, 04:30 AM
You could use "clockroaches", creatures that show up in response to time paradoxes. These could include:

Modrons sent by a quarut to repair the timeline, making use of a modified mending spell to put dungeon rooms back in a state that is coherent with the future. As the adventurers keep messing things up, more powerful modrons are sent, with a warning regarding the possible coming of the quarut itself.
Alternate versions of the adventurers. Each player gets to control both iterations of their character. But for every n minutes these coexist, there is a chance one of them gets possessed by an entity of the Far Realm that used the paradox as an entry point into the planes.
"SchrŲdinger's" undead. Any creature that the adventurers do/don't kill, when they weren't/were supposed to, becomes one of these.

Kraynic
2021-07-17, 07:41 AM
This would definitely add a layer of work, but... What if they didn't time travel physically, but were projected back and became a different group that invaded this place and saw it through their eyes? Create a different group or even 2 to use, and have them play totally different characters for the parts done in the past. If you had a couple character groups, then a tpk wouldn't be a problem. I would say you could even have your players build the other groups also, as long as they are into character creation. Don't tell them exactly what the characters will be for, but that they will be important for part of the game. It would give them a chance to play different characters for a short change of pace. When it comes time for a time travel bit, let them sort out amongst themselves which character of the past group they would like to play.

Or maybe your players would hate having to play something else even just in a "reliving the past" sequence. Every group of players is different after all.