I’ve been thinking a lot about the Time Killers game – mostly about whether or not there is room for ANOTHER time travel game out there.
One of the best time travel games I’ve ever read was Continuum (1999) which really went to town on background and gave special focus to making sure you fulfill your own future. Some of the things in the game (spanners, frag) have silly names and I dislike the “secret” as well. But, nonetheless, it has a lot of things going for it.
So, here’s the framework for Time Killers.
Every player has a character, pregens are provided but there’ll also be rules for making your own.
Each player must have a Timepiece, a pen and paper representation ofÂ an electronic diary, which records their past and future. Everything “temporal” that happens in a game session should be recorded in their timepiece.
When doing something that is in your Future, you should skip a random number of pages ahead in the Timepiece and write in a reminder. As you start to fill your diary with events from your Present (this making up your Past), you will eventually come across events you have placed into your Future. Now is the time to resolve them.
Paradoxes are bad but that’s where the time killers come in. In the example of the famous grandfather paradox, the Time Killers are there to restore normal working to the timeline. If a time traveller goes back in time to kill his grandfather, noting that if he succeeds, he will never be born and will never have been able to go back in time because he never existed, the correct flow of time will be that he does go back and he does attempt the murder, but for whatever reason he will fail (either by being prevented in committing the murder or by the Time Killer organisation planting whatever is necessary to keep the timeline straight, up to and including replacing the dead grandfather with a simulacrum or technological fertilisation of the time travellers grandmother. Time Killers are not exempt from these paradoxes but at least are more knowledgeable than most.
The Time Killers are one of many “timeline guardian” organisations. There are others. And no-one is really sure of what is the “proper” timeline. However, what distinguishes the the legitimacy of some from others is the ability of the organisation to detect changes in Causality. These manifest as “vibrations” in spacetime and indicate that a paradox has occurred. As paradox happens instantly and would cause spacetime to unravel, it is important to get the Time Killers out into the fieldÂ before the unravelling occurs. This means there’s very little time to prepare and every single time it happens, the fate of the universe is on their shoulders.
That’s enough stream-of-consciousness for one morning.
[The title of this post comes from the 2004 film, Primer.]