I haven’t eaten anything since later this afternoon.

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 of  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 field  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.]

About matt

Gamer. Writer. Dad. Serial Ex-husband. Creator of The 23rd Letter, SpaceNinjaCyberCrisis XDO, ZOMBI, Testament, Creed. Slightly megalomaniac
This entry was posted in Commentary, Game Design. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to I haven’t eaten anything since later this afternoon.

  1. Jim says:

    Good to know someone I actually know has seen (and presumably appreciated) Primer – of which it has been said that ‘if you say you understand it after one viewing, you’re either a genius or a liar’. Does the science-babble really stand up to scrutiny? Don’t ask me. I think there’s a very Delta-Green-ish feeling to it: a sanity-wrecking technology ripe for abuse by the foolish or power-hungry (but here CoC lets us down, as it would all turn out to be a Machination of Nyarlathotep instead of the deeply scary mystery it should be).

  2. Mark says:

    Sounds like an interesting premise for a game though I’m not familiar with other time-travelling based RPGs. Is there others or have they just not been very popular?

    Do you think the Time Piece would be too much book-keeping for some players?

  3. matt says:

    I think so – but it’s done during game time. And if you don’t keep notes then you risk paradox. Can’t handle remembering things you do in the future? Don’t play a time travel game 😉 or don’t place things in your future 🙂

    I think the “TimePiece” could replace the character sheet. Or the first few pages would BE the character sheet. I would permit the players to flick ahead and attempt to plan things.

    The alternative is for the GM to randomly place the Future Events and introduce them to the players in the form of “Incoming Time Unravelling! You must resolve a paradox of your own creation!!!!”

    I think the players handling it themselves is much more enjoyable.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *