Thursday, February 3, 2011

Time Travel

Okay, some players involved in the last session's big battle aren't available this Friday.  We talked about what to do this session and the idea of a "flashback" came up.  We would play a session that jumps back a week or two before the battle.

But what happens if someone who is supposed to make it to the battle dies this Friday?  And that got me thinking about time travel in general.  That reminded me that I'd made a joke last session referencing Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey (I am truly a sophisticated DM).  And that seemed perfect.

What if I have the party encounter a location that allows for time travel, or at least sending objects through time.  Then they can send something to their beleaguered selves-- maybe put some healing potions or scrolls under that bridge.  I'm thinking of a round tower that players can cycle dioramas through.  Some of these dioramas they will recognize as past events, some as the future battle.  And they can alter those events by placing things in the diorama. Maybe a room has thousands of little golden objects and they have to choose from them items they want to place.  Or maybe I just give my players a lump of modeling clay and ask them to sculpt what they want to place.

That would be a little limiting, in that they couldn't visit their future or past selves, but it seems more interesting to try to come up with items that might help.

Have you ever messed with time travel in your campaigns?  If you were involved in the battle of Nidus and had an opportunity midway to "stack the deck," what would you want to place?


  1. I like the diorama idea. I like the clay modeling idea even more! It seems like a good way to limit player's ability to interfere with the past. Especially if you make the "magical clay" a rare and pricey substance.

  2. We've never time traveled within the characters' lifetimes. *That* sounds a like a cool puzzle to work out. I love the diorama idea and will be watching to see how you finally handle it.

  3. I've never done it, but I love your ideas here. Also, Bill and Ted rule! WYLD STALLYNS!

  4. In the first few years of my longest campaign, time travel was a major element. In all actuality, it wasn't time travel so much as travel between parallel dimensions which resembled each other almost identically except for their position along a timeline. However, the players thought it was time travel, and enjoyed traveling back and forth across the timeline. Each time they interacted with events, things radically changed going forward, and they spent a few months hopelessly pursuing efforts to straighten out the timeline before they finally figured out the parallel dimension aspect of the artifact they were using. Shortly thereafter, they had to sacrifice the power of the artifact to stop the destruction of the world or something like that, but before that, we had a good time exploring the impact of time travel on a campaign world. It can be quite fulfilling, both as a GM and a player.


  5. This is great stuff. I've always been afraid to run PC time travel, but my time traveling NPCs have always wound up attracting the attention of time traveling monsters. Who then show up in the most inconvenient places and moments.

    If I could manipulate time to stack the deck I'd add a door between the two times, so I could go back, warn the people of Nidus they're going to be attacked and then have reinforcements pour through the door from the past to attack the pygmies in the present, meaning some soldiers would be on the field twice or more. And inevitably in the process allow pygmies to surprise Nidus all over again two weeks ago and/or rip a hole in the spacetime continuum out of which the pygmies boiled in the first place...

  6. Great comments all, thanks.

    @Richardthinks, two ideas that might save my life tonight 1) doors to be placed (or made) and 2) they cause the invasion. Awesome If I can pull them off.

    A thought-- what if Nidus red-sashes the party puts through a door to join the battle, but that were supposed to have already died in the battle, come out in Nidus as . . . vulture-headed pygmies! haha, the time-dead.

  7. Late to the game again, but I like the diorama idea as it gives the players some sense that maybe they can alter their present, but they won't know until they do it.

    The Bill and Ted connection also brings to mind the way time travel works in several P.K. Dick stories, not meaning that it happens through taking drugs, but that, like in "Now Wait for Last Year", the antagonist runs into his future self several times, and basically is told to keep doing what he's doing and don't worry about it. Shit goes down, but you'll figure it out. The reason Future-You just showed up to bomb the police car you're in is to get you out of it; in 5 years you will be doing this and telling your past you this.

    This suggests ways in which, even though the end game is already decided (for Dick, the good guys usually win; like in Paycheck), the plot until then, which is unknown to the subject, can still roil and twist dramatically. So you have your present battle, and can't really change it much, but as you say maybe the strategic placement of artifacts, or the structural weakening of a bridge in a diorama .... Hmm. That could be pretty cool. Or move entire buildings to block off a place where they wished there were choke-points? Hmm.

    Damned cool game! Argh, I almost want to go back to Fresno!!

  8. come out in Nidus as . . . vulture-headed pygmies! haha,

    YES. Now the remaining question is, why are they stuffed with silver?

  9. Nidian burial custom - they were going to be buried at sea, and instead of lead shot to weigh them down they use silver coins.

  10. That's a great idea, and maybe they are buried with money to pay a toll.