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Time Travel in RPG's

by John Anstett

In the standard table top game it would be next to impossible to do any real time travel in a role playing game but with the digital format on computers it is not only possible but could give interesting story twists. The questions is how and if players would accept it. (Feel Free to comment and question below)

- Imaging the online log as normal, saved every so often, before combat and important events. If/ When someone time travels that affects the party, load the campaign log from that point and continue.

- Area of effect would determine who traveled and would thus remember what had happened. Challenge for Player/ Character knowledge

- Distance in time would be factor of level. Start with Turn, Hour(s), Day. Depending on Campaign, may want to max out as day or week.
- Regardless if it was a spell or an item, it would have to take multiple rounds or even a turn to activate? Time to recover?

- Time travel would not be precise enough to jump into a specific round of combat, only to before the combat began?

- Only consciousness travels, no items or physical bodies.\\
- Any encounters experienced in previous time line may or may not occur based on changes made. Random encounters are no longer random but location, encounter distance, and surprise and similar factors may change. Once the dragon is known to be there, it is out there, it may have just decided to fly south instead of north

- Any forward jumping with leave current time body in autonomic state, continuing light activity such as walking, but not able to communicate or defend themselves\\


7/23 Lisa

Could you give an example how this would work? I'm a little confused I think. All "powers" characters have are based on their class and how they have developed their skills in that class. So who would get this time travel ability? Priests or mages? And would it be like adding a new spell that a character could learn if they were the right level or had a priest with the "right" sphere?

Also - if only the consciousness travels, wouldn't it be kind of like a divination spell? You just get to know things, but cannot alter the space-time continuum.

This is where I think I am not getting it. If all the time traveler can do is watch, is it necessary?

And if the time traveler can affect the past in say a combat situation, isn't that just "cheating" the system? This is just my philosophy with this game, but I like the danger. I like not knowing if we can pull whatever Bob puts in front of us off, and I don't want to walk around with a big safety cushion around me. Like all the healing points the wedding group got handed. While I appreciate the thought, I would have rather just walked out the door and dealt with whatever comes our way. Now, we would have to have a near party kill to be in any real hp danger. To me, that just took a huge heap of fun out of the adventure and we haven't even left yet. When we get through a huge encounter or story arc, I like to think that we did this. Not that we floated through and had fun waving swords around and casting spells knowing that we weren't ever in any real danger anyway. But again, that's just me.


Lisa, thanks for the input.

1st - this discussion is not just for DnD, so how it would happen is still in the works but in DnD it would be a spell or magic item. Seems most likely to be priest, but I could see it Mage too.

2nd - time travel with a body is like terminator, in that you are physical going through time. This leads to the possibility of someone just showing up or even having two version of a person. By having only the conscious, history does change as we would be role and roll playing that time again. say the group goes thought a fight and someone dies. Maybe you can bring them back, maybe it's just not their way. Maybe someone is lost in a way that can't be brought back. Someone might say, it's my fault and I can fix it and he jumps back in time and the group re does the entire combat, using diffrent tactics, or even avoiding the fight knowing what they know.

3rd I have often thought how adventures would (and do) react with the power of magic. Knowing you can be healed or brought back from the dead makes adventures take more risks. This is just another twist on that concept. Comming back from the dead is not guaranteed and has it's cost, this does too. No guaranty the same or similar thing would not happen. We do not live cautious lives but we do use the powers we have to live the life we want. Not taking healing or not comming back are options the same as not time traveling. The only issue from a game point of view is if someone did time travel, that time would have to be replayed by all affected. that is where I think Most would loose interest.

4th - your version of divination would likely be lower level, certainly not as powerful but not without it's merit.

5th - I am not sure it would quiet be at the level up there with a Wish spell, but I see a comparison, even using a wish to go back in time. In a way, the possibility is already there, just discussing how to handle if it was to occur.


Not a comment directly on what John is saying here but thoughts on Time Travel overall.

A - Time travel is possible but you can only go forwards down the stream not backwards

B - We do not know time travel works right now because no one from the past has jumped up to us yet that we recognize as a traveler.

C - We know time travel to the past is not possible because no one showed up at Hawking's birthday

D - Travel from any point to a different point creates a new parallel universe so what you wanted to happen does not happen in your own universe but you created a new one that does do something else (may or may not be what you want)

For D&D and our game in particular:

There are spells and items that allow characters to alter bits and pieces of events already. Those are enough for our game.

But please do continue John and others on what Time Travel in a game could look like.


So D is possible, an alternet reality, like this on Parallel One