Guest Author - Jay Shaffstall
Timetricks is a supplement for Timemaster, a time travel role playing game.
Timemaster's system of time travel is designed to limit the trouble agents can get into. Their chronoscooters can only take them to the past and back to the present, agents cannot coexist with past or future versions of themselves, agents cannot kill their ancestors, etc. Basic Timemaster is designed to be a game where agents travel to the past, foil the the Demorean plot, and then travel back to the present.
Timetricks takes off the training wheels, opening the game up to all the cool time travel tricks players would love to exploit. This also makes the GM's job harder, but that's all part of GMing a time travel game.
Here are the major changes Timetricks makes.
Agents now have more fuel for their chronoscooters, allowing them to make temporal jumps in the middle of missions. This leads directly to all the other cool tricks.
This isn't without dangers, though. Each extra jump a chronoscooter makes causes stress damage, which gives it a chance of simply disintegrating in the middle of a jump. So agents should not m ake extra temporal jumps without good reason.
In the basic game, even if you give agents extra fuel, they still cannot take actions in the middle of a mission that would cause a paradox. For example, they arrive in 1918, and after investigating decide that they need to jump back to 1917 to investigate while the clues are fresh. After finding what they need to know in 1917, they leave a message for themselves that details what they learned.
They find that message when they originally arrive in 1918, eliminating the need for the trip to 1917. In the basic game, that constitutes a paradox. Where did the message come from, if they didn't go back to 1917 to leave it? The continuum won't allow a paradox, so one of two things will happen. The agents will end up traveling back to 1917 and leaving the message anyway, even if it's no longer necessary to do so. Or, the message is simply never found in 1918.
Timetricks adds in an anomaly field generator. The anomaly field generator allows that sort of paradox to exist. Each team gets one for a mission, allowing them to eliminate part of their mission by leaving a message for themselves.
In the above example, if the team had used the anomaly field generator to leave the message for themselves, they would not have needed to make the trip to 1917. This eliminates that trip to 1917, so the agents can take later missions to that year without worrying about loop trapping themselves.
The law against not meeting yourself is due to the dreaded loop trap. An agent who tries to coexist with a past or future version of herself will merge with the past version and be doomed for repeat the loop for eternity. Or until another time traveler breaks her out of it.
The looper allows limited coexistence with another version of yourself. It gives an agent one hour of freedom from loop trap effects. That's an hour to meet with a past version of yourself and provide advice or assistance. Or just an hour in the same time period, doing something totally unrelated to what your past self is doing.
After the hour, normal loop trapping applies.
Self Eliminating Missions
The normal rule preventing paradoxes has one interesting exception. An agent who can manage to prevent the change in history that originally triggered the mission will eliminate the mission itself. The effects of the mission still exist, so the plot to change time was foiled, but the presence of the agent in the past is totally eliminated.
This is due to the Law of Death described in the basic Timemaster game. Any time traveler who dies will still die at the appointed time. So if agents ambush the renegades just as the renegades arrive in the past and kill them all, those renegades will still drop dead just after arriving in the past. Even though the agents themselves were not sent on the mission!
Timetricks also allows self-eliminating missions just by rendering the opposition ineffective. For example, sending renegades off to the Prison Parallel instead of killing them. While that doesn't make sense in the context of the temporal laws of the game, it's a nice option for groups that don't like indiscriminate killing.
Agents can still earn experience from self-eliminating missions, since their Paranormal Memory talent will allow them to remember missions that didn't actually take place.
Standard Dating System
Timetricks introduces the idea of elapsed time, or what they call the Standard Dating System (SDS).
SDS allows the GM to figure out how much time has actually elapsed for each agent in missions that involve complex hops. This can be important if an agent dies, or an agent eliminates part of her presence in the mission.
For example, say two agents travel back and spend three weeks in the target time, investigating, only to be ambushed by Demoreans. They kill the Demoreans but one of the agents is killed as well. The surviving agent can travel back and take out the Demoreans as soon as they arrive, eliminating the entire mission.
The agent who died now has three weeks to prepare for their eventual death. The Time Corps maintains pleasure resorts in different times for agents in this circumstance.
New Paranormal Talents & Skills
Timetricks introduces new paranormal talents for both agents and Demoreans. The new talents are basically super versions of the existing ones, designed for agents that want to specialize. For example, an agent with normal Memory Restoration can only restore the memory of one person. The new Mass Memory Restoration, which that agent could take as they gain experience, allows a group of people to be affected.
There are also additional skills. These aren't necessarily advanced versions of existing skills, but mostly skills that were missing from the basic game.
Advice for the GM
There's also tons of advice for the GM. For example, several neat tricks that are possible with the looper and anomaly field generator are detailed, so that GMs can start to think about how her players might abuse them.
Timetricks works as a sourcebook for any time travel role playing game; if you're using Timemaster, it's a must have to transform your adventures from standard fare to temporal hijinks.