Thursday, April 25, 2013

Thor's Day Trope - Time Travel

I bought the UNIT sourcebook for Doctor Who RPG yesterday, so TIME TRAVEL is today's TV TROPE

From TV Tropes Time Travel

"Time travel is theoretically impossible, but I wouldn't want to give it up as a plot gimmick."
TG: the thing with time travel is
TG: you cant overthink it
TG: just roll with it and see what happens
TG: and above all try not to do anything retarded
Dave Strider, Homestuck
(For related tropes, see Time Travel Tropes)
A time travel story can simply use time travel as a vehicle to get the hero to the Adventure Towns, or the phlebotinum involved can be a key plot driver. No matter what story type the hero is going to need a Time Machine or Time Master to get around. Time Travel stories seem to fall into several categories:
  1. You Can't Fight Fate: Characters go to the future! They must get back to their own time and prevent the future from going horribly horribly wrong. Sometimes, they can't, in which case it's You Cannot Change The Future or a Stable Time Loop (see below).
  2. Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Characters go to the past! Again, this is usually to "fix" the future- that is, the characters' "present." Often this involves correcting a Temporal Paradox. Remember, Hitler has Time Travel Exemption.
    • Make Wrong What Once Went Right: Characters go to the past! But... not to fix the present or future. They want to change the events in some way, to favor themselves or their employer. Generally bad things ensue.
    • Terminator Twosome: Both of the above at once; a villain goes back to change the future in their favor, and a hero follows to put a stop to it.
  3. Stable Time Loop: Characters go to the past! And in the past, they turn out to be responsible for the events that led to their "present." In other words, You Already Changed The Past. This is similar to You Can't Fight Fate, but in the present instead of the future.
  4. Temporal Paradox: Now it gets complicated...
    • Characters go to the past! In the past, they change history: If they do so by accident, it well may end the story with a Karmic Twist Ending; alternately, it will set the real plot in motion by requiring the characters to Set Right What Once Went Wrong.
    • On the other hand, they may have set out to change history intentionally, so that the events that create their future/present — and, thus, the conditions that prompted them to go back in time — never happened, basically the same set up as above, but without the initial "accident."
    • Characters go to the future! Upon returning to the past, they are able to fight fate and prevent the events of the future (seeing which prompted them to try to prevent the events of the future in the first place) from occurring.
  5. Reset Button: The characters go through a world of crap, or somebody "changes history", and they resort to time travel to fix it. If they succeed, the time-line fixes itself and the characters awaken having no knowledge that anything was ever different. Occasionally, only the time-travellers remember — at least, the ones who were alive at the point of fix. If they don't succeed, the series has just received a Re Tool or Story Reset.
  6. Trapped in the Past: The characters are stuck in another time with no way of return (a.k.a. forced to take The Slow Path) and must choose between quietly living out their lives without changing history or working to change the world to their (and the natives') benefit. You'd be amazed how few people seem to pick the first option.
  7. Alternate Timeline: The characters time-travel has split their universe in twain. There's the universe they're in (that they've "changed") and the universe they're not in. (the "old" universe that wasn't changed.)
  8. Timey Wimey Ball: When all of the above can be invoked to suit the plot.
No matter what the variation, if there's a scientist or scholar in the group, he'll be giving warnings about the Temporal Paradox risk. And every trip risks an encounter with the Butterfly of Doom or accidentally leaving behind a Timeline-Altering MacGuffin. Time travel is also a very large source of Mind Screws. This is because the human mind is used to one-way time; cause and effect requires it. In two-way time, the entire human logic system has to be thrown out. Note that only the Stable Time Loop and Alternate Universe (when done properly, i.e. you can never get back to the first universe) resolutions are the only ones logically consistent with typical ideas of causality so stories wishing to be more "realistic" should favor these. Stories not wishing to be "realistic" of course can just ignore the whole Temporal Paradox thing for some reason. Maybe the time travelers have Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory or otherwise get to ignore their own pasts making them immune to changes in the timeline. Afterall its not like we actually know what will happen right, right? Even less sensibly time travel may run on San Dimas Time or display a Groundhog Day Loop. See also Temporal Mutability for the very tricky problem of how (or even if) you can change the future or the past. See also Meanwhile, in the Future, What Year Is This? and this Wikipedia entry.

So Time Travel in a game requires a LOT of thinking. It is extremely fun however, and i'm going to get the boys to think more on their Time Warriors Game this summer, I think FATE CORE for them might be best.

Time travel is fun because it offers so many possibilities. With everything that TV Tropes says and more. Playing in fantasy, or sci-fi, send players to the past, let them change the past, then bring them back...see what transpired. The players go back and kill Hitler, one of the most 'thought' about past changing events.

What happens then? Maybe the WW2 is SSSR/Japan versus the US, and fascist Germany under one of the more sinister Generals. Perhaps the US is divided in that situation. Maybe they come back to the current era and find a wasteland from the nuclear war that ensued, as the USSR didn't capitulate and WW2/Coldwar dragged on as a hot war, with lots of nukes...

Back to the Future is a great example and you should watch it if you plan on running a back and forth adventure.

You should watch ALL the Doctor Who as well!!!! ALL OF IT!!!

Using split time, where the same character is playing in the past and present can be an interesting way to play as well. Meanwhile, back in the future.

Anyway, I love TV Tropes because there's more ideas in them than just brainstorming on my own. Again Check out the links on, for all the examples from comic books, movies, etc.,