A Couple of Moves for a Time-Travel Game Maybe?

Listening to the section on killing historical figures in the latest Gauntlet podcast, I had these ideas for moves for a time travel game (or historical game, but it generally shows up more in time travel). They’re written a bit verbosely to keep all the text in a single move. The first ones were initially posted in the thread for that episode but I figured I’d repost them here where they’re more on topic.

When you assess the effects of killing an important historical figure or making other gross changes to the timeline, roll + Timeline Stability. Take advantage on the roll if the characters or other important time travel agents make efforts to maintain the timeline, and take disadvantage if they are making additional efforts to derail it.

On a 10+, things somehow play out the same as before, possibly with cosmetic changes. Another person assumes the role of the historical figure, an invention is forgotten or discredited, and so on.

On a 7-9, things mostly play out the same but with a few minor but important changes, like a type of technology or political development advancing a decade faster or slower.

On a 6-, things get weird. There are radical changes in technology and politics.

When you find out who holds a certain position after a timeline shift, roll + Timeline Stability.

On a 10+, it’s the same person as before, but pick one from below, then the GM picks one.

On a 7-9, they’ve been replaced by a different character and pick one, then the GM picks two:

  • They have radically changed their motives, outlook, and/or personality - detail how;
  • They have lost or acquired an important skill, ability, or resource - detail what;
  • The position they hold has gained or lost considerable influence - detail how;
  • They have reversed a relationship with another person or group - detail who and how.

On a 6-, the GM will tell you what has gone horribly wrong.

When you manipulate events at a time inflection point, roll with the inflection point’s Flux. On a 10+, pick 3, and on a 7-9 pick 1.

  • Reduce the Flux by one (can be picked multiple times).
  • Make a major shift of events in a general direction. When you find out the end result, the GM will tell you three unexpected minor changes.
  • Undo a minor change from a previous use of this move or from manipulation of this juncture by an NPC.
  • Partially undo a previous major shift or push a previous major shift even further. The GM will add two unexpected minor changes as above.
    On a 6-, things go horribly wrong.

At a glance, I’d have to say that:

On a 10+, it’s the same person as before, but pick one from below, then the GM picks one.

…and They have radically changed their motives, outlook, and/or personality - detail how;

…feel incompatible to me. If they’ve radically changed, then they’re NOT the same person, and that feels like a ‘choice’ that changes a solid hit into what might as well be a miss. If part of the fun of the game is re-encountering familiar characters, then keeping them recognizably the same personality and motivation-wise would be something I’d look for as a player.

I’m just generally pretty lukewarm on Moves that let the MC mess with the characters even on a 10+ hit.

My read: 10+ they’re substantially the same, however that fits into the timeline (and maybe +1 forward to your initial contact?)
7-9 Their personality is intact or they still hold substantially the same position, you pick.
On a Miss, prepare for the worst.

(Also, the syntax on the trigger is unclear to me: does “when you find out” mean “When you investigate…etc” or “the first time you encounter…etc”?

Good points!

With that bit I was trying to play into the trope of characters sometimes changing radically netween timelines, but you’re right that the way I did it undercuts the player’s choices too much.

1 Like