Mastering Time Travel (Part 2)

Gamemastering Time TravelIn the second part of my Ronin Roundtable guest-spot on the Time Traveler’s Codex (part 1 is here, in case you missed it!), let’s look at how the sourcebook talks about Gamemastering time travel, the nature and use of time travel in the Earth-Prime omniverse, and a peek at the Silver Age time period and some familiar faces found there.

As Chapter 3 of the Time Traveler’s Codex points out, Gamemastering time travel stories can be a challenge. The chapter looks at a number of considerations, building on the intro material from Chapter 1, including deciding how changeable the timeline may be, what methods of time travel exist, the various hazards of time travel, and the important question…

Who Controls the Time Machine?

A major element of a time travel story or series is: Who is in control of the means of time travel? If it is the Gamemaster, then time travel can be largely a plot device for getting the player characters to a new era for the start of a new adventure. They might need to figure out exactly why they are there, but how they get there is taken care of. The same is largely true of time travel is under control of a non-player character, particularly some powerful patron who sends the heroes back and forth through time. The characters might occasionally be able to request some “bending” of the rules but, otherwise, the mechanics are out of their hands.

On the other hand, if the heroes are in control of their means of time travel, the Gamemaster will want clear rules as to how time travel works in the setting and the limits of the heroes’ means of travel are, if any. Be prepared for players to come up with unexpected uses of time travel and to test the limits of that ability. Having some type of limit in place, such as only being able to make so many “jumps” before having to recharge or refuel, or a need to avoid excessive stress on the space-time continuum by spacing out the use of time travel, can provide some boundaries.

The Omniverse

The Earth-Prime setting for M&M is not just one world or even one universe but a vast omniverse of parallel realities and alternate dimensions, of which your own series is a part. Whether it diverges only a little from what’s seen in sourcebook like Atlas of Earth-Prime and Emerald City, or diverges a lot, there’s room in the omniverse for everything! The Time Traveler’s Codex looks at time travel as a phenomenon in the context of the Earth-Prime setting, from cosmic beings like the Time Keepers and their Cosmic Clock, to characters like Doctor Tomorrow, Zeitgeist, and the notorious Tick-Tock Doc and his Counter-Clock Culture.

A Silver Age Retrospective

Since a guidebook to time travel requires times to visit, the Time Traveler’s Codex also looks at a wide range of historical eras, including the Golden Age, Silver Age, and Iron Age of the Earth-Prime setting, focusing on Emerald City, Freedom City, and New York City, respectively. Even if the only “time travel” that interests you is setting your M&M game in an earlier era, this part of the Codex has a wealth of material for you!

The Silver Age section looks at the heyday of the original Freedom League, from their founding after Hades’ attempts to invade Freedom City with an undead army in 1960 up through their first meeting with Pseudo during a secret invasion of the Grue in 1969. It also looks at the original Atom Family and their eventual “discovery” of Farside City, and important Silver Age villains like August Roman, Queen Khana, and Set the Destroyer (along with the slightly less important but still notable Red Death and Bee-Keeper).

And don’t forget, alongside the Time Traveler’s Codex, we also have the amazing bonus content PDF “All Time, No Space!” available FREE for download.

Steve Kenson

Steve Kenson has been an RPG author and designer since 1995 and has worked on numerous book and games, including Mutants & Masterminds, Freedom City, and Blue Rose for Green Ronin Publishing. He has written nine RPG tie-in novels and also runs his own imprint, Ad Infinitum Adventures, which publishes material for Icons Superpowered Roleplaying. Steve maintains a website and blog at www.stevekenson.com.