Friday, 13 February 2015

Time Travel and Explaining Your Character is a Super Hero

Our Marvel Super Heroes game is into its fifth week now and we've already run into a serious problem with time travel.

(Inspector Spacetime by Graffitihead)

Our characters travelled back to 1963 to find out who really killed JFK. The reasons for this move are somewhat obscure and possibly not very good. It started well as our invisible super hero team set up to observe, but things unravelled almost immediately. Player Characters should not be allowed anywhere near actual history. If there is a historical event that players can derail and just plain mess up, things will go badly for history. This is the lesson our group learned on Tuesday when we foiled the assassination of JFK.

I haven't run a game featuring time travel yet, but I've been planning an adaptation of an RPG to make it work as an episodic time travel game for a while now (that post is still half done). In an historical setting or time travel game I think the history should be interacted with on a small, personal level. There are people who live there who are affected by the normal progress of history who can also be affected by the presence of the characters. Cool things can happen when those two forces interact.

Having the players derail the major events of the historical setting causes so much trouble for the GM! The effects turn into this awful butterfly wings chain of events, turning everything on its head. I don't know what our GM, Chris, is going to do now that we stopped the JFK assassination. We can only hope that the failed first attempt will force whoever is behind it to show their hand on a second attempt so we can figure out who did it and get back to our own time. Otherwise, our party is doing exactly the wrong thing and will never see our home time again.

One fun problem with time travel is interacting with people outside of your timeline who know about you and drop weird hints with their questions about where the character is in his or her timestream: "Are you married yet?" That's one of those small scale interactions that can be a lot of fun.

Another problem we encountered that was specific to our Supers game is the need to explain what we are since there are no supers in the time we've entered. Thanks to that situation, "I'm a super-hero, bitch!" might become the catch phrase for our campaign.

It will be interesting to see where we take it from here. We've committed to playing the Marvel FASERIP game for 6 months, so if we can't make it work in the alternate timeline we've created we may be rolling up characters again soon.

Our Marvelous Adventures are broadcast over youtube as we play in google+ hangouts, so they are easy to find if you want to check out our super-powered shenanighans in detail.

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