Sometimes, planning a new RPG can be like trying to wrangle together toppings on a pizza. One player wants to play a courtesan from Renaissance Venice, another wants to play a bounty hunter from a dark future, and the third wants to play a dinosaur with a crystal embedded in its head that fools humans into thinking it looks like a nondescript human. The solution to this problem? A game about time travel!
But wouldn’t that game be ridiculously complex? Futuristic weapons, rules for psychic powers and, of course, making sure time travel works in a way that not only makes sense but doesn’t cause fistfights over whether or not The Terminator could happen seem like some big hurdles. Luckily, Pelgrane Press, creators of fine games like 13th Age and Night’s Black Agents, recently released a Kickstarted RPG called TimeWatch that opens up the genre of time travel in a new way.
Here are the highlights of this awesome new game from Kevin Kulp.
The lightweight yet flexible GUMSHOE system
GUMSHOE focuses on investigation instead of combat, though there are still plenty of opportunities to throw down in multiple time periods. You spend points from your characters skills to help them not just succeed, but pull off all the time travel tricks you’ve seen before. Want to stick your character in a time loop to learn 13th Century French Poetry, travel back in time to plant a key to your jail cell for an easy escape, or even get assistance in a fight from a future version of yourself? All it takes is a spent point or two, possibly a dice roll, and you’re back to the story.
Gear that gets the job done
The default mode of the game features your character recruited through time to stop meddlers, criminals, and other bad guys from messing with the history we know and love. Each character gets a time machine, a PaciFist stun gun plus a jumpsuit that automatically adjust to the time period to help you blend in, and a handheld device called a tether that links you back to Headquarters. The bad guys have some tricky tech too such as chronal nets to slow you down, interdiction that act like speedbumps in the time stream, and even Bigfoot launchers!
Several ways to play inspired by favorite time travel stories
If the default mode doesn’t interest your players, there are campaign frames that fit all sorts of classic time travel stories. Want to leap from life to life, putting things right what once went wrong? Want to visit all manner of time and space in a rectangular blue box? Want to face Cthulhu and his minions while grasping your fragile sanity? These and more are all represented in the rules options.
Didn’t you say something about psychic dinosaurs?
There are two big bads facing off against TimeWatch that make excellent recurring villains. The first are the ezeru, mutated cockroaches from a post nuclear winter timeline that mess with time to make sure Judgment Day happens. The others are the sophosaurs, advanced dinosaurs from an alternate timeline where the asteroid that killed them missed the Earth. They use their mastery of psychic crystals to try to reassert themselves in the dominant timeline.
Other books already here to help
When a new RPG is released, often there’s one lone book and a bit of a production lag as the writers put out supplements. TimeWatch already has a few books out thanks to a successful Kickstarter. The Book of Changing Years is a book of story hooks and adventure ideas written from the perspective of TimeWatch agents. Behind Enemy Times is a fully-fleshed out campaign featuring clashes with both the ezeru and the sophosaurs. Add that to the adventures already in the main book, and the GM has months of game ready to go.
Do you have a favorite alternate history timeline? Sound off in the comments!
Featured image credit: Pelgrane Press