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[Hack] Time is a Series of Tubes

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  • [Hack] Time is a Series of Tubes

    Preface: Recently I have been toying around with applications of time magic and time bending antagonists, but have found that the standard model of time manipulation (that of Shifting Sands and like spells) is both frustrating to face and, frankly, boring to implement. I know I could simply not use time magic, but that strikes me as the lesser way out and I know I’m not the only ST who has struggled with Shifting Sands (and its ilk) Thus I present an alternative take on time:

    “Time is not a river moving ever forward, nor is it a storm tossed ocean, or even a pristine hour glass. Time is a series of tubes. An infinite procession of wormholes, each with a population of one. You. That’s right, each of us travels in our own little bubble of time, and what appear to be concurrent timelines, friends, family, history, are actually countless similar timelines grouped together.”

    “It’s confusing, I understand, perhaps an anecdote would help. Have you heard the saying you never step in the same river twice? Good. Now apply that to everything, and everyone. You will never drive the same car twice, only countless similar cars, so alike as to be indecipherable by the unawakened eye. You will never meet the same person twice, merely similar beings with like experiences. It’s enough to make you into a full on solipsist eh?”

    “Don’t look so down, to the layman there is essentially no difference. The changes are as insignificant as the precise second you started dinner, or which eye your wife applied mascara to first, and even those are fairly large examples. Sure you’ll encounter the occasional mixed memory or alternative experience, but such moments will be so rare and far removed in time as to be indecipherable from a simple slip of the mind.”

    “Why am I telling you this? Well, to sleepers it makes no difference, but to the awakened, those who can see the paths time cuts, these tubes are malleable as rubber. We can go forward and back, fast and slow, even pull up alternative histories and people!”

    “But I’m making it sound easy, it isn’t. It’s one thing to move within an individual timestream, but another thing entirely to move the global timestream. Which, I remind you, doesn't truly exist. Such feats as that are left up to the Invisible Masters. For us lowly seekers the best we can do is toss ourselves, and maybe a few others, about and let Quiessence cover up the rest.”
    Mechanics: As implied, time is an individual value. A mage who steps into the past changes nothing but herself, bringing a past iteration forward or shifting to an alternative possibility. For everyone else, those not directly targeted or caught up in the spell’s radius, nothing changes. To them it appears as though the Mage teleported, and possibly experienced a few cosmetic changes.
    Fortunately in the case of sleepers Quiessence sets in quickly, modifying memories to fit the Mage’s new temporal position. This won’t change their timeline, a group of thugs who’d jumped the mage will find themselves confused without a target and possibly a little roughed up, and the fine dining establishment into which the mage “warped” will be left baffled as to why he was given no place setting.
    This too can be mitigated. Expanding spell factors can allow a mage to modify large groups or locations in accordance with her own changes, but such spells are withstood by those present and cannot be made large enough to target the entire globe. Though this hasn’t stopped mages in the past from making considerable changes to large areas. For instance there are still towns in Russia where the USSR never fell, but such locations are rare and become prime targets for Guardian ‘historians’.

    Modified Spells: In accordance with the rules changes, several spells must be altered.

    Shifting Sands •••
    Practice: Fraying
    Primary Factor:Potency
    Suggested Rote Skills: Academics, Occult, Survival
    The mages resets himself to a point from recent history. Upon casting this spell he vanishes from his current position, appearing instantly in the exact position and condition he was in [spell potency] turns prior. Only physical qualities are reset, health, durability, and tilts. Mental traits, conditions and memories, as well as supernatural traits, mana, wisdom, active spells, etc. remain unaltered.

    Reach +1: All subjects return to the state they were in at the beginning of the scene.

    Reach +1: All subjects of the spell, aside from the caster, have their memories reverted as well.

    Reach +2: Instead of resetting to a previous point you may instead define different actions taken over the intervening turns. Again, this only affects subjects of the spell, so a Mage casting Shifting Sands personally could not declare herself the victor of a fist fight. Even if she did target an opponent this spell will not give her free reign to re-narrate the scene, It may be necessary to replay certain elements of a scene to figure out how they would have proceeded.

    Note: If you play Overwatch, think Tracer and you’ll grasp how this take on the spell operates.

    Rewrite History ••••
    This one doesn’t need to change much, save that it be made clear that only subjects of the spell (i.e. deliberate targets or those within its radius) are affected by the temporal shift. To everyone else the rewritten history is at odds with their own recollections. Though, again, sleepers will rapidly re-remember events as Quiessence covers up the fault.

    Corridors of Time •••••
    Another spell that doesn’t need to change considerably in text, but changes greatly in function. A Mage casting corridors of time needs to target a large area or individual targets in the past that become subject to the shift. For instance, she could target a house in which a murder took place and, though temporal sympathy, the residents of the home at that time. When she (or her subject) shifts back any changes they make to that home or the people inside wills stick, but changes in history outside of that location will not take when the spell ends.

    So, you ask, how does this affect play. Primarily it gives players a lot more agency to notice and work against time wizards. Sleepwalking hunters can spot temporal inconsistencies, and other splats doing battle with a time wizard don’t have to put up with constant redoes or struggle with recalling which portion of a scene actually happened. On the PC side mages are still capable of making large temporal alterations, but have much more room to screw up and leave loose ends (e.g. plot threads). It also gives mages a reason to use target and area factors in their time travel spells, which I consider a plus. Oh, and it provides more opportunities for wonky, time related paradoxes and plot threads, another plus IMO.

    Anyway, that’s the hack. It’s a little hack as hacks go, but a fun one. If anyone has any advice or questions by all means voice them.

    P.S. This isn’t a rant against shifting sands. I like the spells as they are in the book, they simply don’t fit well for NPCs. Again, my opinion.
    Last edited by PenDragon; 08-23-2016, 06:51 AM.

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