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Old 01-23-2020, 12:36 PM   #1
Apollonian
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Default Cross-time Adventure Seeds

This thread is for (short) adventure seeds that you can drop into a time travel or dimension-hopping game, or run as a one-shot. Please keep them short, as they're seeds, not starts or full-grown plants.

I've defaulted to the Infinite Worlds setting, as I think it's one the things GURPS does best.

Bonus points if you use a world from the New Reality Seeds thread. (If you do, please link to that post in the thread.)

To start with:

The Infinity Strain

This echo is about to experience the Antonine Plague, and Infinity has a very small outpost set up near Rome to study, but not interfere, with the course of the plague. Due to a few security breaches early in this echo's exploration, the Secret is a little endangered here, and the PCs are tasked with security for the outpost. Aside from the usual problems of nosy locals and not catching the plague, there are two other issues that might endanger the Secret.

First, an idealistic doctor is very likely to want to interfere with the plague as much as possible once the group has diagnosed it, and this NPC is a security risk - but too important to the mission to just ship back to Homeline or lock up without serious repercussions.

Second, one of the staff is actually a secret agent on a mission to test a biological weapon - a deadly plague that wiped out another parallel - and the vaccine that their organization has developed, which the agent is secretly administering to the rest of the outpost. Should the exoplague be successfully deployed under cover of the plague, and the vaccine work, the organization will have an excellent weapon on their hands. Worst case scenario, it's a Gotha virus, and the organization has not been as careful with it as they should be.

Other Players: Centrum agents might be passing through and complicate matters; whether aggressively (abduct the outpost as a bargaining chip) or more subtly (generalized harassment). A Cabalist encountered here might be researching the decan of Kurtael, or have established a powerbase here and be concerned about interlopers; either could result in aid, interference, or both, depending on how the PCs react. Reich-5 agents should probably be avoided, as their presence will probably shift the focus of the adventure to them. An unwise Swagman makes an excellent wild card for the PCs to deal with.
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Old 01-25-2020, 01:30 PM   #2
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Default Re: Cross-time Adventure Seeds

The Punxsutawney Phenomenon:

A trace-mana worldline largely resembling an echo of 1962 (or some other year with no particular catastrophe going on). This worldline appeared, at first, to be totally ordinary, with no preexisting crosstime activity whatsoever, and some minor research opportunities. Alternatively, this crosstime dimension has some subtle Centrum experiment that will soon go wrong. For whatever reason, the PCs are sent in with fairly minor expectations.

However, when the player party arrives, they set off what we might term a "supercritical phase change" -- though they do not notice this at first. Though the world seems totally normal, the timeline "decrystalizes" and reforms in an earlier state: specifically, the moment the heroes arrived. This results in a closed loop of time where the party arrives, performs their mission, and discovers too late that their attempts to leave or defeat the Centrum party or what have you resets the timestream.

However, this recrystalization allows for subtle stochastic artifacts to remain. This is not enough to allow someone to remember the previous iterations, but it does mean that there are subtle changes from iteration to iteration. Clouds differ, coin flips might go one way or the other, and so on.

What this means is that while this is a slow trap and the PCs usually do not know they are in it, they do not perform the mission the same way each time.

This would be extremely boring in most cases, since escaping requires noticing the time loop almost immediately, figuring out a plan to stop Centrum/the time wedgie, and then putting it into practice while dealing with unexpected interference.

But, this is a tabletop roleplaying game, and so the GM openly fudges things as so: This loop is the last loop. No matter what the players do, they are Destined to succeed... though there are two costs:

First, whatever happens in this iteration doesn't get reset. PCs get injured or killed permanently, since this iteration is Destined to be the last one.

Second, the more unlikely success is, the more previous attempts are assumed to have happened. If the PC that's bad at driving had to drive one-handed through a blizzard during a gunfight, and that's the only way the plan would have worked, that player would have to roll a 4 or something to succeed. That means that if, at the table, the player did indeed roll a 4, the GM assumes that there were hundreds previous iterations where the PCs did not succeed.

The PCs, once they figure out the problem and that they can fix it, should also know that long odds like that will compound -- a PC with an appropriate skill can tell them that, or a decrypted message found next to their conveyor on arrival if that's impossible. (In that case, Homeline figured it out and sent them a message that could help them, but wouldn't aid the Centrum team.)

When it's all said and done, the PCs return to Homeline... but the time loops were entirely local. If they had a very smart crosstime physicist with them and had a good plan for pulling the MacGuffin out of the Centrum Time Blender with time to spare, then maybe it only took four or five iterations. The PCs show up at headquarters a week late, but able to explain the situation.

If, on the other hand, it required a lot of GM intervention to make sure that Serendipity-type events occurred to push the players to victory at only the very last second... or if the players only realized what was happening right before, and just stumbled on it and buffooned their way to victory... then it might have taken hundreds or even thousands of iterations for circumstances to be just right. In which case, they might have been gone for months or years!

Ways to soften this situation:
1: "fixing" the loop allows it to restart one more time, resurrecting any PCs (or foes) who died, but now allowing it to play out "for keeps," with the PCs already having lived through it once.
2: The "recrystalization" process was semi-instantaneous. When the PCs succeed, there's no or little actual time loss.
3: The stochastic artifacts now include outtimer's memories. Maybe this changed due to Homeline or Centrum targeting the worldine with their projectors somehow, so even though hundreds of iterations have gone through, you only just now remember the last two or three. In other words, if the players screw up so bad that there's no way to salvage it, they get another try.

This is designed to be quite vague. The phenomena that sets off the decrystalization can be natural or artifical; Centrumite, Homeline, Cabalist, or even Swagmani. It's worth considering that the loop may have been continuing for some time -- this could be a Centrum experiment from the early days that was considered lost, in which case rescuing the Centrumites from their predicament might give some useful intel.

Particular events, such as the Cherenobyl meltdown or Tunguska impact, might provide a useful time limit and background.

Finally, the GM really needs to remain in control of this. They can use this situation to send PCs into the future of their campaign if they want to, or just have them skip out on a week or a month. Don't feel too compelled to get actuarial over if a particular action would take months or years of re-tries to get completely perfect. After all, heroes are prone to beating the odds anyway.

Last edited by PTTG; 01-25-2020 at 01:35 PM.
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Old 01-25-2020, 04:04 PM   #3
Flyndaran
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Default Re: Cross-time Adventure Seeds

Despite the name evoking the famous, Groundhog Day, I think the plot more closely resembles the tv movie, 12:01.
It's more the adventure centered repeating time story.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/12:01_(1993_film)
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Old 01-25-2020, 07:12 PM   #4
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Default Re: Cross-time Adventure Seeds

It occurs to me that an obcessive World Jumper with a crackpot theory is a great crosstime adventure seed. Just pick your mania and you're off.

Examples:

A nationalist would try to protect his nation and make it flourish. No matter what the cost to others.

An anti- imperialist might try to disrupt nations they see as empires. Gore Vidal saw Lincoln as an imperialist for not just allowing the dissolution of the Union. Many cranks see America as a vast imperial octopus, and would love to murder figures like Washington and the early colonists.

Racial theorists have truly warped and insane theories that could be true nightmares to figure out and unravel.
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Old 01-25-2020, 09:13 PM   #5
Flyndaran
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Default Re: Cross-time Adventure Seeds

The real gimmick, IMO, would be how such a jumper would affect such global changes. Do they have mind control powers, probability manipulation, access to tech, cabals local or otherwise, etc.
Just getting to the world to mangle is only the first step.
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Old 01-25-2020, 10:40 PM   #6
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Default Re: Cross-time Adventure Seeds

How about having an organization use advanced biotech to develop multiple viruses that would give only the Native Americans resistance to the plagues of the Old World? The organization could jump to a number of timelines, immunize the Native Americans right before the coming of Columbus, and prevent the European conquest of the Americas.

Without the gold and silver of the Americas, the Caribbean sugar plantations, and the easy transit point between Asia and Europe that is Mexico, Europe would have never conquered the Earth. Technological progress would have slowed, preventing any such timeline from developing crosstime travel.
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Old 01-25-2020, 10:44 PM   #7
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Default Re: Cross-time Adventure Seeds

Quote:
Originally Posted by AlexanderHowl View Post
How about having an organization use advanced biotech to develop multiple viruses that would give only the Native Americans resistance to the plagues of the Old World? The organization could jump to a number of timelines, immunize the Native Americans right before the coming of Columbus, and prevent the European conquest of the Americas.

Without the gold and silver of the Americas, the Caribbean sugar plantations, and the easy transit point between Asia and Europe that is Mexico, Europe would have never conquered the Earth. Technological progress would have slowed, preventing any such timeline from developing crosstime travel.
Where's the adventure seed? As in, what exactly is supposed to hook the PCs into this situation? Who are the interesting antagonists? What complications arise on a personal level, as opposed to the usual reality seed level that this is?
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Old 01-25-2020, 10:46 PM   #8
Mark Skarr
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Default Re: Cross-time Adventure Seeds

Okay, go. (Work-safe, non-offensive picture)

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Old 01-25-2020, 11:01 PM   #9
AlexanderHowl
 
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Default Re: Cross-time Adventure Seeds

Quote:
Originally Posted by Apollonian View Post
Where's the adventure seed? As in, what exactly is supposed to hook the PCs into this situation? Who are the interesting antagonists? What complications arise on a personal level, as opposed to the usual reality seed level that this is?
The PCs could be working for the organization trying to protect the Native Americans. Their antagonists could be crosstime nationalists trying to make sure that crosstime versions of their nations evolve (or criminals trying to colonize and/or exploit the crosstime Americas). The complications could be the moral quandary of working for an organization that prevents genocide only because it preserves their crosstime monopoly.
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Old 01-25-2020, 11:53 PM   #10
David Johnston2
 
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Default Re: Cross-time Adventure Seeds

Megiddo-1 is a world in the same year as Homeline and Centrum. But in the year that Homeline got parachronic travel, Megiddo got the apocalypse. The Beast revealed himself and unleashed armies of humans and Qulippothic horrors conquering half the planet with Heaven, Hell, Olympus and Asgard rallying to help the remaining free world fight the invasion. But your mission takes you to Megiddo-2, an apparent echo of Megiddo that is about 25 years behind. You are to find out whether it is a true echo, and if it is, derail it by destroying its Beast while it is still hopefully vulnerable.

(Crossover with C.J. Carella's Armageddon and Witchcraft).
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