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Brax 05-25-2010 02:46 PM

Help Needed for a Multiple Timeline Campaign

I'm in need for some help creating the concept of a new campaign I'm planning:

Since quite a lot of real life is disturbing my gaming habits I usually only get to play once a month. With this limited gaming time we can't play more than one campaign at once but still I don't want to get stuck in just one kind of background.

First I was thinking about an IW-style campaign, but I do not like the concept of modern characters running around in ancient times.

Then I thought about an Highlander-style campaign, but that would seriously limit the sequence in which I could play the different timelines and it would end up with some kind of 5000 year old semi-gods when the group that started in Ancient Rome finally reaches Traveller times..

That's when I had the idea about a group of "Eternal Heroes" (as in Michael Moorcock) - with each character in the different timelines being a reincarnation of his predecessors. This gives me the advantage of characters native to their time and locale while giving the players (and me) the advantage of only one character trope to play.

These reincarnations wouldn't know about each other in all but one timeline - and now comes the tricky part: I want one of the timelines (let's call it homeline) to be the "main-story" which connects the other stories - with characters who know or learn about who they have been in the past (or will be in the future). I just can't think about a good story to incorporate my timelines and give the homeline characters a reason and a benefit to find out about their past lifes.

The campaign will cover these timelines:
* Ancient Roman times - around the fall of the Republic with political adventures
* Middle Ages - around the time of the First or Second Crusade with combat/dungeon style adventures in the holy land
* Swashbucklers - swashbuckling dark-fantasy/horror adventures in the 30 year war in Germany
* Age of Napoleon - on board of one of her Britannic Majesties ships of war
* Old West - horror adventures in the Wild West
* Cliffhangers - the hunt for the Eternal Nazi around the world of the roaring 30s
* the present - this is my intended homeline with Action!-style mystery adventures
* Traveller - a group of sellswords and small time merchants in the Spinward Marches.

There will be 9 adventures in the season with 2 all-homeline adventures: the first and the second, and the remaining 7 adventures starting and ending in the homeline to give them a framing but for the main part being in their intended timeline.

Any ideas about a reasonable homeline-story would be very much appreciated!

Jacob Marley 05-25-2010 04:27 PM

Re: Help Needed for a Multiple Timeline Campaign
My first thought is that there exists a mystical talisman that is passed down through the ages and has powers that are exploited for good or (usually) ill to drive many of the key events of these timelines. In each timeline, the characters are tasked with tracking down the talisman and neutralizing it (it cannot be destroyed). They have two sets of foes in each timeline. First are the mundane actors how use the talisman (Julius Ceaser, a crusader king, a French admiral for Napolean, etc.) They are the visible "face" of the great events but are generally unaware of the nature of the power they wield and either stumbled on the talisman by accident or are dupes of the second group, a secret nilistic cult whose members throughout the ages are dedicated to finding and controlling the talisman in order to destroy the universe so that their god can return from his exile in the beyond and build a new paradise. Furthermore, the talsiman is getting more powerful and dangerous over time.

Here's how I'd structure the adventure. The cult gradually becomes aware that certain people are reincarnating over and over to through time to thwart their attempts to gain control of the talisman. In the first adventures, normal unsuspecting people find themselves targeted by mysterous strangers who want them dead for no reason they can discern. Eventually, they discover the truth about the talisman and their past lives, and begin to develop the skills of reliving those past lives for clues as to the current whereabouts of the talisman and how to destroy it permently. For sessions 3-6, the players are researching and reliving those past lives to find the clues.
Eventually, they realize that the only solution is that the talisman has to be dropped into a black hole as the only way to safely dispose of it. Dropping it into a star is the wrong thing to do because by the time the ability to do that exists, the talisman will be powerful enough to explode the star and start a chain reaction that will annilate the universe. They then have to leave this information, as well as how to find the talisman for their future selves who finally destroy it.

The final session is the future selves discovering who they are, finding the message from their past lives, racing the cultist to the talisman, and getting it to the black hole. A great ending would be to have the heros sacrifice themselves plunging their ship into the black hole with the talisman aboard just ahead of the pursuing cultist armada.

Brax 05-26-2010 01:54 AM

Re: Help Needed for a Multiple Timeline Campaign
That sounds like a great idea for an epic campaign, but it will seriously limit the possibility of more adventures in the same setting - say in the second season.

Why would the PCs "return" to a timeline if the talisman is already neutralized?

The campaign should be more like a TV series with adventures that won't change the background very much and all the adventures of the first season being more like introductions to the different timelines.

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