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Old 12-05-2023, 10:29 AM   #1
weevis
 
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Default Parachronic First Aid is cool! How do I stat it?

I really enjoyed reading the TimeWatch RPG and I'd like to steal some of its great ideas for a GURPS time travel game.

TimeWatch has a "Chronal Stability" stat that reflects how many paradoxes you've caused or encountered. It also can be reduced by your time travel, functionally acting as time machine fuel. When it gets too low, you lose substantiality in a way similar to GURPS McFly's Syndrome, a.k.a. "Fuzzing Out," (in G:IW p. 181). Eventually you risk total disappearance and were never born.

A few years ago on this forum Michael Thayne modeled this by adding a new stat to GURPS (https://forums.sjgames.com/showthread.php?t=152200). I'd love to know how that worked out, but I think personally I'd rather stick to the built-in mechanics as much as possible. GURPS already uses Fatigue Points in similar ways. And GURPS already has Timesickness (p. B158, p. G:IW 181) which at the frequent, mild level makes FP quite close to TimeWatch's Chronal Stability. We just think about paradox and time travel damage as a special kind of fatigue. So that's fine.

Here's the great idea that I want to steal: Inspired by the way that Psychoanalysis heals Madness in Call of Cthulhu games, TimeWatch has the idea that your Chronal Stability partly comes from your own will to exist. A well-trained character skilled in time travel -- called a Reality Anchor -- can talk you back from the brink by verbally affirming your identity.

How does this work? TimeWatch says that in addition to physical insubstantiality, paradox and time travel also cause mental insubstantiality: You forget who you are. Eventually you become an NPC in the timeline you are visiting, forgetting that you are a time traveler. (Neat effect!) This is called Subsumed in TimeWatch. I'm thinking this can already be handled in GURPS by Confusion Checks and Fright Checks (which optionally are caused by time travel according to G:IW). These can already produce disadvantages like Confused, Short Attention Span, and Partial Amnesia in GURPS.

I'm less sure how to handle the "paradox mental healing" part and that's where I'm hoping for advice. I really like the Reality Anchor idea. It gives the PCs a cool new thing to do related to time travel in a time travel game. It is kind of a new occupation -- Parachronic Paradox Medic! I think it would set up interesting scenes. However fast FP recovery seems like it has implications for game balance.

In TimeWatch, Reality Anchor healing works quite like GURPS advanced TL First Aid heals HP -- it's fairly rapid to heal some damage, then you can't heal any more without some other actions. I can see why that fast HP recovery would be good for exciting gameplay. As context, to support TimeWatch gameplay paradoxes and time travel should be cheap and possible. But there needs to be some small cost on them to prevent abuse.

I was thinking at first I could just declare the new skill GURPS Reality Anchor to be a FP-restoring skill that works like GURPS First Aid at some high TL. However I don't think that will work because giving someone else First Aid does not really deplete anything major in GURPS. I guess it costs time and bandages. A player could just keep trying some time travel over-and-over every 30 minutes (time travel games are like that) if they had another character giving them parachronic first aid every time they caused a paradox.

Is there some other rapid-FP-restoring dynamic I should use here? I thought of making a Power-based Healing (FP only) solution powered by FP to limit Parachronic First Aid. However paradoxes can affect the entire party, so having a healing-FP player try to help by spending the same stat they are also trying to fix doesn't seem right. I guess I could use an energy reserve from the Powers book but I dislike adding new stats.

Are there other ways to think about this -- using existing rules if possible? I really appreciate any help.
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Old 12-05-2023, 05:24 PM   #2
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Default Re: Parachronic First Aid is cool! How do I stat it?

If parachronic First Aid is something anyone can do:

A) Base parachronic First Aid on mundane first aid. You know what gadgets to use, medicines to administer, etc. Maybe even treat it as a familiarity.

B) Go with your Reality Anchor skill. It could easily be based on a magic spell like Lend Energy, where the caster burns FP to give someone else FP. This might work well if you can transfer someone else's instability to yourself.

If it's something that not just anyone can do:

A) Healing seems like a good place to start. "Can cure Temporal Instability" might be a +20% or +40% enhancement. "Can only cure Temporal Instability" might be a -60% limitation.

Healing such problems might cost 1 or 2 FP per Stability Point restored, with a -1 penalty per SP removed after the first and a -3 penalty to treat the same person more than once within a 24 hour period (relative to the subject's temporal frame of reference, not the healer's).

Alternately, there's no FP cost, but the healer takes the subject's paradox onto themselves.

B) A limited form of Jumper (Time Jumper) might act as the temporal equivalent of Great Healing, allowing you to instantly remove all temporal paradox from a subject.

C) Temporal Inertia turns into "Immunity to Temporal Paradox. You can laugh at all the temporal contradictions you cause.
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Old 12-05-2023, 06:22 PM   #3
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Default Re: Parachronic First Aid is cool! How do I stat it?

Thanks I like ALL of these ideas -- I think the hitch is that paradox FP loss affects the entire party, and time travel stress (in GURPS timesickness FP loss) also affects the entire party since we usually want everyone to stay together. That means just transferring everyone's FP loss to the healer means the healer will also have lost FP from the same cause and the healer probably will not have enough FP. I think the group should feel time-injured from a major paradox + travel stress. That would have to be around -4 FP to be meaningful (?). Maybe more. For a party of 4-5 PCs it seems the parachronic healing FP available is not enough to be effective, it can only take the edge off a bit.

Alternately if there is no FP cost to heal FP, the parachronic healing is likely *too* effective, as it means time travel and paradox might effectively have no cost. The "cost" to plain First Aid is 30 minutes of time. In a game with rampant time travel that is not a cost.

So these are the two dynamics I am stuck between.

Magic is a good suggestion. I feel like people who do magic that costs FP must have a solution for this but I don't run games with magic so I don't know what it is. Maybe I need a powerstone or something!
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Old 12-06-2023, 04:06 PM   #4
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Default Re: Parachronic First Aid is cool! How do I stat it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by weevis View Post
Magic is a good suggestion. I feel like people who do magic that costs FP must have a solution for this but I don't run games with magic so I don't know what it is. Maybe I need a powerstone or something!
I only mentioned magic because the game mechanics for standard GURPS Magic spells (spend time concentrating, spend FP, roll vs. skill, get some supernatural effect if you're successful) work well for learnable standalone supernatural skills. E.g., weird temporal manipulation techniques, Dreamland powers, or certain cinematic martial arts attacks. They don't actually have to use mana to power them.

It also occurs to me that if you can use some sort advantage with Area Affect to "de-paradox" an area or group of people. Affliction or Healing seem like logical choices.
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