Perils of Time Travel

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Perils of Time Travel

Postby Ivellius » Wed Jun 13, 2012 6:59 am

Your dreams have been troubled. It’s always been difficult…since, but lately the nightmares have completely taken over. They haven’t been this bad in ages. Now, every night, it’s almost as if you were back there, watching helplessly as—no, dreaming about it is bad enough. No need to obsess over it during the daylight, too.

You can’t remember the last time you’ve felt rested. The days are beginning to blend together, clockwork routine just enough to get by, brief reprieves from the endless night terrors that attack you. You finally lie down to sleep, hoping tonight will be better than the last.

As soon as your eyes close the images return. Only, this time, interrupting the usual nightmare are flashes of unfamiliar forms and foreign locales: dark woods, green mountain hills, brown marshlands, red-ringed mesas. Cruel, humanoid faces intersperse the alien environments. You even get a few glimpses of demonic faces framed by greenish, fel flames.

Then, the familiar nightmare restarts. But to your surprise, a large, bronze-glinting figure steps forward, stopping the dream. “What would you do to return, mortal? What if you could change your life so that none of this happened?” You feel something hard—metallic—in your hand, a bronze, triangular scale. “Make the pact with us. We can restore what you have lost.” The scale pierces your hand, and you black out.

You slowly wake to your surroundings. The dream is gone, but its sense of disorientation remains. The pressure in your hand has eased, but as you look down, you realize you still hold a bronze scale, its tip pressing into your palm.


Long story short, I may actually get a campaign going this time around. I'm featuring the Bronze Dragonflight pretty prominently, but aside from the Infinites, I wonder what other hazards of time travel I could throw at them.

The basic conceit is Burning Legion cultists are about to make an attack on the Dark Portal while the Dragonflights are distracted with Deathwing. The bronze dragon Zamarmu has gathered a group of adventurers and is sending them into a few different times to deal with these cultists before they can make their attack. In exchange, each is going to get a chance to make some terrible event in their past right.

I have the basics of what's supposed to happen in mind (go through the portal, stop the cultist, repeat), but I figured I'd post here for more input.
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Re: Perils of Time Travel

Postby Bonetti » Sat Jun 16, 2012 2:00 am

Could you clarify on what the setup is? Is this starting in Cataclysm-era, or earlier? (I'm trying to figure whether they're attacking through the portal, or attacking the portal itself.)

You could consider modeling it off of either War of the Ancients (sent back to restore a specific timeline, note that the Old Gods were nibbling around the edges, if memory serves) or the Caverns of Time instances (or both). In the case of the latter, you might end up with a double-threat: the Legion making an assault at the wrong time, some of which are disguised Infinites (like the disguised ones in Culling of Stratholme or Escape from Durnholde).

If you want morally challenging episodes, you could take a page from the existing instances, and (for instance) have the party help the freeing of Illidan (from Warcraft 3), or even the sacking of the Black Temple, to prevent a worse disaster. Or even preserve Gul'dan's pact so that the orcs do their invasion (basically, the flip side of the Dark Portal instance from the Caverns of Time).

Alternatively, if you want to shift it a little bit, consider this: Draenor is shattered. What if that has rippled through time as well as space, and there are time rifts scattered in Outland among the remnants of Draenor? What happens if the Legion discovers a way to control this (perhaps with help from the Infinites?), so that they can go back in time and change events where they are defeated? This might also justify the use of heroes -- the bronzes may not be able to directly operate outside of Azeroth.

Of course, you might need to make some alterations to the Infinites if the bronzes can't reach Draenor -- after all, (alternate timeline, Old God-corrupted Nozdormu is the Master of the Infinite Dragonflight).

Note as well that there are three more portals on the remnants of Draenor, and any of those could be affected by such time fractures. Imagine, say, a slew of felhounds finding their way onto Draenor before the arrival of the Draenei (peaceful orc time!), or as the Draenei arrive. (If your party is Horde, one of the threatened ancestors could be one of the PCs ancestral tribes; if Alliance, same with the Draenei, only shift it to post-arrival but pre-corruption -- potentially corrupting the orcs long before Gul'dan and Mannoroth.)

Finally, one common thread running through this is the Old Gods. They were at the edges of the War of the Ancients problems, preventing their corruption of the timeline is Nozdormu's task, and they figure into the Infinites. So, all of their influence (and, potentially, servants) could figure in as well. If you posit that the Old Ones are partially out of time, they can likely reach (at least somewhat) outside their current imprisonment.

And, of course, you could have perils if the party can actually "walk" through time some themselves -- getting stuck in time eddies or time loops, getting lost and appearing in the wrong time, trying to avoid stepping on the proverbial butterfly, being "time tourists" trying not to foul things up. For a light-hearted tone, you could even have an exasperated Chromie (or equivalent) keep popping up, saying things like "This is the seventh time I've saved you!" (the first time it happens...)
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Re: Perils of Time Travel

Postby Big Mac » Sat Jun 16, 2012 10:48 pm

Bonetti wrote:Could you clarify on what the setup is? Is this starting in Cataclysm-era, or earlier? (I'm trying to figure whether they're attacking through the portal, or attacking the portal itself.)


I'd second that. The two ends of the timeline might have something in common that make for a good hook.

Ivellius wrote:I have the basics of what's supposed to happen in mind (go through the portal, stop the cultist, repeat), but I figured I'd post here for more input.


What is the reason for things to repeat? Do the PCs keep doing things until they get things right or do you want the PCs to use each repeat to be in a different place at the same time?

I've got a thread here called WoW "instances" as an RPG mechanic. You might want to take a look at that to see if any of the ideas fit in with your time travel portal idea.

I certainly think that a portal could be created around a moment in time, and that that moment could repeat forever with some sort of force waiting for something to alter the events in the time trapped within the portal.
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Re: Perils of Time Travel

Postby Bonetti » Mon Jun 18, 2012 7:11 am

Big Mac wrote:
Ivellius wrote:I have the basics of what's supposed to happen in mind (go through the portal, stop the cultist, repeat), but I figured I'd post here for more input.

What is the reason for things to repeat? Do the PCs keep doing things until they get things right or do you want the PCs to use each repeat to be in a different place at the same time?

I read that as "they foil the cultists, lather, rinse, repeat", which is more of a series of similar attacks rather than repeating the same event over and over.

I will point out, however, that WoW has already established that the Bronzes can (to a certain extent) reset failure -- they used this in the Caverns of Time instances if a group wiped. There was a limit, though, before the instance could no longer be recovered (thereby placing additional pressure on the heroics, which you couldn't just reset). So, that safety net might end up applying if the party royally screws up :-)
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Re: Perils of Time Travel

Postby Ivellius » Mon Jun 18, 2012 2:26 pm

Bonetti wrote:I read that as "they foil the cultists, lather, rinse, repeat", which is more of a series of similar attacks rather than repeating the same event over and over.

I will point out, however, that WoW has already established that the Bronzes can (to a certain extent) reset failure -- they used this in the Caverns of Time instances if a group wiped. There was a limit, though, before the instance could no longer be recovered (thereby placing additional pressure on the heroics, which you couldn't just reset). So, that safety net might end up applying if the party royally screws up :-)


That is correct. The party currently contains three characters (a gnome, tauren, and worgen, all three somewhat independent of their respective factions), and a particular encounter has been chosen for each because of links (direct or indirect) a cultist has to that individual. Pretty much my only direction for character creation was this: all three have some tragedy in their past they'd like to prevent--the worgen was tricked into killing his family, the tauren's immediate family was wiped out by corrupt tribal leaders, and the gnome lost a woman (no one said each tragedy had to be quite as serious). If they can take care of the cultist in each era, Zamarmu has offered them a chance to mend their past. Right now, my idea is that each cultist and event has a particular demonic artifact associated with it. Once they get hold of it, Zamarmu can wipe it from history--which will remove it in the past as well, thereby fixing what went wrong for them.

However, I'm not sure things will work out well for them. Perhaps their "reward" proves to be just as distressing as what happened to them--and two of my players have already given me hooks for that. The gnome player has said that getting the girl would actually be a mistake for him, though the character doesn't realize it, and the tauren expressed reluctance when first contacted by Zamarmu, saying to undo the past would be unnatural. None of my players are all that familiar with the setting, and so far I think I've done an effective job of presenting the dragonflight as mysterious and perhaps even dangerous. The Infinites should take that to the next step and hopefully make the characters rethink whether they're making the right choice after all. I find their story compelling, mysterious, and still somewhat unfinished--what does Murozond mean when he speaks to players in the End Time? Could they have been right (somehow) after all? They're definitely showing up, most likely tonight.

They've already been given a safety net in the form of three sigils--they can use them once per day to "reset" themselves or, if things get too dire, return to Zamarmu and save themselves (but fail the individual mission). Right now I think they're being "buffered" by Zamarmu, so that even once they complete a particular mission the character remains the same until they've finished with all of them. After going through each of the three portals, I'm planning to have a final event dealing with the "present-day" invasion. Those two ideas could change, however.

To clarify a bit further on the demonic invasion, the beginning of the campaign is Cataclysm-era, right as Thrall and the Aspects are about to confront Deathwing. The dragonflights are stretched a bit thin, but the attack on the Dark Portal is planned to come from two directions--the cultists attacking the Azerothian side while the Legion makes a push on the Outland side. I'm not planning to deal with the latter, at least partly because I'm not even sure what Blizzard thinks is going on over there. The end goal is to get a few more demons to Azeroth--probably nothing world-threatening but still not much fun for whoever gets in their way.
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Re: Perils of Time Travel

Postby Big Mac » Tue Jun 19, 2012 12:31 am

Ivellius wrote:However, I'm not sure things will work out well for them. Perhaps their "reward" proves to be just as distressing as what happened to them--and two of my players have already given me hooks for that. The gnome player has said that getting the girl would actually be a mistake for him, though the character doesn't realize it, and the tauren expressed reluctance when first contacted by Zamarmu, saying to undo the past would be unnatural.


One interesting aspect of the (eventual) time change is that the PCs might be altered as well and not actually remember the adventure. This could mean that you could give them a second or third adventure where they are fixing time and the PCs don't realise that they might have been fixing time for this guy for years. Perhaps they could eventually obtain some sort of item that allows them to survive changes in time, so that they realise what is happening.

But it might be fun to give characters XP, but also (occasionally) get them to re-roll one or more of their character levels. (Going that way would require keeping a character sheet for every level of the PC, but you could essentially roll the character back two years and then give them two years of different advancement.)

And if you reinvented the PCs when they changed time, perhaps the goals they have now, would not be the goals they would want to have after they "get what they want".

Ivellius wrote:They've already been given a safety net in the form of three sigils--they can use them once per day to "reset" themselves or, if things get too dire, return to Zamarmu and save themselves (but fail the individual mission). Right now I think they're being "buffered" by Zamarmu, so that even once they complete a particular mission the character remains the same until they've finished with all of them. After going through each of the three portals, I'm planning to have a final event dealing with the "present-day" invasion. Those two ideas could change, however.


Out of interest, are they going to be able to work out if they have used the sigils. If the sigil resets time, I would presume that they might forget what they had done and think they were just about to set off.

Ivellius wrote:To clarify a bit further on the demonic invasion, the beginning of the campaign is Cataclysm-era, right as Thrall and the Aspects are about to confront Deathwing. The dragonflights are stretched a bit thin, but the attack on the Dark Portal is planned to come from two directions--the cultists attacking the Azerothian side while the Legion makes a push on the Outland side. I'm not planning to deal with the latter, at least partly because I'm not even sure what Blizzard thinks is going on over there. The end goal is to get a few more demons to Azeroth--probably nothing world-threatening but still not much fun for whoever gets in their way.


If you really wanted to run with time reboots, you could go through the entire patch history of the MMO and look for anything that Blizzard wiped out of existence. That might give you a series of built in ideas to work from and Blizzard would kind-of serve as the basis of the personality of your time travel NPC. :twisted:

How about a plot to remove the second moon?
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