Examplinauts Part II: Failure, Déjà Vu

Continued from Rolling With the Temps

It’s looking grim for Colin and Sylvester as our previous, and rather literal, cliffhanger has left them clinging to the door of their time machine some 30 feet in the air. But more importantly, Mr. Hartnell has slapped Misters Baker and McCoy with a verbal Incident Report each. That’s two on the table, which means if they get one more before they can get rid of these, it’ll be a written report. And nobody wants that.

Mr. Hartnell: Well, gentlemen, what do you intend to do?

Mr. Baker: I fully intend to hang here. It’s a lovely day, the air is brisk, and the exercise could do me some good.

Mr. McCoy: Well, if you’re not going to get us out of this mess, I certainly will.

Mr. Baker: I should hope so!

Mr. McCoy: Can I swing over to the cliff face and get a foot hold?

Mr. Hartnell: You can certainly try. Are you setting the effort here or the effect?

Mr. McCoy: Oh the effort, yes. It seems to be a major one at that. Exnaut A

Mr. Hartnell: Yes. The effect will leave you on the cliff face, where you’ll likely be able to climb down, I suppose. Minor, definitely. So you should be rolling d10s.

Again, by crossing referencing the minor and major on the effect and effort chart, Mr. Hartnell has cleverly sussed out the die to use.

Also worth noting, since our temps have not, so far, really interacted with other, and have only just been affecting their own lives, Mr. Hartnell has consistently been setting the effect to minor. Though he can change what that exact effect could be–everything from getting down safely to crawling back into the time machine to ending up clinging to the cliff wall–the level will still be minor until they start interfering with the lives of others.

Ms. Ward: Certainly he risks failure and incident.

Mr. Hartnell: Quite right. 3d10, then.

Mr. McCoy: Well, this is troublesome. Let’s see if the modifier sheet has any bonuses for me. Colin could help Sylvester out with a swing of his legs.

Mr. Baker: I’m afraid you’re on your own with this one. I’m quite content right here.

Mr. McCoy: Ah, the Situational Advantage!  I’ve been in enough rock quarries to know that cliff faces are pockmarked affairs. Plenty of footholds to use, which makes it a bit safer. There’s a lovely bonus. I’m taking incident off the table.

If the player set the effort, they can claim a bonus from Situational Advantage by describing something in the environment that can help them. If they choose not to use this, the GM may do the same for a penalty. The catch is, if they use the SA and then fail, when they make a second attempt, the roles are reversed. As we shall see…

Mr. McCoy: Right then. 2d10.

You always roll one die, plus an additional die for each risk. Originally, Mr. McCoy was risking both incident and failure, thus he’d be rolling 3d10. But he spent his bonus on making the task at hand safer, lifting the incident die. So now he’s just rolling 2d10.

Mr. Hartnell: Not so fast. Haste makes waste. I still have an incident report on you, which I’m inclined to use as this may be the only time it makes sense to. You’re hanging from poor Colin’s foot. That’s going to make things more dangerous. Incident is back on the table.

Incident Reports are penalties that the GM can use to block bonuses that are being spent. In this case, Mr. Hartnell is blocking Mr. McCoy’s situational advantage bonus, so he still risks incident. Bad news for Sylvester.

Mr. McCoy: Fine then, 3d10. Let’s see. A 2, a 7, and a 10. Drat.

Mr. Baker: Take the 2 and kindly get off my leg.

Ms. Ward: 2’s one of the most common results. Let’s not hamper ourselves so early on with it.

Exnaut CMr. McCoy: Agreed. I’ll take the 7, because both failure and incident is unacceptable. But which to choose?

In order to use the second lowest number, Mr. McCoy must accept either failure or incident.

Ms. Ward: Take the failure. We’ll get another chance at it.

Mr. McCoy: That sounds like a plan. We just got rid of an incident report, no need to put another out there.

The incident report the Mr. McCoy had was a verbal, which means it disappears after it is used. In this case, it just means that the fact that Sylvester is hanging from Colin’s leg doesn’t actually put him at a disadvantage anymore.

Exnaut 2Mr. McCoy: If no one objects, I’ll just place this 7 right below the 12.

Numbers have to be placed in the Matrix either below or to the left of existing numbers. Also, any number placed in the Matrix must be crossed off of the Anachronometer.

Mr. Hartnell: Yes, yes. Now how do you fail?

Mr. McCoy: Oh, right. Well Sylvester valiantly tries to swing his legs over to the cliff face, but just when he’s about to get a foothold, Colin’s trousers snap a button and slide under Sylvester’s grip, causing him to lose his footing.

Mr. Baker: Hey!

Mr. Hartnell: Excellent. Would you care to try again?

The players always get to decide exactly how the temp fails, but there are some restrictions. If the player set the effect, the description of the failure cannot allow for a chance to attempt that same effect again. If, however, the player set the effort, as Mr. Baker has, they may describe their failure in such a way that another attempt may be made. After two such attempts, the player has to set the effect, thus limiting the number of times the temps can try to get things right.

Mr. Baker: Yes, please. Off my leg before you destroy my pants and my dignity.

Mr. McCoy: Do you intend to help?

Mr. Baker: Yes, yes, whatever it takes to get you off my leg.

Mr. McCoy: Right then, the cooperation bonus. Sylvester will swing back and forth, trying to get a toe on a ledge, all the while instructing Colin to swing his legs in time. That should be enough to bring my piano instructing experience.

Sylvester’s C.V. indicates that he does indeed have experience instructing others. That’s enough to get a cooperation bonus. But things do not bode well for our dangling heroes.

Mr. Hartnell: Right, as before. Major effort, minor effect. Incident and failure both on the table. It’s dangerous business hanging from a door. Speaking of which, Colin still has an incident on him, so I’ll be removing your cooperation bonus. And I have the situational advantage! Colin’s struggling with his trousers, which is causing this whole ordeal to require a fair bit more work than anticipated. Extensive effort, then.

Mr. Baker: Wait a minute!

Exnaut DMr. McCoy: Whew, that’s a sucker punch. So 3d8, then?

Mr. Hartnell: That’s right.

Mr. Baker: I don’t care for this at all.

Mr. McCoy: Oh come now, it’s not so bad. Let’s see. A 3, a 6, and a 7. Hmm . . .

Mr. Baker: Just put the 3 in and we can get off this door.

Ms. Ward: I don’t know. 3’s another common number. And that 6 would look lovely next to the 7.

One of the synchronic sets that the temps are looking for is a line of seven sequential numbers, forwards or backwards. The 6 next to the 7 would indeed make a great start.

Mr. McCoy: Excellent point! I guess we’re going to drop. Get off this door, but with incident.

Mr. Baker: Now wait just a moment! If we drop, we both incur incident!

When temps are cooperating, then all the temps involved get an incident report when an incident occurs.

Mr. McCoy: Right, another excellent point. We fail again, I guess.

Mr. Baker: You fail again. This is my first failure. And I don’t care for it very much.

Exnaut 3Mr. McCoy: Let’s put the 6 to the left of the 7 and say that Colin’s trousers have slipped completely to his knees, leaving Sylvester clutching empty pant legs.

Mr. Hartnell: The chap with the fishing pole calls out, “Having troubles with your door, are you?”

Ms. Ward: “It’s all well in hand, thank you very much.” Lalla’s going to end this farce. I’m setting the effect to pulling these two to safety. Presumably that’s minor.

Mr. Hartnell: Yes, but that’s extensive effort, as you’ll be pulling up the two of them. Again, both failure and incident are on the table.

Mr. Ward: Child’s play. I’ve had experience working in the emergency services. I used to pull people out of anti-grav car wrecks all the time. This won’t be much different. And presumably at least one of these two will submit to my clear authority on the matter. I’m looking at a C.V. bonus and cooperation.

Lalla’s character is a veteran of the NYPD from the year 2031. She’s clearly had emergency service experience and her C.V. also indicates some leadership experience. So she’ll be able to get two bonuses for this if the others cooperate.

Mr. Baker: Yes, yes, we’ll cooperate.

Exnaut EMs. Ward: Okay, no more messing around. Failure and incident are both off the table. So I’m looking at a single d8.

When you don’t risk failure or incident, you only roll one die and you’re stuck with whatever number comes up. Good luck with that.

Ms. Ward: A 7?

Mr. McCoy: Drat!

Mr. Hartnell: Excellent.

Mr. Baker: At least we’re safe.

Mr. Hartnell: Indeed. Through exhaustive effort, Lalla has managed to drag the two of you to safety, inside the domed room. Now, where shall you place your 7, Ms. Ward.

Exnaut 4Ms. Ward: There are a few opportunities here. I’m going to place it to the left of the 12. That’ll set us up for another sequential synchronic set going down.

Mr. Hartnell: That’s adjacent to the other 7, so that’s an anomaly.

Whenever a number is placed next to a number of the same value in the Matrix, an anomaly occurs. This means the temps’ presence in this timeline has caused some disturbances. First, we have to see how the anomaly affects the Matrix. Then we’ll see how it affects the timeline.

Ms. Ward: Okay, so I can swap any two numbers?

Mr. Baker: Or a number and a blank spot that’s either below or to the left of a number.

Exnaut 5Ms. Ward: Good point. I’m going to swap the 12 with the blank to the left of my 7. Move it out of that corner so it can be involved in some synchronic sets.

12 is one of the rarest numbers. It’ll be much more useful out of that corner.

Mr. Hartnell: So the first anomaly is always Déjà Vu, which is good news for you. From now on, you may spend bonuses on re-rolling dice.

But each time the dice are re-rolled, they use one die size smaller.

Exnaut Anom1Mr. Hartnell: And I get to escalate the anomalies, which is bad news for you. I’m going to escalate the subtle to obvious.

From here on out, all anomalies will be obvious things that happen in the timeline. Not only will the temps have some explaining to do when future anomalies occur, but anything involving those anomalies will automatically threaten paradox. Things are about to get a little more serious.

Ms. Ward: After reeling in her colleagues, Lalla calls down to the fisherman, “You wouldn’t happen to have 50 feet of rope, would you?”

Next time, our plot thickens . . .


  1. Pingback: Voyage of the Examplinauts, Part I: Rolling With the Temps « Dig a Thousand Holes Publishing
  2. Iain · October 26, 2009

    Good to read, helps straighten out a couple of points I haven’t ironed out yet.

    50ft of Rope! Ah the infamous “50ft Rope”

  3. Epidiah · October 27, 2009

    Excellent. My plan is finally coming together.

  4. Jay · June 2, 2010

    Any plans to continue this series? I’d love to see how the entire adventure plays out. The game concept is great, but the details of play are different enough that a full example would be priceless.

    • Epidiah · June 2, 2010

      I do actually plan to continue the Examplinauts, but it might have to wait until after August, because I’ve got a lot on my plate until then.

      • Caleb · November 26, 2010

        It is now well past August. I just purchased this game a couple days ago. Even after reading through the entire book (pdf), I was at a bit of a loss as to how exactly the game worked. This example has clarified things greatly for me, but I could definitely still use a sample of the protagonists dealing with a temporal villain, and also a sample of a proper post-mission briefing.

        Excellent work so far; hope to see more! Alternatively, if you know of anyone who has already made a video or forum post detailing a play-through somewhere on the Internet, could you please link to it? So far, I have found nothing.

  5. Epidiah · December 7, 2010

    Hello Caleb,

    I’m glad the Examplinauts so far help. I’ll see if I can come up with some more. As far as I’ve found, the only recorded game of Time & Temp I’ve found has been on the Gamemaster Show: http://thegamemastershow.com/

    • Caleb · December 8, 2010

      Yeah, you linked there elsewhere on your blog and I’ve already checked it. They seem to have lost all of their archives occurring before April 11th, 2010. The podcast featuring you is not there.

      • Epidiah · December 8, 2010

        Curses! I’ll knuckle down in a few days and trying to work something up for you.

  6. Jay Shaffstall · December 8, 2010

    I’ve got a game currently going over at RPOL. You can’t see the posts without registering and joining as a lurker, and I make no claims about it being run correctly, but it’s another example if you need it:


    • Epidiah · December 8, 2010

      Lovely! I just might come a lurking.

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