Splitting Up the Party

A recent discussion with a friend bore some intriguing fruit for Time & Temp. Jason Keeley, of Pantheon Press and Imagination Sweatshop fame, was chatting with me about splitting up the party . . . in time. Time & Temp has mechanisms for dealing with situations when the temps want to remember to go back in time and give themselves a hand, but what about when the party is already split between decades? How can handle a situation when half the temps, working with a young Thomas Jefferson, wants to help out the rest of the temps who happen to be trying to save Abraham Lincoln from an antebellum assassination attempt?

We have to playtest these ideas a little bit before they become official Time & Temp rules, but here’s what I walked away from that conversation with.

  • If the party is split up in location, but not time, there’s no need to change anything. If they’re all generally affecting the same events, then just use one Matrix as normal. (See also The Matrix Over the Years on page 15 of the General Management Policy.)
  • If the party is barely split up in time, there is, again, no need to change anything. If one half of the group is working a day or two in the past, but on the same events, both groups use the same Matrix. There is no difference between this and working at the same time. (Again, see also The Matrix Over the Years on page 15 of the General Management Policy.)
  • If the party is really, really and truly split up, if the gulf between them is so great that they cannot affect the events of each other, use two separate Matrices. This includes great distances in time or space, and is greatly dependent on their ability to communicate with one another. Working a continent apart in 1509 is a much different thing than working a continent apart in 2009 and working star systems apart in 2509. As a general rule of thumb, do not use this option if either party can affect the events of the other without use of a synchronicity.
  • If the party is really split up, but at least one group can affect the events of the other,then we have an opportunity to use these new rules:
    • Each group gets their own Matrix.
    • A synchronicity token must be spent for communication between the groups. This is basically an Epiphany and should make sense in the fiction. For example, the temps working with young Thomas Jefferson may have with them an printout of a cryptic e-mail they got before they left that day and are following the instructions on it whenever they’re attempting to help out the future group. I highly recommend the Doctor Who episode “Blink” as an example of this.
    • Whenever one group does something to help the other group, they must roll, even if they don’t risk Failure or Incident (this counts as their actions possibly changing history). The number generated by this roll must go in both the acting temp’s Matrix and the Matrix of the temps they’re trying to help, even if the action failed.
    • Synchronic sets, Anomalies and Paradox dice are localized. They are attached to the time and place of the Matrix in which they are generated. This means you can give the other party a synchronicity token if you’re clever enough. Or you could lock in one of their Paradox dice, escalating their anomalies and not yours.
    • A paradox ends the world for everyone in all the Matrices that ever were or will have been.

There it is, in a nutshell. Like I said, we still need to test it a bit, but I think it should generally work. This stuff should get more interesting if some of the places and times they are visiting are places and times they’ve visited before.


One comment

  1. Iain M Norman · December 2, 2009

    Intersting situation. Still haven’t got my group to play yet. But looking forward to it.

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