Bewildered Time Novice

Basic Information

The Bewildered Time Novice is a character who's new to Time Travel and doesn't understand how it works.

Short Term

A week ago he was an Ignorant Leveler, and now despite his best efforts, the Bewildered Time Novice can't figure out the first thing about how Time Travel functions. When confronted with physics, tricks, paradox, or just immersion into a new culture or era, he freezes up or freaks out.

It's perfectly natural for anyone who just got shoved through a Portal to the Past or taken for Magic Carpet Ride in a Time Machine to behave as the Bewildered Time Novice for a little while. It's usually just a short-term transitional phase, as the player adjusts their thinking to match the game rules or the logical implications of the setting. Most players and characters will figure things out in short order and evolve into a Veteran Chrononaut.

Long Term

Some characters just can't get a handle on time travel, no matter how long or how often they are exposed to it. This Loser Archetype is constantly running afoul of the laws of time, creating no end of trouble for themselves. When problems come up that could be solved by a Stable Time Loop, Wild Stallion Rule, or other clever time trick, they won't manage it. They'll never think of it, or be too scared to try. Should they attempt, they'll screw it up royally.

This is the character most likely to accidentally sleep with their grandmother. They may also be the Temporal Meddler, but more out of ignorance or happenstance than evil plan. Given enough rope, they will end up stomping on the butterfly of doom, erasing themselves or inadvertently helping the Nazis.


1. Movie: Back To The Future. Marty McFly is an example of a bewildered time novice who mostly grows out of it over the course of several films.
2. RPG: Continuum. Features a tiered status system that prevents characters from advancing to the higher levels until both the player and the character are no longer bewildered novices.
3. Campaign: The Short Bus Spanners. Campaign log to a Continuum Campaign r_b_bergstrom ran where everyone started out as Bewildered Time Novices in session one, and all but one of the PCs grew out of it.

Game and Story Use

  • One Bewildered Time Novice in the campaign (as either PC or NPC) can be a great source of Comic Relief and an endless supply of plot.
    • Not to mention fun to play! In my campaign, I had one player who intentionally took this role and played it to the hilt.
      • When he'd miss a session, the plot would advance more effectively, but it wasn't nearly as much fun. Others would goof up on purpose when he was absent so that they could have cash in on the fun he'd been having.
      • It was a Continuum game, so he was effectively insuring his character would never advance beyond first level. He enjoyed the role enough he didn't mind the disadvantage.
    • If your whole party is still characterized like this a couple sessions in, or if the players seem frustrated, take note! It may be that the players are having a hard time figuring out the rules of how time travel works in your campaign. Make sure you're applying the rules consistently, and maybe take some time at the start of the next session to do a Q&A.
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