Continuum is a role-playing game published by Aetherco in the late 90s. In the game, players have the ability to time travel and teleport. In effect, you are your own Time Machine. Starting characters are limited to traveling up to a year per time jump, so a campaign is typically set within a particular decade (most commonly modern day), at least until the characters have grown in power. The timeline presented for the setting spans around 15,000 years, including several cultures and eras unknown to traditional archaeology, so a sufficiently advanced campaign could travel quite extensively through time.
The game is notable for it's very detailed and logical depiction of time travel and the ramifications (and tricks) that such abilities bring. It does a very good job of remaining self-consistent. Just playing around with the time travel rules can lead to several enjoyable sessions well before any actual plot has to be introduced.
The setting is a deterministic universe, where history has already been written, and paradoxical actions are penalized fairly heavily. Within the game, paradox manifests as Frag. Frag starts as a headache or nausea, and if not answered, it can lead to illness, insanity, or even erase you from existence. The universe doesn't fix itself, however, and actions must be taken to clean up messes. Information control is very important, as you are only fragged when a paradox results in the a divergence between what really happened and what you remember happening. It's sort of like quantum mechanics - everything is in an indeterminate state until someone actively observes it.
Messing with someone elses history is a viable weapon, as you can give them Frag. Some care must be taken, though, as Frag can spread to individuals other than your target if they were also witnesses to the original event with which you tampered.
The Continuum is a sort of secret society of time travelers, of which the PCs membership is assumed. They are not Time Police, but are rather a culture in its own rights, complete with laws, slang, cliches, art movements, etc. A great war wages across time between The Continuum and an enemy known as Ante-Desertium. Due to the deterministic nature of the universe, The Continuum has already won the war, but the war must still be fought.
List of Tropes appropriate in Continuum
- Future Me Scares Me
- Future Google
- Future Slang
- Grays Sports Almanac
- Help Yourself In The Future
- Hitlers Time Travel Exemption Act
- In Spite Of A Nail
- Instant Guitar Lesson
- Me Squad
- Ontological Inertia
- Novikov Self-Consistency Principle
- Psychic Nosebleeds
- Secret Society
- Self Fulfilling Prophecies
- Time And Relative Dimensions In Space
- Veteran Chrononaut
- Wild Stallion Rule
- Write Back To The Future
- You Already Changed The Past
- You Cant Fight Fate
The following tropes and concepts also exist Continuum's background, but are only likely to show up after the PCs become significantly more advanced than starting characters.
- Ancient Astronauts
- Crystal Spires and Togas
- The Dark Times
- Eldritch Abomination
- Fish Out Of Temporal Water
- Ghost - it's strongly implied that most or all ghosts are actually the psychic afterimages of people who've been Fragged out.
- The Greys
- Lucid Dreaming, possibly combined with Mental Time Travel
- Mind Rape
- Psychic Powers
A spin-off game is planned (a playtest version exists, but is hard to find), called Narcissist, that details the opposing point of view, where players would be individuals who can change history or slip to parallel universes. Such a campaign would utilize a completely different set of tropes.
Game and Story Use
- The game has great rules on time-travel, including tricks and gimmicks you can pull, time combat stratagems, and GMing advice on how to handle time travel. Anyone looking to homebrew a time travel game would find this very useful.
- The sections on slang and time traveler civilization would be a good starting point for figuring out how to roleplay a time traveler in other games.
- More traditional RPGs could be spiced up (or turned on end) by including The Continuum as secret movers in the background.
- A Narcissist (a time traveler outside The Continuum, one who thinks they can create parallel universes) could interfere with the PCs lives in another RPG.
- They could haul PCs to a different place or era in an attempt to change time, creating a fish out of temporal water scenario.
- Or the Narcissist might be attempting to stop a PC from fulfilling their destiny.