Mental Time Travel
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Basic Information

This Time Travel Trope refers to any form of Time Travel where your body stays put, and only your mind or consciousness travels.

Most commonly, it's that you experience elements or scenes of your life out of sequence, or revisit moments you'd lived through previously. You're still in your own body, just a much younger or older version of your body, experiencing another part of your own life. In one scene, it's the year 2000 and you're 30 years old, the next scene it's 1980, and you're standing where-ever you lived back then, in your 10-year-old body. This form of Time Travel thus typically limits you to a window of a few decades to a century in which you can time travel, and presents a whole series of other challenges related to the health and capabilities of your body at various ages.

In other variants on this power, your consciousness may take over another person's body. When that happens, either your consciousness suppresses theirs, or your souls swap bodies and times.

Either version might prove to be real time travel, or just time spying where you can't change things you can only watch what happened through the eyes of someone who was there. Some might interpret the time spying to just be a vision, prophecy, or form of psychometry.



Game and Story Use

  • May be best used in a game with only one player (or used only for NPCs), since it sort of encourages the character to travel alone. If you jump from age 40 to age 8, your fellow PCs probably aren't going to be in the same place on a random day 32 years ago, and as a child you might have little recourse to reunite with them.
  • If using it for an entire group, you might be better off doing the variant where you take over some other body.
    • Could be a location, such as an ancient temple or wizard's lab, where consciousness can swap to any other time that someone else is in the location. The party enters, and suddenly finds themselves in the era the temple was built in, wearing clothes (and faces) of a long-dead civilization. Meanwhile, back in the future, your bodies are occupied by the minds of the primitive priests of the ancient temple.
    • Perhaps you can take over your own ancestors and descendants. The party could represent a multi-generation secret society, that has a family member available for take over in every generation. Since they're a secret society, the group can logically interact in all eras.
    • What if you can take over anyone's body, provided you know when they are at a given time. Group photos from earlier generations would be a way for the entire party to time travel and body swap. Probably needs to be some way to resist this, otherwise the PCs can just transplant their minds into the villain's bodies in the middle of a fight.
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