Temporal Target
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Basic Information

This world is full of nutjobs. Stalkers, kidnappers, lone nut assassins, political extremists, paparazzi, dedicated fans, you name it. Protecting celebrities and world leaders is big business. It's hard enough for normal people to keep away from snooping neighbors or the smell guy on the bus, so it's gotta be even worse for the infamous.

Now add Time Travel to the mix. On top of all the creeps of your own time, you've got all the creeps of the future. They know where you live, not to mention where you will be Thursday night. Think about it. Someone might be plotting your death, not for something you've done, but because of something that one day might be done by the as-yet-unconcieved child of your as-yet-unconceived child. They might be lining up a shot right now from that building next door, and you'd never know. Maybe you should go drop the blinds.

Thus is the plight of the Temporal Target.

Even if only fairly stable people learn the secrets of time travel (which seems unlikely, what with Mad Scientists and the like), you've still got lookey-loos and gawkers, well-intentioned folks with a time machine and a hankering to get a photo of themselves shaking your hand. These folks might show up years before you even do whatever remarkable thing that makes you famous, so they can say "I knew him before he hit it big". Invariably, they'll share a number of insipid "insights" or unneeded encouragement, in hopes of being the one who was your "inspiration". As if you'd have never think to have Hamlet ask "to be or not to be" without their bloody help. It's not like they wrote it, either, they just quoted you your own line, so what are they so damn proud of?

Talk about your slings and arrows of outrageous fortuneā€¦


1. RPG: Continuum. Within the setting there's a fraternity of time-traveling understudies, professional Temporal Targets. When a famous person buys it before completing their destiny, these Thespians play the part and keep all their dates with history.
2. Campaign: The Short Bus Spanners. Campaign log to a Continuum Campaign that I ran. I used variations on this depiction to drape a haze of moral ambiguity over the first half of the campaign.

Game and Story Use

  • The classic / straight take on this is to make some villain want to alter history by killing some important famous figure. That's far from the only option, however.
  • To take Time Travel in a dark direction, make the PCs a Temporal Target. Someone from the future is out to get them, and they don't have a clue why. The safest response would be to retreat from public life, become a hermit, and be very paranoid.
  • If you like Moral Ambiguity in your game, make a Temporal Target of one of history's villains. Will the players act against a time-traveling cannibalistic serial killer who only eats really bad people? Should they?
  • If the players set their sights on someone, it's probably Adolf Hitler. See Hitlers Time Travel Exemption Act and Godwins Law of Time Travel for the typical results.
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