The Time Travellers Dilemma
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Basic Information

Even if you don't have to worry about Temporal Paradox, deciding to change the past is not a decision to be made lightly. You're undoing an infinite number of events, and altering millions of lives. How do you know that your changes will do more good than harm? Who are you to play God?

For some choices, this dilemma is nearly non-existent. Preventing the Holocaust would be a good and noble action, even if it has a few unexpected ripple effects.

When it comes to smaller changes, or changes that don't have such simple black-and-white moral obviousness, things can get sticky. Kill a cruel despot from history, and you may wipe out his totally innocent descendants. You may unleash the Butterfly of Doom, or be faced with The Sadistic Choice.

If you can go back in time and save lives, how can you not do so and still consider yourself a good person? You can't save everyone - but then, given infinite time, maybe you can. Of course, saving the life of everyone who ever died would result in overpopulation, so you'd have to figure out how to save them from that. Man, it gets complicated quick.



Game and Story Use

  • If you don't like this kind of depth and moral ambiguity, there's at least three options:
    1. As GM, describe only the positive changes, as if any tweaking of time makes the world better in every possible way. This plus a Hand Wave should keep the game light.
      • Enemy action can still be bad, just depict everything the PCs do as having only positive changes.
    2. Use Branching Time and All The Myriad Ways to explain that the people whose birth has been prevented still exist somewhere. What looked like Time Travel is actually travel to Parallel Universes.
    3. Avoid putting Time Travel into the game in the first place.
  • If you do like angsty character development and moral ambiguity (and so does the rest of your play group), then Mutable Time is a perfect match for you. Have fun rewriting the past!
  • A Time Abyss who's finally had enough decides he's going to fix the world by saving everyone, one person at a time. It's an impossible task, but he's got all the time in the world to try it…
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