Videocassette Time-Travel
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Basic Information

The trope of Videocassette Time-Travel was pioneered in The Time Machine by H. G. Wells. In this version of Time Travel, you can actually see the progression of ages pass around you, like if you'd hit the rewind button on a video tape. As you travel back in time, you'll see people walk backwards and grow younger. As you move forward in time, you'll see things age and zip around super-fast.

Unfettered VCR Time Travel is quite potent, and can enable a number of Temporal Tricks.

  • It's useful for Time Spying, watching what someone was up to at a particular moment.
  • It can also be akin to a limited form of Quantum Immortality, since as soon you feel imperiled you can rewind to before the danger started.
  • The Temporal Pause button lets you stop people in their tracks (or chemical reactions in mid-process) and outmaneuver foes or escape danger.
  • If you can slow time a little, you buy yourself a few seconds to think. If you can slow things unevenly over time, you'll be able to perform some amazing athletic feats.
  • You might be able to create "Chapter Stops" - scenes or moments you can more easily skip directly to.

The downside is that, unlike some other forms of time travel, there's an implication that you can't meet your future or previous selves - there's just one you, and the universe rewinds or advances around you.


2. RPG: Timestream by Nathan Paoletta - calls this "Temporal Manipulation" and has rules for it.
3. Movie: Next - Nick Cage uses this to dodge bullets and redo scenes that go badly for him.
4. Movie: Click - Adam Sandler runs into all sorts of trouble because of a literal Remote-Control of Time
5. Movie: The Time Machine - the George Pal adaptation of Well's book has a lot of fun with time-lapse photography showing the Time Traveler's voyage through time.

Game and Story Use

  • "That which does not kill me will be rewound and erased." It may be that a PC can still die, but as long as they're alive they can rewind to avoid the situation in the first place. Only instant-kills will be effective against them.
    • Some limits may be needed though, because it may be very difficult to recreate situations from several sessions back - sometimes just rewinding one or two rounds of combat accurately will be pretty tricky.
  • Some questions come up in regards to what other people see if they are nearby when you're time traveling.
    • I mean, presumably, you're there. If you move forward into time by "fast-forwarding" an hour, anyone else in the room probably sees you standing motionless for an hour.
      • What happens if someone throws a grenade into the room while you're on fast-forward?
      • If things are going faster, do they have more kinetic energy?
      • If you go back in time - well then what do they see?
      • Do you /can you breathe while on fast-forward or reverse? What happens to the air your lungs just processed before your rewound?
    • Think too much about this stuff, and either your brain starts to hurt or your verisimilitude breaks down.
    • It's possible to work past this by overlapping it with Intangible Time Travel, Mental Time Travel, or Branching Time.
  • Note that H.G. Wells invented this trope… nearly a century before the invention of the videocassette!!! Maybe he was a Time Traveler himself!
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