In role playing games I was always willing to go where no other game master has gone before. Such was the case with the role-playing game Traveller and the matter of time travel. No rules existed in the rule book to cover time travel. But I didn’t let that stop me. I made them up as we went along.
I got a boost when one of my players wanted to create a character based on Dr.Who. The British series played on Friday nights on PBS in the 1980’s. But that particular player, though very creative, was not a precisely cerebral type of kid. He spelled it “W-H-O-E”. So, forever after, we referred to the character as Doctor Hooey.
Good old Hooey was always getting the group into impossible situations that took a great deal of thinking to get out of again. He had a penchant for crashing time machines. And when he got the destination right, he would get the time wrong on the year, century, or millennia. And when he got the time right, well, what do you know? He got the place wrong. The players never seemed to realize that I was taking them to planned adventures no matter what the dice rolls supposedly said.
Many such adventures would encounter weird and wild characters who would inevitably also become time travelers, whether fellow travelers for the sake of goodness and light, or as recurring villains.
For example, Brech was a student space ninja traveling through space and time with the teacher characters among the players. And by time traveling, they ran afoul of the Revenant, a time-traveling cyborg assassin who stalked the players for accusations of serious “time crimes”. The cyborg turned out to be young Brech’s future self. Which proved lucky. Brech was able to establish a psychic link with his future self just as the cyborg was about to execute everybody, and Brech thereby turned a deadly enemy into an ally.
We tended to adapt movie characters who were time travelers into important NPC’s, and they did not all come from the Dr. Who show. The characters shown above were Doc Brown from Back to the Future and Professor H. G. Wells.
When I stole characters from Dr. Who, like I did with Lady Romana here, I tended to adapt them totally to my own game universe. Romana was nothing like her TV counterpart. In fact, only the name was the same.
We soon had so many time-traveling characters in their different time machines that we had to organize it all. This we did by founding the organization known as the Time Knights of Gallegos.
And we needed a leader to coordinate the various initiatives through time and space. For this we chose a specific NPC, the boy super genius, Ryan Beowulf. He was a charming super-brained perpetual ten-year-old who worked with his own future self, the thousand-year-old Time King Beowulf.
Traveller, it seemed, was never more fun than when we were free to go rock and rolling through both space and time. We had some harrowing adventures and even made use of my own vast storehouse of useless historical knowledge that can wow ’em in the moment and make them wonder why they needed to know about that upon further reflection. Time traveling, like fez’s and bow ties, is cool.