Dungeon Master Assistance

A place to share thoughts and ideas about Dungeons and Dragons

Time Travel

Optional rules for D&D v3.5

Several attempts have been made to travel in time in D&D with more or less success. In a fantasy world where magic is real one would think time travel should be possible. The problem is how do you handle time travel in terms of the game.

 Problems to Overcome

1. The time paradox problem.

What happens if you kill one of your ancestors? You would cease to exist thus undoing your murder which would bring you back into existence where you would travel back in time to kill your ancestor, etc. A paradox.

2. The interacting with your future self problem.

What if you meet your future self and touch? Some writers say there would be an explosion.  Perhaps ending the universe..

3. The changing history problem.

Can you change history? One line of thinking says that you can’t change history, any attempt to do so will be foiled. Another opinion is that the moment you change history, a new branch of history is created. Every moment spawns multiple alternant future time lines, depending on the actions taken.

Solving the problems

In keeping with the principle that the D&D game should first be fun, and second should not unnecessarily limit what a player character can do, I propose the following time traveling rules.

1. There will never be a time paradox.

When you travel in time you can do anything you want and it will never cause a time paradox. This doesn’t mean that time travel is without risks, but you don’t have to work about accidentally killing your grandfather. I’ll explain later.

2. You will never meet your past or future self.

This is simple not possible. If you travel to a time where you have already been, you will occupy the body you had then. If you travel to a time you have never been before, past or future, your body disappears from where it is now and re-appears there.

3. Of course you can changing history.

What fun would it be to time travel if you couldn’t change things?

You can download a free copy of my time travel rules here: Time Travel

4 responses to “Time Travel

  1. tonyjromero June 7, 2012 at 3:08 pm

    “2. You will never meet your past or future self.

    This is simple not possible. If you travel to a time where you have already been, you will occupy the body you had then. If you travel to a time you have never been before, past or future, your body disappears from where it is now and re-appears there.”

    Are you sure about that?

    What if you travel back on time to yourself right when you are in the middle of a public presentation? If occupying the same body, will you resume the original time path and live life as it previously happened until you reach the time when you travel again and repeat the circle or realize what happened and stumble and mumble without quite remembering what you were giving a presentation about thus changing time and history right there, right then?

    What if you go back to say, age 5? Will your adult body really occupy the child body’s?

    Paradoxes indeed.

    I would be open to time travel before you were born and to a future yet to come, however, the previous paradoxes would apply and then block off those times previously visited… Ugh!

  2. Ronny June 7, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    You should download and read the attached PDF file where I explain how this works.

    Quoting from the DPF document:

    Basics of Time Travel
    The Soul
    When a player character travels in time, it is his soul that is moving to a different time line. According to the Players Handbook: “When a living creature dies, its soul departs its body, leaves the Material Plane, travels through the Astral Plane, and goes to abide on the plane where the creature’s deity resides. If the creature did not worship a deity, its soul departs to the plane corresponding to its alignment. Bringing someone back from the dead means retrieving his or her soul and returning it to his or her body.”
    All sentient beings, including all player characters, have a soul or life force. Each soul experiences an uninterrupted time line starting when it is created and ending when, or if, it is destroyed. A PC’s soul comes into existence when he is born. It enters his body when he takes his first breath. It then continues throughout his life and beyond. A PC’s soul isn’t typically destroyed when he dies and if he is brought back to life, his soul re-joins his body. It is possible for your soul to be moved into an object or another body or travel to other planes.
    At any point in time, your character has one, and only one, sole. This means that you can’t meet yourself in the future or past. If you travel to a point in time where you have been before, you return to your body as it was at that time.

    The Past
    Everything in your personal past has already happened and can’t be changed. As each soul journeys through time, it forges it’s own unique branch of history. For all people who don’t time-travel, their souls time line is the same as everyone else’s so no one ever notices. This means that if you should go back in time and kill your grandfather, it will have no effect on you personally. It will, however, change everything else from that point forward. If you then return, there will be no evidence of you ever having lived.

    The Future
    The future hasn’t happened yet. Even if you have been there before, nothing that you or anyone else did while you were there has any effect on the current time. If you travel back in time, everything after that is now the future and hasn’t happened yet. This is an important concept for you to understand. It means that every time you travel back in time, everything starting from that time in the past that you just traveled to may be different from any future that you remember.”

    So if you go back into your original body, you do not resume the original time path. You continue on your own, unique time path. Everything that you originally did the first time thru has been “unzipped” back to that time and you are now in position of your original body. You will – of course – change history based on what you do this time through.

    The PDF file contains information on how to handle returning to your body as a child.

    You can, of course use different rules, if they will work better in your compaign.

  3. Pingback: Time Travel for D&D Re-visited | Dungeon Master Assistance

  4. Pingback: Time Travel – for D&D Next | Dungeon Master Assistance

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