First Impressions of TimeWatch


I Kickstarted the TimeWatch RPG in early 2014. It was supposed to be delivered in November 2014, so it was definitely late, having just arrived at my door today. For the most part, communications were pretty good, with a few quiet periods here and there. It was one of those projects were stretch goals definitely increased the scope of the project. I've had various PDF drafts of the project as time went on so I had a pretty good idea as to what I was getting but the finished product was definitely impressive.

What I'll be doing here is giving a high level overview of TimeWatch, possibly followed by a full review should my group take it for a spin. TimeWatch uses the Gumshoe system, as seen in games like Trail of Cthulhu and The Dracula Dossier. It has a few things that distinguish it from most RPGs:

  • General Abilities are things like fighting, athletics, etc. To test them you roll 1d6 and add nothing. 4+ is typically a success. Add nothing? Are you crazy? Well, you get to spend points form the pool you have in that ability - it's almost as if you have a pool of specialized hero points for every ability, encouraging resource management. These points refresh based on various triggers.
  • Investigative Abilities are used to get clues - things that drive the adventure forward. Having spent any points in one of these pools makes you an expert and if there is a clue needed to drive the plot forward, you will find it. Spending points increases the awesomeness, but you never need to spend these points. It's worth noting that Investigative Abilities are not just dusting for fingerprints - they include interactions, scientific knowledge, etc.
TimeWatch has your characters as members of the TimeWatch organization, dedicated to preserving the timestream from intervention, based from their Citadel parked before the Big Bang. Up against you are intelligent cockroaches who want a radioactive Earth, velociraptor-type sentient dinosaurs from an alternate reality where dinosaurs never went extinct - they're one part predator and one part Doctor Dinosaur, seeking to damage human culture. You've also got rogue TimeWatch members, well-meaning time travelers seeking to make things better by killing Hitler, etc.

What makes TimeWatch a rather cool is how it handles time travel. The characters are well positioned to avoid many of the problems of time travel - impersonator meshes which makes the characters fit in to their time period, tethers that provide for translation and history databanks, the ability to tag stunned foes to have their memories altered, etc. It encourages players to be very creative in their time traveling - having their future selves arrive to help in a difficult battle, setting things up for their arrival at a time period after the fact, etc. - the types of things you often see with the 11th Doctor on Doctor Who. The game provides rules for paradox - you run into problems if you violate events that you actually witnessed happening and can potentially wipe yourself out. But unlike many time travel games, the rules don't gloss over this but provide rules for it.

In addition to the main campaign frame, that of agents preserving the timeline, it also has campaign frames for more humorous games, Doctor Who style games, cosmic horror time travel, etc. 

It looks like it'll make for some fun games - it's definitely on the "to play" list. Not sure when yet... So many games, so little time. 

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