As you may remember from my post last month, I’m producing a setting for Fate Core called Timeworks. The setting will be part of one of the Fate Worlds books that the Evil Hat Crew is putting together as part of their AMAZING FATE CORE KICKSTARTER that has blown up everything, climbing to more than $300,000 in pledges. Whew.
I just submitted the first draft of Timeworks to Evil Hat, and I wanted to share some of the fluff text I’m using to try to explain the setting of the game. Rather than simply tell the players what it’s like to work for Timeworks, I’m giving them a set of primary source documents–transcripts, training videos, etc–to simulate what it feels like to get hired by the company.
So without further ado, here’s a chunk of the setting for you all to discuss:
[TIMEWORKS TRAINING MANUAL, PAGE 27]
The Myth of the Butterfly Effect
Many Timework’s operatives express a deep fear of displacement before engaging in their first alteration, claiming that they are frightened of the potential side-effects that displacement can bring about in the timeline. Partially this is the result of popular media that we have embedded throughout history to discourage time travel, such as Mr. Ray Bradbury’s infamous work, A Sound of Thunder, in which a misplaced footstep in the Cretaceous leads to disastrous effects in the present.
The truth is that the greatest difficulties we have discovered when traveling through time is that our actions will not matter; rarely do we find unintended consequences. The timestream, or space-time continuum, is robust, and easily shakes off the death of a single butterfly or an additional sniper on a grassy knoll. Our operatives are often forced to undertake drastic measures in order for their efforts to successfully alter the timestream. Accidental timestream manipulation is rare and the effects are usually localized and contained.
For example, [REDACTED SECTION].
Coping with the Stress of Displacement
In addition to the more general fears about the effects of displacement on the timestream, operatives also express concerns about the stress of displacement itself. Operatives often find the idea of “living in the past” simultaneously exciting and terrifying, hoping to see what it was like “back then” while fearing that they will be unable to pass for normal in an era that is not their own.
These fears are not misplaced. One unfortunate effect of displacement is the tendency to attract unwanted attention from local authorities. Given that Timeworks operatives are usually involved in clandestine affairs, such attention can quickly get out of hand, spiraling into violence or incarceration. It is of the utmost importance that Timeworks operatives avoid these kinds of encounters and minimize their contact with local authorities at all times. Failure to do so will potentially damage the timestream, perhaps even cutting off Timeworks HQ’s ability to retrieve operatives from the field.
Dealignment and Personal Quantum Fields
In order to protect Timeworks operatives from the effects of altered timelines, each Timeworks operative undergoes a process known as dealignment. This procedure simultaneously reinforces the operative’s personal quantum perspective and severs the operative’s link to the current timestream, enabling her to alter events in the past without fear of altering herself. Because this process is involved and quite dangerous, Timeworks operatives go through a complex and lengthy screening process to ensure that they are prepared for the procedure and Timeworks employment.
Once the process is complete, however, a dealigned operative could kill her own mother or father without fear of never coming into being, as the dealignment separates her from the original timestream in which such events did not take place. Upon returning to the present, she would find that no one outside of Timeworks knew her, and that all records of her existence outside of the company had been erased, but she would not cease to be.
It should be noted that there is currently no method of realigning operatives after the procedure has taken place. After all, the timeline in which an operative originated will have ceased to exist by the time said operative decided to leave Timeworks. Psychological profiles of operatives all indicate that only rarely is dealignment seen as a loss once an operative has undergone the procedure; the vast majority of operatives have built successful lives free from the burdens of their original timeline.