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So I have just finished watching The Cutie Re-Mark, and it would seem possible to be created a time travel spell that by one's action in the past can greatly change the future. This was shown by Starlight Glimmer going back in to the past using an alter version of Starswirl's spell to prevent the Sonic Rainboom which brought the Mane Six together. Through watching this episode I wonder how such magic, such a spell, would effect Fallout Equestria or if it even if it should possibly exist.
It could make for an interesting plot hook for a campaign, especially if one considers who gains access to such a spell. If an antagonist, it could alter all of the Wasteland while perhaps even going so far as to undo the effects of the war or the events on FO:E. If such a spell is used as bait, or macguffin to be found, to tempt the players into having their characters consider the possibility that they could fix everything or undo tragedy with such magic.
Of course there is a very real danger of such a spell, greatly shown within the episode itself, which limits it from being a spell used carelessly or without thought. Any Overmare or Overstallion would have to think long before introducing it into their campaign and players would need to discuss what could happen if it is used by them or an NPC since such time travel shenanigans could make things worse. An adventure could be made on undoing the effects if things go wrong.
What do you think, is it something that can be used to make a great roleplay or should it be avoided/ignored?
Time loops are a tricky business to be sure. I generally work as hard as possible to stay away from time travel in any setting as a GM, unless I can fully control its usage. Time travel as a mechanic is temperamental and riddled with the potential to destroy a carefully crafted story continuity.
That said, there are a few ways I've found that can allow a GM to handle use of time-travel magic, beyond simply disbarring it.
1. Force the magic to work in ways that prevent its use from altering the story. This way has a few methods that follow along with it. Pick your favorite:
a. Multiverse/Branching Universe Theory - Your time travel spell doesn't actually travel through time, it pulls you into an alternate universe which is only now reaching the point you're trying to return to. This method generally entails that the act of traveling back in time has 'branched' the timeline at the point you emerged. The future of the new branch your players create will usually necessarily have different outcomes as a result of their presence. Depending on how integral time travel is to your specific game, This is likely your best option, as it allows you the most lateral freedom as a GM without overly impinging your players. It does, however, require you to improvise and have a lot of flexibility in your plotlines.
b. "You Already Changed the Past" - Literally everything the players can do when they travel back in time has already been done by them. The future they were living in is already affected by how they went back and changed the past, they just don't realize it yet. This can be difficult for GMs to pull off, but it's not impossible. Making the time travel mechanic extremely scripted (such as by way of using a Wizard's choice style destination selection mechanic) can really help. This is actually encountered in Fallout 2; one of the random over-world encounters will send you back in time to your ancestor's vault, where you are forced to break the water chip before you can leave.
c. "Nothing you can do matters" - While not particularly fulfilling for the players, you can simply arrange actions to prevent players from doing anything that will significantly affect the future. They try to introduce a new tech too early in the timeline? Kill the person they explain it to, or have them misplace the notes and forget how to make it work. They try to kill their grandparents? Their guns jam. That sort of cosmic level interference prevents paradox creation.
d. Unknown/Uncontrolled Destination - The time spell works in ways that are unpredictable, sending your players only to locations and times that are pre-selected by you, The GM.
2. Discouragement or Limitations associated with time travel that constrain its use or make it unfavorable to players who engage in it overly-much.
a. One Way Ticket - Your time travel spell sends you one direction only. It cannot send you forward, or if it can, it cannot send you back from whence you came. Either way, once you go through it there's no turning back. My personal recommendation is forward-only, but backward-only transit can definitely have its downsides.
b. Time-Space Coordinates - Use of your time spell requires coordinates which are exorbitantly difficult to obtain except in person, making it very hard to travel between points not mapped personally by the caster - i.e. the caster has to have been at the time and place they're trying to reach, or can only go to places and times where some other person with specialized training and/or equipment has already mapped the point.
c. You Must Be Yourself - Your spell allows travel backwards in time, but not for your body - just for your mind (or consciousness or soul, if you prefer). This allows your present state of mind to travel back to your early stages of life, but cannot allow you to exceed the boundaries of your own lifespan. This can create some problems regarding causality that are best avoided, so it is best used in combination with Multiverse theory. This is a great method for creating exceptionally dangerous antagonists.
d. Exposure to the time stream is damaging - Every time characters travel in time, it causes lasting damage to them either mentally or physically. Eventually it will kill them, and no amount of advanced medicine will be able to help them.
e. Huge Energy Cost - Mae the time spell so absurdly costly in terms of its power source that no sane character will try to make more than one or two trips. This also gives the GM forewarning in the form of the players taking time to collect the resources needed to activate the ability.
f. You made it worse! - When players go to the past and try to remove a threat, the threat they remove leaves a greater threat to take its place. After a few times of going back and making things worse, most players will take the hint.
That all being said, Fallout Equestria is already an alternate future -type timeline, wherein the universe diverged from the show universe in full or in part at some point after season 1 (where specifically depends on whose fics you consider canonical; my personal take is that the divergence was incomplete, and I have lots of headcanon regarding this that I will happily expound for anyone who cares to listen).
In reply to this post by EquestrianScholar
Overall time magic is not a good plan unless expertly planned out, because as Archer noted, it can really mess with things. The only reason I would consider time magic as an option would be if it were fully controlled as a GM and it would send a char back pre-war (or pre-Season 1 for the matter) and it was to do or see something that in the end would only effect character perceptions and knowledge, not the actual setting/story as it is in the present.
Overall best to stay away from the stuff xD
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