Category: GM’s Pick of the Day

We close out Time After Time Week with last year’s ENnie-nominated time-traveling phenomenon from Pelgrane Press and my buddy Kevin Kulp, TimeWatch. Using the much-beloved GUMSHOE system (designed by industry icon Robin Laws), this game covers all the adventures-in-time tropes: defending against meddlers and strange entities that can only exist because time is in flux; helping yourself in a combat by jumping backwards in the timestream; and watching out for those all-consuming paradoxes.

Oh, did I mention you can play a velociraptor?

A ROLEPLAYING GAME OF TIME TRAVEL ACTION AND INVESTIGATION

History isn’t written by the victors. It’s written by the people with the time machines.

“Well, that doesn’t look right.” All around you are the abandoned ruins of medieval Paris, with a hundred thousand rotted skulls piled up in a mountain. Your partner draws her pistol and checks the historical record on her holographic tether. “Looks like the Khan didn’t die of alcoholism, and his hordes didn’t stop at Vienna,” she says.

“Then we’d better find whoever decided to save his life.” You punch in the coordinates for Karakorum in the year 1241, and fire up the time machine. As you disappear from the 13th century, you silently hope that it isn’t the roaches again…

In the TimeWatch RPG, your band of TimeWatch agents defend the timestream from radioactive cockroaches, psychic velociraptors, and human meddlers. Go back in time to help yourself in a fight, thwart your foes by targeting their ancestors, or gain a vital clue by checking a scroll out from the Library of Alexandria. But watch out for paradoxes that may erase you from existence… or worse.

If you’ve ever dreamed of going on world-changing adventures from the age of the dinosaurs to the end of the universe, the TimeWatch RPG is for you! The game includes:

  • Rules for thrilling time chases, combat in every era, and the dangers of paradox, powered by the GUMSHOE investigative system.
  • Extensive GM advice for creating and running games where PCs can travel anywhere, anywhen.
  • Fourteen settings where you can face Mythos horrors, slide between alternate universes, steal the treasures of the ages, and more.
  • More than a dozen ready-to-play time seeds, iconic pregenerated characters, and three full adventures.
  • Plenty of options, so you can easily customize the game to match your group’s preferred style of play.

You’ve got a time machine, high-powered weaponry and a whole lot of history to save.

Sean Patrick Fannon
Writer & Game Designer: Shaintar, Star Wars, Savage Rifts, Freedom Squadron, and much more!
Please check out my Patreon and get involved directly with my next projects!

Another classic of early time-travel RPG play, Timemaster is the classic Pacesetter RPG that Goblinoid Games picked up and, with all-new art, has put forth this revised version that’s still very lovingly based in the core concepts of the 1984 version. As Shannon Appelcline said in his Designers & Dragons series, this game “did more to play up the issues of time travel than any of the other scant few games in the genre, past or future”.

NOTE: This is the reprint version, with all new interior art by Mark Allen. This book combines the two books from the original boxed set. The introductory adventure is now provided separately as a free download.

Lurching into action, your battered chronoscooter crosses the void of time and space. Another lurch, and the vertigo fades. The countryside comes into view. Knights in armor battle, clanging sword against shield, and then someone blasts at your neck with a laser beam. Once again, all of Time is a mess, and as an agent of the Time Corps, you must set this world straight or die trying! Adventure to any place, any time, in this universe and beyond! The TimeMaster Roleplaying Game makes you master of the “Fourth Dimension”, guiding you to the ultimate adventure in history, legend, and science fiction. fight cunning aliens and savage renegades who twist Time to their own purposes. Only skill and wit stand between the world you know and absolute chaos!

Sean Patrick Fannon
Writer & Game Designer: Shaintar, Star Wars, Savage Rifts, Freedom Squadron, and much more!
Please check out my Patreon and get involved directly with my next projects!

First off, Happy Halloween for all who celebrate it, and don’t forget to take advantage of all the great deals still going on at DriveThruRPG (including the Trick-or-Treat Pumpkin search).

Today’s Time After Time Week Pick is part of the Black Hack culture of OSR products. The Time Travel Hack is done by my buddy, Mark Stout, a great guy and clever designer who tinkers and makes cool stuff happen. For a buck, you really cannot go wrong grabbing this and either straight-up playing time travel with your d20s or adding it into your d20-driven games.

The Time Travel Hack is a standalone game that lets you play the role of a time traveler. Whether traveling through time and space with a mysterious alien, being part of a team of troubleshooters that go back in time to prevent terrible disasters, hopping through time to stop villains from changing time, or playing police from the future chasing escaped criminals into the past, The Time Travel Hack has it covered.

Based on the popular OSR, rules-light game The Black Hack, by David Black, The Time Travel Hack will have you playing in no time at all.

  • Six classes: Soldier, Scientist, Agent, Tech, Everyman, and Psychic.
  • Four game themes: Lonely Alien Traveler, Disaster Prevention Team, Time Agents, and Time Police.
  • Simple equipment and weapon rules.
  • New rules for psychic powers.
  • Foes ranging from ancient gladiators to futuristic war robots, and suggestions for easy foe creation.

Sean Patrick Fannon
Writer & Game Designer: Shaintar, Star Wars, Savage Rifts, Freedom Squadron, and much more!
Please check out my Patreon and get involved directly with my next projects!

We wander the whole of space and time with a madman and their box, exploring Time After Time Week with Doctor Who: The Time Traveller’s Companion. A book anyone trying to understand the premise of time travel within any aspect of the Doctor Who RPG series will want to have on hand, this is also a great source for anyone playing with time travel within their game.

Time flies when you’re having fun, but flying through time can present a whole host of problems. Whether accidentally creating paradoxes, upsetting the course of history or trying to Put Things Right, you’re going to need to know your way around the Vortex. You need a guide…a companion.

This supplement for Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space gives more information on Time Lords, temporal mechanics and time machines, including:

  • Gallifreyan culture, history and law
  • New options for creating and playing Time Lord characters
  • More on the physics of Time, temporal phenomena and Time Travel
  • Detailed information on the TARDIS, and rules for creating your own
  • Secrets of the Time Lords…

Sean Patrick Fannon
Writer & Game Designer: Shaintar, Star Wars, Savage Rifts, Freedom Squadron, and much more!
Please check out my Patreon and get involved directly with my next projects!

Brett Bernstein‘s request* for me to Pick Herbie Brennan‘s classic Timeship (originally published by Yaquinto Publications, part of the innovative early wargame publisher’s attempt to get into the RPG market) sets off this week’s theme – Time After Time Week. From here, we’ll look at games that deal with the very exciting and challenging idea of roleplaying stories about time travel.

Timeship was daring as one of the early games to deal with time travel, and one of its innovations was the concept of both Personal Energy and Group Energy to accomplish important things in the game. The early 80s were not known for narrative, player-facing mechanics, so Bernie gets a lot of credit for breaking some ground here.

(*) – Just a reminder that I often make Picks based on someone sending me a suggestion or request (to seanpatfan [at] gmail), and frequently those suggestions become the Theme of the week. Just please remember to choose products that are available on DriveThruRPG.

Precis Intermedia brings back this classic roleplaying game of time travel and adventure (originally published by Yaquinto Publications). 

You are a time traveller, and there are no more barriers. The included time capsules immerse you in both the future and past:

  • Murder at the End of Time: The date is August 25, 600,000,000ad and you stand beneath a blazing, unmoving sun. No crime has been committed on Earth for more than three hundred million years; until now! Your mission is to solve the mystery using the bizarre clues and peculiar witnesses.
  • Assassinate the Fuhrer!: On June 7, 1956, World War Three began when the Nazi government of Argentina, led by Adolph Hitler, invaded Brazil. Hitler had escaped capture at the end of World War II and begun the Fourth Reich in South America. It is now April 30, 1945, and you are stalking Hitler through the bunkers beneath a city in flames. Your mission: find him, then make it look like suicide.
  • The Destruction of Gomorrah: It is May 22, 1979bc and you are surrounded by the sights and sounds of the doomed city, Gomorrah, famous for its vice and corruption. You arrived on a simple Time Traveller’s Holiday, but find you must now stop the destruction to save yourself!

Timeship is also wide open to creating your own adventures. You are free to roam the ages. Journey from the days of the dinosaurs, to the mystics of the ancient world, to the glory of Napoleon. If the past is not enough, adventure in the present with its political intrigue, and brushfire wars; or, for those more adventurous souls, you may transcend the present and visit the future where man’s home is the universe, populated with all manner of strange and alien beings. The potential for adventure and excitement is only limited by your imagination. 

Features:

  • Utilize Personal Energy to perform various time-related activities, such as bringing anachronistic equipment to an earlier period or disguising yourself to blend into the period.
  • Utilize Group Energy to open gateways to other time periods or to supplement Personal Energy.
  • Players can portray themselves with a simple system that starts at average ability levels. Then, each player can evaluate himself by improving some and reducing other abilities — his gaming character mirroring both his positive and negative abilities, based on his own judgment.
  • Alternatively, the Personal/Group Energy mechanics can be easily adapted for use with your favorite roleplaying game.

NOTE: This is a scanned reprint of the classic 1983 boxed set — a must-have for vintage RPG collectors.

Sean Patrick Fannon
Writer & Game Designer: Shaintar, Star Wars, Savage Rifts, Freedom Squadron, and much more!
Please check out my Patreon and get involved directly with my next projects!

We’re closing out Of Swords and Lasers Week with this intriguing setting that directly pits swords against lasers. Amethyst: Quintessence is a world where players choose the path of science and technology or the chaos and wonder of fantasy. This is the 5th Edition version, but there’s also Amethyst material for 4e, Pathfinder, Fate, 13th Age, and more.

Which side will you choose? Which weapons will you wield? Earth is torn between the order of science and the chaos of fantasy. These two worlds cannot mix. Venture into lands once claimed by skyscrapers and factories, now overrun by elves, goblins, and dragons. Choose your path and commit to the quest. Monsters will hunt you; machines will track you. No gods will help you; no prophecies will choose you. The fate of the world rests with you.

This rulebook includes…

–A new adaptation of Amethyst based on the 5th edition (5E) of the first fantasy roleplaying game, the defining RPG of the last, current, and most likely next generation.

–New technology-based rules including vehicle combat and firearms compatible with any 5E game.

–Eleven new races and over thirty new backgrounds.

–Eight new classes based around technology. Over thirty new archetypes.

–High Tech Equipment from revolves to railcannons. Powered armor. Both ground vehicles and aircraft.

–Over thirty new monsters.

Sean Patrick Fannon
Writer & Game Designer: Shaintar, Star Wars, Savage Rifts, Freedom Squadron, and much more!
Please check out my Patreon and get involved directly with my next projects!

Though not strictly “swords and lasers,” Tekumel: Empire of the Petal Throne still evokes the spirit of Of Swords and Lasers Week with its extraordinary depth the presence of strange technology that lies at the mysterious heart of this long-beloved, highly complex setting. Tekumel was one of the first – and most elaborate – settings ever created for shared storytelling and roleplaying. Professor M.A.R. Barker was very much like Tolkien in his passion for languages, elaborate histories, and all the trappings needed to bring an imaginary world to life.

TEKUMEL®:  Welcome to a world as complex and fascinating as our own, but unlike anything you have ever experienced. Welcome to Tékumel, the creation of Professor M.A.R. Barker. This is an incredibly detailed science fantasy world, and the basis for the first complete world setting published by TSR Hobbies. Empire of the Petal Throne is a classic of the gaming genre, setting the standard for everything that followed after it.

A rich, complex world and a complete set of rules, Empire of the Petal Throne includes rules for character generation, magic, monsters, adventuring, societies and languages. It is set in the 2,354th Year “After the Seal” – the accession of the first Emperor of Tsolyánu, just before the events chronicled in Man of Gold, the first of several novels written by Prof. Barker. Included with the rules is a four page set of charts and tables, errata for the original game, a map of the City of Jakalla, a b&w map of the Five Empires, and a citizenship document for Tsolyanu, the Empire of the Petal Throne!

Sean Patrick Fannon
Writer & Game Designer: Shaintar, Star Wars, Savage Rifts, Freedom Squadron, and much more!
Please check out my Patreon and get involved directly with my next projects!

Ack, just realized I totally missed yesterday’s Pick; will make it up by doing a double Pick today (one now, one a bit later on). Let’s continue with Of Swords and Lasers Week with this gem from the Spirit of the Century Fate series from Black Hat – Khan of Mars. Spinning off from the Dinocalypse series for SotC, this adventure takes the pulp heroes to the Red Planet and thrusts them into the very heart of politics and adventure that only Mars can provide.

LOST ON THE RED PLANET!

When erudite ape Professor Khan and rough-and-tumble cowboy Bulls-Eye Gutierrez are zapped away on a one-way trip to Mars, they are thrown into a world in chaos. Under the malevolent gaze of the Weather Witch, Princess Cyclone, our heroes face the intrigue and war raging across an alien world. Will they survive long enough for the other Centurions to build a way back home, or will they perish upon the shifting sands of the Red Planet, never to be seen again?

A spin-off adventure from the Dinocalypse Trilogy!

“Who would have thought a four hundred pound gorilla could be so agile? Khan of Mars moves with the speed and whiplash reverses of a hunting hawk, yet packs the punch of a rampaging Yeti. Engaging characters, endless invention, and a breakneck plot that never lets you catch your breath—Stephen Blackmoore must have that ape by the short hairs to make him hop around like that.” — Nathan Long, author of Jane Carver of Waar

Sean Patrick Fannon
Writer & Game Designer: Shaintar, Star Wars, Savage Rifts, Freedom Squadron, and much more!
Please check out my Patreon and get involved directly with my next projects!

Of course, it’s impossible to do an Of Swords and Lasers Week without showcasing one of Pinnacle‘s latest masterpieces, The Savage World of Flash Gordon. No setting embraces the swashbuckling heroics, the weird science-and-sorcery mix, and the humanity-among-aliens idea more than Flash Gordon, and Scott Woodward deep-dove into all of the source material to make this one of the best expressions of Savage Worlds yet. It’s also a brilliant preview of all you will see in the new Savage Worlds Adventure Edition (SWADE).

Also, don’t forget the Halloween Sale going on at DriveThruRPG!

“He’ll save every one of us!”

On the rogue planet of Mongo, a brutal and sadistic tyrant named Ming the Merciless rules from his royal palace at the heart of Mingo City.

Secretly defying the emperor’s reign of terror are the Freemen, revolutionaries banded together from a number of kingdoms around the globe. From the winged hawkmen of Sky City to the ice giants of Naquk, from the water-breathing Coralians to the tree-dwelling Arborians, and from the nomadic lion men to the dwarfs of the Magnetic Mountains, many who have suffered under the drogiron fist of Emperor Ming have united under their own standard to see that the despot is deposed and freedom for all becomes the law of the land.

Inspiring this growing rebellion are three aliens from Earth: Dr. Hans Zarkov, Dale Arden, and Flash Gordon, the man whose face emboldens all who wish to live on a world free of Ming!

The Flash Gordon™ Roleplaying Game core rulebook contains updates to the Savage Worlds core rules system, new rules for powers, races, Edges and Hindrances, gear, rocket ships, and some of the most unique Setting Rules we’ve ever designed! It also includes a gazetteer of the fantastic world of Mongo, a Plot Point campaign, Savage Tales, and a host of heroes, villains, and horrific beasts for the Game Master’s eyes only!

This product requires the Flash Gordon™ RPG and Savage Worlds core rules to play.

***

The Savage World of Flash Gordon is a setting for Savage Worlds based on Alex Raymond’s classic comic strips. It also draws from the Buster Crabbe serials, the Filmation series, and of course the fan-favorite 1980 film starring Sam J Jones (who does a foreword for our core book!)

Sean Patrick Fannon
Writer & Game Designer: Shaintar, Star Wars, Savage Rifts, Freedom Squadron, and much more!
Please check out my Patreon and get involved directly with my next projects!

More and more, Onyx Path is becoming a house dedicated to much more than the World of Darkness, and this brilliant (and very successfully Kickstarted) celebration of sword-and-planet science-fantasy inspires this week’s Of Swords and Lasers theme. Cavaliers of Mars is a clear homage to Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter, as well as the works of Alex Raymond, Ralph Milne Farley (aka Roger Hoar), Gustave LeRouge, Robert E. Howard, Gardner Fox, and others.

Created by Rose Bailey and written by her and an all-star cast, this book hits all of the classic tropes and fun bits while employing modern game design to combine character motivations and swashbuckling action.

Also – don’t miss out on the trick-or-treat fun of DriveThruRPG’s Halloween Sale!

Return now to dying Mars in its last age of glory. A world of flashing swords and choking sands, of winking courtesans and lantern-lit canal cities. Mars, where romance and heartbreak are two sides of the same obsidian chit.

Where lost cities are buried in the dunes, and dry oceans stretch out between the last daring bastions of civilization. Where the First Martians, the monument-builders, are but a faded memory. And the Red Martians have become decadent and capricious in their last days. 

Find yourself digging for someone else’s treasure in the lost tombs of Chiaro, or spitting defiance at the Roundhead priests of wild Ziggur, or dashing across the towered crypts of Vance with your long-lost lover. Lock steel with the Princess Invincible, even as your hand reaches towards your flintlaser for insurance.

Cavaliers of Mars includes:

  • A vibrant setting with cultures, careers, characters, and dozens of locations, all organized to get you right into the world of Mars!
  • An all-new system combining your character’s motivations, history, and beliefs with strategic swashbuckling action!
  • Astrology, crafting, psychic powers, and much more!

Sean Patrick Fannon
Writer & Game Designer: Shaintar, Star Wars, Savage Rifts, Freedom Squadron, and much more!
Please check out my Patreon and get involved directly with my next projects!