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D&D 5E Time Travel and forced time paradoxes

I am running an adventure that has a group adventurers travellng back in time to a few different time periods (stone age, bronze age, etc...)

During these time periods, considering the equipment and magic the players wielded they were considered "almost godlike" in not only appearance but in battle as well, because of their advanced skills/weaponry. As they moved from timeline to timeline, the records of their actions have been noted in stories and other lore of the time,though NOT BY NAME. (titles as:The Legendary Heroes" "The Warriors in White Bronze","Lords of Wood and Fire" have been written about them.)

Here's my question to all you DM's out there!!!


A couple people in the party (fighter and Paladin) have been trying to start their own order/following by recruiting people and telling them about their order, handing out flyers, kissing babies,etc... to make sure their name gets out there, possibly convert some unsure in their lives during these multiple timelines. They are leaving behind information,knowledge and some training of themselves throughout these times intentionally, in hopes that when they get back to their time, they would have a mass of followers waiting for them.

If you were to run this, would these brief encounters really add up to much, if anything? I could possibly see upsetting a god or gods that may have lost possible followers in their order due to their actions.

What do you guys/gals think?
 

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fjw70

Explorer
So whatever would be most fun for you and the rest of the group, and don't worry about how realistic this.

One idea would be to have this group of followers evolve into a cult that is doing many bad things in the current era, and the PCs have to try to defeat or thwart the cult. Maybe some charismatic leader has taken over and convinced everyone else that he know the "true" intentions of the founders and the PCs are imposters.
 

ammulder

Explorer
If I were to run this, it would not add up to much. But it wouldn't be nothing, either -- the reward should be proportional to the effort. For a series of "brief encounters," I would probably turn it into comic relief: Have a baby vomit on the Paladin, and a thousand years later, the PCs can discover the Order Of The Soiled Surcoat.

As another option, they could find references to a long-lost movement they started, but which was quickly driven underground by a hostile leader and nothing more was heard of it. Then if they continue to pour effort (in the present day) into uncovering the outcome of their historical movement, I might make something more of it. But if they let it go, I'd let it go too.
 

marcelvdpol

Explorer
Actually, you could indeed introduce two new Gods in your pantheon with names that losely resemble those of the Paladin and Barbarian. Since language changes a LOT over time, the names need have only a so-so resemblance to their actual names. There might be temples dedicated to those gods, with their own Heroes of note.

Furthermore, while the ideals of the characters might be transferred to the civilization, the actual handing down of ideals, stories and influence of the characters will not be "exact" and what the civilization remembers over time will change as new interpretations of the stories will pop up throughout history. This is especially true over a longer time frame (several thousand years for example). Perhaps some religious wars have been fought over the "correct" interpretation with the "wrong" interpretation winning the war and corrupting their original ideals.

Also, perhaps the Characters will have their own Zodiac Signs in the heavens named after them (or at least after their class), such as "The Berserker" and "The Shining One" for Barbarian and Paladin respectively.

In any case, how exactly are those characters going to "prove" that they are actually the heroes in the stories? Proof is hard to come by. You could use this to create a corrupted new religion in the world which actually recognizes them as those heroes but that religion has completely changed and corrupted the stories and ideals of the characters. Even if the religion recognizes them, its going to be hard to explain to the worshipers that they got the stories and ideals completely wrong. It could even be the case that the characters will have to decide to "wipe out" the religion due to its evil nature even though they started it.
 

Jer

Adventurer
I think it depends entirely on how much you like messing with your players and how much it plays into your group's idea of what makes a good story for the campaign.

If you like to mess with your players, they have handed you a golden opportunity. Their meddling in the timestream has created an opportunity for a whole lot of hijinks. Maybe a demon/devil/evil god/immortal wizard/whathaveyou decides to co-opt their movement and turn it into a cult that on the outside looks like a noble movement but secretly is trying to takeover/destroy the empire/kingdom/world/multiverse. Maybe their meddling has created a movement that led to a horrible war and when they get back to the present everything is different. Or they could get home and discover that their movement turned into an apocalyptic death cult and they now they have a legion of brainwashed assassins out to kill them because the heads of the cult know the truth and want to make sure no one else finds out.

Or maybe they get home and it works as planned - they have an entire religion devoted to their memories and now they have a huge group of followers who expect them to fix all of their problems for them. Be careful with this one though - turning the game into "hey you have five thousand mouths to feed and there's a drought going on right now" will definitely change the game.
 

A nice Twilight Zoney time-travel tale can go one of two ways when you mess with the past:

1) Immutable Fate. Your intervention created exactly the world you left, since it already happened. When they get back, they find all the same religions that existed before, but if they look into the inner mysteries of some of them, they find they were built up around or incorporated the seeds the characters had sown in the past. For a darker twist, the followers they recruited were purged as heretics, the event written out of history - but for the warning of their return, upon which, they are all tried for heresy.

2) Butterfly Effect. You slightest intervention has ramifications that snowball, creating a different present. The cults they started expanded, conquered the world, turned on eachother, and brought about an apocalypse, for instance, would be a mild example. Or maybe they return to a world ruled by mind flayers.


Coincidentally, I just ran a time-loop 'paradox,' but the time-travel was the denouement. The party recovered a time-travel artifact that had been hidden away, it took them back in time to the moment it was hidden and they were incorporated, in temporal stasis, into the trap/puzzle they had to solve to get it. Of course, once the item disappeared into the past (with them), they were all released from stasis.
 

Bigsta

Explorer
When the PCs return they find that the cult exists, but it is currently being run by the father of one of the PCs (because the father looked just like the PC of legend so mistakes were made). Further, because of the temporal shenanigans, the father left the PC's mother and married one (or more) of the cult members and sired a half-brother to the PC. It turns out, the father has chosen the half-brother as the cult's future leader.
 

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
Since language changes a LOT over time. . .
Does it? OP didn't mention the PCs needing to use Comprehend Languages everywhere they went. Or Tongues.

PCs going politicking wouldn't add up to much. PCs who have god-like features going politicking wouldn't add up to much. PCs who have god-like features who go politicking who also save a village, slay a dragon, or make off with the emperor's wife, well, THAT would carry on over the years.
 

Over enough time, it does.
OP didn't mention the PCs needing to use Comprehend Languages everywhere they went. Or Tongues.
Maybe the DM didn't think of it, or it was implicit in the time-travel method, like in Dr. Who?

PCs who have god-like features who go politicking who also save a village, slay a dragon, or make off with the emperor's wife, well, THAT would carry on over the years.
Absolutely. But it might merge with other stories, or a new King or ascendant religion might get jiggy with the proper nouns to insert an ancestor or saint or something into one of the PC's spots in the story...

Of course, that's more a post-modern way to look at history & legends.
 

A couple people in the party (fighter and Paladin) have been trying to start their own order/following by recruiting people and telling them about their order, handing out flyers, kissing babies,etc... to make sure their name gets out there, possibly convert some unsure in their lives during these multiple timelines. They are leaving behind information,knowledge and some training of themselves throughout these times intentionally, in hopes that when they get back to their time, they would have a mass of followers waiting for them.

Well was the paladin a member of a long existing order in the time where he came from ?

If so when he returns to his original time and becomes more important within his order he might be allouwed in on the secrets of the order, and discovering the order was funded becouse of the things they did in the past.
So the mass of folowers he hoped for is there in a way, just that it is the order he was already a part of.

Basicly try to loop things, so things they did in the past led to the world being the way it was when they left.
 

Well was the paladin a member of a long existing order in the time where he came from ?

If so when he returns to his original time and becomes more important within his order he might be allouwed in on the secrets of the order, and discovering the order was funded becouse of the things they did in the past.
So the mass of folowers he hoped for is there in a way, just that it is the order he was already a part of.

Basicly try to loop things, so things they did in the past led to the world being the way it was when they left.

Actually he was a part of the order of the Gauntlet, but decided he didn't like some of the politics, so he decided he wanted to try to start his own order.

But it might merge with other stories, or a new King or ascendant religion might get jiggy with the proper nouns to insert an ancestor or saint or something into one of the PC's spots in the story...

Of course, that's more a post-modern way to look at history & legends.

I kind of like this idea, of the corrupt king stealing the paladins "thunder" per se' !

When the PCs return they find that the cult exists, but it is currently being run by the father of one of the PCs (because the father looked just like the PC of legend so mistakes were made). Further, because of the temporal shenanigans, the father left the PC's mother and married one (or more) of the cult members and sired a half-brother to the PC. It turns out, the father has chosen the half-brother as the cult's future leader.
This sounds like a blast as well, as I do like to mess with the player characters, and throw that occasional "twist" in there!
 
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Actually he was a part of the order of the Gauntlet, but decided he didn't like some of the politics, so he decided he wanted to try to start his own order.

I kind of like this idea, of the corrupt king stealing the paladins "thunder" per se' !

Maybe the order originaly started with the intentions the PC had but got corrupted along the way.
 




I've ran a time travel adventure as a capstone of a campaign. In the end, the world they left was no longer their world, but it was similar. Their characters existed, but all were slain before the PCs arrived in the current time (to prevent them from meeting themselves). Since 2E had come out, I used it as a transition to 2E, and I recently reintroduced the characters as NPCs to my current group (with the change being to 5E).
 

pming

Hero
Hiya!

I'd have each meddling player roll a d12 (why not?...it looks cool). On an ODD result, their efforts in the past had a negative effect, on an EVEN result, their efforts in the past had a positive effect. On a natural 1 it is a catastrophically negative effect, and on a natural 12 is is a catastrophically positive effect.

Then I'd just use the ol' bean and imaginate something cool and really unexpected. Entire countries being devoted/opposed to their 'side/god', their religion being required/forced on everyone ("Convert or die!"!), history where their religion/god is now seen as a saviour or as a great evil. For example, a formerly LE society is changed by "The Great Realization of Self" movement where the people rose up to fight off their LE oppressors, re-wrote the laws, and set up means for people to get out of poverty if they work hard (eg, a "CG" type society). Or maybe the opposite, where the LE society is now TN because of "The Slaughter of Law" decade where followers of the PC's god/religion indiscriminately slaughtered any who they thought was "oppressing them"...resulting the the deaths of tens or hundreds of thousands in a brutal civil war lasting 11 years.

What I most definitely wouldn't do is have everything be 'the same', but with just more followers of the PC's religion or more 'power' for the PC's religion. Any major changes like what the PC's seem to be doing is going to have MAJOR and PROFOUND effects on the world stage, as it were. Imagine what the world would be like if someone traveled back in time and opposed/removed major factions or political/religious people in our world? No more Hitler? What would be the outcome? No Ghandi? No George Washington? No Hudsons Bay Company? ... ... ... a completely different world stage.

Option #2: You could always have a MAJOR change be waiting for them, and when they've squirmed enough at just how f'ed up they made things some form of Time Elemental of the god/dess of Time shows up and says "You dun bad, kids, reeeaaaal bad! But The God of Time is allowing you ONE chance to fix this. Here's the deal..." And now they have to actively avoid messing things up doing certain other things that will balance stuff back to "mostly normal". Then when they come 'back' to their own time line, things are mostly the same...mostly... (see the TV series Flash, currently running, to see how 'mostly').

^_^

Paul L. Ming
 

Oh yeah, I started playing D&D in 1980, so that one made a big impression. :)

We constantly use that at our table whenever one PC steals a kill from another.

Regarding the thread topic, though, I'd introduce some kind of rival time travellers, or some kind of dark organization as a balance to whatever the PCs have accomplished with their time shenanigans.

Perhaps someone learned of the group and realized what they were doing and then was able to capitalize on it. So when the PCs arrive back in the present, they find that this rival group has also flourished. Then they have to decide if what they've accomplished is worth whatever the rivals have done.

I've been using time travel and chronomancy in my longstanding campaign, so I've messed around with a lot of ideas in this area. It opens up a lot of cool aspects for play.
 

marcelvdpol

Explorer
Does it? OP didn't mention the PCs needing to use Comprehend Languages everywhere they went. Or Tongues.

Well, i would expect them to need Tongues to speak the language properly if you go back a long time (more than 200-500 years) as well as needing Comprehend Languages to read a written language of that time. Of course, you can hand-wave it as DM as it is rather annoying to have to finish a ritual each time you speak to someone. Even if the language didn't change all that much, the exact spelling of names could change over time as names have a LOT more possible combinations of characters and there is no context sensitivity to help out with the meaning of the name.

PCs going politicking wouldn't add up to much. PCs who have god-like features going politicking wouldn't add up to much. PCs who have god-like features who go politicking who also save a village, slay a dragon, or make off with the emperor's wife, well, THAT would carry on over the years.

Sure, but what exactly would carry on over the years? The story of slaying a dragon (which might become a whole roost of Dragons over time) will carry over but the interpretation might change; WHY did the characters slay the dragon? Perhaps the story twists the intent to say that Genocide (the characters killed ALL Purple Dragons in the world according to the story) is good.

I would let the characters roll for it. If they have a Bard in the party writing down the story, perhaps roll with Advantage. Roll high enough and the players can make up the story; roll low enough and the DM will twist the story into something which could be a good side-quest activity to fix OR something which has completely changed the world as the characters knew it.

Time travel and changing things in the past are always nice twists; one interpretation is that of the alternative time line resolution (ie the way Back to the Future envisions it). Another is that since the events have already happened, you cannot actually change things at all (perhaps the party traveling back in the past will trigger the event that they are trying to prevent in the first place OR they find that the stories about them are stories they already knew in their own world (the stories got twisted and warped to turn into the stories they already knew).
 

Horwath

Hero
Could be great, but

personaly, I wouldn't touch time travel with a 11 foot pole.


Too much grandfather paradoxes and cause and effect loops.

It could be good ig going with multiverse theory when you go back in time you create a whole new reality that co exist with infinite others, similar but all diferent in small details.
 

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