Let's Break All The Rules


  • Creator

    So, I wanted to have a bit of a constructive discussion about things that are commonly held as difficult or impossible to explore in a MUing environment. Obviously anyone can say "This is why you can't do that", but I would like people to think of things that people believe cannot be done, and then think of ways that they possibly could be.

    It's also acceptable to point out something that seemingly can't be done, and then allow other people to figure out if it could be.

    A notable example of something considered difficult or impossible to do non-destructively in a MU is time travel. Sure, there are examples of staff controlled time travel (String Theory, which is a Heroes MU, Mega Man MUSH, where we went back in time and met Street Fighter people in the 90s). However, time travel is still highly regulated. Mega Man MUSH handles time travel by simply saying that it creates an alternate universe rather than altering the present, but again, it's staff controlled.

    Personally, I believe that player controlled time travel -is- possible. I wouldn't use alternate universes, because unregulated alternate universes would be -really- messy. I would simply state that time travel functions on causal loops. Not everyone would do it cleverly or even entirely correctly, but the fact remains that they cannot change history. They can dick around in history, they just can't change it, thanks to causal loops.

    I know that the grandfather paradox is a thing, but I would ultimately override it with causal loops. "You killed Hitler! Holy shit!"

    "Hey why did Nazis still happen?"

    "Oh, I guess Hitler was never actually the original Hitler, but a double", and so on.

    So yeah, I don't think time travel is a big deal at all, to be honest. Like any power, people would be expected to use it within reason. All powers can be abused. But if you can't go and instantly kill the president in the present, why would it suddenly be kosher to do in the past? Time travel doesn't really suddenly change the rules of what would be acceptable or not OOCly.

    What kinds of things do you guys think are generally unacceptable, but believe you know how it could be done? I know most of you guys around here love WoD, so how about Promethean? Do you think that could work in a MU?



  • I like how Continuum did it, and kind of how I imagine Dr. Doom would do it. There's a cult out there that is trying preserve their own specific idea of the ideal time line, and they have a technology to track down time travelers via methods. They then observe time travelers to make sure they don't do anything crazy, and have identified key figures that are important to their ideal time line and have a bunch of secret bodyguards for those figures.

    Let's go kill hitler! HEY WHERE THE FUCK DID THAT BIONIC COMMANDO COME FROM!?



  • Time travel and causality is a headache. Your solution essentially says you can do nothing. Not even the Bill and Ted thing of remembering in the future to go back into the past to put something somewhere. Causality is an all or nothing affair without a corrective force, then you have to explain that force. Also, see the film Primer. Or the XKCD comic that as a diagram of the time travel in Primer.

    Other things:
    Multiple players play one character alternately.

    Avoid player carried, theme unrelated RP with them. Common examples give would be playing house, white hat (aka white knight ) play, black hat play, everything is gritty, everything is rainbows, everything is noir, TS, politics are simple, politics are overly complex, etc.

    Players can and will identify themselves to other players, and so OOC groupings, factions, networks, can form.

    Game uses rules set that is for the most part never used. Just collected. Such as having many powers, and no particular reason to ever use them, collecting high stats and items.

    Players are able to create ideas, technologies, that actually alter the setting. Doing so isn't just buying a high stat or perk.

    The game setting resists the players and keeps towards the status quo and cannot be ignored, yet can be changed.

    Players don't known, and won't know exactly how powers work, yet staff won't be abusing it.

    Players work on making progress, not on accumulating xp /permanent power levels.


  • Coder

    @HelloProject said:

    So, I wanted to have a bit of a constructive discussion about things that are commonly held as difficult or impossible to explore in a MUing environment. Obviously anyone can say "This is why you can't do that", but I would like people to think of things that people believe cannot be done, and then think of ways that they possibly could be.

    Like McMannis said in The Usual Suspects, "There's nothing that cannot be done."

    A notable example of something considered difficult or impossible to do non-destructively in a MU is time travel. Sure, there are examples of staff controlled time travel (String Theory, which is a Heroes MU, Mega Man MUSH, where we went back in time and met Street Fighter people in the 90s). However, time travel is still highly regulated. Mega Man MUSH handles time travel by simply saying that it creates an alternate universe rather than altering the present, but again, it's staff controlled.

    Time travel complicates or eliminates causality. As causality is often the only tangible evidence that your characters mattered, this very quickly becomes pretty ugly.

    They can dick around in history, they just can't change it, thanks to causal loops.
    I know that the grandfather paradox is a thing, but I would ultimately override it with causal loops. "You killed Hitler! Holy shit!"
    "Hey why did Nazis still happen?"
    "Oh, I guess Hitler was never actually the original Hitler, but a double", and so on.

    This very quickly becomes silly an degenerates to a case of whack-a-mole that can never actually hit the right mole. Not fun.

    That said, I think time-travel issues could be very well handled if certain limited short-range forms were a standard part of the setting.

    Kim Harrison (of The Hollows fame) has a new series out involving "drafters" -- people that can draft new timelines. Essentially, they can rewind time in a localized region of space by some number of seconds or minutes. For example; I've been shot! -- rewind time 30 seconds and kick the gun out of his hand before he can do that! ... It's very difficult and has terrible costs and psychological results, especially to memory. Indeed, she apparently wrote it to explore some of the social implications of Alzheimer's and related memory issues; the drafters need an Anchor that can help them stabilize on a coherent memory of the winning timeline.

    This could make for a very interesting setting. I highly recommend reading at least the short story she put out in advance, "Sideswiped." Unfortunately, it being science fiction instead of urban fantasy with hawt vampires, elves, werewolves, and demons, the sales have been catastrophically bad. It really is fantastic writing though...



  • Put three drafters in one place with Anchors.


  • Pitcrew

    @HelloProject said:

    What kinds of things do you guys think are generally unacceptable, but believe you know how it could be done? I know most of you guys around here love WoD, so how about Promethean? Do you think that could work in a MU?

    Will let other people handle the time travel this one is easy with two house rules, one change disquiet so it only effects mortals not everyone, this way Promies can now interact regularly with the majority of pcs and twoo either get rid of the wasteland effect or make it avoidable somehow, this removes the very real reason everyone would have to drive the Promies off after a month or two.
    That would still leave some balance issues but well this is WoD we are talking about her balance is pretty non-existent already.
    Ta da Prometheans as playable. I think the main reason they are not seen on the big games is one a lack a large scale we want to play them among the player base even though I would like to play one sometime.


  • Pitcrew

    I know that a couple of years ago, Transformers 2005 MUSH used time travel to bring back characters that had previously been declared dead (due to the events in Transformers: The Movie 1986).


  • Creator

    @Misadventure said:

    Players are able to create ideas, technologies, that actually alter the setting. Doing so isn't just buying a high stat or perk.

    Players work on making progress, not on accumulating xp /permanent power levels.

    Basically two huge reasons I play Mega Man MUSH. A gigantic chunk of the technology advancement in the setting has been player created. Like the CAGE System, which was created I think a year or two ago. Forcefields that immediately go up in public places to protect civilians from super people fights. A player created that, and it wasn't a thing before. (The forcefields will go down if they get attacked directly too much, so they're still important to protect).

    @Chime Oddly enough, the drafters thing reminds me a little of the Capcom game, Ghost Trick. We have a few FCs from that on Mega Man MUSH. But it's not a regularly used power. I'm not actually sure if they still have those powers, since I haven't seen it used in almost a year even though the FCs are played. I should ask. But the drafters thing sounds -really- fun.

    @ThatGuyThere Those sound like pretty reasonable ideas to make Prometheans playable. Maybe the wasteland effect could be replaced by something similar that doesn't make them unplayable, but retains the tragedy of the characters.

    Overall, everyone makes good points about causality loops. I guess my thing is, I don't necessarily view all powers as necessarily needing to work in traditional ways. Time travel with causality loops obviously would mean that the point of time travel isn't to change the past. But you could, for example, have an organization that tries to investigate crime using time travel, and time traveling villains who try to -stop- them from gaining that information.

    Perhaps the stability of the timeline means that you only get one shot in a particular location, because meeting yourself is a no-no, which makes time travel pretty high stakes even if causality loops make it impossible to actually change the past.



  • This could fairly easily be done.

    So, think about this -- everything in the universe has some manner of momentum, something carrying it forward in a specific direction, and it resists changes to that. So why can't time be the same way?

    Yes, you go back and rewind 30 seconds or so and save the boyfriend from getting shot. 30 seconds later, he's shot by someone else. You undo that, he gets hit by a car the next day, etc, etc, on down the line. Final Destination played with this to some effect. Just because you prevented -one- way of it happening doesn't mean you prevented it from happening.

    So why couldn't time travel be the same? Sure, you can go back a bit, and you can make -huuuuge- changes to things, but you always find out that in the end, the exact same things have managed to happen, through whatever sort of events unfold to make them a thing. So time travel is only really useful for getting a new perspective on the past, or learning something that would otherwise be impossible, or testing certain limited changes. Not for anything really big, because no matter what, you come back and find out that time as you knew it is still the same. People who were dead are dead. People who are supposed to be alive resist dying outside their appointed time at any cost. They have the same positions, etc.


  • Creator

    @Derp said:

    This could fairly easily be done.

    So, think about this -- everything in the universe has some manner of momentum, something carrying it forward in a specific direction, and it resists changes to that. So why can't time be the same way?

    Yes, you go back and rewind 30 seconds or so and save the boyfriend from getting shot. 30 seconds later, he's shot by someone else. You undo that, he gets hit by a car the next day, etc, etc, on down the line. Final Destination played with this to some effect. Just because you prevented -one- way of it happening doesn't mean you prevented it from happening.

    So why couldn't time travel be the same? Sure, you can go back a bit, and you can make -huuuuge- changes to things, but you always find out that in the end, the exact same things have managed to happen, through whatever sort of events unfold to make them a thing. So time travel is only really useful for getting a new perspective on the past, or learning something that would otherwise be impossible, or testing certain limited changes. Not for anything really big, because no matter what, you come back and find out that time as you knew it is still the same. People who were dead are dead. People who are supposed to be alive resist dying outside their appointed time at any cost. They have the same positions, etc.

    Yeah, I've definitely seen movies do that (Hell, it's pretty much the basis of The Time Machine), and it's a more interesting compromise to simple causality loops. I'd certainly play it.


  • Coder

    Scenario A)

    Character A travels into the future and meets the future version of Characters B, C and D. If anything happens to characters B,C and D between the 'present' and the 'future' that's a violation of causality, how do you handle that?

    Scenario B )

    Kill them before they're born. Possible? Not Possible? Why?

    Scenario C)

    Character A, B, C and D all go back to times 1 year apart. Who is supposed to figure out what each time looks like?


  • Pitcrew

    I've always liked the "you create an alternate universe when you go back in time" solution, where the AU starts from the baseline assumption that it's the same as it was in the prime universe, but you can send it completely off the rails by dicking around with it, without invoking any particular paradox. But once you hop to an AU, you're stuck there, so if you go "forward" in time, it's going to reflect the new reality, not your old one (which still exists, but in another universe).


  • Coder



  • Was time travel the only outside the box thinking we are going to talk about?



  • @Misadventure said:

    Other things:
    Multiple players play one character alternately.

    I always thought this would be a cool idea, and I've thought a lot about a game on that track, where the characters are possessing spirits and each player creates a mortal shell. The character retains its memory for the most part and has a personality that's like 75% spirit, 25% shell to account for the little differences in the way the character is portrayed.

    There would be only so many spirits but the mortality rate of the game would be high, allowing a rotation of players as each shell died.

    The spirits could be anything -- angels, demons, animistic/elemental, ghosts -- but keeping them more or less together and moving towards a goal would be awesome.



  • Or digital personalities/Artificial Intelligences/Memetic Viruses.

    The sci-fi version of being Loa.


  • Politics

    @Pyrephox said:

    I've always liked the "you create an alternate universe when you go back in time" solution, where the AU starts from the baseline assumption that it's the same as it was in the prime universe, but you can send it completely off the rails by dicking around with it, without invoking any particular paradox. But once you hop to an AU, you're stuck there, so if you go "forward" in time, it's going to reflect the new reality, not your old one (which still exists, but in another universe).

    Add a capability that allows some people to jump AUs (or help other people do so) so you can get back to your original timeline--

    Except you can't do that at any point in time before the last point in time you were there.

    e.g.

    On June 4 2015 Earth-2398 I time-traveled backwards to January 3 1945. I stayed there for a while, fucked up Hitler, and saved the world, creating Earth-9675.

    But I want to get back home to Earth-2398. I have the ability to "universe hop" and get back...

    But I can only do that once I'm in June 4 2015 again. Because otherwise, I would be creating a third timeline (and thus you're not going back to the original).

    So you either have to have the ability to time travel forward (likely), or you have to sit and wait. Heh.

    @Misadventure said in Let's Break All The Rules:

    Or digital personalities/Artificial Intelligences/Memetic Viruses.

    The sci-fi version of being Loa.

    I've actually been pretty interested at different times in the opposite: one player controls entire organizations, with a limited amount of PC-level characters that they can control in them. Maybe a group of characters does. Sort of how in RPG video games you control the whole party.

    This would be great for world-spanning games about conspiracies and groups trying to fight for control over shit, etc. Plus, it would get rid of "he had his own PC help his other PC!" stuff since yeah, of course he did.

    You can alter this to "one player has one PC human and several entities that can possess that human, giving them different powers/abilities/goals".

    Or, especially fun for a Demon-only style game: every player has one entity and several humans that that entity possesses/uses depending on what they want to do.

    That last one is particularly fun if you can design the humans with different skills and the spirit's boosts to them can change depending. So using nWoD rules as a branching off point: a spirit has a Hacker and a Fighter. When it possesses the Hacker, it probably puts all its Power Attribute levels to boost the Hacker's Intelligence; but for the fighter, it probably boosts the human's Strength with those same points.

    I would have a lot of fun with that.


  • Coder

    @Coin

    Once you jump back to your own timeline, Hitler is no longer fucked up. You could just call it all a dream. This is one of the core problems with the New Universe theory of time travel.


  • Politics

    @Thenomain said:

    @Coin

    Once you jump back to your own timeline, Hitler is no longer fucked up. You could just call it all a dream. This is one of the core problems with the New Universe theory of time travel.

    Well, yes.

    But there is a timeline in which Hitler is fucked up. And you created it.

    There could be a dozen.

    This leads to the same type of game you and I discussed before, a la The Strange (and would even be a good permutation to play with the Cypher system).


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