Well of course I designed the rulebook first!

I mentioned in my last post that I had been looking at a sci-fi project that began with a rule mechanic that I thought up whilst in the bath one day. Rather than continue to scribble away in isolation I thought that I would share some key aspects of the project and maybe turn it into a more collaborative affair – a live project with a downloadable rules PDF at the end of the process.

To begin with, however, I want to tell you a story – the canvas upon which this particular masterpiece (!!) will be painted. The following is a translation of the scribbles from my notebook...

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Welcome to Project Out Of Time

The story initially unfolds in the far future.

A new chemical element has been discovered (we'll call it Nandrocite for now). It turns out that it's been on Earth for millennia but has, up until now, been undetectable.

Since its discovery, Nandrocite has become essential to everyday life on the planet. As well as providing a clean source of energy, Nandrocite has a secondary property - it can be used to facilitate semi-reliable time travel. Stray radiation from dormant molecules was discovered to cause that feeling of deja-vu as the affected individual flickers briefly in time - this phenomenon was researched further, but it took alien technology to finally put the pieces together.

When Nandrocite is passed through a Quantum Projector, a gateway is created that allows an individual to travel back in time for a limited period. The individual is only able to maintain their presence in a time other than their own (i.e. Out of Time) via a Stability Matrix. This piece of sophisticated alien technology has been interpreted, emulated and jury rigged by every significant race or faction to further their own goals.

The matrix is usually housed within a suit that requires an immense amount of Nandrocite energy. The energised suit protects the wearer from physical harm, in addition to anchoring them in time. However, physical damage will affect the suit directly and increases the energy drain as it attempts to maintain and protect the stability matrix.

Once the suit runs out of energy, the individual becomes vulnerable to physical harm and the ravages of time travel. At this point, the matrix trips an emergency protocol and the individual is snapped back to the present, to ensure they make it home. This action is so violent it can often cause injury (and on occasion death) in its own right.

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Nandrocite has become the single most sought after commodity in the galaxy. Governments, crime syndicates, corporations and mercenaries, from many different races, are hunting down the last few remaining sources. The Nandrocite element is becoming so scarce and the rewards so high that teams are being sent back in time to recover Nandrocite from locations that were, at some point in history, destroyed before the Nandrocite was extracted.

These teams usually consist of specialists, each bringing their own unique set of skills to the mission. In addition to Nandrocite, the teams are discovering other artefacts of value and long lost treasures. They're also running into other teams with a similar mandate. As an individual in charge of one such team, it's your job to recruit the right operatives, guide them through their missions and keep your superiors happy with the return on their investment.

Next time I'll look at some of the factions involved and the thinking behind them...