Sunday, November 23, 2014

Murder at the End of Time


Diana: Warrior Princess is a role-playing game by Marcus Rowland that posits how a future era might treat our time period considering how we treat ancient history.  To put it another way, “Imagine [our era] converted into a TV series by a production company with the loving attention to historical accuracy we have come to expect from such series.”  (e.g., Xena: Warrior Princess)  'Murder at the End of Time' – first of three adventures Time Capsules included with Timeship – was crafted with a similar, light-hearted perspective.

Before discussing 'Murder at the End of Time', I should disclose some information about Time Capsules.  Voyagers enter a Time Capsule via a Gateway; the processes involved were covered in previous posts.  Voyagers are unable to use the Gateway to return to their point of origin.  “Entrance Gateways are strictly one-way,” Brennan informs us.  (Presented above is the illustration of the 'Murder at the End of Time' Gateway; however, according to the text, “nothing may be seen” beyond the pillars.)

Voyagers depart from Time Capsules via EXITS.  Brennan states, “So far, experience has shown that every Time Capsule has a built-in EXIT.”  Well, if there were Time Capsules without exits EXITS, we wouldn't know about them because no one could have returned from one.  Anyway...
EXITS will usually manifest as shimmering Doorways, or, sometimes, as rather ominous Black Holes in the fabric of reality.  As such, they are generally easy to recognize, but not always easy to find.
There are two types of Time Capsules, Adventure and Task.

In Adventure Capsules, Voyagers “are bound to no specific purpose other they may determine for themselves.”  Adventure Capsules have at least one EXIT, “each permanently located in a specific place.”  However, Brennan tells us, “random factors in the timestream will cause an additional EXIT to appear at least temporarily in the Voyagers' vicinity.”

In Task Capsules, Voyagers are obliged to achieve a particular goal before an EXIT manifests.  “This naturally adds greatly to the dangers of a Task Capsule,” Brennan warns.  'Murder at the End of Time' is a Task Capsule.  Specifically,
The first murder in 300,000,000 years has been committed at the End of Time.  The Task of the Group is to solve the mystery.
There is an option for this Capsule requiring that the solution to the mystery be written down and submitted to a suggestion box.  Only the correct solution “will cause the activation of the EXIT.”  Submission of “an incorrect solution will cause the box to emit a silent burst of lethal radiation which will kill instantly the Voyager...”  There is no provision for activating the EXIT if the above option is not implemented.  The Time Capsule plays as a light-hearted romp, so the activation of the EXIT shouldn't be a concern – When the mystery is solved, the EXIT activates.  However, things aren't that simple; there's more than one mystery.

So, in the future, beings which are the results of “ultimate human evolution” have “discovered how to tap the basic power of the universe, hence anything is possible for them.”  Brennan explains, “Their greatest enemy is boredom” and “One of the few novelties remaining is archaeology.”  One of the terms used for these beings is “Superiors,” which is how your humble host shall refer to them.  The Superiors “decided it would be amusing to create a murder mystery for 20th Century detectives to solve.”  Based on their imperfect knowledge, “they set out to create as authentic a setting as possible...”  Brennan gives us an interesting bit of information:  “They then made application to the Time Traveller's Guild to have their work incorporated in a Time Capsule.”  Essentially they created a tourist attraction; that is, an attraction for temporal tourists.

The “setting” exists on “a rectangle of land 270' × 380'” which “is surrounded by an invisible Forcefield” that “will...ignore inorganic matter.”  Within the setting, the Voyagers encounter a variety of entities such as Little Red Riding Orphan Annie Oakley and “the Large Evil Wolf, a massive animal which walks erect on hind legs and dresses somewhat like Uncle Sam.”  The murder victim, by the way, is Count Dracula who is quite animate and “is intensely curious about the identity of his murderer.”

The Superiors have inserted themselves incognito into the setting and most of the other entities are either clockwork automatons or products of biological engineering.  However, the Superiors have kidnapped two humans from the timestream to make the setting seem more authentic.  If they can kidnap people, why bother making an application to the Time Traveller's Guild?  If the whole point is to design a setting that would seem authentic to “20th Century detectives,” abducting people to include in the setting hardly seems fair.

For Voyagers who may need assistance in solving the mystery (such as it is), a computer in Dracula's Castle can answer questions “truthfully, but only in terms of YES and NO (or INFORMATION UNAVAILABLE.)”  However, the computer requires “an input of of 15 ENERGY points per question.”

Far be it from your humble host to post the actual solution to the 'Murder at the End of Time'; however, after the fashion of the Information Matrices that appear in the Time Capsules, here is an Information Matrix of statements that may or may not be clues:

1. There is a butler named Jeeves.
2. Don't believe the parrot.
3. The “rocky outcrop” is edible.
4. Little Red Riding Orphan Annie Oakley is packing heat.
5. Mr Trenchcoat can pass through the Forcefield.
6. Underneath the sand, at a depth of three feet, there is a flat, metallic base.
7. Do you really want to kiss someone who sleeps on a golf course?

1 comment:

  1. I really hope Herbie Brennan reads this! (And all your other Timeship posts.)