Sunday, December 14, 2014

Wild Talents in Timeship

According to page 12 of the Timeship rule book, “One of the more pleasing aspects of Time Travel is that Voyagers gradually become more expert as their experience increases.”  Although the Voyagers, of course, are the players themselves, author Herbie Brennan is referring to game mechanics, not player skill.  Successful completion (i.e., survival) of a Time Capsule entitles a Voyager to points of PERMANENT ENERGY.  Whenever a player determines PERSONAL ENERGY before beginning a Time Capsule, any PERMANENT ENERGY previously gained is added to the total.

“[T]he more dangerous the capsule,” we are told, “the greater the quantum of PERMANENT ENERGY which accrues to surviving Voyagers.”  A Voyager who successfully completes the 'Murder at the End of Time' Capsule receives one point of Permanent Energy.  However, a Voyager killed in the Capsule “must deduct FIVE points of Permanent Energy.”  So, it's possible for a Voyager to have negative Permanent Energy and thereby deduct points when determining Personal Energy.  'The Destruction of Gomorrah' Capsule offers 3 points of Permanent Energy; however, this seems applicable only if the Voyagers deactivate a certain device and find an EXIT to the Capsule.  No provision is made if the Voyagers don't find the device; which seems strange since it's an Adventure Capsule and not a Task Capsule.  Dying in Gomorrah causes a loss of three points of Permanent Energy.  A Voyager successful with the 'Assassinate the Fuhrer!' Capsule gains four points of Permanent Energy but a Voyager who dies in the Capsule loses two points of Permanent Energy.

Other than PERMANENT ENERGY, Voyagers can obtain Wild Talents.  According to the rules, “Wild Talents are extremely rare, but it is well to recognize the possibility of their appearance, especially as their use does not invariably involve ENERGY expenditure.”  The rule book does not provide much information about Wild Talents.  However, Voyagers have an opportunity to gain a Wild Talent in 'The Destruction of Gomorrah' Capsule, specifically “FIRE RESISTANCE.”  There is a 21% chance that a Voyager in that Capsule will gain that Wild Talent “when entering a fire.” So I guess they really are rare.  FIRE RESISTANCE is also conveyed to whatever possessions the Voyager is carrying.

The 'Timelord Screen' supplies a “sampling” of Wild Talents as well as the following information:  “In some cases the Timelord may...determine the Wild Talent to only be useable with the expenditure of Personal Power in addition to the passage of a dice check.”
  • TELEPATHY – “This ability may range from picking up an occasional strong thought to the ability to completely read another's thoughts.  A negative aspect of this ability is the receiving thoughts from many people at one time, causing great confusion.  This ability is limited to reading only the thoughts of humans.”
  • PSYCHOKINESIS – “This ability may range from the ability to control extremely small objects for short distances to objects weighing up to ten pounds for several dozen yards.  A negative aspect of this ability is the uncontrolled and undesired movement of articles at inopportune times.”
  • PYROKINESIS – “This ability only works on flammable items. The negative aspect of this ability is the occasional, uncontrolled use of the ability when the possessor is either disturbed or frightened.”
  • PRECOGNITION – “This ability is rarely ever controlled and occurs most frequently while the person possessing the talent is dreaming.  Often the person experiencing it will not be able to tell if the event seen pertains to him or herself, or to another known, or unknown, person.”
  • EMPATHY – This Wild Talent should more properly be named psychometry.  “The negative aspect of this ability is that the person empathizing will actually experience the feeling obtained from the touched object..  For example, depending upon the mood of the subject, the player may feel extremely depressed, rejected, untrusting, drunk; even homicidal of (sic) suicidal.”

Interestingly, all Voyagers are capable shape shifting.  The rule book and the Timelord Screen contradict one another regarding the Personal Energy costs involved with shape shifting.  According to the rule book, “A full sex change...requires only” three Personal Energy points whereas changing “skin colour, hair colour, general racial characteristics or height (within normal limits)” has a cost of two Personal Energy points per change.  According to the Timelord Screen, “slight changes in appearance such as changing the color of the eyes, hair, or slight alterations to skin tone”...each cost one to three points of Personal Energy.  Note the spelling of 'colour' in the rule book but 'color' on the Timelord Screen.  We must assume the contents of the rule book represent the opinions of Herbie Brennan while statements on the Timelord Screen are likely from Stephen Peek.  According to the Timelord Screen, the “drastic alteration of skin tone, physical changes to the facial structure, and changes in height and weight” cost between five and fifteen Personal Energy points each.

The rule book suggests that “major shape shifting should be discouraged” but, when implemented, should cost 75 - 150 Personal Energy points (or more).  In any event, “such shifts do no more than create an appearance.”  This means...“Intelligence, speech, speed, strike capacity and general abilities are not affected unless the new shape renders them physically impossible.”  For instance, forms without hands cannot operate telephones, but “a human shape shifted into a mouse retains human strength.”  Yet...
Some advantages may be gained provided these are inherent in the new shape.  A human shifted into an owl would, for example, have the power of flight, since the ability to fly is inherent in the structure of a bird.  But a human shifted into a cobra would not have a venomous bite since poison is a characteristic of the reptile, not something inherent in the shape of a snake.
Shape shifting is one of the most intriguing aspects of TIMESHIP – and one that in certain circumstances, can be vital to a Voyager's survival.  But it needs to be kept under careful control, otherwise the entire game will degenerate into cloud cuckoo land. 
Remember, there is only a short distance between time travelling shape shifters and cloud cuckoo land.

1 comment:

  1. 1st edition Cloud Cuckoo Land was pretty good; 2nd totally broke the egg laying mechanics.