Sunday, June 23, 2019

The Time Corps

TIMEMASTER™ takes place in the Continuum.  In fact, the Timemaster equivalent of a Game Master is the Continuum Master – otherwise called “CM.”  We learn that the Continuum is...
     ...something far greater than any planet, any galaxy, any place.  The Continuum is every place at all times.  Earth and her history are no more than a tiny strand, barely discernable amidst its greatness.
     A universe includes planets, stars, and galaxies – all that we can reach without time-travel.  But that universe also has a history, and when we add this fourth dimension, the universe becomes a Parallel.  A Parallel is only one universe and its history.  There are many Parallels, and all Parallels make up the Continuum.
Parallels are identified by a letter and number code. The Parallel to which the Time Corps belongs, for instance, is called T-0.  (Actually, there are at least two other Parallels with their own Time Corps, but the player characters are part of the T-0 Time Corps.)  There are four categories of Parallels (T = Twin Parallel to T-0; M = Moderately different from T-0; R = Radically different from T-0; A = Alien to T-0).

Some Parallels are closely related to one another; if a historical event is altered on one Parallel, the other Parallels may be affected.  We learn, “Parallels M-1 and M-6 have a close relationship to T-0, and must be protected to maintain the integrity of T-0.”  In Parallel M-1, “many of T-0 Earth’s favorite historical fictions (such as The Three Musketeers, The Last of the Mohicans, Ivanhoe) are in fact reality.”  In Parallel M-6, “the poetry of Homer is the basis of reality.” Does that mean the Greek gods are real in Parallel M-6?  Yes, it does.

In T-0, the first time-travel machine was successfully tested on May 11, 7051.  Thereafter,
     Each of the major galactic powers obtained these machines.  Unfortunately, the governments began to see time travel as a weapon.  With these new devices, they could attempt to “erase” important events in the past in order to destroy or dominate their neighbors.  In 7054, the Time Wars broke out, beginning almost 100 years of chaos.  Whole cultures were destroyed, and many of man's worlds were reduced to Stone Age technology.  Several alien allies suffered the same fate.  Finally, all those involved realized that the wars were intolerable.
The Time Wars concluded in 7154 when the three major powers (i.e., “the Empire, the Federated Alliance, and the Confederation of Non-Aligned Worlds”) signed the Temporal Treaty.  An addendum to the treaty established the Time Corps for the purpose of restoring the history of T-0 to how it was before the effects of the Time Wars.  However, the activities of renegades – veterans of the Time Wars – and aliens provide the Time Corps with an ongoing mission of preserving the Parallels.
     The governing body of the Time Corps, the Time Corps Council, consists of 100 members, 33 from each of the major galactic powers, plus a Chairman elected by the other 99 members.  The Council has complete authority over all Time Corps activities: it establishes all top level policies, it hires and fires, it promotes, orders or cancels missions, and generally disposes of the resources of the Corps.
There are various “advisory bodies” that support the Council.  These bodies employ about five thousand personnel.  Most of the day-to-day authority over the Time Corps is entrusted to the Committee of Seven; consisting of the Council Chairman and two Council members from each of the three major power delegations.

The Operations Branch of the Time Corps contains about three hundred thousand agents.  The exact number at any given point “may fluctuate by more than 10,000 . . . given deaths, retirement, and variable success at recruiting.”  For each agent, there are seven “active workers” in support roles.  As such,
     The total size of the Time Corps at any given moment is about 8 × 300,000, or 2,400,000 active personnel.  When you add a few miscellaneous political activities (and the agents to perform them) onto the periphery of the Corps’ concerns, the total grows to about 2.5 million.
The Operations branch includes several divisions.  Player Characters belong to the Earth Specialty Division, the largest division in the Operations Branch.  Other divisions include:  the Emniyet and Shamba Specialty Divisions (the homeworlds of two alien races from Star Ace ), the Minor Planetary Specialty Divisions (responsible “for the history of the 18,000 known worlds and their native races in the three partially explored galaxies”), the Magical Parallel Specialty Division (“These agents tend to devote most of their recreational or leave time to arcane, esoteric studies, and their conversation is often so bizarre that it would be severely disturbing to most other agents”), Offensive Operations Specialty Divisions, and the InterParallel Tactical Command for Temporal Realignment (“the most exclusive, elite force in the Time Corps”).  Other branches in the Time Corps include:  Intelligence, Historical Research, Research and Development, Quartermaster, and Administration.

Player characters are recruited from various points in history.  They may have “a date of birth in the  range from 3500 B.C. to 7171 A.D.” and “should be between the ages of 21 and 50.”  (“Younger characters have more flexibility in adventures, since agents cannot go on missions during their exact 'native time' – the time in which they lived before joining the Corps.”)  We are told, “If you really want to play a sword-swallowing dwarf or a florist from the Saharan desert, go right ahead.”  Yet the best characters “are interesting – but not bizarre – and typical of their time period.”

There are ten ranks that Time Corps agents can have.  In ascending order, they are:  Trainee, Probationer, Agent, Operative, Veteran, Lifer, Sentry, Time Guard, Protector, and Timemaster.  Each rank has ten grades, 0 - 9.  Player characters begin at Trainee/0.  With each successful mission, an agent's grade increases by one; after ten successful missions, an agent is promoted to the next rank.  However, “The highest standing in the Time Corps is Timemaster, grade 10,” suggesting that there are eleven grades in the Timemaster rank.  “Usually, agents retire from the field at that point, and become leaders . . . at headquarters.”  We learn that, “at Lifer rank and beyond, the Corps begins to offer a virtual Fountain of Youth.”

Finding appropriate recruits for the Time Corps can be difficult.  First,
     The potential recruit should possess either an outstanding attribute, or a combination of higher than average attributes, which would make him or her a valuable member of a mission team. Ideally, a recruit should be highly skilled at interpersonal relations and have the physical capability for intensive combat training; however, it is unusual to find such people.
Even so, “The potential recruit must be relatively insignificant to the history of his or her Parallel of origin.”  Player characters begin the game with two paranormal talents:  Paranormal Memory (“allows characters to remember what 'should' have happened”) and one other of their choice.  As a result, “Persons with no capacity for paranormal talents cannot be recruited.”  Also, “The potential recruit must be trustworthy.”

Beyond the factors listed above,
     The identity of the potential recruit must be established beyond any reasonable doubt. In practice, this means the potential recruit should be stunned and searched carefully for marks or scars, preferably by an agent with Disguise skill . . . In addition, the potential recruit should be probed telepathically at least twice.
During the recruitment pitch, “Any indication . . . that the potential recruit has strong emotional ties to people or places in his own time should result in immediate termination of recruitment, unless the potential recruit is about to die anyway.”  (emphasis in original)  Upon recruitment, the enlistee is taken to 7192 (the year player characters begin to work for the Corps) without any opportunity to inform friends and loved ones of his or her choice.  Once in 7192, the character travels in time only as a part of a mission.  “Trainees always get three days' leave after every mission,” but such leave may only be spent on Earth in 7192.

In this far-flung era, we learn that “the planetary population has been stabilized at only 2 billion.”  Aside from population control, there is “weather and climate control, world-wide police control, and uniform health and safety standards for resort areas; it's all about the same anywhere on the planet.”


  1. Thanks for taking this one on --- I've always been curious about Timemaster.

  2. Very interesting, I know next to nothing about Timemaster. I am going to link folks here this week on my blog/podcast.

  3. Would like to know more about Timemaster.