[MUD-Dev] Mucking about in time

Adam Martin ya_hoo_com at yahoo.com
Tue Oct 9 13:16:47 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001


----- Original Message -----
From: "Travis Casey" <efindel at earthlink.net>

> The main problem that I see is a simple one -- namely, once
> different events start happening, characters should be able to
> make different decisions.  After all, the conditions under which
> they originally made their decisions now never existed, so it
> doesn't make sense for them to keep acting as if they did.  > In
> the above example, at t-5 in the second timeline, there's no
> reason why Buffy should hit Bubba's corpse -- why would she hit
> someone who's already dead?

> Now, for a short jump back like this, involving only a few
> characters, it may not matter much -- but the longer the jumps
> back can be, and the more characters who are involved, the greater
> the inconsistencies will become.

> For example, if my character goes back in time one week and
> destroys a particular store, then going by this system, all events
> that involved that store in the last week never happened.  Now,
> logically, if someone went to that store five days ago to buy a
> sword and found that it wasn't there, they most likely would have
> gone and looked for another store, and bought a sword there.
> Unfortunately, there's no good way to replay all of those events
> and either find out or decide how everyone would have changed
> their behavior.

> Even short-term ones can cause problems, if *anything* is allowed.
> For example, what happens if Boffo walks into a room, Bubba
> attacks him and sends a message to Buffy asking for help, and then
> Boffo casts an invisibility spell back in time to just before he
> walked into the room?  The spell might prevent Bubba from
> attacking Boffo, but what can be done about the fact that Bubba
> knows that Boffo is here now?  And what can be done about the fact
> that Bubba sent a message to Buffy?


I rather like the idea of taking these problems to be "features" and
seeing what happens. By allusion to the Wheel of Time series which
has quite a few of these things happen with a magic spell called
"BaleFire" (quoted so people unfamiliar with WoT can have a look at
it on the fansites etc) - and which, incidentally, gets it wrong in
a few cases where the author gets confused about his own invented
logic for how the stuff works and makes inconsistent thigns happen
but which are there for dramatic effect - this stuff can be really
fun.

Basic rules of Balefire:

  - you fire a bolt of white light, anything it touches is instantly
  destroyed

  - anything touched is also retro-actively removed from the
  timeline

  - how far back in time the thing is remove to is proportional to
  the power of the spell, but ranges on a scale of a few seconds up
  to minutes in extreme cases (the most powerful spell casters)

  - People's memories are unaffected by the removal of the thing,
  but cause-and-effect is. So it can be VERY confusing for a
  character to witness the stuff in action.

  - Usually, a thing is destroyed ONLY where it was
  touched/intersected the beam of light

  - Often, a thing is destroyed completely if any part of it was
  touched/intersected the beam of light

  - Robert Jordan (the author) seemingly picks and chooses between
  the two above for dramatic effect, but in general organic things
  are destroyed completely, whereas inorganic ones (walls, doors,
  buildings) just end up with gaping big holes.

  - Usually, the wielder of Balefire is unaffected by the changes
  themself (one hero considers balefiring themself to undo all their
  misdeeds but is assured it will not work by his enemy)

Example scene:

  Heroine on boat, below deck, shortly after the boat left
  dock. Boat gets attacked by a Balefire-wielding enemy, who misses
  their aim very slightly.  Balefire hits boat below waterline,
  causing the boat to have sunk.  Fortunately, before hitting the
  heroine below deck, it also hits the person steering the boat,
  making the boat be sunk but also be 50 metres upstream since it
  now never left the dock, so now the balefire misses the heroine by
  50 metres, but she finds herself instantaneously drowning
  underwater in a suddenly water-filled cabin and has to try to get
  out without any prior warning other than seeing the recognisable
  balefire.

If you could invent a more internally-consistent set of rules (the
above scene is technically impossible according to the rules, but
hey.) and then globally apply it, I think you would have an awful
lot of fun. Suggest compound penalties to people who use BF in game
though - in the WoT, increased use of BF tends to pusht the world
itself towards falling to pieces globally, so people only risk it at
great personal need. I expect you would want something different
like an increasing chance of instant permadeath to any character
using the spell every time they use it.

Adam M
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