Continuum: Roleplaying in the Yet (1999)

It took (to my knowledge) fourteen years from the release of Doctor Who to try to put together another time travel RPG. The result is Continuum: Roleplaying in the Yet (1999), a game of staggering complexity and what I assume must be intriguing ideas about time travel. I have low tolerance for time travel talk, so Continuum mostly gives me a headache.

So, in Continuum, you have Spanners, who are part of a time traveling civilization/organization called, well, the Continuum, which is dedicated to preserving the integrity of the time stream from accidents and malicious manipulation (by Narcissists, who were supposed to get their own RPG from their point of view but that never manifested). The Continuum makes me bristle because it is rigidly hierarchal and borderline authoritarian, so I instinctively think all their rules are BS. I’d probably like the Narcissist RPG better, honestly. The better you get at spanning, the more little powers you get. And you don’t have to worry too much about the big picture, because the Continuum has the time stream pretty much on lockdown. And the time stream is self-repairing anyway.

Which presents the biggest, most interesting danger of Continuum. Fragging. Its a stupid name. But! Basically, the time stream doesn’t tolerate paradox and players need to track their every journey back and forth through time to make sure they don’t create any paradoxes. One or two is OK, but accumulate too many, and the time stream will erase you. So, you go back in time and murder your grandfather, chances are you (and the gun and the bullet) just vanish from existence when you pull the trigger.

Which begs the question: if the time stream is so aggressively self-repairing…where is the game? Why am I taking all these notes to make sure I don’t step on a butterfly and extinct the dinosaurs? I don’t have a good answer for you! This is a fun one to read and generally marvel at, but I can’t imagine actually playing it.

Gorgeous cover by Kaluta. Lots of sort of strange, Bosch-esque illustrations from DiTerlizzi on the inside.

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