Timeship (1983)

Timeship (1983) is one of like two RPGs produced by Yaquinto Publications. It is, to my knowledge, the first RPG about time travel. It is one of the best RPGs about time travel too, though, honestly, there isn’t a whole lot of competition (and stuff like D&D’s Chronomancer or the GURPS time travel sourcebook don’t count). Surprisingly, this is by J.H. Brennan, who wrote the GrailQuest adventure gamebooks.

Before we get too far in, appreciate the cover art. I love that the border tries to illustrate the progression of epochs and that the 20th century is repped by Camel cigarettes, Kodak, Miller Lite (my beer of choice!) and 7-Up.

Anyway, despite the title, your method of time travel here is ritual found in a magic scroll. The ship is like, a metaphor, man. The system is simple for 1983 (so simple that I suspect key explanations of how to play were left out, but whatever) and largely concerned with monitoring energy expenditure. Everything costs energy, even walking. Tracking that sounds kind of like a pain in the ass, but it also makes a kind of sense. Everything you bring with you costs energy as well, and you can destroy those things (weapons, clothes) to put the energy spent on bring them back in your pool (energy also counts as hit points, so this effectively heals you). Oh, and, no character creation, you just play you. I feel like this is both an audacious design choice but also kind of a genius one — you certainly know your own capabilities.

The meat of the game is the three included scenarios. The first involves solving a murder at the end of time (suspects include Red Riding Hood, Dracula, Jeeves the butler, a mafia don and a guy in a trench coat). The second involves freeing the slaves from Gomorrah and is pretty raunchy! Finally, the third scenario is the classic assassinate Hitler. Novelty: you need to kill him in his bunker during the siege of Berlin, lest he get away and prolong the war further or found a Fourth Reich in South America. This is an interesting narrative choice, I think? Anyway, yea, who wants to kill Hitler with me?

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