Hot damn! Assassin is wracking up that kill count! On the one hand, it’s exciting to see an actually-competent hero in Handbook-World. On the other, I was kind of hoping Occultist would get some friends from the psychic casters club. I guess our three-eyed Psychic won’t be joining the party anytime soon. We’ll just have to wait until Part 4 of this interview arc to find out who makes the cut!

While Oracle is busy practicing her Mr. Magoo impersonation, let’s turn our collective attention to the Handbook’s daily nugget o’ wisdom. Today’s topic is all about the difficulties of “see through time” storylines. And in order to lay out our problem space, I’ll rely on my old pal Mutants & Masterminds. Is it time for another tale from table? Does Gunslinger require a booster seat?

So no shit there we were, hot on the trail of a serial kidnapper. Metahuman teens had been disappearing from our little corner of off-brand Seattle, and our band of super sleuths were faced with a dead end.

“My instruments aren’t picking up any clues,” said our super scientist.

“No one in the neighborhood saw anything,” said our speedster. “Or the 37 surrounding neighborhoods either.”

“I’ve got an idea,” said our magician. He usually did. His PC was a veritable toolbox of randomly useful mechanics. As a “dynamic power user,” he could manifest any effect that fit his chosen theme of portal magic. Mostly he used it to reposition our heavy hitters and go bamf-ing about the map. But with distraught parents and missing kids as a motivator, he’d had a brainstorm.

“I’ll add a temporal component to my portals,” he said. “Rather than making a door in space, we can open a window through time. And if I set this one to last night at 6:49 pm….”

Suddenly we were looking through a hole onto the past, watching the mystery we’d been meant to solve unfold in front of our eyes. I’d have been badly flummoxed, but our GM did a killer job making it interesting. As the masked assailant holstered his flechette gun and bundled the unconscious teen into an ominous black limo, we had a chase on our hands. We transitioned from the investigation into a follow-that-car scenario, hustling to keep up while our magic peephole flew off after its target. We managed to roll well, and so we got to see “the handoff” as half a dozen identical limos met and sped away in various directions.

“Damn!” said the players. “Did they know they were being watched somehow?”

“I mean… You have no way of knowing,” said the GM. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to roll up an enemy mage.”

That multi-limo handoff may have been a heavy-handed “you guys aren’t supposed to know this yet,” but I’ve got a lot of sympathy for a GM in this situation. Like we talked about back in our speak with dead comic, flawless solutions are seldom satisfying. Nobody wants to skip past the investigation part of the investigation. That way lies anticlimax! It’s why I prefer  mechanics like “get a reroll because you glimpsed alternate timelines” or “ask the fates a yes/no question” rather than “literally see the past/future.”

That’s just my preference though. What about the rest of you guys? What’s the most flavorful version of “peer through time” you’ve seen in a game? And how about the difficulty of glimpsing the future in games featuring unpredictable PC antics? Have you managed to screw up any of your timelines? Whatever your take on fortune telling, tell us all about it down in today’s comments!


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