This is an expansion of a review I recently wrote regarding a recent mission I played. I did enjoy the mission but there were time paradoxes that, in my opinion, would be generated and other events that needed to be addressed. The goal of this post is to provide a few things for any author who wishes to create a time traveling mission to think about. To that end I have some suggestions on how to avoid those paradoxes and other issues associated with these types of missions.
One of the first issues most authors do not deal with is the changing of the timeline. Now if it is the player traveling back in time then you would affect the timeline but can also ensure it is preserved. When an adversary travels back in and alters history no one in the current timeline would know the difference. The exception to this would be time travelers, temporal agents and certain species. Without the aid of those types of beings the only other way to avoid this issue is to have the player shielded from the changes in the timeline. This can best be demonstrated in the TOS episode “City on the edge of forever” or the TNG movie “First contact”. In both those examples the characters who maintained knowledge of their timeline and therefore the ability to repair it were shielded from the changes. In the case of the “City on the edge of forever” they were shielded by the emanations from the device on the planet when Doctor McCoy went through. In “First contact” they were caught in the temporal flux of the Borg time portal they created. Deep Space Nine also did an episode where the crew traveled back in time to stop a plot to change the outcome of the mission in the “Trouble with Tribbles” episode. In the DS9 episode they got away with it because of the cloaked ship and no overt contact with the TOS characters. Yes, Captain Sisko interacted with Kirk but only in a passing manner that had no actual affect on the timeline. Therefore it would not be an overt interaction and affect the timeline.
How do avoid these issues? Your mission could start with either a player being intercepted by a time traveler, a species who can detect these changes, temporal agent or a device similar to the Guardian in the TOS “City on the edge of forever” episode. This individual or device shields the player from, either deliberate or accidental, changes to the timeline. From here the player can be briefed or decide as part of the story on how to address the changes made in the timeline from this point. The time paradoxes mentioned at the beginning of this post would be mitigated by this process in the story. How you address the mitigation is your choice but remember the player should not directly interact with people in the original timeline without addressing the concerns of altering the past. The way around this would to write the story so the player was actually part of the historical events that occurred.
That should cover most aspects of time travel missions you create within the Foundry. If you have any questions please let me know and we can discuss them.
Thanks for authoring,