Hey kid. Yes, you there. If you're reading this, there's a big chance you're a Time player, perhaps one that is not so experienced in dealing with this particular kind of bullshit. In that case, welcome to the temporally challenged corpse party, where metaphorical dead grandparents get thrown around so much it's downright ridiculous. Don't worry, eunomicZenith, native Time player, will be your Guide. Okay, maybe you should still worry.
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SECTION 1: Why Time?
If you rolled Time, chances are you're the kind of person who dislikes being held accountable, or you have no willpower to do anything anymore. Maybe it's the third time you're replaying and you've hit emotional rock bottom and you're pretty much begging Sburb to let you die and free you.
In either case, Sburb's a dick. Time's the aspect of responsibility - because the success of an entire session and the lives of everyone in it, a thousand time over, depend on you. You cannot afford to be irresponsible or lay down and await death. It'll teach you to accept your burden of responsibility and move forward. But don't be mistaken, if Sburb is trying to teach you maturity, giving someone Time duties is one hell of a traumatizing way to do that. No one ever said the game was a good psychologist.
SECTION 2: Sburb's Bullshit Time Model
Time is one of the two cardinal aspects, together with Space. That means, most sessions have a Time player. Why? Because Sburb runs on a critically moronic model of time that was probably written by the world's most intelligent equipe of typewriter monkeys sky high on weed drugs.
In normal metaphysics that don't involve Sburb, you'd generally find two main models of time:
- The predestined one: where every event has already been written by God (or into causality, either works) and timetravel cannot change the past. If you go back in time, you'll end up doing what was planned anyway. Freedom of will is an illusion.
- The branched one: timelines exist and trying to timetravel will make a new branch on the tree of timelines, or maybe all the timelines exist, and every possibility is true in a parallel universe.
Either model generally tries to avoid paradoxes, and they're both fine when taken by themselves. The problem is, Sburb's time model is neither of those, but a mishmash of the two that makes no sense and gives me an extra reason to want to retroactively incinerate the brain of whoever decided to code this thing.
- The Sburban Mess: Sburb has a List of Things That Need To Happen. Let's call it the Skaian Agenda, for brevity. As long as those things happen, all is well, and anything that doesn't contradict any point in the Skaian Agenda is allowed to happen. If any of those points is contradicted, the timeline and the players within it are flagged as doomed, which means it's up to the Time player to go back in time and fix it. Then they will die, as will everyone in/from the offshoot timeline, but all is well because the alpha timeline is saved. And the corpse pile keeps getting bigger.
SECTION 3: Time Paradoxes
Additionally, this time model, instead of avoiding paradoxes, includes them as a regular part of your everyday Time duties. It's not called Paradox Space for nothing. In any case, time paradoxes come in two kinds:
- Bootstrap paradoxes: Also called time loops. An example is ectobiology: You're sent to Earth via meteor, you grow up, you play Sburb, you perform ectobiology, you send yourself to Earth via meteor. It's a closed loop with no beginning or cause - it just is. And the worst thing is, Sburb actively embraces these. You'll find them everywhere. Self-fulfilling prophecies are another example. Not to mention the messes that can happen with timetravelling chat programs. In any case, do not break these loops - for instance, do not prevent ectobiology from being carried out - because that'll doom the timeline. Oops.
- Grandfather paradoxes: Here come the dead 'pops. These are named after the famous paradox where you go back into the past and kill your own grandpa, which would cause you to not be born in the first place. If you ever make one of these, congratulations, you've just doomed the timeline! And note, not fulfilling what a prophecy said would happen is paradoxical too, because a prophecy is basically timetraveling info from the future. Either that, or a peek directly into the Sburban Agenda.
SECTION 4: A List of Possible Fuck-Ups
So yeah, to wrap it up, in order not to doom the timelines, you should:
- Never break a stable time loop.
- Never cause a grandfather paradox.
- Never contradict the Skaian Agenda.
Some time loops are easy to spot, and it's pretty easy to go with the flow. You see yourself popping out of thin air and aiding you in battle? That's you from the future! After a while, timetravel back into the past and do as you saw. Bam, loop completed. Just don't contradict it.
Others, like the thousands upon thousands of prophecies stored in the Royal Libraries on Prospit and Derse, are like invisible tripwires. Unless you spend time reading up (which I suggest you do), you'll never know if you'll doom the timeline by picking orange juice instead of apple juice as prophetized. And that's one more bad experience for one of your 'selfs, and one more corpse in the pile. Luckily, some abilities and some other aspects can help you. More on that in section 5.
Grandfather paradoxes are another issue: doomed timelines aside, you can't change the past, if you didn't see yourself appear from the future to save the situation the first time around. If you see a sessionmate die, then go back in time and prevent that from happening in front of the eyes of past!you, who should then be the you that eventually timetravels back, you've created a grandfather paradox and doomed yourself, the timeline, and everyone in it. So now your friend's dead. Move on. Time can't fix what has happened. Unless it happens to go against the Skaian Agenda; in that case it is exactly your job to fix the past.
The Skaian Agenda itself is a minor worry, if there are no timetravel shenanigans involved. It'll just happen that every once in a while you will derail too much from the plan and a corpse or two will join the party. The real issue is that this can happen to sessions WITHOUT a Time player to fix them, so they need to be careful, lest they want to doom the only timeline they'll ever get. If you're in this situation, please refer to section 7.
SECTION 5: How to Avoid Fucking Up
Obviously, you'll want to minimize the number of corpses invited to the party. There's a few things you can do, if that is what you want:
- Read up on prophecies on Prospit and Derse. It's kind of creepy how many freaking details are written in those, but it's not like you won't either follow them (with awareness or not) or doom the timeline, so it's better to have foreknowledge.
- If you have a sessionmate who is Fate, Mind, Light, Law, Stars, or to a lesser degree Life or Doom, they can help.
- Fate can use [Rediscover Fusion] to tell you what to do to reach an outcome like "not dooming the timeline" or something.
- Mind can help you sort through scenarios with scrying abilities like [Neural Climb]. They also have the raw brainitude to tell you how to untangle very complex temporal messes.
- Law can use [Negative Aperture] to warn you in advance of things you should really not do. Like stumbling upon the invisible tripwires of prophecies.
- Light is similar to Law, but arguably less useful. It can guide you towards optimal use of your powers to try to make sure things go well, but they don't have as much knowledge of the metaphorical tripwires.
- Stars can tell you what outcomes and actions are attracted to a given anchor point using [Stargaze]. It's kind of a roundabout way of doing Fate's job. Sort of.
- Life and Doom can craft prophecies. Enough said.
SECTION 6: Time's Abilities
Like any other player, you have a toolbox of abilities you can use in your burdening quest to ensure the session doesn't get screwed over, while beating enemies to death with your specibus of choice. I'll give you a run-over of your main assets. It'll be a fairly boring and rather obvious list, at least at first.
Time Flow Altering:
- [Humphrey's Lullaby]: Area-of-effect time slow, where only you move at normal speed, unless you pay the extra pluck fee to bring a coplayer you're in physical contact with. Also, who the fuck is Humphrey?
- [Moment of Pause]: Freezes time in a radius. Medium pluck cost for activation, and then the upkeep pluck cost rises faster and faster, until you collapse from exhaustion. Best used in bursts of few seconds. Bringing a coplayer will raise the pluck cost to pretty ridiculous levels, you've been warned.
- [Clockstopper]: Similar to [Moment of Pause], except for one enemy only. You just pay a much more reasonable flat pluck cost, plus it's more precise. It also has this sweet red clock animation with roman numbers, so that's cool.
- [Thank You For Your Valuable Time]: Slows an enemy down, makes you faster.
- [Time Out]: Suspends you into a zone outside the rules of time to take a breather. It's just a grey pocket dimension, doesn't have much in it. That doesn't mean you can't deploy items from your captcha modus though, so if you bring a bed you can very well sleep in there. When you're done, just use [Time In].
- [Sweet 16's Turned 31]: Pretty pluck-expensive. Supposedly speeds up time a bunch and makes enemies age into frailty, which doesn't make sense because I don't think underlings actually age under normal circumstances? It's a temporary effect, by the way, so don't worry if you accidentally make a coplayer get all wrinkled. It'll pass.
- [A Stitch In Time]: Time travel into the past, short range (up to 1-2 days). Medium pluck cost.
- [Chartreuse Rewind]: Time travel into the past, medium range (up to few weeks/one month). Pretty freaking high pluck cost.
- [Years In The Past]: Time travel into the past, long range (I'm not even sure it has any hard cap). Very, VERY high pluck cost.
- [Time On My Side]: A time travel ability made for combat or very quick fixes. Very short range (5 minutes) but very pluck cheap, too. This is how you can afford to have another of you in the same battlefield, all part of one time loop. Just, be very careful not to break it.
- [Back To The Future]: Brings you right back to where/when you were before using any of the above abilities, using fast forward and teleport. Obviously, the cost will vary.
- [Skip To The End]: Zoom forward in time by accelerating it. Short range (up to 1-2 days).
- [This Is Not How It Happened]: This is the one ability that can do what no other can: actually rewind time and undo events, as if they never even happened. That's right: if you see a coplayer die, you can immediately use this ability to attempt to save the day. The pluck cost isn't even unreasonable. The catch? First off, it rewinds a grand total of 10 seconds, tops, and not a nanosecond more. If you put effort in trying to stretch that limit, Sburb will vaporize you. It's also only possible to activate it if you're at the furthest point in time you've ever been (not counting doomed timelines), so that means you can't just timetravel back, rewind those seconds and successfully change the course of events against Sburb's will. You have a 10-second window of opportunity to react, so keep your finger on the trigger of this ability in case things go south. It's a fuckin' lifesaver, you just have to remember to actually use it. And of course, you only get it in the late game, just because Sburb likes to mess with your brain and make you ponder what could have been if you had it before.
Other offensive abilities:
- [Time Attack]: Create and shoot red gears of any size you want. You can make a bunch of tiny ones and shoot them like bullets at high speed, or two big ones to try and grind some bones.
- [Clockwork Reversal]: Restores an inanimate object to a previous state, or rewinds time for it. There's a LOT you can do with this, like making the same grenade explode, then implode, and repeat; rewind bullets into your gun; wield a broken sword by restoring it to when it was whole; restore falling rubble to the point where it was still in mid-air so you can step on it (which looks cool as fuck); bring back your clothes to the time when they were clean, etcetera. The possibilities are virtually endless. It has a 2-second cooldown, but that doesn't stop it from being a sicknasty ace in your sleeve and a personal favourite.
- [RetroBution]: Rewinds time for an underling or a carapacian - strictly not usable against players, obviously. It has a few uses, like making enemies walk backwards into a pit, but do consider that you'll also be undoing any damage you dealt in the time getting rewound. Basically, you'll see the wounds disappearing, as well. Occasionally useful.
- [Split Second]: Make two parts of an enemy move in time at different speeds. The result is that the enemy gets cut in twain if they move. It's brutally effective, but very pluck-costly.
- [Youthanasia]: In some ways, this is the opposite of [Sweet 16's Turned 31]. It makes an enemy get younger and younger (again, defying the fact that underlings are probably ageless). If the target's health was low enough, they'll just turn into a fetus, a single cell then disappear with a pop. If the ability fails, instead, you'll get a sad trombone sound effect. Marvelous.
- [Tomorrow's Greatest Hits]: Charge your weapon with this ability, and the next hit you deliver will make the enemy timetravel forward or backwards in time. You can basically punch an enemy into next week. The more the hit would have knocked them back, the more they timetravel. So yeah, you'll want a bludgeoning weapon for this. BE CAREFUL with this, it can cause terrible messes if used thoughtlessly.
Psybuffs, Support and Scrying:
- [Chronoautopsy]: Gives you the memories of a doomed timeclone by touching their corpse. You've basically always had this one, but most people find out the traumatic way.
- [Chronology]: Makes the memories inherited from doomed timeclones feel distant, emotionally muffled and not yours. Basically it's there to save your psyche, or else you'd be so fucked. This is transferable but you really want to generally keep it on yourself at all times.
- [Time Trial]: Share knowledge from ONE doomed timeclone with a friend. Unless you give them your [Chronology] they'll be susceptible to the psychological effects, though. Luckily, the effect fades in a day or two. It works surprising wonders for stopping PKs by sharing horrible memories, though.
- [Time Heals All Wounds]: Manipulates time to make wounds heal very quickly. It's Time's sole healing ability, and it has the tendency to leave scars, but it beats dying.
- [Overbook]: Get rid of any debuff by procrastinating and giving it to future!you. It might pop up right back in a bad moment, though, so be careful. It can be fatal if overused, seriously.
- [Candles and Clockwork]: Lets you get a look at the structure of spacetime. You'll be able to see glimpses of the branched timeline structure, if you make an effort, and if you aim this at the Furthest Ring you'll notice that time there is majorly nonlinear, aka a nighmare nutjob.
- [Look Into The Future]: Scrying ability. First, think of a topic you want a vision of. Then, activate this ability. Expend X pluck. If available, Sburb will give you a 1 minute vision of the future related to the topic you were thinking about. The vision will be further into the future the more pluck you expended. It has a lower limit of few days, though. And if it can't find anything relevant to that topic, it'll either show you random bullshit or drain your pluck in vain. WARNING: The moment you've had a vision, that becomes inevitable. This is basically giving up your free will in exchange for foreknowledge. DO NOT scry topics like someone's death, or anything that could go very badly, unless you're okay with the possible bad consequences becoming etched in forever.
- [Eternity Served Cold]: If you see their eyes flashing rainbow colors (wtf why) and the Time ideograil rotate behind their head like a halo, it's time to RUN LIKE HELL. The next living being they touch will spend a VERY long time isolated in an empty pocket dimension. It'll be one hour outside, but tens of years inside. If they're not god tier, they'll probably be corpses by the time they're back, due to either starvation or old age. If they're god tier, they will come back completely out of their mind in a way or the other. It's not a nice fate. At all.
SECTION 6: The Scratch
You might notice, while exploring your land, that you have some huge-ass structure that resembles a music-related item, floating above the ground a couple dozen meters. It is your Scratch Construct, and it replaces the Earthsea Borealis while giving your land the function of an extreme emergency panic button.
That construct - which can be anything from a turntable to a compact disc to a music box or an audiocassette etc. - is meant to be scratched (no, duh?) with a seriously, seriously hard object. You'll want something made of a material like corundum or diamond, or titanium, or just bullshit hard stuff like the enamel (?) that covers the Quills of Echidna, that stuff is basically indestructible. After you've dealt sufficient scratch damage to your Scratch Construct, it will ascend towards Skaia, and then, upon contact, hard-reset your session. Like, WAY hard reset. It'll get new replayers. And you'll avoid dying and becoming a soul that wanders among the void inhabited by the Others. Sure, you'll stop existing (not actually sure) but that can't be so bad, right?
Honestly, in a universe where Sburb's a hell death trap for life, I question why we would want to perform a Scratch and essentially go "nah, you do it" and leave that hot potato of traumas and stuff to another group of unlucky youths. But that's another story.
SECTION 7: Time Machines
One item that is pretty much a must for any Time player worth their salt is the uncreatively named Time Machine. It's basically a miniature version of your Scratch Construct that is imbued with [A Stitch In Time]. Having one of those handy makes it a lot easier to manage your loops, because it makes short-range timetravel a lot less pluck-draining. To obtain one, you can mess around with alchemizing stuff related to what your construct is. You'll also occasionally find one in a dungeon on your land, but this is in the middle-late-ish game so I recommend the alchemy route. But if you want a surefire, pretty easy way to make one, all you have to do is get the captcha code of your Scratch Construct itself, which is easily feasible with a captchacamera or the right sylladex modus.
However, WARNING: these items allow ANYONE, not only Time players, to timetravel. This can be a very, VERY serious issue, if it lands in the hands of someone who doesn't know the ins and outs of the delicate art of temporal manipulation and will proceed to repeatedly doom the timeline, or even worse, someone with bad intentions. I shiver at the thought of a PK that secretly owns one of those.
But well, even these dangerous items should, under the right circumstances, fall in the hands of a non-Time player, as long as they're sane, careful, well-intentioned and know what they're doing.
- If you, the Time player, are dying/dead, handing down your Time Machine to the sanest, smartest person you know is a good idea.
- If you're in a session without a Time player, you might want to try getting one of these, since your timeline might get otherwise doomed without repair.
If you're in the latter situation, you are admittedly in the shit. Your timeline could get doomed due to basic Skaian Agenda stuff, and without timetravel you won't be able to fix it. Your best hope is to just pop everything time-related you have into your alchemiter and pray to end up with a Time Machine, but good luck with that, it's exceedingly rare. Either that, or you can strike a bargain with a denizen if you're desperate enough for that.
Some final notes:
- Some titles are better than others as surrogate Time players. Mind players are especially awesome, due to their very good understanding of "this could have happened if we made that choice" stuff and high brainitude. But really, all the aspects I mentioned in section 5 are at least decent. Being a Seer or Sage is also a nice plus.
- Never, EVER have more than one of these dangerous things in a session at once. Trust me.
SECTION 8: Time Denizens
I'm going to conclude this guide with a brief list of the so-far-known Time Denizens.
- Hephaestus: Male denizen. He's anthropomorphic but he has quite a few body parts replaced with mechanical clockwork versions. He's considered the best Denizen for the purpose of dealmaking to get physical items fixed. So yeah, if you want him to repair something, you'll get yourself a deal at a slightly less insane price. Interestingly, he doesn't seem to use or possess Time powers.
- Antevorta: Female denizen, of the snakelike variety. She's nothing special, but she's still capable of sandpapering your jimmies nicely using Time powers by looking into the future. So yeah, she knows what you're going to say long before you say it. It gets complicated.
- Kali: Female, humanoid with a bunch of arms and possibly the worst, most annoying Denizen I've ever had to deal with. She *will* ground your jimmies to a fine powder, using ALL of her Time powers, which include casting slow or haste on herself or you to make your conversations a lot harder, timetraveling to undo your Denizen Quest progress, dooming timelines so you'll have to fix them, just UGH. She's a load of work.
- Chronos: Male, no idea on the body shape. I have little info on this dude because I've only heard of him through a sessionmate who had a Time sessionmate in a previous session with him as his Denizen. Perhaps he's rare or we're just statistically unlucky. Still, he seems to be capable of using Time powers like Kali. Good luck with that.
NOTE: Hephaestus has a hammer imbued with [Clockstopper] that freezes enemies in time occasionally upon hitting, and Chronos has a scythe imbued with a variation of [Thank You For Your Valuable Time] that makes you go faster for a couple minutes after killing an underling. They make for awesome alchemy material, and they're safe even in the hands of non-Time players, but the Denizens won't let you take them. The trick is using a captchacamera to obtain the code. Haha, suckers.