I got a great idea for a D&D campaign in class today, and I totally intend to do it if I get the opportunity. Don’t want to make all the details public, but the basic idea is: time travel. The idea would be something with the same feel as Chrono Trigger (a great Super Nintendo game), but not the same setting or rules or any of that. The players would start out in a medieval setting, but then find portals that lead to other time periods, including a prehistoric age where dragons reign, a era with a Romanesque empire ruling the world, and a Diablo-like post-apocalypse where the world is nearly overrun with demons and monsters. There would be only 5 or 6 eras that it’s possible to travel to, and time generally moves along in all eras at the same rate as the party experiences. In other words, if the party takes a portal back 1000 years, spends a week there, and then takes a portal forward 1000 years, they’ll find they’ve been missing for a week.
Time travel would replace planar travel in pretty much all ways, for both gameplay and plot reasons. So, for example, the spell Plane Shift would instead be Time Shift. It would work the same way as the portals, however, and would allow travel in time but not in space. That means you couldn’t use it to go to anything but the 5-6 time periods I’d have planned out, and time would still pass as I explained before. You couldn’t use it to, say, go back a few rounds and give yourself some advice.
There would be some threads that weave through the time periods. For example, dragons are presumed extinct in all except the prehistoric age, but action taken by the party to save two dragons might change that. A legendary lost sword supposedly owned by Emperor So-and-So might be obtainable by the party if they go back and ask him to lend it to them. And the party’s involvement in a historical battle might change the balance of power in the future. You know, those sorts of shenanigans.
I also have an idea for a character that I don’t know yet what he is, but he sounds awesome. Basically, it’s just a faceless man. He never says anything (for he has no mouth), but would be a recurring character who keeps running into the party even though they’re traveling through time. That should puzzle them. It’s got me puzzled too, but I think the plainest answer is that he’s immortal, although I still don’t know what he is yet.
There’s no Lavos (the sleeping monster at the world’s core in Chrono Trigger), but there is an evil older than time itself. That should be fun. Not that the party will even find out about it at first. That comes once they’ve gotten a feel for the world and its different eras. In order to get people used to the world, time travel shouldn’t be something that happens to the party every day. I’m thinking something like every level or two they should time travel, that should be the goal. At least at first, the party should get a chance to do a couple of quests per time period, and then shift again. I’d mostly enforce this by having portals at the end of dungeons, say, or else having portals show up where they party happens to already be. This would involve more railroading than I normally like to do, but I think I can make up for it by letting the party do as they like the rest of the time.
Anyway, this is an excellent idea and I’m totally doing it if I can. I need to get some people together.