Don't Blame Yoko
+TimeWatch RPG is an upcoming GUMSHOE system time travel game designed by +Kevin Kulp and published by +Pelgrane Press Ltd. Its Kickstarter campaign earlier this year raised over $105,000 and unlocked 50 stretch goals.
This is the outline for an adventure (previously untitled) that I ran for my playtest group and again at a local game day. It went well both times, with fun reactions from the players and great ideas for using time travel technology to get the drop on the bad guys. (Needless to say, whenever the group would realize that the Beatles splitting up led to nuclear terrorism, I smiled.)
Instigating Event: John Lennon is given information that Pete Best is the key to the Beatles’ future success, and he convinces Paul McCartney and George Harrison to keep Best in the band. Instead, friction between Best and the others breaks up the group within months.
Mission Trigger: TimeWatch sensors in the year 2000 detect increased background radiation indicative of multiple nuclear detonations. Agents are dispatched to that year to investigate.
The Antagonist: Professor Francois Espinoza, experimental historian, hailing from 2219. Driven mad from surviving too many timeline shifts. Makes use of crosstime mercenaries and assassins.
Francois Espinoza: Health 10, Scuffling 4, Shooting 8, Tempus 12: clock out, help yourself, mastermind, summoning. Hit Threshold 4, Alertness Modifier +1, Stealth Modifier +0, Damage Modifier -1 (punch), +2 or D4/L4 Chronal Stability test (chronal disruptor). Armor 1
Mercenary: Athletics 8, Health 7, Scuffling 9 (3-2-2-2), Shooting 7 (2-2-2-1), Vehicles 3. Hit Threshold 4, Alertness Modifier +1, Stealth Modifier +0, Damage Modifier -1 (fist), +0 (baton), +1 (pistol or assault rifle), grenades. Armor 1
Assassin: Athletics 8, Health 12, Scuffling 10 (3-3-2-2), Shooting 10 (3-3-2-2). Hit
Threshold 4, Alertness Modifier +1, Stealth Modifier +3, Damage Modifier -1 (fist), +0 (dagger or throwing knives), +1 (sword or pistol).
Trail of Clues: The following clues can be gained in 2000.
- (Science!) Background radiation is consistent with three late-Soviet-era warheads.
- (various) The bombs went off last year in Tel Aviv, St. Petersburg, and Paris.
- (Research, Military Science) Rising tension between the US and the Soviet Union followed American escalation in Vietnam. This slowed the fall of the Soviet Union until 1997.
- (Research) US and Russian authorities conducted a two-year search for lost nuclear warheads sold off by corrupt Soviet military leaders. Many bombs were recovered.
- (Military Authority) Police conduct surveillance of public gatherings, especially music venues, searching for radicals and activists in the name of national security.
- (Trivia) The history of popular music bears no resemblance to proper history, reaching as far back as the early 1960s, with the exception of the popularity of the Rolling Stones in the 60s and 70s.
- (Research, Trivia) An article in the New Music Express from February, 1963, laments that a promising band from Liverpool, the Beatles, have broken up just as their single “Please Please Me” is topping the charts.
The following clues can be gained in 1962.
- (various Interpersonal on Lennon) On 10 August, 1962, John Lennon meets “an odd Spanish bloke” in a pub who shows him a newspaper from the future detailing the success of the Beatles. The man convinces Lennon that Pete Best is the key to their fame.
- (Military Authority) In December, Best and McCartney are arrested in Hamburg for brawling and (in McCartney’s case) drug possession and deported from Germany.
Antagonist Reactions: Professor Espinoza may take the following actions against the agents.
- (2000) Alert local police to the agents movements. The Agents will have to evade investigators or patrols.
- (2000) Send in a team of mercenaries to eliminate the agents.
- (1962) Send in an assassin to kill one or more of the Beatles. He was willing to let them live until the Agents interfered.
- (1962) Engage the Agents personally along with a team of mercenaries. If this fight goes against him, he will try to escape into the time stream, hoping to reach his lab in 2219.
The gist of alternate historical events is that the premature end to the Beatles retards the development of popular music, the counterculture, and the peace movement, leading to the escalation of American involvement in Vietnam. This increases tensions with the Soviets through the 70s and 80s, and stalls the breakdown of the USSR for almost a decade. When the Union dissolves in the late 90s, the more militarized and disaffected command structure are willing to sell off Russian nuclear weapons to terrorist groups. Most of these bombs are recovered, but not before three are used by 1999.