In the Community Content Spotlight, I write up a short review of a GUMSHOE community content title, all of which are available on DriveThruRPG. See this page if you’re interested in creating something for our Community Program!
Apocrypha, by Michael Rees, was another entry in our GUMSHOE Community Content Contest last year. It provides 214 pages of ideas for your TimeWatch scenarios, all of which are, like the title says, apocryphal, providing hundreds (yes, hundreds) of new ideas that you can selectively incorporate into your games. If you’re looking for fresh inspiration, story hooks, and alternate (troublesome!) timelines, Apocrypha might be just your jam.
Since we’re talking time travel here, let’s start in the middle. Apocrypha’s fourth chapter, “Timeline,” is maybe the single most densely packed chapter of time-traveling story seed material I’ve come across. This chapter presents historical and future events that you might decide are canonical, fabled, or problems waiting for player characters’ solutions. The timeline begins 13.7 billion years ago, with an event called “The Devouring,” in which far-future time ships, escaping the death of the universe, jumped back to start a new life—instead, they nearly destroyed the possibility of life ever evolving. The timeline eventually ends 100 trillion years in the future, paying special attention to the crucial twentieth and twenty-first centuries, where Rees provides lots of alternative (though which sometimes seem all-too plausible) events for us to latch onto. (If you’re not sure what playing TimeWatch agents in the far future might look like, I’m not one-hundred percent sure, either, but let’s just say that by the time you get to 98 trillion years from now and face off against the sentient universe, well…)
In addition to this timeline of apocryphal events, Rees provides us with thirty-eight new antagonist species. Some of my favorites: Schrödinger’s Cats (who pop into being whenever a timestream diverges), the Between (whose touch can trap people and objects between moments in time—they’re my guess for where all the socks disappear to), and the Dragosaur (sophosaurs from an alternate-alternate timeline who evolved into, like the name says, dragons). In addition to the countless story hooks you can pull from its pages, Apocrypha concludes with four fleshed-out adventures (these aren’t “fully broken” scenarios though, they’ll still take some planning and preparation on your part).
In addition to all this, Apocrypha also provides you with new character archetypes to play with, like the Deep Time Explorer, the Archivist, or, my favorite, the Financier (basically, a TimeWatch company accountant—yes Robin, give me that campaign about temporal banking, please). A whole chapter on gear provides you with many new tools and troublesome additions to throw your agents’ way.
While Apocrypha was written with TimeWatch in mind, reading the document gave me lots of ideas for other GUMSHOE adventures, too. In the Timeline chapter, the Piri Reis Antarctica map, for instance, suggests TimeWatch involvement during some unknown Antarctic expedition in the late 1400s, but that particular continent wasn’t discovered until 1929, and so suggests to me a potential Trail of Cthulhu tie in. Similarly, Apocrypha invents a “Rise of the Stay-at-Home Detective” in the twenty-first century, which I thought could make a fitting crossover into the This is Normal Now setting for the Yellow King RPG.All told, Apocrypha provides dozens of potential new ingredients for your TimeWatch game, many of which will surprise your players and create compelling new situations for you to explore.
Four Sentient Universes out of Five.
Author: Michael Rees
Price: $14.12 PDF (on sale through May 16 for $12.00)
The Pelgrane Press Community Program brings you into the fold with other GUMSHOE game designers, affording creators (whatever that means to you!) the opportunity to post and sell their own products on DriveThruRPG. We currently accept material for Ashen Stars, The Esoterrorists 2nd Edition, Fear Itself 2nd Edition, and TimeWatch. Have a kooky idea you’d like to write up and get out there? A flushed out scenario you think others would enjoy? The Community Program is the place to showcase these ideas. If you’re interested in creating something for the Community Program, read more about it here.
TimeWatch is a time-travel adventure RPG where brave agents of TimeWatch defend the timestream from radioactive cockroaches, psychic velociraptors, and human meddlers. Go back in time to help yourself in a fight, thwart your foes by targeting their ancestors, or gain a vital clue by checking out a scroll from the Library of Alexandria. But watch out for paradoxes that may erase you from existence… or worse.. Purchase TimeWatch in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.