Time Macguffin

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glaucon
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Time Macguffin

So I'm in need of a time macguffin.

I've essentially messed up in the current storyline I'm running where earlier on the PC's have been made aware that the defeat of the enemy is on a deadline. I'm usually quite fine with messing up as a DM, as it leads to fun and creativity, on both the players and Dm side of things. But in this case, I've painted myself into a corner.

Now, I could of course simply hamfist things by making up some reason for a delay in the plans of the enemy. But I've been running this campaign for over 25 years, with the same players, and they're obviously a canny bunch.

Similarly, I could bring in a workaround by introducing some manner of chronomancy, but I've done well in avoiding that lunacy so far.

What I'm looking for then, is some location, being, or object, that makes sense in the Planescape world, that I could make use of to drop the PC's back into the overall story arc, back in the correct time.

I haven't dug through everything yet but, so far, the closest thing I can find that might work would be something related to the Mausoleum of Chronepsis. I know, that's a stretch, but I could make it work.

Does anyone have any other suggestions? Maybe a 'timeless' place? A 'slipped gear' out of time? A taproot of Yggdrasil?

Just grasping at straws...

p.s. By way of explanation: the party got 'off schedule', by taking a tangent opportunity that lasted for just over a year, real time. I pretty much run sandbox all the time. This through the PC's about 4 weeks past the deadline, gametime.

Hellion
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time travel

The astral is IIRC, a timeless place, with chronology only being imposed on it by the minds of its visitors. Perhaps they can find a damaged or malformed conduit that will drop them off at an earlier moment in the outer planes, but it might seem contrived that a conduit capable of sending them back to the exact proper time exists. Alternatively, they might have to seek out a teacher who can help them "perceive" the astral as being at a prior time, and travel that way.

Jem
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One thing you'll want to

One thing you'll want to worry about is the effects of time travel on causality. This shouldn't be something that other people can take advantage of, and it should be a scary or costly thing.

(This assumes your players knew that they were blowing a deadline and understanding that there would be some cost for fixing the error. If you, as the GM, allowed a tangent to go on for a year that was making your plot unwinnable, that seems like a serious error on your part, not theirs, and the cost to rectify it should be minimal from the players' point of view!)

There are three canonical methods of time travel that I am aware of.

One is chronomancy, but you wish to avoid it, so we will leave that off. I have never explored the Demiplane of Time material myself.

One is classical -- simply use a wish or miracle. This also comes with a built-in cost: 5,000 XP. In order to use this, of course, someone has to be made aware that they have misread fate by the course of a month, and someone has to be willing to bite the bullet and wish themselves back in time.

If you don't want anyone accessible to be that knowledgeable of the effects, then there is also the plot background of Faction War -- namely, that the Lady's Mazes, or at least one exit from them, seem to send someone back in time.

Willingly subjecting oneself to a Maze, even a supposedly simplified one made to be escape, ought to be a suitably harrowing experience for anyone to undertake, even if they're being told it's required in order to undo some unknown gaffe in the weave of Fate. The PCs might have to overcome significant mental obstacles to find and use the exit, such as facing down old fears or fighting revenant versions of themselves from the timeline they are attempting to destroy.

Finally, for the intervening four weeks, the players should probably have to act cautiously. Gods of time and fate are almost certainly going to be aware of and heavily policing their presence and actions. You may wish to have them addressed on their way by one or more proxies of these powers, who demand certain limitations on their actions, such as avoiding any interaction with their former selves or holding them to the Observer Effect (they cannot openly change anything they thought they saw), if that is meaningful in your plotline.