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Does time travel or chronomagic exist in the Forgotten Realms?

I'm working on an idea for a Halruuan airship equipped with a device that allows time and dimensional travel, so I'm looking for precedents I can compare it to. Are there any?

So far I've looked at the magic Portals common in the Realms, but haven't found any that involve time as well as dimensional travel. I've also looked at psionics, but it has only very limited temporal manipulation powers.

I haven't found any use of chronomagic in the Forgotten Realms novels or rules of the game itself. Is there any?

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Yes. There are time portals controlled by Mystra, and one heck of rare 9th level spell to take you there.


Edition notice: Most of the stuff below is from AD&D 2nd sourcebooks. The question does not ask for a specific edition (fluff only) so the content below should be adapted for other editions. Not hard, as the effects do not change game statistics.


The deity of Time in Forgotten Realms (Faerunian pantheon) is Mystra. It is a rather unknown piece of her portfolio, because she really dislikes time travel. This is discussed more in depth in the Chronomancer supplement for AD&D 2nd. Chronomancers are shunned in the Realms, and quickly invited to leave for other Prime Material crystal spheres.

Nevertheless, time travel do exist, in a controlled fashion.

In the Arcane Age supplements for AD&D 2nd, there are mentions of time portals and the time conduit spell, that can take adventurers back in time. One of the plot hooks for Netheril and Cormanthor sourcebooks is to take an adventuring party for a hike back in time.

There are time gates on Faerûn, but their locations remain a mystery. Ancient texts of Mystryl's faith talk of three gates that were created either through accidents or great fortune. Unknown to any other races on Toril, there is one other time gate, and that is known only to the High Mages of the elves. The time gates are older constructs than anything else in the Realms, either ARCANE AGE or modern time periods. They predate the first dwarven realm on Faerûn, and even the elves seem in awe of their age and power.

Cormanthyr: Empire of the Elves, page 6

The same book describes the Time Conduit spell (the time portals work just like the spell):

9th level spell: Time Conduit
(Alteration, Chronomancy)

It should be an epic quest to obtain a copy of this spell. This quest should be done with the blessings of both Mystra and Azuth, and the spell should be used with great caution, else the mage draws the wrath of the deities that control magic itself.

The important points in both forms of time travel are:

  • The trips are always for a 1-year period. Characters arrive on the early minutes of the first day of the year (1 Hammer) and the conduit brings them back in the night of the last day of the same year (30 Nightall).

  • All prepared spells, spell slots and psionic power points are stripped from the characters. They need to rest to prepare again their spells / recover their powers.

  • All spells that do not exist at the epoch of arrival are removed from scrolls and spellbooks. Those are otherwise unaffected. For sorcerers (or spontaneous casters) it would be wise to do the same, temporarily stripping the knowledge of the forbidden spells.

  • All equipment and items that are not yet invented are removed as well.

  • Upon return, those equipment and spells (that were removed when going) are returned to their original places. The spellbook will be as it was before entering the conduit/portal.

  • Most items and spells learned while in the past may be removed by the conduit. Those are forever lost in the timestream.

  • A whole month (30 days) will have passed (in their normal time-frame) when the characters return.

  • One cannot go back in time to a epoch where one already existed. You cannot visit yourself. You cannot return twice to the same year.

  • Time paradoxes are resolved with great prejudice to the one that caused it. This is not an issue when visiting ancient times, as history can rewrite itself over the centuries. But some idiot that decides to become his own grandpa will be erased from the timestream.

  • If the characters traveled using a time gate, the gate will either move to another location, or the knowledge of the gate location will be removed. One must quest again to find this gate (or one of the others). The spell Time Conduit is not lost or forgotten, but using it repeatedly is a surefire way to earn a visit from Mystra's servants.

I recommend reading Cormanthyr and Chronomancer supplements.


As for psionics, there is the Time Travel psychoportive science. It is described in The Will and The Way Dark Sun supplement (but is available for psionicists everywhere).

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    \$\begingroup\$ That's a lot of restrictions in one spell. But let me see if I got this correctly, you cannot go back to an epoch where you already existed. So how do you return to 1 year earlier? Unless you are less than a year old, that restriction sounds weird. \$\endgroup\$ – ShadowKras Oct 27 '17 at 11:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ShadowKras The 'one year period' restriction doesn't mean you can only go one year forward or back, it means amount of time you spend in another time period after time travelling there is always equal to one year. \$\endgroup\$ – GMJoe Oct 27 '17 at 11:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ I know, I wasnt talking about that. Say you are 30 years old, you already existed from anywhere between 1 and 30 years ago from now. You have to travel to an epoch older than 30 years ago, no? Old wizards like Elminster could never fix anything in the past. If i am correct in my interpretation, that means that sending children/youngster is the only way to fix things that happened less than a decade ago. Or sending constructed-beings, like clones, constructs, warforged, creatures created by magic, etc \$\endgroup\$ – ShadowKras Oct 27 '17 at 11:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ @shadowkras that is correct. You cannot go back to a year where you already existed. And you can also just wait another 90 days and send people from that epoch back a century to your problem of 10 years ago. Also, this Mystra-approved method of time travel is paradox-free. \$\endgroup\$ – Mindwin Oct 27 '17 at 12:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ For the curious, RPGgeek has 4 Arcane Age supplements listed. \$\endgroup\$ – Roflo Oct 27 '17 at 16:18
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There are a number of methods of time travel in 3.X, in addition to the Time Portals from second edition discussed here.

  • The simplest way is the spell Teleport Through Time (sorc/wiz 9), which does what it says on the tin, mostly. The drawback is that it specifies serious Bad Stuff to happen in the case that you meet yourself, and deals quite of bit of Int damage.
  • There is a Time Portal near Iron Fang Deep guarded by a society of powerful historian-mages and the Empire with which they are affiliated, which has been designed to not send anything but special non-interfere-y recording bots back in time and to send potential interlopers into the middle of the plains after stripping them naked and throwing their equipment into the sages' vault all through the past. Sufficiently skilled and motivated adventurers can nonetheless hijack it.
  • An Epic feat, Create Time Portal, allows the creation of permanent temporal gateways. It has as a prerequisite, however, Teleport Through Time, and so is unlikely to be particularly useful.
  • Umberlee's Fist is a chaotic whirlpool that appears at random in the world's oceans and sucks ships into itself, killing people and destroying the ship. Unlike normal whirlpools, however, the vortex teleports the ship and those on it to a random place in the world. Sometimes, it even teleports its victims back in time, though usually on the order of weeks or months, not years. It's also not very well thought through-- no ship has ever escaped the vortex but a DC 10 Profession(Sailor) check is sufficient to avoid being sucked in whilst captaining a warship. The whirlpool counts as the direct intervention of a deity, which can be useful for some things, though.
  • A sentient magical one-way portal in Triel connects to what used to be a public park in Selegant. The portal, unbeknownst to just about everybody, can summon creatures to defend itself, and generally does so by pulling powerful adventurers out of the future to fight this one particular (really, really screwed) Balor in the past. The exact mechanics of the teleportation as well as the summoning, the Gate's alignment, and basically all other details are unclear.

  • All of the above methods are from the 'Perilous Gateways' article series written for the Forgotten Realms campaign setting by Robert Wiese and released by Wizards as an electronic thingy.

  • Time Regression is a psionic method of time travel (Nomad 9) that moves you one round into the past. Acquiring a magic item with this ability or gaining it as a SLA allows you to travel back to when you got the item or as far as you want, respectively. The only things you can keep are your XP (and XP derived benefits) and memories, though.

  • Time Hop is another psionic power that instead lets you travel forward in time faster than normal. Useful if you lack patience.

  • Time Dragons (from the final edition of Dragon magazine) have weird time powers. Great Wyrm Time Dragons (a CR 90 creature) can not only travel backwards in time but also make forays deep into possible futures. The details are not clearly provided, but such travel is strenuous for the creature.

  • The Chronocorsa is a spellbook dedicated to the art of Chronomancy-- time magic. It's from Dragon #350 and it contains a bunch of time-related spells that don't let you time travel. However, the book's fluff indicates it contains more powerful spells than just those that people haven't bothered to learn yet, and those spells might involve time travel.

  • The Scepter of Ages is a major artifact in Pathfinder that allows players to time-travel with no real restrictions or potential problems (for them). It's setting agnostic, but it's unlikely you'd be using Pathfinder for Forgotten Realms, so it's down here instead of at the top. Unlike in D&D 3.5/3.0, you can force the existence and present availability of the scepter in Pathfinder, via high diplomacy checks and abuse of the Black Market Connections rogue talent. Stealing a major artifact as someone else is currently transferring it through the black market of a interplanar metropolis is likely a campaign in its own, though.

  • Pathfinder also has its own Time Dragons, which are basically just weaker versions of 3.5's.

  • Lords of Madness indicates that Mind Flayers are from the end of time, and used the sacrifice of many extraordinarily powerful elder brains to create a psionic vortex which allowed them to travel back all the way to where they appear in history. The mechanism is unknown, but presumably such a vortex could again be created by gathering up all the elder brains and killing them all with the correct rituals (which at least some of the Elder Brains almost certainly know).

  • Alternatively, you could seal yourself up somewhere, wait until the end of time, and hop through their portal with the mind flayers as long as you are immortal, extremely patient, and able to sequester yourself from threats for the lifetime of the universe. This would allow you to travel anywhere within the span of time from the beginning to the end of the existence of Mind Flayers primarily just by waiting.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ That is a handful... \$\endgroup\$ – Mindwin Oct 27 '17 at 12:40
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I have not had the opportunity to research this question, however from memory I can confirm the location of two time gates as documented in the forgotten realms module 'dungeon crawl the lost level'. Pages 27 & 28 detail the exit points of two time and space gates C & O.

Characters stepping through gate C arrive at the location noted in the text and forward in time to the night of the next full moon.

Character stepping through gate O arrive at the location noted in the text and forward in time by 1d12 months and 1d8 days.

So yes in summary time travel via gate magic or portal as you term, most certainly exists within the forgotten realms campaign setting.

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    \$\begingroup\$ You can update this by editing to include that supporting research. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Oct 27 '17 at 7:51

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