So the main Demon the Descent features a campaign seed based on time travel but it doesn't discuss the "common" time travel issues such as causing a paradox, meeting yourself in the past, or reasons why the god-machine would form splinter timelines beyond storyteller fiat. Is this simplified time travel meant to be part of the setting or am i missing a reference somewhere in the book?


1 Answer 1


You seem to be talking about splinters mostly:

  • Splinters are not timetravel as such

    • They are parallel sub-universes that are not time matched
    • Think of it more as a teleport to a parallel dimension
    • at no point do you move through time at anything other than 1 second per second, like everyone else.

    • Most have some kind of period reset,

      • where it goes back to the start of its time loop
      • People except stygamtics and demons loose all memory of the last loop
      • there are other cool mechanics relating to this
    • Most are localised to a small area, much smaller than a city
      • You phyiscally can't leave the area
    • There was a exception to both rules in dtd core.
      • A time period that was several hundred years back, but that had continued progressing. and which had sailors arriving in port.
  • Again, splitters are not really time travel,

    • because by entering one, you go to a fixed point in time, in a parallel universe,
    • so changes made in a splitter don't effect the main timeline
  • IIRC some of the results from destroying a splinter, do result in the changes being merged into the main timeline.

  • Some exploits etc are also time-travel like, Eg 4 Minutes ago from DtD core p 166.

    • these abilities tend to be quiet explicit about what they do.
  • There is also true timetravel via infastructure as a story hook in the God Machine Chronicle

Paradoxs Etc

Sidebar Page 237 DtD core: (Emphasis, Mine)

TIME TRAVEL One type of story we haven’t shown much in the World of Darkness bears special mention — whether through Infrastructure, the powers of arch-angels, or sheer cosmic strangeness such as the splinter Seattles (see the Appendix), characters in a Demon chronicle can find themselves travelling in time.

Time travel in a horror game fits as a subset of Universal Machinery, above, showcasing a story where the slightest wrong move can have terrible unforeseen consequences. Time in the World of Darkness isn’t elastic and doesn’t bounce back from alteration like it does in many science fiction stories, nor are temporally-displaced demons prevented from causing catastrophic changes through paradoxes. They are also not aware of the rules of what they can and can’t change. If the characters alter history, treat it as any other cosmic change — show the damage and reveal the long-term fallout. If the characters are careful in the past, make changes in subtle ways — a street name here, the details of a Storyteller character there. Look to films like The Butterfly Effect or Source Code, or stories like “A Sound of Thunder” or The Anubis Gates for inspiration.

To me however that is less of a solution, than just repeating the question.

Basically the rules explicitly don't handle paradoxes or altering the past, or meeting yourself.

Thus what I get out of it, is storytellers are up to there own devices when it comes to handling Timey-Whimy things.

I expect we will get some more guidance when the Storytellers guide comes out. (If it is a full of guidance as Flowers of Hell was for players)

Why would the God Machine create splinters?

  • By accident of Facilities:
    • Time and Space are the same thing, kinda, right?
    • Infrastructure warps space, this is why facilities are often bigger on the inside (I can't find my citation for this any more)
    • when that warping becomes intense, it also may warp time right?
    • When the warping becomes too intense, the fabric of space-time itself might tear off, leaving a section hanging only by a thread. That section is the splinter. If anyone goes back intrim to where it was torn out, they may or may not find the section there.
  • By mifortune in occult matrixies
    • Occult matrix gone wrong, gets interputted, goes out of control
    • or a regrettable side effect:
      • EG by summoning this angel, in its passage from its storage at the birth of the universe it clipped though the time stream tearing free a section from a few decade ago.
  • By design:
    • Some occult matrices are time sensitive. Sometime the god machine might find it worth-whild to fake setting back the clock so it can trigger them when it wants
      • I once had some Beta software that would expire and be unable to be used after a particular date. I found out by accident that setting the system clock back a few months made it keep working
      • the god machine may choose to do that to reality.
    • There are many uses for a time splitter, in and of itself even.

What Purpose does Time Travel serve in the out of character:

To repeat a section of the above quote:

Time travel in a horror game fits as a subset of Universal Machinery, above, showcasing a story where the slightest wrong move can have terrible unforeseen consequences

As well as bringing something new to the game - part of the feel they were going for in demon.

Splitters partially fill a need for Demons to have somewhere to build a hell. (as mother damnable has). Sure not all Demons have a dream of a physical Hell, and some others may find there own paths, to other realms or to walled compounds under the sea. But spliters are present and available, unless they are not.

If you don't like splitters, if you don't like angels or infastructre messing with time. Then don't put them in your game. It will not break the system.

The first short demon campaign I ran was all about a Splinter. The demon campaign I am running now doesn't use them, or any other time travel mechanics, at all.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I think adding some information about stable time loops and other methods of stopping a time paradox would improve this answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – Sandwich
    Commented Oct 26, 2014 at 1:50
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @Sandwich I am not certain I've encountered such things in demon. Do create your own answer with them, because I am unqualified to add such to mine. Also this answer is already too long (It could do with some editting) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 26, 2014 at 1:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ A stable time loop can be engineered with any type of time traveling, essentially the easiest way is that the time traveler themselves caused the initial event to happen, such as an object in the past belonging to the character disappearing because the character himself stole the object himself. So the events that caused the time traveling in the first place resulted in an event that was part of history all along. \$\endgroup\$
    – Sandwich
    Commented Oct 26, 2014 at 2:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Sandwich That can be hard to engineer in a roleplaying game - Do you have any anecdotes you could share? \$\endgroup\$
    – GMJoe
    Commented Oct 27, 2014 at 3:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ For example, lets say that history states that a demon you're hunting was banished in the past by a group of heroic persons. It turns out that due to time traveling the group that banished the demon in the past is actually your player characters. The demon now seeks to return to hunt down the "ancestors" of the PCs, which are actually the characters themselves. That's a stable time loop. \$\endgroup\$
    – Sandwich
    Commented Oct 27, 2014 at 21:40

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