In A Nutshell:
An asteroid is going to hit the Earth in 2026. Sophosaurs help send a message of warning into the past changing history as various governments work in secret to save the planet. PCs must preserve history and still save mankind from extinction.
In 2024 an asteroid is detected on a collision with Earth, due to strike in 2026. Conceivably it could be delayed (and thus miss the Earth) with a nuclear strike but there isn’t enough time to do the calculations.
A group of Sophosaurs, noting the parallels to their own situation, approach Doctor Harold Lein and introduce the idea of using quantum entanglement to send a warning to the past. Due to the limitations the message would have to be in code.
In 1979 early research in to Quantum Entanglement using computers picks up the signal. It takes until 1985 to decode the message, revealed to be encoded on the principles of Pythagoreanism (introduce by the Sophosaurs).
The code reveals that an asteroid will wipe out all life in 2026 and provides a set of co-ordinates to an island in Greece. Searching this site reveals an ancient computer, a complex series of cogs and dials showing the movements of astrological bodies, including the asteroid. This will prove invaluable to start work on calculations.
In secret the US government escalate the space race and steps up research into nuclear weapons. This increases tensions with other countries until 1995 when a conference reveals the reason for their haste to the other countries.
This leads to a number of accidents as different countries race to perfect their anti-asteroid weaponry resulting in nuclear radiation (which suits the Ezeru) and increasing public outcry. A journalist uncovers the truth, and although killed by the Sophosaur, she manages to get the information out before her death.
This causes social upheaval as the public realise that their days may be numbered. Coinciding with the approach of the millenium there is a rise in doomsday cults.
By 2026 the Salvation space mission launches an unmanned rocket with several nuclear weapons, designed to strike strategic points.
Although touch and go the mission is successful and Earth is saved. Pleased the Sophosaur enact their true plan. Each nuclear weapon has a crystal attached that allows the Sophosaurs to move them back in time (at the cost of their lives). Now they know the plan works they’ll move them into the past to prevent the event that wiped out their race.
That is if the PCs don’t stop them.
WHERE THE PCS COME IN
TimeWatch detects some unusual readings throughout the late 20th century but as most of the projects were conducted in secret they can’t get a fix.
When the journalist breaks the story (which causes mass panic in that era) the PCs are sent to find out what is going on. They can either find out from the media or go to the source, saving the journalist from the sophosaur sent to kill her.
This will give them several avenues to investigate as the journalist only has a little info.
The Message In 1979: PCs can use technology to trace it back to 2024 and Dr Lein (although the alterations made to that timeline are catching up with that period, erasing it). They can either decode it themselves or jump ahead to 1985 when this has been done for them which gives them the location of the ancient computer.
The Ancient Computer: A more advanced design than the antikythera mechanism recovered in 1901 in the prime timeline. Not only does this confirm that an asteroid will strike but analysis reveals it was designed by Archimedes after he was supposed to die at the siege of Syracuse (giving them another trail to follow).
Archimedies and the Cult of Pythagoras: Heading back to the siege of Syracuse in 212 BC where Archimedes was using wondrous devices to hold back the Roman army (heat rays created with giant mirrors and mechanical claws used to overturn ships).
The cult of Pythagoras, working for the Sophosaur, will try to save him. If the PCs allow this they can shadow them and learn how Archimedes is inducted into the cult and introduced to the machine, which he perfects in order to save the future.
The Briefings: The journalist has the dates and locations of briefings conducted with the US government in the 1980s and with other countries in 1995 (but not what was said). PCs can infiltrate these missions to find out what was said and how the countries responded.
2026, Doomsday: According to their Tether there wasn’t an asteroid strike, at least in recorded history. Calculations show that if it does hit humanity would be wiped out.
This gives the PCs a dilemma. If they remove the interference caused by the Sophosaurs then time would be changed by the asteroid hitting Earth. If they allow it to take place not only have the Sophosaurs got a foothold in Earth history they could use the technology themselves (which is exactly what they’ll do once they know it works).
Thus the PCs have to find a way to undo changes to history while still ensuring that the asteroid doesn’t hit. They could provide a warning themselves or even give the required calculations to Dr Lein before the sophosaurs contact him (which could result in destabilisation for the PCs since they got the info from a timeline they are erasing).
If the PCs are up for a heroic space mission they could try to take the asteroid out of time. They could do this using TimeWatch resources (but the GM might want them to get cut off from the Citadel by this point) or use the Sophosaur crystal anchors to trick the dinosaurs into moving the asteroid into their past (this could be the very asteroid that wipes out the dinosaurs).
This could be an exciting climax with the PCs on the surface of the asteroid trying to save humanity while being attacked by Sophosaurs!
THE BEGINNING OF THE END
The PCs are called to the Citadel, which is a hive of activity. Multiple teams are being rushed into emergency briefings, so it is obvious something big is happening. If you plan to introduce other members of TimeWatch to help the group later this is a good moment to briefly introduce those individuals.
Once assembled it is explained to them that the time line has been experiencing a number of fluctuations, with global politics becoming more heated in the late 20th century a number of nuclear incidents. Attempts to identify the cause have been difficult, until now.
On October 16th a file is uploaded on to the internet. The data was assembled by a journalist for a major New York newspaper, Haley Rook, who was found murdered in her hotel room on October 14th, 2013. The contents of file indicate that there is a world spanning government conspiracy covering up a doomsday event in the 21st century.
There is enough supporting evidence to give rise to a number of doomsday cults who organise mass suicides and terrorist attacks. Social order begins to break down, causing further disruption to the timeline.
The PCs are ordered to obtain as much information as they can about file and investigate its claims. Other teams are in process of performing damage control but they need to find out what started this chain of events and stop it.
They are warned that disruptions to the timeline will mean that communication with the Citadel may not be possible for periods of time.
THE BIG QUESTION: Why Don’t They Know About The Asteroid?
If the world is going to end in 2026 why haven’t TimeWatch detected it? The reason is that currently humanity will be successful in destroying it, meaning that there are comparatively few fluctuations in that time periods compared to those in the late 20th/early 21st century.
Satisfied that the humans have come up with a successful solution to the problem the sophosaurs will now steal the missiles, leaving humanity to be wiped out. This will cause major changes but only once the PCs are in the middle of their investigation.
214 BC Siege of Syracuse begins
212 BC Siege of Syracuse, during which Archimedes is smuggled out
211 BC Star Machine built and hidden
1978 Sophosaur plant ideas in Professor Freeman’s mind
1979 Quantum computer built
5th of May, 1979 Tomorrow Contact received from alternative 2024
2nd of April, 1985 Tomorrow Contact decoded
1985 Expedition recovers Star Machine
12th of November, 1985 Star Machine brought back to US
1986 Members of the US government are briefed on situation
1987 War Games almost start WWIII
4th of July, 1988 US Submarine almost detected by Russia
June 6th, 1989 Ezeru slaughter FBI agents, allowing Rocky Flats plant to remain open
1989 Broken Arrow incident
1990 Professor Freeman dies of brain tumour
1995 Other countries are advised of situation in Geneva. Denver evacuated.
2007 Artemis space mission is launched by NASA
2012 Lt Malcolm Witton approaches Haley Rook
15th of March, 2012 Lt Witton’s car is sabotaged, dies in crash
October 12th, 2013 Haley Rook is murdered at Red King hotel
October 14th, 2013 Haley Rook’s datafile uploaded online
2014 Government confirm revelations
2015 Public is stunned
2017 Riots occur as panic spreads
2018 Government cuts public spending, Black Circles established
2019 Martial Law put in place and Black Circles commit terrorist acts
2023 Asteroid path is altered as it passes Europa
2024 Asteroid visible from Earth
2024, Alt Dr Lein sends message into the past
2026 The Salvation Project launches nuclear missiles
HUNTERS IN TIME
The PCs will face opposition during their investigation from the sophosaurs. Initially this group, calling themselves the Hidden Teachers, tolerate the TimeWatch agents preventing the nuclear incidents since they improve the chances of Project Salvation succeeding.
When the PCs start to take actions that sabotage their efforts that is when they will start to hunt the PCs down. Pay attention to when the PCs draw attention to themselves and leave evidence behind.
Sooner or later the sophosaurs will know where and when the TimeWatch agents were and despatch a hunter to eliminate them. They will typically wait until they are isolated from each other.
If a direct approach doesn’t work will employ their contacts in the government and members of the Golden Circle (later the Black Circle) to intimidate, apprehend or assassinate the PCs.
The following a selection of incidents that other TimeWatch agents are working hard to avert. Since they don’t connect directly to the investigation they should only serve as background details. PCs might hear about the near disasters and how they were mysteriously prevented, all the while knowing that their fellow agents were risking their lives to preserve history.
PCs might take a greater interest and can lend a hand if they wish. They might find that they were predestined to provide the solution that saved the day.
1987 The War Game
The US government enacts a scenario in which the US comes under heavy bombardment. Troops are moved to secure locations and high ranking officials are taken to bunkers, all while on Defcon 1.
This does not go unnoticed by Russia, who believe that the US is preparing to launch a nuclear strike. A TimeWatch team must ensure that they don’t attempt to strike first.
1988 Independence Day
On the 4th of July a US nuclear submarine is sent to the East Siberian sea to test the feasibility of using similar vessels as launch sites. A technical failure forces it to surface, where it spotted by a Russian ship. TimeWatch agents must make sure the Russian ship doesn’t communicate the submarines location to prevent an international incident that could escalate into conflict.
1989 Broken Spear
Project Salvation launch a prototype missile carrying a low yield nuclear payload into space, attempting to target a 300 meter Apollo asteroid as it passes only 430,000 miles from Earth.
A design flaw causes it to loose power in the upper atmosphere and begin to fall back to Earth, its trajectory taking it towards Moscow. TimeWatch agents have to act behind the scenes to make sure that the project can regain control of the missile and redirect it into the ocean, while persuading Russia that this is an unfortunate accident and not an attack.
THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE WORLD
Date: October 12th to 14th 2013
Haley Rook had been working the story for several months, talking to a variety of people involved in events. Due to warnings from others she kept the data on a remote server, designed to upload it if she didn’t enter a password every 2 days.
She was staying at the Red King hotel, a stop over in her travels, when the sophosaur hunter tracked her down. Disguising itself as hotel staff it persuaded her to open her door at 11pm. It quickly overpowered her and slit her throat, before leaving the way it had come.
The body was not found until the following morning at 8:45am by a maid. Police arrived and questioned people on the same floor. Some mentioned seeing a member of staff but each described a different person (the hunter was letting them fill in the blanks).
It is presumed that the TimeWatch agents will travel here first. At this point the nuclear incidents haven’t yet been erased by their fellow agents. As a result many places are irradiated and that radiation is spread by wind and water.
As a result the 2013 they travel to will already have minor differences. There is a greater concern with contamination. Food and drinks are all sealed and boost that they are protected. People wear small badges that change colour in the presence of radiation. There is a whole range of clothing that is lead lined and when zipped up can almost completely protect the wearer from short term exposure. These products are produced by Constant (their slogan is ‘We’re always there for you), owned by the sophosaurs.
Hotels, like the Red King, offer decontamination showers on one of the floors (usually near the gym if they have one). There is little privacy but that is a sacrifice people are willing to make in order to protect their health.
Once the other TimeWatch teams prevent the majority of these incidents these safety precautions diminish. They will still exist but the PCs will see less people wearing the badges and not all food and drink is sealed.
PCs can investigate the crime scene itself. Authority can allow them to impersonate law enforcement officers so that they can see it for themselves. Otherwise they will need to obtain a copy of the report.
Medical expertise can identify that death was caused by Haley’s throat being slit. A 1 point spend reveals this wasn’t done with a blade but a claw suggesting an animal but it is a neat, controlled cut (and the body doesn’t show any sign of being eaten).
Notice shows that the door wasn’t damaged in anyway and the only thing reported missing is her laptop (her jewellery and cash are still present). A 1 point spend allows them to notice that the position of the body suggests that she opened the door and was knocked back at great speed, her attacker pinning her to the ground to deliver the killing blow.
Architecture can allow them to discover the best route through the building, with a stairwell leading down to a rear exit from the hotel. Blood can be found in they alley on the ground, suggesting that the bloody claw was on the foot of the attacker.
Contacting the newspaper she worked for and using Bureaucracy reveals that only they knew her itinerary. A 1 point spend reveals that she had just been to see Maria Randolph and was on her way to talk to Tim Berkeley, a science fiction writer who was a student at MIT and writes doomsday scenarios.
If the PCs speak with Maria Randolph Falsehood detection can indicate that she is being evasive and is worried about their presence. What they won’t know at this point is this is because she is working for the government, informing on anyone who gets too close to the truth.
Notice indicates that she hovers near doorways. A 1 point spend indicates the presence of concealed cameras. Should they challenge her or use violence unmarked cars pull up and government agents will come to her rescue.
If they go to speak with Tim Berkeley he will try to claim that his work is just fiction, but a Falsehood detection indicates that this is a lie. Reassurance can persuade him to open up and reveal the truth behind his work. A 1 point spend persuades him to confide in the PCs that he believes he is being followed and watched by the government (he is).
PCs may decide to go back in time to save the journalist (a lesser paradox), to get the information directly from her and gain an ally. They might also decide that if they can stop the data from being released it will prevent the panic it causes.
This will put them in direct confrontation with the deadly sophosaur hunter. Even if they defeat him this will bring them to the attention of the rest of the sophosaurs.
Haley will be surprised by these turn of events (especially if she saw the true nature of the sophosaur or evidence of time travel) but will be grateful for the help. She can be persuaded to introduce them to her sources and delay publishing of her story (although repeated requests not to reveal what she knows will make her suspect they wish to silence her).
The significance of her death didn’t become clear until the release of file. Hacking or Science! can identify the arrangements that Haley put in place to ensure that it was triggered. The contents of the file are freely available on several websites.
In brief the story that Haley was putting together goes as follows;
A former soldier, Lt. Malcolm Witton, approached her in 2012, revealing he’d been present at a number of secret meetings between world leaders and diplomats where he’d learnt that the arms race was fuelled by the knowledge that an asteroid was going to hit the Earth in 10 years (he was out by only a few years).
This knowledge was gained through a MIT project in 1979 conducted by Professor Giles Freeman. This was further corroborated by ancient computer recovered in Greece in 1985. Lt. Witton said that this was shown to several sceptics to prove the world was in danger but didn’t understand what it did.
He asserted that the numerous nuclear incidents, including the evacuation of Denver in 1995, was a result of the world governments racing to create nuclear weapons powerful enough to destroy the asteroid.
Haley was dubious about the story until Lt. Witton died mysteriously in a car crash on the 15th of March, 2012 (his vehicle was sabotaged by sophosaur). She began digging and was able to contact a student of Professor Freeman (who died of natural causes in 1990), Maria Randolph.
Maria confirmed that there had been a project into quantum computing which was years ahead of current technology. They stumbled across the knowledge that an asteroid was heading to Earth, but didn’t elaborate. After speaking with Haley several times Maria refused any further contact and Haley believes that she had been intimidated into silence.
Records showed that MIT had financed a trip to Greece, with money provided by the government. Flight records also confirm that several important figures meet in Geneva in 1995.
The final piece of the puzzle was a mysterious envelope sent to her office that contained a top secret government document, consisting of a star chart showing the approach the asteroid. A noted astrologer was able to verify the details on the document. Haley never found out who sent the document (it could either have been sent by Lt. Witton prior to his death, through a similarly minded whistle blower or even the PCs).
Only Haley can provide all this information. The data file itself doesn’t name Lt Witton, describing him as a source within the military. It does indicate that the knowledge of about the asteroid was gained from a project begun at MIT in 1979 but doesn’t mention the Star Machine (Haley wanted to wait until she had seen it for herself).
Her notes claim the government have been covering events up and using it to justify their dangerous experiments that have contaminated the environment and led to the loss of Denver.
The data file contains a scanned copy of the star chart and the accompanying notice of verification.
This is the core clue that will allow the PCs to continue their investigation. Through whatever means the PCs must be aware of the threat and when it begins.
HOW THE WORLD REACTS
Date: 2014 – onwards
Once the file is uploaded it takes a few months for it to pick up steam. Most people continue their lives while only conspiracy theorists really running with the story. They actually do more harm than good, mixing the facts with their own pet theories and misinformation.
Gradually the facts in her story are verified and after months of denial the government eventually bows to pressure and admits that they are in the process of preventing an asteroid hitting the Earth in 2026.
During late 2015 and early 2016 there is plenty of coverage of this information, with many dramatic films and television shows speculating about what might happen. The public is initially stunned, hoping that they just don’t understand what has been revealed or that the government will resolve the situation.
By 2017 panic begins to spread. There is still no proof that the government will be able to stop the asteroid. This leads to civil unrest and wide spread riots. Fires breakout in major cities and the government is criticised for doing anything about it.
By 2018 the government has cut funding to most public services and cancel any long term construction projects. This is seen by many as the government admitting that humanity doesn’t have a future.
There is anger that NASA is still receiving funding for the Artemis space missions which first began 2007. While claiming to be for the purposes of studying how the moon interacts with the sun it is actually building a moon base. People are only just noticing that many historical artefacts are being removed from museums. These are secretly being sent to a secure vault on the moon.
All religions report sizeable increases in their membership. People are desperate to believe or put their affairs in order before the end. Many choose to face death on their own terms, either alone or by joining suicide cults like the Black Circles.
In 2019 martial law is declared and resource vital for the project are forcibly taken from citizens. Important sites are protected with a military presence to ward against looters. The pubic increasingly believe that the government is only concerned with themselves, leading to further attacks on government buildings and personnel.
For the next 5 years civilisation collapses. With the cities crumbling and vital infrastructure falling apart people have divided into small enclaves, venturing out to scavenge what they can. Conflicts between factions rage, almost as distraction to what is coming.
In 2024 the asteroid is visible in the night sky, a constant reminder of death. Depression becomes a major problem, survivors finding it difficult to find the motivation to get out of bed, let alone struggle for basic resources.
In contrast the Salvation Project works harder than it ever has before. The lull in fighting amongst the survivors allows them to gather the last few resources they need and carry out essential work.
By 2026 those who left desperately hold on to hope. After venting so much anger towards the government and the Salvation Project they now understand that their survival depends on their success.
WHAT THE PCS CAN DO:
This expanse of time illustrates the dire consequences of the public knowing the future. It goes without saying that this time line is drastically different to what should happen. The further forward in time the PCs go the more things fall apart.
In the early years the PCs might check online to see what the internet conspiracy boards are saying. They claim that the world is ruled by lizard men and that the world leaders have been discussing the approaching doomsday at the annual Golden Circle meetings on Jekyll island in Georgia.
The PCs might spend time during this time period to learn more about the Salvation Project before 2026. They may try to help the project by quelling the riots (using the Investigative abilities Authority or Reassurance or the General abilities of Scuffling and Shooting.) This can help increase the odds of success in 2026.
They could be here to discover more about the Hidden Teachers and the Black Circles. With everything falling apart these secret manipulators are more exposed than ever.
Just a year after the Polish mathematician Roman Stanislaw Ingarden published his paper ‘Quantum Information Theory’ Professor Giles Freeman can up with a revolutionary idea on how to build a computer to test Quantum Entanglement, after having a particularly vivid dream (actually implanted thoughts from the sophosaurs).
By 1979, with the help of 25 students, a sufficiently powerful computer was built to run the experiment, consisting of rows and rows of databanks. After two months of ironing out technical problems the experiment produced a result on 5th of May, 1979.
It had detected an encoded message in quantum particles, broadcast from the future. It was clear there was an intelligence imprinting coded messages in sequences of 4. This was referred to as the Tomorrow Contact.
Theories about the source of the message ranged from aliens, to intercepted Russian spy transmissions or something from themselves. Decoding the message to precedence as the government got involved, fearing a threat to nation security.
The best cryptographers in the country were recruited, although few knew the source of the message. On the 2nd of April, 1985 the code is cracked, when it is realised that Pythagorean principles were used.
The decoded message provides a provisional designation of an asteroid (2024HC), the letters ELE to indicate it was an extinction level event and the sky co-ordinates to indicate in which direction it was heading towards Earth. This part of the message ended with the estimated date of collision (February 18th, 2026). The second part of the message provided co-ordinates for a small island in Greece.
The discovery was shocking and further security measures were put in place to prevent panic. It wasn’t until the ancient computer was recovered from Greece later in the year that the message was verified.
What The PCs Can Do:
Checking their tether will reveal that in the original timeline that Quantum Computers weren’t built until years later. Professor Freeman was involved into research into Quantum Entanglement but it was only in his final years that he started to develop a computer. A 1point Research spend reveals that the Quantum computer is based on that design, just using more primitive parts, almost as if he had the idea for it years ahead of schedule.
The best time for the PCs to infiltrate MIT is prior to the Tomorrow Contact. Bureaucracy and Forgery can get them involved in the project as students. A 1 point spend allows them to pose as part of the faculty.
Once the message is received and security increases Spying can be used to perform surveillance and intercept data. Burglary and Unobtrusiveness checks should be required if they are on site.
The PCs might meet Professor Freeman, a distinguished scholar in his late 50s, never seen with out his pipe and a notepad in his shirt pocket. He is constantly making notes, both jotting down ideas and leaving reminders to himself (he has a terrible memory).
Mingling with the students they might meet Maria Randolph so will have to take care if they met her later in life to prevent a paradox. She and the other students are young, excited about the future and the opportunities at MIT.
Science! reveal that the Quantum Computer is about 20 years too advanced for the time period but works as intended. A 1 point spend reveals that the design are very similar to what Professor Freeman would have begun work on in the original timeline prior to his death in 1995.
Timecraft can be used to trace the signal to 2024. A 1 point spend reveals that it originates in a timeline which is rapidly diverging, due to the very broadcast of the message. Without this knowledge the PCs won’t be able to find the right version of Professor Lein.
Medical expertise on Professor Freeman (either before or after his death), reveals that he has a brain tumour, the result of frequent psychic implants from the sophosaur.
Stopping The Message:
PCs might decide that is the foreknowledge of the future that causes all the disruption and decide to sabotage the computer so they don’t receive the Tomorrow Contact.
Simple sabotage can be discovered and repaired so they must take extreme measures to destroy data and equipment so that it simply isn’t worth the cost of continuing the project.
This alteration has an immediate and terrible consequence. A Quantum computer capable of picking up the message isn’t built until 2009 and it isn’t decoded until 2011, far too late for any significant work to be done.
As a result the asteroid strikes in 2026, wiping out humanity. The timeline diverges too far for the Citadel to communicate with their agents or to be reached.
PCs will need to ensure that they repair the damage they’ve done, at least until they can find a better solution.
The information gathered by the Quantum Computer is sifted through the so called Dataland. This room has a projector upon which information from the hard drive is projected. A leather chair in front of the screen is fitted with a joystick which allows the user to ‘fly’ through the information. Alternatively they can use large monitor with a touch screen to go directly to various layers.
Harold Lein aka ‘Mr Post-It Note’
The young Lein is bright and something of a mathematical genius. He was very excited to get into Quantum Computers as the field fascinates him. He has flashes of insight but a terrible memory so constantly leaves messages to himself.
He’ll continue to work on Project Salvation at the cost of his own career. Research using a tether reveals that Doctor Lein would have been one of the foremost authorities on quantum computers. A 1 point spend indicates he was researching ways to broadcast signals via Quantum Computers allowing instant communication.
Leonard Putaski aka ‘Lucky Leo’
Compulsive gambler (poker and horse racing) who pays for his tuition with his winnings. Known for taking chances (which usually work out for him) and making bets with others.
In 1987 he got into serious debt and went Las Vegas with a ‘perfect’ system to count cards. He vanished and his body was later discovered in 1989. Apparently one of the casinos didn’t take kindly to his system.
Alan Eton aka ‘The Spaceman’
Hopes to one day join NASA and go into space. Big fan of Star Trek and goes for daily runs to keep fit. He never does become an astronaut but ends up working on the Salvation Project on the logistics of the mission and is in the mission control room during the launch.
Joan Reese aka ‘Joan of Arc’
A passionate feminist she hopes to change how women are treated. Runs the Women First activist group and attends numerous rallies. Upon graduating she marries young and becomes a house wife. By the 1990s she has two teenage daughters who are both strong feminists and Joan disapproves of their actions after they both get themselves arrest for taking part in protests.
Wesley Port aka ‘Wheels’
Passionate about machines and constantly working on his custom made bicycle. He rides everywhere and has been in trouble more than once for riding it inside the building. In 1992 he is involved in a car accident and is paralysed from the waist down. In 1995 he starts a business making wheel chairs for athletics, winning several awards.
Tim Berkeley aka ‘Book worm’
A studious and imaginative student with a strong friendship with Alan Eton. When not working on the project he is working on his novel. Upon graduating he becomes a science fiction author, his scientific knowledge giving his work an air of authenticity. The government begin monitoring him closely in the late 90s as his work increasingly makes reference to the Tomorrow Contact and the approaching disaster.
Maria Randolph aka ‘The Ghost’
Quiet to the point that sometimes people don’t realise she is in the room. This allows her to be privy to numerous private conversations and would secretly report indiscretions to senior staff. She remains a part of the Salvation Project, specifically letting the government know if anyone starts investigating their secrets.
Marilyn Murray aka ‘The Artist’
When not working on the project she enjoys painting, so much so her paint and hands always have flecks of paint. Those close to her often become the subjects of her paintings, which she finds are more personal than photos.
She is a big fan of ‘The Thomas Crown Affair’ and frequently sings the title song ‘The Windmills of Your Mind’. Its references to circles and time may have a deeper resonance for the time travellers.
Upon leaving university she works at a number of art galleries, developing software that can authenticate paintings. In 2002 she is arrested when a lover persuades her to use her software to carry out acts of forgery, replacing several valuable pieces of art.
Date: 1985, Greece
Following the co-ordinates provided in the Tomorrow Contact MIT assembled a team led by Professor of Archaeology (specialising in Greek artefacts) Calvin Weets, Professor of Engineering Tom Jessen and 10 students travelled to Greece.
The co-ordinates pointed to an island which was now submerged. Hiring a boat and a local diver they located a sealed subterranean chamber. In Professor Weets opinion this had once been a place of worship for pythagorieans but the machine within was a mystery.
It took a month to safely remove the machinery and reassemble it in a small workshop the expedition rented. It was extremely complicated model of the solar system, consisting of a number of rotating circles with nearly two hundred celestial bodies represented. Cogs and dials could control the movement, representing the position of stars and planets on any particular date.
If advanced to 2024 a previously hidden large asteroid is released from a hidden compartment and will move steadily towards Earth (its path leading away from Jupiter), coming into contact with the planet in 2026.
Both Weets and Jessen agree that it appears to have been created by Archimedes by both its design and the presence of the π symbol within a polygon (π is sometimes referred to as the Archimedies constant).
Further more it appears to be a development of the mathematical diagrams Archimedes was working on in 212 BC during the siege of the City of Syracus. This would suggest that he didn’t die there, as history thought, but escaped to complete his work and the machine.
It took some time but eventually the Star Machine was shipped back to America by November 12nd, 1985. Its existence was just more proof that the Earth was in danger and suggested that knowledge of this crisis stretched back to ancient times.
What The PCs Can Do:
Once again the PCs can use Bureaucracy and Forgery to become part of the expedition. As long as they have the co-ordinates they can also just search for the Star Machine alone (using Vehicles to take a boat out and Athletics for diving).
Archaeology and Ancient History confirm that the Star Machine was built by Archimedes and Science! And Tinkering can ascertain its function. A 1 point spend on any of these abilities means the character realises that much of this knowledge of the stars and planets wasn’t available during the 3rd century yet it isn’t a fake.
Eliminating the Machine:
Given that the machine is very convincing and clearly an historical anomaly the TimeWatch members may decide to destroy it or at least make sure that it isn’t found by the MIT expedition. Given its age and precarious position this isn’t too hard to achieve.
Removing the Star Machine will not have any immediate effect. Even without it the US is convinced enough to start work on the Salvation project. With less supporters and true believers funding is lower than before, requiring them to cut corners and causing a few more serious incidents.
By the 90s many involved begin to have second thoughts and the less than half of those who attend the conference in Geneva are convinced. The doomsday asteroid has yet to be detected and some believe that the message is a joke.
By the beginning of the 21st century the project has been all but shutdown. In 2024, when the asteroid is first detected there is a flurry of funding, documents are retrieved from the archives and members are pulled out of retirement.
With much of the groundwork done only a few calculations need to completed but there is little time to double check the results. This time there is only a partial success, with half of the asteroid still striking the Earth. Millions die and it will be hundreds of years before the world recovers but humanity will survive.
Jack Ques aka ‘The Fish’
Raised by the sea Jack has always been passionate about the ocean. A strong swimmer his interest lies in exploration rather than the study of sealife (although he can name most species of fish). Excited to be part of the expedition.
Once he graduates he joins a number of other expeditions before opening his own boat tour company in Maine. He is lost at sea during a storm in 2007.
Melissa Margarite aka ‘The Model’
Incredibly good looking she is known for being more concerned with her appearance than her above average intelligence. She treats the expedition more as a holiday and so resents the hard work she is asked to do.
She will later marry a succession of rich, older men until 2001 when she becomes a successful relationship counsellor. She writes several ‘self-help’ books and gains her own talk show in 2010 (which lasts until 2014).
Robin Niver aka ‘The Comedian’
Socially awkward Robin gets people to like him by telling jokes and hiding behind a comic persona. The more stressed he is the funnier he will try to be. Wears bright clothes and a proudly displayed ‘Smiley Face’ badge.
After he graduates he spends part of the 1980s in New York working comedy clubs. He eventually becomes a fact checker for a major television network, ensuring that their dramas and science fiction series are plausible.
Bethan Chap aka ‘Strawberry’
Gaining her name for her bright, red hair Bethan is pleasant and driven. She is afraid of the sea (after being mentally scarred by watching ‘Jaws’) but has pushed herself to go on the expedition any way. She hides her stress by doing nice things for other people.
Bethan remains a part of the Salvation Project, becoming an expert on the Star Machine and ensuring that it is properly maintained over the years.
Neleus Leva aka ‘The Greek’
Born in the US but visiting his extended family in Greece every summer Neleus was chosen for the expedition for his local knowledge. He is continually homesick for the US and knows the locals view him as just as much a foreigner as his fellow students.
Neleus becomes a travel writer before settling down to raise a family in 1996.
ARCHIMEDES AND THE CULT OF PYTHAGORAS
Date: 212 BC, Greece
Archimedes was already a member of the cult of Pythagoras but in the revised timeline they’d been infiltrated and repurposed by the sophosaur. They harnessed his great mind to create the Star Machine, as part of a plan to get humanity preparing for the asteroid thousands of years in advance.
During the siege of Syracuse Archimedes was assigned members of the cult as guards. They were able to get Archimedes to safety when Roman forces breached the walls.
Working in secret he was able to complete the Star Machine but the sophosaurs realised that humanity couldn’t plan as far into the future as they had. The predictions of doomsday so far into the future did little to interest others and there wasn’t anything they could do about if they were interested.
Instead it was taken to a small island and sealed away, where the sophosaur knew it could be retrieved later, making sure to have its location encoded into the Tomorrow Contact.
Archimedes eventually died while continuing to work in secret for the cult. The Cult of Pythagoras placed his body in a concealed tomb, which served as a sacred meeting spot for hundreds of years.
What The PCs Can Do:
The PCs could try to meet Archimedes at any point in his life but there are few reliable historical records to say where he will be prior to the siege. They could use his reputation to seek him out but this will mean spending quite some time in ancient Greece.
The siege is the most reliable place to find him, since he is confined to the city of Syracuse and it minimises the chances of disrupting history. The siege began in 214 BC and for two years Archimedes has helped to defend the city.
When the PCs arrive they can witness the use of large scale mirrors to focus the Sun’s rays into a deadly heat ray, causing the tar coated Roman ships to burst into flames.
In addition there is the claw of Archimedes, a crane with a grappling hook used to capsize approaching ships.
Both are impressive but if they have arrived in 212BC it is clear the Roman’s are about to take the city. Scuffling tests can be required if the PCs come face to face with Roman soldiers, or they can use athletics to outrun them as they search for Archimedes.
Archimedes can be found using by having a familiarity with the layout of the city using Architecture or History (Ancient) or by gathering information from locals using Charm or Intimidation.
There are three members of the Cult of Pythagoras, dressed in hooded cloaks and wielding swords. They stand guard as Archimedes hurriedly packs (while complaining). The guards plan to lead him to the edge of the city where other members of the cult are ready to spirit him away.
The guards will be hostile to the PCs unless they use Reassurance or Authority. Due to the chaos the PCs could convince them that they are members of the cult and could be allowed to escort Archimedes to safety.
A 1 point spend can convince the Cult members that there are new plans. As long as they still make some effort to get Archimedes to safety the cult will let the PCs call the shots.
If the PCs go with the Cult or spend time talking with Archimedes they can learn that this is the mathematikoi school of Pythagoreanism, concerned with science more than religion (as opposed to the akousmatikoi).
They have been given guidance by the Hidden Teachers. If the PCs help Archimedes to escape they will be brought before the Hidden Teachers, who turn out to be a group of 5 philosopher sophosaur.
These sophosaur are willing to talk to the TimeWatch agents. They explain that they are trying to save mankind from the fate that they suffered. If antagonised the sophosaur will try to make the TimeWatch agents feel guilty because they could try to save the sophosaur but choose not to and now are interfering with the sophosaur try to save them.
Falsehood Detection will reveal that they are telling the truth but a 1 point spend indicates that there is more to it. Timecraft indicates how carefully the sophosaurs have been to minimise their influence, working behind the scenes so that it is apparently humanity that is saving itself, where as they could have just approached humanity themselves in 2026. Science! indicates that these sophosaur don’t have a solution to the asteroid and need humanity to find an answer.
If the PCs are openly aggressive towards the sophosaur the cult will turn on them. The sophosaur will have them made prisoners if they continue to insist that they will try to foil their plans.
To put history back on track the TimeWatch agents could try to ensure that Archimedes does die during the siege. To do this they must overcome or otherwise remove his guards. They can then leave the dirty work to a Roman soldier or do the deed themselves.
Persuading Archimedes not to build the Star Machine is more difficult, since they are asking him not to save the world. They would have to give him a very good reason not to do this.
If they travel to earlier points in his life they can try to persuade him not to get involved with the cult (and thus keep him from their influence). There could be consequences of this, as if they turn him against something he feels passionate about it could affect how he expresses his genius.
One significant change caused by this is that original message doesn’t change (since it was sent from a divergent timeline unaffected by any subsequent alterations) meaning that the MIT expedition doesn’t find anything and so begins to sow doubt about the rest of the message.
As opposed to if the PCs just eliminate the machine now there will not be a chamber on the island to discover. There is absolutely no indication anything was there (because now there isn’t).
This causes a 5 year delay on the normal timeline, as work proceeds much more slowly during those early years. In this case the Salvation Project is incomplete on Doomsday. The nuclear missiles are launched but miss their target, dooming the planet.
Date: 1986, US & 1995 Geneva
With the message decoded others within the government were briefed on the situation. Professor Freeman spoke with President Regan and chiefs of staff at the Pentagon, explaining the seriousness of the situation.
Over the years various experts astrology and weapon design were similarly briefed and put to work come up with possible solutions. The richest members of society were also brought into the secret in order to persuade them to help fund the project.
Other nations didn’t take kindly to what the saw as an escalation of the arms race, especially as the US refused to agree to the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty in 1986 which would have limited the use of nuclear weapons. The US were increasing their nuclear arsenal and their test launches had push the world to the brink of a third world war (luckily diffused by the other TimeWatch agents).
In 1995 it was decided that the US couldn’t solve the problem on their own and it was likely that they’d trigger a conflict before the project could be completed. To address this an emergency meeting was arranged in Geneva.
Each country sent a representative who were briefed on the situation. The Star Machine was even shipped to Geneva to further convince those attending.
The representatives returned to their countries and the response was almost entirely positive. Only a few countries suspected that this might be a trick. The rest agreed to help and all agreed that the public must never know the truth.
Until 2013 the world mostly remained at peace. The public believed this was a golden era, not knowing the real reason that conflict had ceased.
What The PCs Can Do:
Attending meetings in the US is especially difficult due to the high security and secrecy involved. Spying and Hacking (either in the current era or years later) can provide information while Forgery can be used to provide credentials.
It is easier to attend the briefing in Geneva. While security is still high there are so many representatives from different countries and other staff (from translators to electricians, security and clean-up crew) it is easier for the PCs to go unnoticed.
Those at these meetings can learn valuable details about the experiment at MIT, the Tomorrow Contact and the discovery of the Star Machine. They will also learn that the Salvation project plans to destroy the asteroid using nuclear missiles.
Notice indicates that some of the attendees don’t seem to be surprised at the revelations. Indeed they have been briefed at one of the annual Golden Circle Meetings. Confronting these attendees can force them to confess where they heard this information.
Science! Confirms that the plan can work but the calculations take a long time, as do designing and building nuclear missiles with a payload sufficient to make sure that the asteroid doesn’t just break apart. A 1 point spend reveals that without the foreknowledge of the asteroid it wouldn’t be possible to successfully complete this plan in time.
History (Contemporary) allows a TimeWatch agent to be familiar with prominent figures at these meetings, with a 1 point spend giving them secrets about a subject that only come out after their death and could be used to coerce them.
Stopping The Meetings:
Disrupting these meetings is very difficult, since there are so many of them and arranged by the government. It would take a concentrated campaign of sabotage and acts of terrorism to slow the spread of information.
A strike at the Geneva conference could escalate tensions, as the other countries could believe that this was a trap planned by the US. By 1999 the cold war could go hot, further altering 21st century history and ensuring that the Salvation Project fails.
The need for nuclear armaments was greatly increased in the new timeline. One of the production sites to benefit was the Rocky Flats Plant, near Denver, Colorado. While production increased health and safety regulations remained low, seeping radiation into the nearby area.
In the original timeline the Rocky Flats Plant was shutdown by the FBI, who carried out a daring raid in 1989. This time when they raided the building they found that the lower levels of the plant were infested with Ezeru, who slaughtered the agents.
The plant contacted their contacts within the government who made sure that the FBI didn’t investigate any further, creating a cover story that the FBI agents had blundered into an area containing radioactive material and died not long after exposure.
The Rocky Flats Plant continued to operate until 1995, with the Ezeru expanding their hive. Their tunnels reached the water level, further contaminated by the Ezeru feasting on buried barrels full of radioactive material.
In the 90s the people of Denver became increasingly sick, with high rates of cancer. In 1995 this was proved to be linked to the illegally dumped radioactive material which had leaked into the sands which were blown into the city.
The government reluctantly shut the plant down and was forced to evacuate the city as it had become contaminated. This left the whole area to be claimed by the Ezeru. Those who enter the zone are captured and either devoured or impersonated.
Over the coming years the Ezeru capture those who venture into or near Denver, assuming their identities. They falsify documents and get their agents into position in other nuclear weapons facilities, similarly polluting the surrounding area so new hives can be established.
WHAT THE PLAYERS CAN DO:
History (contemporary) or using their tether will inform a PC that the Rocky Flats Plant was originally shutdown by the FBI in 1989 after discovering that the plant was polluting the local area. In the new time line that didn’t happen.
Bureaucracy or Hacking after 1989 reveals that the FBI was ordered not to investigate further into the plant, along with the cover story. A 1 point spend that vocal opponents to this order in the FBI were reassigned, fired or simply vanished. A 2 point spend gives them the details of Agent Dexter Brava, who survived the incident and is currently in a mental institution where he claims his fellow agents were killed by giant bugs.
Using the above abilities can also gain them access to the medical records of the dead 17 FBI agents and 10 EPA agents. Medical expertises reveals that while all suffered radiation sickness and burns the cause of death were bite marks. A 1 point spend indicates that the bites were likely caused by large mandibles.
Spying or Notice checks made around the Rocky Flats Plant around 1989 can allow them to spot the dumping of radioactive material in the desert or ambulances rushing contaminated employees from the facility. A 1 point spend allows them to spot the FBI agents carrying out their own surveillance.
Military Tactics and Notice alert the PCs that the Department of Energy agents are heavily armed and have orders to shoot-to-kill. They have surface-to-air armaments to prevent aerial attacks. Considering the amount of nuclear material on site this isn’t unreasonable.
Science! Can detect the amount of radioactive contamination in the local area. A 1 point spend allows them to pick up the subtle tremors caused by the Ezeru expanding their hives.
The PCs can join the raid, in the hopes of protecting the FBI and EPA agents. Authority and intimidation can allow them to blend in and force the DOE agents to reveal that the government has been increasing the demand for nuclear weapons and covering up their safety violations to increase productivity. A 1 point spend reveals that they avoid the lower levels of the plant due to monsters. Management tolerate their presence as they seem to consume the radioactive material they dump.
The PCs (and FBI) may indeed meet the manager, Dominic Sanchez, who is actually an Ezeru. He will try to delay the FBI until he can contact the government (who he is sure will call them off). If they push through he will use reverse psychology, insisting they don’t go to the lower levels which is highly radioactive and holds nothing of interest for them. He’ll then ensure those in the hive know to prepare an ambush.
Bureaucracy at the plant will show they are cutting corners and receiving bonuses from the government for reaching productive targets. A 1 point spend turns up that several employees have gone missing only to appear several days later, acting strangely and working long hours (these are also Ezeru).
Once inside (whether they use authority, burglary or unobtrusiveness) they will discover the Ezeru. They know that the FBI want to shutdown the plant and deny them the radiation they desire so will attempt to kill them.
There are nearly a hundred Ezeru in this colony, meaning that a small team of TimeWatch agents aren’t likely to be able to defeat them on their own. If they can protect the FBI and EPA agents and retreat to safety they can call in reinforcements. They might also be able to convince the DOE agents to disobey their superiors (especially if they can prove they weren’t human) in which case they can make use of their missiles to bring the building down on the insects.
PCs might think that the Ezeru are responsible for causing the changes to history since it has created a more suitable environment for them. If the TimeWatch agents bring this up with the Ezeru they are displeased that the Earth will be destroyed, just as they seem to have got a secure foothold.
They will despatch drones to investigate. After travelling to 2026 they confirm that this true. The Ezeru will offer to work with the TimeWatch agents to prevent the destruction of the Earth, as long as history to this point isn’t altered.
If the PCs travel to Denver after 1995 the truth about what happened is easier to see. The Ezeru are claiming the city, obtaining vehicles and taking over technology to better interact with the human world. Travellers are captured and impersonated so that the Ezeru can spread their influence. They are much more open about their presence, giving the PCs a greater chance of finding out they are there and possibly interacting with them.
ERADICATING THE EZERU
Removing the Ezeru in 1989 prevents further pollution, which means Denver doesn’t ned to be evacuated. While this removes the potential menace of the Ezeru it doesn’t change the impending disaster.
THE OTHER TIMEWATCH TEAM
If you feel that the PCs would be too overwhelmed to also deal with the Ezeru then one of the other TimeWatch teams can handle this. They could make contact with the PCs (possibly after contact with the Citadel is lost) and explain that they dealt with the Ezeru.
You can still run this section but at a quicker pace by having one of the TimeWatch teams do most of the footwork and bring the PCs in to help once they realise they are in over their heads.
GOLDEN CIRCLE MEETINGS
Date: 1986 onwards
The Golden Circles, a financial group run by the sophosaur have organised an annual meeting on Jekyll Island, Georgia. The Golden Circle estate is surrounded by woods, a security fence and constantly patrolled. It offers complete privacy.
World leaders, bankers and others who influence the modern world were able to meet, socialise and talk about whatever is on their minds. Conspiracy theorists believe that this is a cabal, where the events of the coming year are secretly arranged.
Part of the annual meeting is the Lesson. After eating and drinking they don cloaks and hoods, choosing an animal mask. They bow before a great lizard, made from wicker as it is set ablaze. Attendees are supposed to keep their eyes down but those who look up see Sophosaur emerge, using their psionic abilities to read the gathered minds and subtely influence them.
With the knowledge of the doomsday the Golden Circle organisers suggested to Ronald Regan and the financial backers of the Salvation project, to tell some of the other members.
This allowed them to sow the seeds that would eventually flourish in Geneva in 1995. It also allowed them brief each other on how the preparations were proceeding.
What The PCs Can Do:
The social setting makes it easier for the PCs to mingle and get information not only about the Salvation Project but also the involvement of the sophosaur. Getting past security should be easier with their ability to move in space or using stealth.
High Society can be used to blend in and get valuable information about what occurs at the Golden Circle meetings and basic information about the Salvation Project. A 1 point spent can alert them to the fact that they are planning to influence the Geneva meeting.
If the PCs are still there for the Lesson they can encounter the sophosaur, who could detect them as the scan the audience. If directly confronted the attendees will be snapped out of their daze, realising that there really are giant lizards there. The sophosaur will attempt to flee as their loyal Golden Circle security attempt to apprehend the PCs.
STOPPING THE GOLDEN CIRCLE MEETINGS
The PCs can do this through various means. If they are able to capture footage of those who are present and release it to the public then all hopes of secrecy will be lost. Attendees will not return, for fear of future exposure.
The PCs could also destroy the mansion. As an old building it is particularly vulnerable to arson, compounded by the woods that surround it. It will eventually be rebuilt but for years it will have the image of being vulnerable and no further meetings will be held here for at least 10 years.
Stopping these meetings before the Geneva conference can cause them to have less influence and thus fewer countries will side with the US. This makes the success of the Salvation Project more uncertain.
ARTEMIS AND THE MOON
To improve the chances of the nuclear missiles successfully striking the asteroid it was decided a secret moon base should be constructed. The base would use laser targeting to get accurate co-ordinates for the asteroid as it approached. This information would then be sent to mission control, allowing them to make last minute corrections to the calculations.
The moon base was secretly constructed under the name Artemis. They told the public it stood for Acceleration, Reconnection, Turbulence and Electrodynamics of the Moon’s Interaction with the Sun and would place a number of satellites in orbit around the moon.
It was true that satellites were being put in place but each launch included a number of astronauts kept off the official records. These astronauts remained on the moon, building the base and then setting up the communication relays needed to control the satellites and contact Earth.
By 2014 the Artemis moon station was nearly self sufficient, with its own providing oxygen and food. Regular supplies were still sent, including historical artefacts and records should their plans fail. It was hoped that at least something of humanity would remain.
They keep a small number of shuttles, which could conceivably be used to reach the asteroid as it reaches the moon.
If everything goes according to plan the orbiting satellites use laser to paint the surface of the asteroid. The data is sent and it gives the correct co-ordinates.
WHAT THE PCS CAN DO:
PCs can learn about the Artemis mission from 2007 onwards. Hacking government files or spying on NASA can give them this information or if they witness its use in 2026.
Only authorised personnel are supposed to know about the Artemis moon base or be there. PCs will certainly cause a stir if they appear on the moon base unannounced. Reassurance and Authority could convince the moon base personnel that they have clearance (after all, only those in the know should be there).
Science! can allow a PC to understand the true purpose of the Artemis satellites. A 1 point spend can allow them to link it to their tether, giving them the co-ordinates of the asteroid when the system is used (this can be useful to give people in the past).
Tinkering (Difficulty: 6) can alter the laser of the Artemis satellites so they become more powerful (but run out of power more quickly), allowing them to actually cut the asteroid. While this won’t destroy the asteroid it could alter its shape so that it changes course. A 2 points spend of Science! is needed to know where to cut.
These modifications take some time (months or a few weeks depending on the resources available) and access to the orbiting satellites. It is possible that the PCs could persuade NASA to go this route instead of using nuclear weapons. If they do abandon that plan the sophosaur plan will be foiled, as they won’t know if their plan was successful.
The PCs might want to make us of the shuttles to reach the surface of the asteroid if they want to destroy it themselves. The staff will object unless they can be convinced that their plan has a good chance of success.
CYBES ON THE MOON
If you want to add another faction there is a hidden bunker on the moon containing slumbering Cybes. They are awakened by the construction of the moon base. After monitoring their communications the Cyber infiltrate the base in 2025.
Mission Control loose contact and are only able to send another team of astronauts to investigate on January 10th, 2026. They find that the moon base crew have been completely converted. A garbled message to not come to the moon is sent before they too are changed into Cybes.
Before the PCs got involved the sophosaur dealt with this problem, ensuring that the cybes were eliminated. They then activated the Artemis system themselves, ensuring that it was targeted.
If the PCs are disrupting their efforts this time the sophosaur don’t go to the moon. Without the targeting system that only half of the missiles find their marks. The asteroid is still intact enough to kill thousands.
To prevent this they must either go back to 2025 to prevent the initial infiltration or join the astronauts investigating the loss of contact in 2026. In either case the Cybes use the fact they are almost completely immune to the harsh conditions of the moon to give them an advantage.
They can attack the exterior of the NASA shuttles and the moon base. If they gain control of the moon base systems they can switch of life support in select sections to drive people into ambushes.
The Cybes initial target and their eventual control centre is the medical bay of the moon base. They change this into a operating theatre where they can convert captured prisoners. Eliminating this section will prevent them from increasing they numbers.
After years of preparation the Salvation project launches 50 nuclear missiles from around the globe on February 18th, 2026 . It takes 8 hours for them to reach the asteroid, as it passes the moon.
Originally the missile were able to destroy the asteroid. If the PCs have altered history prior to this point this could now cause the mission to fail. This should be an incentive to go back and fix things.
If everything is in place and the PCs are present they experience a sense of deja vu, as if they’ve lived through these events before. This is because the sophosaur are in the process of changing this point in history (and thus affecting the TimeWatch agents personal history).
The sophosaur ensured that the missiles were constructed by the weapon companies they had spent decades establishing. Each missile was designed to contain a psionic crystal.
These vibrate with the same resonance and allow the sophosaur to mentally project objects through time. Just as they are supposed to strike the asteroid the sophosaur will send them back in time, to destroy the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs.
Mission Control can only watch in horror as the asteroid continues towards Earth. The public are informed via an emergency broadcast and large scale panic sets in. These are the final hours of the Earth unless the PCs can do something about it.
What The PCs Can Do:
First of all the PCs must find out what happened. This will require them to examine the missiles. This is difficult due to the high security involved in their construction.
Research and Spying can be used to learn more about the weapon companies making the missiles. Bureaucracy can be used to pose as government inspectors.
Failing that Athletics, Burglary and Unobtrusiveness can be used to infiltrate facilities. They should be ready to engage in scuffling or shooting if detected by security.
Once they are able to examine the missiles Science! reveals the presence of the crystals. A 1 point spend reveals that they use psionic energy to work and a 2 point spend reveals that they are used by the sophosaurs.
Tinkering can remove the crystal in a missile or prevent it from functioning but with 50 missiles this could take some time, giving their opponents time to stop them. Of course they could always risk crossing their own timeline to appear multiple times, completing their work simultaneously. They might also recruit the TimeWatch agents currently in the field dealing with the nuclear incidents in the past.
They could take knowledge of the crystals to the Salvation Project (maybe travelling into the past to warn them before the missiles are completed). This could persuade the project to take some time removing them from the missiles. This will depend on how convincing they are and whether they’ve formed any contacts within the project.
This can be enough to allow the project to succeed but the sophosaurs won’t react kindly to this. They will be in a difficult position as they can attack openly and restore the crystals because they wouldn’t then be able to arrange for them to be launched.
For some poetic justice the PCs could place the crystal on the approaching asteroid itself. When the sophosaurs attempt to send the missiles into the past it will be the asteroid that vanishes, possibly becoming the very thing that wipes out the dinosaurs.
Alternatively the PCs could place the nuclear payloads on the asteroid itself, removing the need for the missiles. This will be highly dangerous as the asteroid is not only unstable but in deep space (PCs should take spacesuits should the life support on their own uniforms fail).
In this scenario they will come under attack by the sophosaur, using their own psionic technology to protect themselves. Should they become distracted or disoriented their technology fails, instantly exposing them to the cold of space.
THE SOURCE OF THE SIGNAL
Date: Alternative 2024
Those who have a chance to study the Tomorrow Contact in 1979 can follow the source of the transmission to the diverging 2024. Getting there requires a Difficulty 5 check, increasing by +1 the more the time line is diverged due to the transmission and -1 when the PCs are able to reduce its influence.
This will take them to MIT, where Dr Lein uses a state of the art Quantum computer to send the transmission. If they encounter him after the transmission and explain they are time travellers he will hope that this due to the signal he has sent and hope that they are there to stop the asteroid.
Reassurance or Charm can be used to persuade him to tell them about his encounter with the sophosaur. While he was startled to encounter talking dinosaurs he was desperate and ready to try anything.
He will be heartbroken if informed that any changes to the past won’t affect his timeline. Indeed there will already be signs of temporal decay as entropy claims this reality. He will find some small measure in comfort that another world might have a chance due to his actions.
If the PCs travel back before the transmission was broadcast they have a chance to prevent the broadcast and thus prevent disruption to the time. They can use violence to achieve this but persuading Lein is more difficult. The only reason he’d have for not sending the message back in time is if the PCs have a way of destroying the asteroid (for example providing the calculations he needs).
Should the PCs prevent the signal from being sent then this will again become part of the prime timeline. The PCs must now hope that the plan to destroy the asteroid will work. The sophosaur will still be in the background, watching to see if it succeeds and then setting out to hijack the missiles.
THE SOURCE OF THE ASTEROID
Everything was set in motion by the approach of the asteroid but where did it come from? The PCs tether will certainly confirm that no such asteroid was detected in 2024 and the world didn’t end in 2026.
The sophosaur aren’t responsible, they just took advantage of its presence. The true culprits are the Europans. In the hope of destroying humanity before their first encounter they used gravity mines to divert the asteroid as it passed Europa.
A 1 point Science spend can allow a TimeWatch agent to track the path of the asteroid back to Europa, with a 2 point spend indicating that its path was changed. This will give them the approximate date when it occurred in 2023.
Doing anything about it is far more difficult, given that it is far out in space and in territory controlled by the Europans. With a lot of effort (for example obtaining a spaceship) and if they are willing to hold off hostile aliens the PCs could conceivably prevent the asteroid from being diverted or destroy it. If playing dirty they could send the asteroid into Europa, where it can cause some serious damage.
It is far easier to deal with the consequences of the Europans actions. If mankind is successfully able to destroy the asteroid it will dissuade the Europans from trying something like this again.
THE HIDDEN TEACHERS
Establishing themselves in ancient Greece the sophosaur introduced themselves to members of the Cult of Pythagoras as the Hidden Teachers, bestowing on them wisdom from the future.
The sophosaur intend this just as a way to influence Aristotle but found it was very efficient. It allowed them to keep to humanity while keeping in the shadows. Only the elite, those who had been proven to be loyal, would ever meet them thus preventing the chance that their presence would be made public.
Once established they could check on the cult every few decades, giving them direction and reshaping them for the coming ages. They did just enough to ensure that it continued to exist until the 20th century.
By then the cult was calling itself the Golden Circles. It was based around the idea of layers of circles. Initiates began on the outer ring, slowly advancing towards the centre. At this centre was the Illuminating Light. Only those on the inner circle learnt that the Illuminating Light was actually the Hidden Teachers. Each circle rotated and members orbited each other.
Progression was desirable as those on the outer ring would do favours for those on the inner layers. Hard work was one way to progress but the fastest was money. Thus the richest men in the country paid to join this most exclusive of secret organisations.
The result was that the sophosaur ended up controlling big companies, important figures in government and the media. All of which was geared to prepare humanity for the challenge ahead.
During the last half of the 20th century, they promoted education and advancements in computers. They used the media to create a tangible fear of tomorrow and an impulse to prepare for the worse. All to motivate the government to work hard in the face of a strict time limit.
By the 21st century the Golden Circles had secured several military contracts. They were perfectly positioned to make the missiles that the Salvation Project would use, so that they could plant the crystals.
The closest the conspiracy theorist got to their existence was a belief that the elite were disguised humanoid reptile men.
After 2013 there was increasing public unrest which was distracting the government. The Hidden Teachers decided take control of the situation. They began a number of suicide cults, called the Black Circles (using the slogan ‘the circle of life becomes the circle of death).
Initially this simply persuaded members to kill themselves, usually with the explanation that they were betting the inevitable rush of souls that would be heading to the afterlife when the asteroid struck.
By 2019 the Hidden Teachers felt that this was only reducing a small percentage of the out of control public. The Black Circle were reconfigured into a terrorist organisation, specialising in suicide attacks.
This allowed the Hidden Teachers to target specific communities or eliminate trouble makers. The public would direct their hatred towards the Black Circle (who wanted to die anyway) and not at the government so they’d be free to continue their work.
WHAT THE PCS CAN DO:
The TimeWatch agents can come across the activities of the Hidden Teachers and their cults across many centuries. Their existence should initially be kept in the background, with just the odd mention of circles. Song lyrics, graffiti, posters and other media all have subtle circle motifs.
The more the travel the more the PCs should notice the presence and influence of the Hidden Teachers. Research and Bureaucracy can expose their business holdings and identify prominent members. Notice can reveal the subliminal messages they implant in the media, with a 1 point identifying their purpose. Spying can uncover the secrets of their organisation.
During the 20th century the Golden Circles aren’t doing anything illegal but the PCs could still bring their activities to light. Having access to a journalist not working for a Golden Circle media outlet might be the best way to expose them (and if they save Haley Rook she can help get the news out during 2013).
This could harm the reputation of those working for Golden Circles enough to reduce their influence. In this case the Hidden Teachers will cut their losses and concentrate on maintaining control of the missile manufacturing.
After 2013 the PCs can expose the links to the Black Circles. Medical expertise and notice can identify that all the mass suicides make use of the same drugs. A 1 point spend identifies that these drugs come from the same pharmaceutical company, Periphery.
Investigating Periphery with Hacking or Bureaucracy reveals unaccounted for shipments to areas where the Black Circles are operating. A 1 point spend reveals a list of suspicious addresses where more drugs have been shipped. This can help stop further deaths. A 2 point spend reveals that Periphery is a shell company and exposes links to other Golden Circles owned businesses.
The authorities will be interested in this evidence, particularly after the Black Circles begin their suicide attacks. This will hamper the Hidden Teachers operations at a critical point. They’ll try and slow legal proceedings, as they approach Doomsday.
Ultimately the Hidden Teachers are so powerful and wide spread the PCs have no hope of defeating them completely. Their cults serve to provide an ongoing menace no matter what time period the PCs go and act as a buffer between TimeWatch and the sophosaurs.
A small group of scavengers, clutching what little food and other resources they can carry, flee from an armed and dangerous group of marauders through the ruins of a city. The marauders mean to get the supplies through any means necessary.
A malfunction at nuclear missile site, forcing an evacuation. In the chaos the Russian spy, responsible for the sabotage, attempts to escape from the security guards. Elsewhere in the base a TimeWatch team is attempting to avert the disaster.
In the city of Syracuse innocent people run from the Roman forces who have breached the walls. Greek soldiers attempt to hold them back but there are too many.
A British secret agent attempts to get a defecting Soviet scientist out of East Berlin via a tunnel. Soviet forces close in to prevent their escape.
OTHER TIMEWATCH AGENTS
The focus of the adventure is firmly on the PCs but when they become cut off from the Citadel they might want some backup and turn to their fellow agents who are in the field. This should be done only if they are running low on options and feel overwhelmed.
Each TimeWatch agent described below has a possible fate. All of these are dire situations which the PCs can help avert. This lets them earn the support they require and allow you to stretch the events of the adventure.
Remember as well that the PCs might unintentionally make the situation worse. Their fellow TimeWatch agents might track the source of further disruptions to history to them. Depending on their relationship they might want to talk to them or jump straight to the conclusion that they’ve gone rogue and attempt to shut them down.
A technical genius he built a ham radio transmitter at the age of 12 in 1970s Harlem, New York. By the age of 22 he was building his own time machine when he drew the attention of TimeWatch who recruited him.
Terry leapt at the chance as he’d faced persecution in his own time period as he was African-American. He enjoys the equality he shares with the other TimeWatch members and the chance to explore history with no one mentioning his background.
His knowledge of science and technical ingenuity has made him a valuable member.
Stranded in the past he creates a primitive transmitter, using parts of his chronotron to create a virtually endless power supply. This beacon transmits only to tethers giving his co-ordinates in time. He hopes that this will lead to his rescue.
A French pioneer film maker from the 19th century. Charming and creative he hoped to show people sights they had never seen. When one of his films captured the presence of anachronisms that drew the attention of TimeWatch he was recruited into the agency.
Now he uses his charisma to fast talk others and his film making skills to collect information and carry out surveillance. He records footage for himself, hoping to one day release an epic film that captures all of time, if TimeWatch let him.
Imprisoned for filming secret meetings regarding Project: Salvation. He hid the film and won’t reveal where it is. If the PCs access classified files they can learn of his location and attempt to free him. In exchange Philipe will provide them with the film.
A stuntman who doubled for major movie stars in the 1980s. Known for his fearlessness and his chameleon like ability to impersonate others (as long as he doesn’t talk). Prevented the assassination of an actor, who would eventually become a state governor, by a time traveller and thus came to be recruited by TimeWatch.
A man of action he often rushes into danger without planning ahead. His favourite tactic is to impersonate historical figures, acting as a decoy or to draw out the enemy.
Dies preventing a Black Circle terrorist attack. They had planted a bomb in a subway. Unable to defuse it in time Chance placed the bomb on a train and drove it away from a packed station. It exploded, destroying the train and causing the tunnel to collapse. His body is not recovered.
A librarian in the library of Alexandria, who prides himself on being knowledgeable about everything. He made a number of startlingly accurate predictions about the world and the universe, so much so TimeWatch believed that he must be a time traveller. When they established that he was just incredibly clever they made him an agent (if nothing else so that he wouldn’t accidentally accelerate the understanding of mankind).
A studious man in his 30s (old by his reckoning) Pentathlos accepts that there are others who are better in an individual field but no one has such an expanse of knowledge. He uses this to fill gaps in his teams area of specialities.
Hunted down by a sophosaur in 1950s Missouri. He is badly injured but his attacker is forced to flee when locals approach. They save Pentathlos’ life but his babbling of giant lizards and the end of the world make the authorities believe that he is mad. He is institutionalized and lobotomised, robbing him of his keen mind.
Spanish inventor from 1920 who pioneered a variety of ahead of their time machines (electronic computers, dirigibles, submarines). A enterprising time traveller attempted to promote his products more successfully that Gomez had in the original timeline but was stopped by TimeWatch.
Impressed by his abilities he was recruited. Mostly working in engineering he is occasionally sent into the field where his ability to improvise can be useful.
Stranded in the midst of collapsing civilisation of 2020 he uses his abilities to build devices to help a small community of survivors.
By day a washerwoman but at night Helen was a masked vigilante, fighting to protect women in 1910 New York. A skilled fighter, acrobat and driver there was nothing she wouldn’t do.
Unwittingly breaking up a cross time slavery ring Helen was recruited by TimeWatch. She was overjoyed to see that women’s rights improved in the future but continues to fight for other women in the past.
Goes down fighting Ezeru in Denver, giving her team mates time to escape.