In A Nutshell
A religious time travel group have manipulated history to develop a holy empire in Africa. The group have issued a warning to TimeWatch not to interfere and caused half of all TimeWatch agents to vanish in a manner which the Citadel can’t explain.
The PCs investigation leads them to the peculiar case of King Umberto I of Italy and his doppelganger.
Reporting back to the Citadel they discover that Demands have been received from the Holy Age and their prisoner must be released. Some how the early 20th century has been utterly changed, with the creation of a Holy Empire.
The key change appears to be that King Umberto I wasn’t killed due to a case of Mistaken Identity. The anarchist who was supposed to kill him had instead killed a restaurant owner who looked exactly like King Umberto I and was also called Umberto.
An investigation into the this double finds a Life Lived In Parallel. Both Umbertos were born on the same day in the same town, married women with the same first name on the same day and the restaurant was opened on the same day King Umberto was crowned.
Looking into his birth reveals the creation of Time Twins. Where once there had been one baby there were suddenly two. In order to avoid complications the new baby was placed with a foster family, raised in secret.
The source of this phenomenon is the placement of a Lynchpin on the USS Princeton preventing the total restoration of the original timeline. It is this device which the Holy Age are using to hold TimeWatch to ransom.
PCs must Doubleback to remove the threat of the Holy Age and rescue their time lost comrades.
February 28th 1844 Disaster on USS Princeton
March 14th 1844 Birth of Uberto
July 28th 1900 Assassination of Ubertwo
July 29th 1900 Assassination of King Uberto
1 Jan, 2011 Release of prisoners to the Holy Empire
The adventure begins with the PCs already working to fix time. There is a minor alteration to history on February 28th, 1844. President John Tyler, along with his cabinet, where on a demonstration cruise down the Potomac when one of the ships’ guns exploded, killing the President and 6 others. There are minor alterations to history as a consequence but nothing of great importance.
The disaster is a matter of historical record, although President John Tyler is supposed to be below deck when explosion happens, persuaded to stay for drinks by a dignitary. The TimeWatch agents are assigned to find out what happens and make sure President Tyler survives.
The Princeton is a screw steam warship and state-of-the-art for its time. On February 28th, 1844 there are 400 guests, in addition the President, former first lady Dolley Madison, Senator Thomas Hart Benton and the ship crew.
PCs can either board the ship in Alexandria, Virginia before it sets sail or autochron on to the vessel (although with so many onboard there are few unobserved places for them to appear).
Captain Stockton is very excited to show off the ships peacemaker cannon. It is fired several times for the crowd to demonstrate its power and range before everyone retires below deck for lunch.
High Society or Charm can be used to mix with the dignitaries and identify that they are all unfamiliar with a priest Father Damocles who is onboard.
A 1 point spend reveals that Father Damocles has been seen speaking with Secretary of State Abel Upshur, Secretary of the Navy Thomas Gilmer, David Gardiner, Virgil Maxcy, Captain Beverly Kennon and the presidents slave Armistead saying God forgives their sins.
All 6 are destined to die on the ship and it sounds suspiciously like Father Damocles was giving them their last rites. This would indicate that he is potentially the time traveller they seek.
As the PCs approach Father Damocles Notice indicates that he had poured powder into a dignitaries drink without anyone seeing. This induces nausea in the dignitary which is easily mistaken for seasickness.
This is the same dignitary who was supposed to persuaded the President to stay below deck. In a few minutes Captain Stockton encourages everyone to return above deck to watch the Peacemaker being fired again.
History can be put back on track relatively easily. One of the PCs can use their interpersonal abilities to delay the President in place of the dignitary, or otherwise keep him below deck just long enough for President Tyler to avoid being caught in the explosion. They could also use medical skills to cure the dignitary or prevent him from drinking the poisoned drink.
It should be remembered that even if they do save the life of the President within moments 6 people die and 20 are injured from shrapnel as the cannon blows apart (due to the metal fracturing through frequent use). It is a terrible and shocking disaster. PCs should ensure if they are on deck when this happens they don’t get caught in the blast themselves.
With history restored they need only apprehend Father Damocles. While he makes token attempts at avoiding them he doesn’t travel in time and so they should soon be able to apprehend him.
Father Damocles is unrepentant saying they will soon see he was doing Gods will. He’ll refuse to elaborate further, leaving the PCs to wonder what Holy Age hoped to achieve through this minor alteration which was easily undone.
THE HOLY AGE
This maybe the first time the PCs have encountered a member of the Holy Age but their Tether will. They are an extreme faction of the Catholic Church who had been gathering information on time travellers and recovering anachronistic technology. This is largely due to how many time travellers tended to visit religious events through history.
At some point the Catholic church was able to reconstruct a working time machine. Calling themselves the Holy Age they at first set about protecting important religious events and recovering holy relics lost to time.
Members increasingly become displeased with this role. On many occasions they discovered that important moments from their holy texts were either wrong or simply didn’t happen. What they saw of the future also revealed an increasingly godless world.
They decided that history needed a helping hand to get back on the correct path. Gods divine plan would manifest through them. There have taken extreme measures to ensure the survival of the church and engineered ‘miracles’ that will increase the publics faith.
The Holy Age only take recruits from the church. They are most active around 500 BC to the 15th century both becoming involved in religious events and helping shape the development of the Catholic church.
Their ultimate goal is the creation of the perfect timeline, creating heaven on Earth. They have a tendency to characterise the TimeWatch as demons, who want humanity to suffer.
Returning to the Citadel with their prisoner the PCs are given grave news by their mission commander. While they were gone the Holy Age achieved a major victory. In the early 1900s Italy gave control of several of their colonies in Somalia to the Catholic church, creating numerous holy cities that expanded throughout West Africa during the 20th Century.
Before a team could be assembled to undo this alteration they lost contact with nearly half of the TimeWatch agents already in the field during that time period onwards. Subsequent teams despatched to that era have also vanished.
They have received a message from the Holy Age to release their members and not attempt to erase their Holy Empire or there will be serious consequences. Citadel scientists confirm that there are chronal storms active from the 20th century onwards, indicating history is under immense strain.
Since the PCs were able to navigate back to the Citadel safely they’ve been elected to transfer the prisoners, including Father Damocles to the Holy Empire on January 1st 2011 as requested by the Holy Age.
The PCs are expected to discover how the Holy Empire came about, prevent it and rescue the missing TimeWatch agents. Discretion is advised as the Holy Age will doubtlessly attempt to stop them.
The Holy Empire is situated in the city of Asmara in Eritrea, a country in the horn of Africa. It is an impressive city, resembling Vatican city but on a much bigger scale. This is an important seat of power, with numerous churches and shrines. The streets are choked with tourists and pilgrims.
Its power extends into the neighbouring countries of Ethiopia, Sudan and Djibouti. Not only do they control peoples faith but the region is rich in resources that make the Catholic church very wealthy and have great influence in world affairs.
The Holy Age have members in the upper echelons of the Catholic church, as bishops. The secret of the Holy Empires’ creation is known only to a select few with the majority of the church (as with the rest of the world) not knowing another history ever existed.
The PCs are sent with 10 prisoners, all captured Holy Age members. The co-ordinates take them to the Great Church, at the centre of the city. They are met by priests briefed on the time travel conspiracy, who ensure that the prisoners are safe.
They are led by Bishop Snow, who expects the PCs to take a message back to TimeWatch. They will be allowed to continue protecting history from external threats but they are to leave the Holy Empire alone. There is no reason that the two time travel organisations can’t operate side by side.
If asked about the missing TimeWatch agents Bishop Snow only says that they are lost and are, as they always have been, on the wrong path to Salvation. Snow is confident that the disturbances in time will pass once history has adjusted to their guiding hand and things will only get worse should TimeWatch try to interfere.
The PCs are then invited to explore Asmara and think about where they put their faith.
This is a chance for PCs to start investigating how the Holy Empire came to be and its impact on the world. Luckily for them there is plenty of freely available information for tourists to learn about the city. This can take the form of guided tours or guide books not to mention online resources.
The point of deviation appears to be that King Umberto I of Italy was not assassinated on 29th of July 1900. He didn’t die until 11th of November 1910. He’d always been a supporter of the Holy See and only increased his loyalty to the church.
Italy was renowned for making tactical and political decisions that always benefited the country. King Umberto I attributed this to the advise given to him by the Catholic church which came directly from God.
In return for their advice King Umberto I gave the church control of Italy’s colonies in Africa. Following the 1st World War the church gained increasingly influence persuading countries that they should be united in one faith.
As other empires crumbled they gave their own colonies to the the Holy Empire in exchange for financial support and guidance in the wake of the world conflict. This spared the world the Second World War but there were many more ‘crusades’ as the church fought against forces in the East that resisted the spread of their religion.
By the 21st century the Holy Empire is close to becoming a world religion. Most world leaders are Catholic creating a greater sense of unity. While the Holy Empire has provided charity to thousands in many places religious extremism has repressed freedom of expression and liberalism.
This is by no means a terrible reality but it is very different from what should exist. It should disturb the PCs just how much of a success the Holy Age have achieved and indicate how fragile the nature of time is.
This occurs in the Italian city of Monza on July 29th 1900. The king is there to award medals to athletes. Arriving by carriage the king takes to a podium, giving out the medals and congratulating them in front of the gathered crowd.
In the original history, after climbing back into the carriage, the anarchist Gaetano Bresci is supposed to burst out of the crowd and shoot the king 3 times.
If the PCs are present this doesn’t happen. If they are close to the open carriage they do hear an interesting conversation between the king and his aide-de-camp General Emilio Ponzio-Vaglia about the remarkable encounter they had with a restaurant owner in the city, also called Umberto.
The king can’t get over their physical similarity and the similarities in their life. He requests that his double be summoned to the royal castle so that he can make him a Cavaliere of the Crown of Italy.
General Ponzio-Vaglia explains that unfortunately he was shot dead the night before. The king expresses his sorrow and says he feels as if he has lost a brother. He plans to attend the funeral and orders that arrangements be made.
This exchange should put the PCs on the track of the second Umberto. It isn’t hard to find out from locals where the restaurant is. Anyone asked will confirm the likeness between the restaurant owner and the king.
If they go back one day they can be present around the restaurant when the owner (here forth called Umbertwo) is killed. During the night the anarchist Gaetano Bresci enters, having arrived in the city planning to kill the king the next day.
Gaetano Bresci hates the king for allowing General Fiorenzo Bava-Beccaris to fire a cannon into demonstrators on 7th of May 1898. 100s died yet the king congratulated the General for his actions.
The anarchist can hardly believe his eyes to see the very man he came to kill taking orders in the restaurant. He decides that this must be some strange game the king is playing, pretending to be a commoner.
After the last customer has left Gaetano shoots the innocent Umbertwo and flees the city. He is captured two days later (July 30th) and arrested for murder.
PCs can attempt to correct history at this point in two ways. They could try to kill King Umberto themselves but this will draw the attention of Holy Age agents trying to stop them.
Alternatively they could prevent Gaetano from killing the restaurant owner so the original assassination plan can take place. This will be harder for the Holy Age to prevent since they know the anarchist historically did carry out the assassination and they themselves are unaware of why this was changed.
Gaetano could be persuaded if the PCs convince them they are also anarchists or they could find a way to make it clear that Umbertwo is not the king. An extreme measure might be to kill Umbertwo themselves (he was killed historically).
Once King Umberto I is assassinated the Holy Empire is wiped from history. This will lead to repercussions as the Holy Age act the Lynchpin, creating chaos as doubles appear throughout history.
To truly resolve the situation the PCs need to find out how Umbertwo came to be. To this end they need to research his past.
LIFE LIVED IN PARALLEL
Like the king Umbertwo was born on March 14th 1844 in the town of Turin.
He married a women called Margherita the same day (21th April 1868) the king married his cousin Margherita.
Both served in the army at the same time in 1866 and 1870.
They both had a son who they had named Vittorio.
Umbertwo opened his restaurant in Monza the same day Umberto was crowned king of Italy.
PCs can be present when the King meets his doppelganger, the encounter he was reminiscing about on July 29th. The two are very perplexed about the similarities, as are most of those in the restaurant at the time.
TimeCraft reveals that Umberto and Umbertwo have the same time signature, effectively they are the same person. A 1 point spend indicates that such parallels are common in divergent timelines, where despite the changes in events and circumstances people often subconsciously take the same actions as their counterparts.
This theory can be further confirmed by speaking with Umbertwo. He will occasionally makes reference to events that didn’t happen in our timeline. History (Contemporary) can be used to test were these points diverge. This lies in the events of the USS Princeton.
Umbertwo knows that President Tyler died when a cannon exploded and was replaced by President Willie Person Mangum. He heard about this when he was young and during the war he was reluctant to be around cannons and doesn’t like the idea to be on a ship.
This would indicate that Umbertwo originates from the divergent universe created when the Holy Age altered events on the USS Princeton. The problem is that PCs can travel up and down Umbertwo’s timeline and he exists in our universe since he was born. If he is from a parallel reality there is no point at which he can be inserted, except at the start.
The PCs can investigate when King Umberto was born. The Royal Palace of Turin is obviously well guarded but time travellers will have little problem getting in with their autochron. The trouble is that they need to get close to his mother Archduchess Adelaide.
When she is giving birth the room is filled with doctors and midwives. There are guards on the door keeping everyone else out during this delicate time. The only way for the PCs to be present is for them to either hide or impersonate doctors or nurses.
Only one baby is born but as it inspected everyone present feels a moment of nausea and experiences double vision. It passes in a second but there are suddenly two identical babies.
If the PCs don’t intervene it is decided not to tell the current king as not only is the appearance of second child unnatural it could complicate the rules of succession. With the Archduchess passed out due to fatigue the medical staff and courtiers decide to put the new child with a foster family in Turin.
This child will never fully integrate into the prime universe, since his place has already been taken. This is why he retains memories of the alternative timeline which now never happened. He is the bridge between the two universes, a physical manifestation of the trouble the Lynchpin has caused.
The PCs can take the baby themselves, either using persuasion or force. This eliminates Umbertwo from history, again erasing the Holy Empire, but now they need to look after an infant until the situation is resolved.
As long as they were present during the appearance of the child their autochrons will register the source of the phenomena, originating in Alexandria, Virginia. This will lead them to the Lynchpin.
The cause of all their problems lies in the Lynchpin. Developed by the Holy Age it records and preserves the timeline that it passes through. When it detects the use of an autochron it reverse its chronon field. In effect it is like trying to push two magnets of opposite polarity together. They actively repulse each other, preventing the two timelines from merging completely.
Father Damocles planted the Lynchpin (the size of a small, tin box) inside a crate in the USS Princeton’s cargo hold. The Holy Age knew that TimeWatch would restore history allowing them hold time to ransom.
The plan was only to blackmail TimeWatch with the resulting stress the two timelines were put under. It was unexpected bonus when the TimeWatch agents went missing, trapped in the divergent universe and prevented from returning while the Lynchpin was active.
They had no way to know that a duplicate of a historical figure might slip into the main timeline. There may very well be other duplicates created who never meet or at least never impact on history.
The Holy Age took advantage of the extended life of King Umberto without realising how it had happened. Only with the PCs interfering have they made the connection and put efforts in place to ensure that nothing changes.
If the PCs travel to the USS Princeton from Turin without moving in time (or at least arriving after the events of February 28th, 1844) they find it is in the docks under repair.
There is an enquiry into the disaster and the cannons are being inspected to ensure that such an event can’t happen again. This means there are many people coming and going on the ship, allowing the PCs to get on without too much trouble.
Searching the hull or using TimeCraft can allow them to locate the Lynchpin. At this point the damage is already done. They must ensure that the device is deactivated before the Peacemaker cannon is fired.
PCs may encounter Holy Age agents here, who may have moved the Lynchpin. Realising what the PCs plan the Holy Age agents will travel back to February 28th.
To finally defeat the Holy Age the PCs must once again be on the USS Princeton on February 28th. This is thwart with the potential instability should they interfere with the actions of their previous selves they will also have to deal with Holy Age agents protecting the hidden Lynchpin.
The Holy Age agents inform the sailors about the presence of the PCs and that they pose a danger to the President. Not only will the PCs have to make sure that they are not apprehend but they must ensure that the sailors don’t interfere with their younger selves before they can foil Father Damocles’ plan.
As long as history doesn’t diverge the Lynchpin can be deactivated or destroyed. This allows the lost TimeWatch agents to return to the Citadel, with tales of being trapped. The PCs younger selves will return to the Citadel unaware anything has happened and merging with the current PCs.
This is a major setback for the Holy Age. The agents sent by the Holy Empire are erased from history as the events that created them are wiped away.
If the PCs bring the lynchpin (or what is left of it) back to the Citadel it can be reverse engineered. This will allow TimeWatch to nullify its effects in the future further weakening the Holy Age.
Depending on the PCs actions Umbertwo might still exist in the main timeline, as a curious story of an unlikely coincidence.