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  • Devil's Tower Time Traveling (Spoilers)

    Hi all.

    The questions I have are about an important part in the official Deadlands timeline and also affect HoE in a way; however I'm using the Weird West forum as that's the system I play in.

    The thing is, I don't really get my head around the whole "Young Stone" - "Old Pete" deal and how their time traveling affected the official timeline. I don't know if there are holes or inconsistencies in the official story, or if I missed something important. The resources I used are the Devil's Tower trilogy of adventures (classic), Hell on Earth Core (classic), Hell on Earth - Wasted West (classic) and Stone and a Hard Place (reloaded).

    First, let me recap the chain of events as I understand them.

    Jasper Stone is born around 1830,
    becomes the first Harrowed of the new Reckoning in 1863, starts killing heroes and lawmen,
    is incarcerated on the Rock 1876-1899,
    then continues killing heroes, however more subtly.

    The Reckoners lose their war with the human race. By 2094, all Servitors but Stone have been annihilated, imprisoned, or reformed.

    To change history, Stone is sent back to 1876, where he uses the name "Old Pete" (so will I from now on to distinguish him from "Young Stone").

    Old Pete breaks Young Stone from prison (using a posse of heroes), retrieves the Heart of Darkness from Grimme, then heads off to Devil's Tower to perform a ritual that will create a huge patch of Deadlands and help the Reckoners win.

    On his heels is Jackie Wells, who followed him from the future and tries to stop him. She (assisted by a posse of heroes) succeeds in taking the HoD from Old Pete again and safely carrying it to 2094, so that the devatstating ritual cannot be performed in 1876.

    And now, my problems with this.

    1. How did Jackie Wells and her friends from the resistance know about Old Pete being sent back by the Reckoners, and how did they figure out how to follow him?

    2. To the posse in 1876, Jackie describes her world as being shot to hell by Ghost Rock Bombs (the HoE scenario). How can that be if she followed Old Pete from a 2094 where the Reckoners had lost and were about to die?

    3. According to Jackie, Old Pete's motivation for creating the Deadlands at Devil's Tower is to prevent her resistance group to set up camp there in 2094.
    Wait a second, I thought his motivation was turning a lost war around (which, by the way, would be a lot more convincing)? But Jackie could not possibly know that, because in her timeline, her side lost the war. So did she just make up that explanation because she didn't know any better?
    What version of 2094 does Old Pete actually come from?

    4. In the "official" turnout of events, Old Pete's plan is foiled and the Deadlands at DT is not created. Then how will the HoE scenario ever come to pass, instead of the "original" timeline in which the Reckoners lose?


    Any help with this puzzle would be greatly appreciated!
    Last edited by Annihilus; 12-17-2017, 05:07 PM.

  • #2
    This is a theory mind you, from reading all the old HoE material and the new. There is a bit in the original HoE setting about no one can remember when the Mason-Dixon line of fortifications was made, its real fuzzy. There is a timeline conflict caused by the time travel paradoxes.

    my 2 cents.

    Mad Dog

    Comment


    • #3
      This is how I see it happening:

      Old Pete knows something desperate needs to happen. Convinces them to send him back in time. He frees Young Stone and they go do their things. Posse stops Old Pete but history has changed. Later, Jackie and company learn about the history of Devil's Tower and set up their base of operations. When all Hell breaks loose they send Jackie back to see if there is a way to prevent this from happening. She gets back there and knows that the Posse may need a bit of help stopping Old Pete and paints them a picture of how her history developed. Unfortunately, she is too far back in time to really change the way the conflict between the North and South proceeds and, eventually, all Hell breaks loose anyhow.

      In short, Old Pete did exactly what he wanted and prevented the Reckoners from loosing. However, they were sill sent off Earth and Jackie's crew was willing to accept that outcome and sent her back to help make sure that happened.
      I have way too much time but do not always edit myself properly. Please do not take offense.

      Comment


      • #4
        Thanks for the input!

        But if I read you correctly, Erolat, then your take is that Old Pete and Jackie Wells travel back to 1876 from different versions of 2094, meaning that the fact that they both had this idea was coincidence.
        Isn't that a huge stretch?
        I mean, using a Hunting Grounds portal as a time traveling device is not exactly the obvious thing to do, and very difficult to pull off. Plus, they did it more or less at the same time despite their lines of history being completely different...
        Last edited by Annihilus; 12-18-2017, 11:02 AM.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Annihilus View Post
          But if I read you correctly, Erolat, then your take is that Old Pete and Jackie Wells travel back to 1876 from different versions of 2094, meaning that the fact that they both had this idea was coincidence.
          Isn't that a huge stretch?
          Multiple parties are aware that Old Pete changed the time line. Heck, a player character in HOE with rank 5 Academia: Occult knows the timeline was changed automatically (see the HOE sidebar about what information is known at each level of the skill). Sure, knowing specifics would require a lot of work, but that's what quests are for, and Devil's Tower assumes NPCs completed that quest.
          It's not a coincidence, it's using existing knowledge to fight against your foes. If the foes used time travel to create a mess then you can also use time travel to try and fix it - or at least mitigate the harm they do.
          Last edited by ValhallaGH; 12-18-2017, 03:05 PM.
          I hope you find the above post useful. And not insulting, because I was trying to be helpful, not insulting; being a pedantic jerk, that isn't always clear.

          Comment


          • Brickulos
            Brickulos commented
            Editing a comment
            Like Terminator!

        • #6
          When dealing with time travel you can pretty much do whatever, and justify whatever, you want. As soon as something is done it was always done - if two parties travel back in time to compete in the Who Can Screw The Timeline The Most competition, then they have always done that.

          Like what you have read in someone's post? Hit that like button and let everyone know.

          I run Deadlands Reloaded. One of my players writes an incharacter blog here --> http://ballgownsandbattleskirts.blog...deadlands.html

          Comment


          • ValhallaGH
            ValhallaGH commented
            Editing a comment
            Not necessarily. Depends upon how that model of timelines changes to reflect actions. Back to the Future sure didn't work the way you described.

          • Annihilus
            Annihilus commented
            Editing a comment
            Agreed with ValhallaGH here: Not necessarily. For instance, even after Young Stone was freed from the Rock, Old Pete remembers the 23 years he spent there. Apparently, changing the timeline does not change individual memories.

          • lunchmoney
            lunchmoney commented
            Editing a comment
            Not wanting to go off topic.... but I'm going to anyway

            Back To The Future is one of my all time favourite films. But it's not the best example of how to deal with time travel.

            During the film they use a photo of Marty and his brother & sister to show the effects he is having in the past by slowly fading the people in the photo, and then fading Marty himself, until finally George kisses Loraine and the world is back on track (albeit a different one due to George hitting Biff).
            Unfortunately this fading wouldn't happen (even the not realistic thing about time travel). The moment Marty interferes with his mother (oh, er missus ) and father meeting (by being hit by the car rather George being hit by the car) he should pop out of existence as he stops his parents meeting. Then we get paradox - how could he interfere if he didn't exist!??!

            However to create a better film they use the slowing fading from existence trope.
            Which is then not used in BTTF2 (alt timeline; the moment Old Biff gives Young Biff the Almanac the future the Doc & Marty are in should fade (to use their trope) from existence, in fact Old Biff should not even be able to go back to the 2015 where Doc & Marty are waiting; it shouldn't exist anymore) and is used again in Part 3 (fading tombstone photo). Paradox again; if the tombstone was never carved with Doc's name, Marty wouldn't go and "rescue" him, meaning Doc will get shot and the stone will get carved, meaning Marty will go back and rescue him, meaning the stone wont get carved, meaning Marty has no reason to go back, meaning Doc will get shot..... Paradox



            Back on topic.... Having thought about it, do whatever you want with time travel. You don't even have to be consistent within your own game world
            Last edited by lunchmoney; 12-20-2017, 07:50 AM.

        • #7
          It was my understanding that

          1. The Reckoners somehow cheated when they sent back Stone in time.

          2. Hell on Earth and Deadlands are not past and future, but two different timelines linked to one another. It also means that while travel is possible between the two, when one day passes in Deadlands, one day passes in Hell on Earth. You can't go further back in time, and any modifications made in Deadlands will not affect Hell on Earth. It will instead have a future of its own.

          Comment


          • ValhallaGH
            ValhallaGH commented
            Editing a comment
            1. True.
            2. Mostly true. The day-here, day-there thing is true; the inability to go further back (or further forward) is true. It's unclear what effect past changes will have on Hell on Earth's timeline, but that may be a factor in why historical records are often contradictory.

        • #8
          Originally posted by ValhallaGH View Post
          Multiple parties are aware that Old Pete changed the time line. Heck, a player character in HOE with rank 5 Academia: Occult knows the timeline was changed automatically (see the HOE sidebar about what information is known at each level of the skill). Sure, knowing specifics would require a lot of work, but that's what quests are for, and Devil's Tower assumes NPCs completed that quest.
          It's not a coincidence, it's using existing knowledge to fight against your foes. If the foes used time travel to create a mess then you can also use time travel to try and fix it - or at least mitigate the harm they do.
          So you assume that Jackie Wells knew that Old Pete had modified the timeline in 1876 and went back there herself to prevent just that.
          But when the heroes tell her that Young Stone and Old Pete are actually the same person, she is surprised, which kinda contradicts that.
          Or could it be she did not know that Young Stone was "alive" in 1876?

          Comment


          • Erolat
            Erolat commented
            Editing a comment
            It may be a matter of she went back to ensure that is what happened. After all if the posse fails in Stone and a Hard Place the entire Earth is destined to become a deadland and Hell on Earth is preferable.

        • #9
          Originally posted by Annihilus View Post
          So you assume that Jackie Wells knew that Old Pete had modified the timeline in 1876 and went back there herself to prevent just that.
          But when the heroes tell her that Young Stone and Old Pete are actually the same person, she is surprised, which kinda contradicts that.
          Or could it be she did not know that Young Stone was "alive" in 1876?
          Just because she knows who changed the timeline doesn't mean she knows how he changed it. Breaking himself out of prison is a bit of an oddity.
          Honestly, locating and navigating the Path of Stone is a major accomplishment that establishes Jackie's bonafides (and justifies her being fatally injured if you don't want her to actually be along for the adventure).

          She knows the general shape of the timeline (Reckoning, bad guys moving in secret, heroes dying, global wars, and Judgement Day) and the identity of the guy that made it happen (Stone), and how he cheated (time travel along the Path of Stone), but not the specifics of his methods. That's fine with me.

          It's possible I'm overlooking something in the text, as I haven't reread Fortress o' Fear in some time and I don't have the time or inclination currently, but I think it all lines up (unless you're trying to tear it apart - but real history has some funny spots that don't look right if you're actively trying to make them look bad).
          I hope you find the above post useful. And not insulting, because I was trying to be helpful, not insulting; being a pedantic jerk, that isn't always clear.

          Comment


          • #10
            First of all, thanks again all for the input.

            Originally posted by ValhallaGH View Post
            It's possible I'm overlooking something in the text, as I haven't reread Fortress o' Fear in some time and I don't have the time or inclination currently, but I think it all lines up (unless you're trying to tear it apart - but real history has some funny spots that don't look right if you're actively trying to make them look bad).
            Look, I'm not trying to make anything look bad.
            I realize that time traveling stories are a bit hard to write in a logically consistent way; maybe it's not even possible. The problem with the writing of this story is, IMO, that it is told in bits and pieces, scattered over several books and told from different and subjective points of views - sometimes quite sloppily, I might add *. That's perfectly fine if you tell a confusing story for the players to figure out. But for the marshals' - and their own writers' - benefit, I think they should have clearly written down somewhere what actually happened and why and what each and everyone knows about it. That way the story wouldn't constantly stumble over its own feet.

            Originally posted by ValhallaGH View Post
            Just because she knows who changed the timeline doesn't mean she knows how he changed it. Breaking himself out of prison is a bit of an oddity.
            (...)
            She knows the general shape of the timeline (Reckoning, bad guys moving in secret, heroes dying, global wars, and Judgement Day) and the identity of the guy that made it happen (Stone), and how he cheated (time travel along the Path of Stone), but not the specifics of his methods. That's fine with me.
            Fair enough.

            Originally posted by ValhallaGH View Post
            Honestly, locating and navigating the Path of Stone is a major accomplishment that establishes Jackie's bonafides (and justifies her being fatally injured if you don't want her to actually be along for the adventure).
            Personally, I'd really like to know how she came by this knowledge. But then again, that's the whole problem with Jackie Wells, is it not? I don't want to turn this into a Jackie-bashing, but since you touched on the matter, I think she's not only the worst character in a Deadlands adventure, she's a hot candidate for The Worst character ever devised in any RPG (that's right, capital T, capital W). She has conveniently tailored knowledge of things she cannot know and can't explain how she knows them, she has a magical pistol that can - for unfathomable reasons - hurt Stone even when ghosted, she constantly talks down to the posse and essentially reduces all PCs to be her sidekicks, and to add insult to injury, she's not even the least bit interesting, since she has no backstory at all and hardly any character trait apart from being arrogant. Which is a huge shame because it spoils the otherwise excellent Devil's Tower trilogy. I guess I'll be forced to give her a substantial rewrite, including her identity.
            Sorry for getting sidetracked, but couldn't help myself. What a horrible "character".


            * Case in point: HoE pp. 178, 179. That is the Marshal's section, mind you, still Young Stone is not mentioned even once. It reads like Old Pete, just called Stone, is the only Stone around.
            Last edited by Annihilus; 12-20-2017, 06:21 AM.

            Comment


            • dentris
              dentris commented
              Editing a comment
              Please note that my knowledge of this campaign is from a player's point of view, and it's been a long time ago. so I might be missing some important details from the Marshall's section. I'm entering conspiracy territory, so this explanation might raise even more question than it answer, however.

              What if Old Pete was the one that gave Jackie her info in Hell on Earth? He needed someone with knowledge of the future to convince the posse to free himself and steal the Heart of Darkness. Maybe, in a Xanathos Gambit, he also predicted the fact he might lose and fail to activate the stone in Deadlands and instead waited for Jackie to return to Hell on Earth with it, kill her and grab it.

          • #11
            Jackie Well did not come to the weird west to change history. She come to get the heart of darkness and bring it back to the hell on earth. Why? It's still a complete mystery. Personally, if I had a posse that will go to the wasted west at the end of Fortress o'fear, I would see Jackie Well was working (possibly unknowingly) for Hellstromme who need the heart o'darkness to trap the Reckoners. Or maybe she work for junkers working for Hellstromme who need to bring back Hellstromme from Banshee to earth? Who know...

            I's only Old Stone that changed the history line by coming back in time... but he had done it with the help of the Reckoners. How he change the timeline? Simply by coming back. Everything Old Stone do, from killing heroes to create new deadlands could eventually bring Hell on earth. Like grampa Simpsons said: ''When you come back in time, the smallest of change could have big impact on the rest of thing...''

            Comment


            • Annihilus
              Annihilus commented
              Editing a comment
              Interesting angle, maybe even a good approach to a rewrite... but not at all what the books say.
              Also, even if it really had not been Jackie's plan to change the timeline; moving the HoD from 1876 to 2094 certainly would have that effect, intentionally or not.
              See your own Grandpa Simpson quote.

          • #12
            In fiction, there is two ways to avoid the paradox problem in time traveling. The first way is the ''what is done is done''. When you come back in time, you don't change history, you are the history. You don't change things, you make them the way they are (like in ''Lost''). That's the rule for Jackie Well and everybody else except Old Stone must follow. The other way is the creation of ''parallel universe'''. When you come back in time, you create an alternate timeline parallel to the first timeline. That's what Old Stone have done and he have done it probably the day when he first come back in the weird west. And even if he travel again on the ''path of Stone'', he would not create another dimension and just follow the ''what is done is done'' rule. After all, the ''path of Stone'' link the wasted west and the weird west not the happy 2096 west to the weird west.

            Comment


            • #13
              For all who took an interest, I found another chunk of useful information.

              Turns out that my "Fortress o' Fear" box set, which I got second-hand, wasn't complete. Besides the adventure book, there ought to be another small booklet which the main book refers to as "A Primer on the Future". I looked for it online and wasn't able to find it anywhere. That is because it is not actually called "A Primer on the Future", but "The Journal of Jackie Wells". Great. Just great.
              Anyway, I managed to finally get it and in there, of all places, I found some more details on the time traveling business.
              Why this info was never given in the main adventure book and/or later source books beats me.

              Anyway, here it is:
              The missing link between the two timelines is Coot Jenkins. He led a gang of Harrowed into the Hunting Grounds to fight the manitous (this would later be also mentioned in "Stone And A Hard Place", but that had obviously not been published back then). The plan went south and Coot spent two centuries wandering the Hunting Grounds. During that time he found the Path of Stone and the shaman Jordrava who told him that Stone used it to travel back in time and change history (this is also briefly mentioned in HoE). What no other publication ever mentioned (to my knowledge) is this: When Coot finally stumbled out of the Hunting Grounds, it was through the Devil's Tower gate, in Jackie Wells' 2094 (!). So he was able to tell her what he learned, that the Old Pete from the other timeline had travelled back in time, so Jackie did the same to prevent Pete from changing history, and voilá, events of "Fortress of Fear". This explains how Jackie knows that there was an alternative timeline in which the Reckoners did not win, as was the case in her own world.
              What remains thin is the explanation how she managed to do the time traveling. Apparently the junkers in her time tapped the energy of the portal and used the depleted HoD (which they found still lying on top of DT) to power a laser beacon, which led her the way to the same portal in 1876. Well. Let's just say... a wizard did it.
              It also remains unclear why Jackie is surprised to learn that there are now two Stones in 1876. This should have been obvious, given Coots info. I chalk it down as a plain and simple writing error.

              Comment


              • Annihilus
                Annihilus commented
                Editing a comment
                Ha.
                But this explanation won't fly for a very simple reason: The booklet that tells Coot's story is, as mentioned, "The Journal of Jackie Wells". It's written from Jackie's POV, and anything mentioned in it cannot be unknown to her in the main adventure book.

              • ValhallaGH
                ValhallaGH commented
                Editing a comment
                Not unknown. I said "MISUNDERSTOOD".
                Just like you did right now, she took in the words but gathered an entirely different meaning.

              • Annihilus
                Annihilus commented
                Editing a comment
                Sorry for the very late reply. Calling it a misunderstanding doesn't change much, IMO. It just means that she ended with two different interpretations of what Coot actually said, one's in the Journal and the other is in the adventure book. She clearly could not make up her mind. Or rather, her author couldn't.

            • #14
              Interesting. According to the journal of Jackie Well, If the heros succeed fortress o'fear, they broke the golden rule of the time traveling portal; no paradoxe. According to the other books published later where the portal appear (mostly Unity and lost colony companion) the force of good in the hunting ground simply keep the time traveling portal so the humanity can defeat the rechkoners by going from the wasted west (and from Banshee after the crash of the Unity, where the engine also become linked to the devil's tower) to the weird west where the reckoner's weakness are hidden. The time trzveling should not change the past and there is NO PARADOXE. Of course Jackie's journal is from her point of view and may be not 100% accurate.

              Comment


              • #15
                After second tought, maybe the best way to see the time traveling pattern to avoid inconsistency and stay true to the official material without rewriting is to consider that Jackie created a third timeline when she came back in time. Here the explanation:

                First time, the heros win, the Reckoners die (sometime near 2094) and happily ever after... but they send Old Stone back in time to 1876. There, Old Stone liberate Young Stone from rock island prison, created a Deadlands in Devil's Tower for some reason, then both Stone kill lots of heros. THAT's result in the Hell on earth timeline where the world is destroyed by Ghost rock bombs and Jackie and friend find a time traveling portal, Coot Jenkin and an unpowered heart o' darkness to bring back Jackie in 1876.... reset for a third timeline! This is the timeline of the weird west as we know it where Jackie could bring back the earth o'darkness in hell on earth and give a chance to humanity to kill the Reckoners. The timeline where the flood, the last sons, Stone and a hard Place and Good intentions take place. A timeline where the heros have a chance to win (again) but where the Reckoners could win.... sooner and worst. Hey, maybe it's a 2 of 3.

                Comment


                • Annihilus
                  Annihilus commented
                  Editing a comment
                  This is the only logical explanation I see as well. However, some sources contradict it. While "Fortress of Fear" cleaims that Stone travelled back from the HoE timeline, other publications state that he travelled back from a timeline where the Reckoners had lost the war (which makes a lot more sense). I'd call it a retcon if not one of those other publications actually were the "Journal of Jackie Wells" which was published at the same time as "Fortress of Fear". The writers cleary didn't have their story straight. And it seems to me that they don't have until this very day. And as far as the official timeline is concerned, whatever the players do or don't do in "Fortress of Fear", if they can prevent Strone's ritual or not - it doesn't matter, the outcome will ALWAYS be the HoE timeline.
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