Retrocausality is a rules-light tabletop game about time travel, in the vein of Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure or Back to the Future. It's designed for quick play, with a simple card-based system and loose travel rules.
The original Retrocausality was released in 2013. Retrocausality 1st Edition will be an upgraded version, with professional layout and commissioned interior art. Backers get immediate access to the original version!
"At one point we had four different copies of temporal baker Paul Hollywood running around bickering with each other, until a cybernetically enhanced Gene Simmons from 2050 travelled even farther back and erased the fiasco from existence entirely. Nothing is permanent, all mistakes can be fixed, which is why its such an excellent starter RPG."
— Tom Hatfield (@WordMercenary), I Played Retrocausality Tomorrow
In Retrocausality, you play time travelers. You can tell stories about adventurous scientists, lucky kids, time cops, aliens, or whatever else you can imagine, having adventures through time and space and hopefully correcting all the damage they accidentally do to the timeline along the way.
The action is fast and simple, making it ideal for starter games, pickup games, and conventions. The core mechanic is the Timeline: a series of index cards prepared by the Game Master, representing important events the players are mucking around with.
Changes you make alter the Timeline, causing new index cards to be added or replacing previous cards. If you undo something later, simply put the index cards back where they were.
Actions are resolved with playing cards. When you do something with time travel, you draw a card and check the suit. The suit you're aiming for depends on what you're trying to do:
- ♠ (Spades) when you're dealing with the effects of time travel, like reverting someone's edits or hiding from the Time Cops.
- ♥ (Hearts) when you're interacting with other people, like convincing your parents to hook up or scaring a caveman.
- ♣ (Clubs) when you're doing something physical, like running from a dinosaur or stuffing a dictator in the trunk of your Cadillac.
- ♦ (Diamonds) when you're focused on knowledge, like manipulating the stock market or posting a letter to your past self.
If the card you drew matches the suit, it's a success. If you at least got the same colour (e.g. your target was Hearts and you got Diamonds), you succeed with a cost—and your time meddling has some unexpected effects. If you got the wrong colour you fail, and you really screw up the Timeline...
However, each character also has a Time Skill—a use of time travel they're better at, like setting up stunts with your past and future selves or interacting with historically important people without changing anything. If what you're doing is covered by your Time Skill, any card of the right colour is a success and one of the others becomes a success at a cost (e.g. if you need Hearts, any "red" card is a success and Spades is success at a cost).
The actual rules of time travel are up to your group, so you can tailor them to suit your game. Retrocausality can be as simple or complex as you like—you can even attach it to another system, and run time travel adventures in an existing campaign!
Retrocausality started out as a winning entry in a design contest on the Something Awful forums. I released an expanded version in 2013, with public domain art and a simple layout in Scribus. I've been meaning to give it a more professional look, and it's finally time.
Through this campaign, we aim to unlock Retrocausality's full potential with a professional layout and commissioned art. The book is already written, but will receive some editing for simpler text and clearer terminology.
Backers will also receive the last edition to look at, so you can start playing now if you want—the new edition will be edited, but the game will remain the same!
I'm Paul "Ettin" Matijevic. You probably know me from Breakfast Cult, smaller projects like Fractured Skies or Inverse World Accelerated, or my work as a moderator in tabletop communities. I wrote Retrocausality.
Layout is being handled by Chris "Ettin" Lee (Breakfast Cult, 100 Deluxe Dungeons). Chris is technically me from the future, but from an alternate future where I had a different stepdad, so it doesn't really count. That's like the Diet Pepsi of time clones.
With a professional layout, we can also make a print option. Retrocausality will be printed through DriveThruRPG's print-on-demand service as an 8.5" x 11" book, in soft- or hardcover.
Backing gets you a discount code for an at-cost copy from DriveThruRPG when it's released. This means you pay for printing and shipping later, but backers still save overall compared to someone who purchases it later. See the FAQ for details.
I'd like to keep this simple, so we're running light on stretch goals. Here's what we've got:
$2,000: AN APOLOGY
When the original version of Retrocausality launched, I wrote an ad blurb that claimed it had won an Origins Award for Best RPG in the year 2317. It was reported for false advertising.
This is true. As any time traveler knows, it was this version of Retrocausality that will have won an award. At this pledge level, I will record a heartfelt video apology.
$2,500: RETROCAUSALITY FATE
I will paste Retrocausality and the Fate Core rules into a badly formatted PDF and try to pass it off as a legit game.
$3,000: ACTUALLY, NAH
I will go back in time and stop the previous stretch goal from funding.
Risks and challenges
Here are the risks I'm anticipating:
• I'm handling publishing and other backend matters myself, which means that if something happens to me there will be delays. I would go back and save myself, but that usually just causes more problems.
• Art completion. I expect to be done this year, but it would be irresponsible to guarantee that the work can be done on schedule. Asking artists to use time travel to get the work done is just rude.
• Proofs. We'll have to get DriveThruRPG to run print proofs before going live with the print version, and it takes time to print and ship those. If there are problems, we'll have to delay print fulfillment while we fix them.
• Someone goes back in time and stops this Kickstarter from happening. This is technically the lowest risk, since a KS can't be delayed if it never existed.
Besides that, it's always possible that unforeseen circumstances cause problems for us.
I have experience in delivering Kickstarters and working on tabletop games, and I have taken all reasonable precautions to make sure Retrocausality is delivered on time. Also, since the book is already written, it's possible for work to continue if I am unable to.
Whatever happens, we will do our best to get this done, and we will keep you updated every step of the way.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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