Posted by Nathan P. on June 9, 2005
The reason that I’m so into this concept is that I see Timestream as a game that very much only works well when the group, consciously or unconsciously, is bricoling. The traditional “what do you do now” process that many RPG’s fall into isn’t going to work. I tried it, I know. That’s because, with time travel and other fun-ness literally constantly available to the characters, they have all the power to break out of GM-defined plots or just jump out of any defined situation if they’re not digging it. So how do you create conflict and tension? My advice, which I’m trying to write up in a non-theory way for the book, is basically to bricole. The GM should just pull anything they want out of the air that fits the situation, and worry about how it all coheres later.
Example: the chars are sitting around, bored. Boom. A satellite falls through the roof, and it has a TV screen on it, and on the screen is the sister of one of the characters (and, hopefully, the mom or wife or teacher or something of the others), bound and gagged. Uh – on top of a volcano. With some guy wearing an iron suit pointing a gun at her. That sounds cool. Now, the players have no idea who this guy is, or why he has the one guys sister, and neither does the GM. Now, during play, one of the players remembers that his characters former lover hated his sister, or something. Sweet. The GM pounces on that, decides that the dude in the suit is actually the jilted lover, who was abducted for a secret government experiment and went insane in the process. Later, this is dicovered, and the player goes “wait, I thought that she was way younger”. And the GM decides that this is the older version of the woman, from the future!
And so on.
So I’m not sure how great that example is, but my point is that in a gamespace where continuity is inherentely fucked, the only way to reliably pull everything together is to play off all the plot threads that have been established already and reincorporate them into the narrative. And thats why I think that Timestream is a game based on Bricolage.