Timeloop Adventures

Greetings folks,

I am your resident FKRiend. I recently finished playing Deathloop the other day and I’m brimming with inspiration. I decided to resurrect the old collab project called Rabenstadt. I also made a blog post about it. Basically, I want to smash together groundhog day tropes with Bram Stoker’s Dracula and the King in Yellow.

So some ideas I have been having is to have it be a sort of “rouge lite” sort of game, taking some inspiration from A Rasp of Sand, except it is even more abstract. As a character, you accumulate Essence over time, which you can use to “fuse” objects and ItO-style Arcanas into your “being”. So every time you start a new loop, you retain some items and powers. To add to that, I was thinking of also having these ‘bonfire’ style objects you can spend Essence to place out. Once in place, you can automatically travel to that place and point in time when a new loop starts - conveniently saving you uninteresting busywork.

Some basic features are how changes happen over time. A blizzard picks up throughout the day. The castle staff are busy in the morning with preparing the Winter Ball. The riot in the Upper Districts escalates through the day. Some rogues can be overheard plotting a heist, and in the evening you can perhaps encounter them trying to break into a house. Similarly, maybe some areas are only accessible early on, like a house fire, a ship leaving the docks, or maybe the university hallways become risky to traverse in the afternoon.

Some appendix n:

  • The Outer Wilds
  • Deathloop
  • “A Crack in the Slab” in Dishonored 2
  • Movies like Groundhog Day, Edge of Tomorrow, Looper, Source Code

For all you others out there, have you tried doing a game that’s based on a “timeloop” ? Did you learn something weird?


Tanget Zero published an interesting time loop game: Rewind
Never tried, but seems quite interesting


Thanks @zeruhur I will have to check that out! @yochaigal mentioned Thursday in the discord too.

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I like this idea! Especially the roguelite element of fusing the Arcana to yourself to keep abilities between “runs.” It feels like it might be a fun subplot where players find those anomalies and look for ways to fuse them. It will also allow you to make some lock & key puzzles, where some Arcana let you access difficult areas much easier. Keep us in the loop :wink: on how your game goes. Would love to read some writeups of how it goes.

Also: “how do you, fellow FKRiend?”

I haven’t run a full game about time loops, but I did run few sessions in the past with a time loop mechanic. My explanation for the loop was that it took in a type of dream/memory world, where only X last hours of someone’s life were “playing on repeat” and players had discover few bits of info: who is responsible for the explosion that killed the “dreamer” and destroyed a chunk of a city, where did a rare tome end up and where did a strange necklace found on the body of the “dreamer” came from. I had a small write-up of things happening (in the style of a classic Warhammer adventure “Rough Night at Three Feathers”, but smaller) and it worked quite well. However, my players found out all three things by the middle of a second session. Definitely underestimated how quickly they will “solve” it.

Which wasn’t bad at all, because they really enjoyed the timeloop thing and started messing with it, pushing it boundaries. Because of the idea of dream world, I decided that strange stuff happens on the edges of what is “saved” by the dreamer. The NPCs at the edges of the dream were almost like video games NPC, that only had like one line of dialogue or were just repeating a task/animation. Then I added some creepy nonsense that some would say to keep things interesting, which led to the players wanting to push even more against the dreamworld and they eventually “broke through” the dream barrier and explored the beyond.

We had a blast, probably spent another 2 or 3 sessions in the beyond on that run, and it ended up being a part of our setting. Eventually I turned this experience into a little module.

So, I guess my advice on running time loops is - don’t be afraid to let the players “break” them.

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I have wanted to do, and have sort of skirted around doing, a Time Loop RPG or scenario for a long time, but have yet to figure out how to do it right.

I am mainly interested in the subtext that is present in many Time Loop stories, and also just playing around with time from a speculative fiction perspective, and in either regard, I have done those things to varying degrees.

For instance, at one point I had my players investigating an apartment building that was part of an augmented reality, and every time they used the hyperloop in the building (in lieu of an elevator…) they were basically entering a subtly different level of simulation where certain events would repeat themselves (which they may or may not have ever truly escaped…).

In a more recent session, they fought an assassin called Mobius Hustler who could create Mobius Time Loops. In order to defeat him they had to cut the loop, thereby opening up the second dimension of time (Squaretime), and then they had to cut the cylinder of Squaretime in order to trap the Mobius Hustler in a literally interlinked Mobius Loop inside Squaretime. There was a lot of other weird stuff going on there too but wrt to the topic at hand it can be boiled down to that.

I have not written a play report of this yet but the principle of it mechanically can be read here, and other play reports for my Maximum Recursion Depth Campaign can be read here.

And along those lines, the very idea of Recursion as it exists in MRD is, I think, fairly consistent with the subtext of Time Loop settings, and took some direct inspiration from the Netflix Time Loop series Russian Doll, and more abstractly the concept of spiraling as expressed in e.g. Junji Ito’s Uzumaki and the anime Gurren Lagann.

Patrick Stuart also talked about an anime a while back which I have since watched, which is not about a Time Loop, but rather about being trapped in a single moment in time. Obviously not the same thing, but pretty interesting in its own right, Kokkoku.

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Chaos itself is an ouroboros. When the touch of chaos is felt, it sticks, binds and glues, creating a loop of time.

When the portal here is severed, the entire magma node is placed inside a bubble of chaos time. Any creature leaving the bubble resets time to the moment of the nodes destruction. The time loop can be broken by…

The idea is if you leave the zone, time resets to a specific point. There are a bunch of giants standing around that slowly “wake up” and get more aggressive with each loop, and their level aggression stays through each loop (chaos can permeate timespace, duh).

I need some way of breaking the time loop, something to do in each loop that makes some sort of progress towards breaking the loop. Maybe just a bunch of interactive stuff and they can stumble their way through it.


Off the top of my head, one mechanism would be to think about one or more features that, for some reason, would change between loops.

Your mechanism for the timeloop I think already lends itself well to this. Maybe, when something leaves the loop and resets it, it starts off where it exited rather than where it was initially. Or maybe it leaves forever. If things can exit the time loop, maybe things can enter it too.

Just the process of considering these possibilities might then lend itself to other possibilities as well. Probably the way to go would be to have a very narrow, specifically defined (if not shared…), and limited number of ways in which the loop can change between each run of the loop.

There should maybe be some vague clues to the players, enough for them to realize there’s something going on, even if they’re not sure exactly what. And then, them having to figure out the rules of how to change the loop becomes the gameplay loop in itself.

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Zelda: Majora’s Mask does this.

As does an arc on The Adventure Zone called The Eleventh Hour.

I forgot that in an blog post where I created a weird setting generator inspired by one of @Gundobad_Games’s blog posts, I included this entry:

It’s traditional fantasy, let’s go with more so OSR / low-fantasy, except the PCs are oracles with weird nature spirit companions that are invisible and ethereal to everyone except other oracles. The nature spirits are memetic creatures that exist outside of linear time, and the dungeons are actually time loops. When a dungeon appears, oracles relive the same day over and over until they’ve cleared the dungeon. Every time they clear a dungeon, they become more skilled as adventurers but weaken their connection to their nature spirit.

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It depends a bit on the setting, but practically anything could be used as an excuse to break the time loop, I think. For my part, it will be to either repair or dispel the banishment ritual was the root cause of it all. Of course, doing that is also a bit complicated, but that is the condition for the loop breaking.