By Roger E. Moore, with enormous assistance from Jim Butler, William Connors, Andria Hayday, Bruce Heard, Steve Miller, Jon Pickens, Bill Slavicsek, Skip Williams, and David Wise.
(C)1995 TSR, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Chronomancer is a 96-page booklet for TSR's AD&D(R) game that presents, for the first time ever, a school of wizard's magic that allows player characters to travel through Time itself, in almost any campaign world.
This article is an updated and expanded excerpt from the Chronomancer accessory. It describes how these rules for time travel can be merged with any of the major official campaigns for the AD&D game. Many game designers, editors, and creative directors have added their comments to make this material more complete and interesting; to them I give my eternal thanks.
Time travel is known to a handful of wizards on a number of worlds, but chronomancers face restrictions in particular campaigns, especially when powerful deities and secret organizations devote themselves to preserving their worlds' histories. Deities also wish to preserve their worshipers, and those gods will fight any historical changes that would harm their faithful, who are a source of power for those gods. (Evil gods, of course, might wish to alter time and destroy their competitors.)
Particulars for using chronomancy in each of TSR's official AD&D campaign worlds follow. Dungeon Masters should very carefully examine their campaign timelines and historical notes, paying attention to possible discrepancies in dates and "blank spots" in recorded histories, if preparing a time-travel campaign therein. Considerable development of changing kingdoms and landscapes across time will be required, so DMs are advised to select a few important periods in their campaign timelines, develop those in detail, and encourage players to use those times in particular. DMs should also carefully check the limitations on how much time can typically be crossed using normal chronomancy spells; particularly remote times can be reached only with powerful magical items or by braving the dangers of multiple vortices in Temporal Prime.
BIRTHRIGHT(TM) campaign: Chronomancy has been understood in theory since the days of the Anuirean Empire, but no time traveler has ever been authenticated anywhere in Cerilia. An evil blooded wizard or awnshegh who learned of chronomancy would be an unmitigated disaster, so an interest in protecting Cerilia's history is obviously strong; what knowledge exists of chronomancy is thus kept completely secret.
The magical explosion at Mount Deismaar over 1,500 years ago might have cast some unfortunate beings into other planes or through time itself, but this has never been proven despite stories that surface since that event of time-lost soldiers appearing out of the wilderness. It is possible that the explosion tore open a huge vortex or maelstrom in Temporal Prime.
DARK SUN(R) campaign: Chronomancy is completely unknown here as a magical school. Athas is currently cut off from all other worlds by either planar travel or spelljamming, but if a chronomancer did make his way here, he would find travel through Athas's history completely unrestricted.
However, if a chronomancer (whether from Athas or another world) were to use his powers here, the chronomancer would encounter some serious problems. All magic on Athas requires life energy for power, and chronomancy uses such large amounts of power that it can be used only in the manner of defiler magic. In addition to doubling the radius of the usual defiler destruction (thus killing plant life within four times the usual area), a chronomancy spell draws life energy directly from the caster. This energy equals one experience level per 100 years in time traveled. Thus, a defiler-style chronomancer loses three levels of experience if he casts a spell to travel 300 years into Athas's past. Time travel crossing less than 100 years still results in the loss of a single experience level. Once experience is lost, the caster starts with the minimum amount of experience points needed to begin his new level.
A tiny number of experienced local psionicists manage to gain a new psionic power called Time Travel (see The Will and the Way, pages 79-80), which effectively turns those psionicists into chronomancers. Other psychoportive sciences and devotions of a time-related nature might also be present. If a chronomancer is discovered by one of these psionic time travelers, the psionicist will pursue and destroy him out of either xenophobic fear or a hatred of defilers. Temporal Prime is here called the timestream, a water reference indicating the perceived value and rarity of time as an "element."
DRAGONLANCE(R) campaign: The history of the world of Krynn is perhaps the most carefully charted of all TSR's game worlds. Information on Ansalon prior to the Cataclysm is especially prevalent, appearing in the Legends trilogy, DRAGONLANCE Adventures, and various other stories. However, no school of chronomancy has ever been recorded here, even in rumor. Possibly the only chronomancers present are those who arrived here through Temporal Prime maelstroms or Prime Material gates or spelljammers from other worlds
The primary risk of time travel here is that at several points in Krynn's history, Krynn's existence in Temporal Prime (called "The River of Time" by Krynnish philosophers and sages) branches off into alternate realities. Should a chronomancer enter Temporal Prime at one of these "nodes," he may be shunted into a reality other than his own (75% chance, or DM's choice). When this happens, the trip becomes one-way, and the chronomancer cannot return to his original timeline, instead being confined to this new reality even if he returns repeatedly to the node. The DM should develop new historical details as desired.
Nodes in the history of Krynn include any of the four Dragonwars; the decades when the Greystone soared across the land, reshaping magic and demihumans in its wake; the early days of the Solamnic knighthood; the Cataclysm and the period prior to it when the Kingpriest attempted to suppress magic and bring the gods under his sway; the period described in the recent DRAGONLANCE novel, Dragons of Summer Flame; and any point during the life of Raistlin, who is feared to have explored chronomancy and protected himself against it.
Further, magic works differently in different eras of Krynn. Before human civilizations existed, Krynn experienced times of no magic and wild magic; more recently, magic was outlawed, then viewed as an arcane mystery by commoners and mages alike. In at least one of Krynn's alternate futures, magic may be cast only by draining power from old magical items. (Krynn is now entering its Fifth Age, following the events in the novel, Dragons of Summer Flame.)
A Krynnish artifact of interest to chronomancers is the device of time journeying. This item, which looks like a jeweled scepter, transports the wielder and all companions within 10 feet to any desired time (the location is the DM's choice) or any desired place (the time is the DM's choice). Details on this artifact are found in DRAGONLANCE Adventures (pages 97-98) or ENCYCLOPEDIA MAGICA(TM) volume 1. Tasslehoff Burrfoot claims to have used this device and explored an unpleasant alternate future, which he says he and the hero Caramon Majere prevented from occurring. Further, Astinus, Krynn's greatest historian, is reported to have in his possession the globe of present time passing, an artifact created by the mysterious Master of Past and Present. This item allows the wielder to project his spirit into Krynn's past and watch events as they unfold.
The kender are fond of telling stories about a legendary figure named Uncle Trapspringer. An interview with Tasslehoff Burrfoot, made after the War of the Lance, suggests that Uncle Trapspringer is actually a time-lost kender who ran afoul of the deity Reorx. Though Uncle Trapspringer has all the earmarks of being a kender "urban legend," this kender handler might be real; if so, he could be encountered at any period in Krynn's history and possibly along some of the alternate timelines as well. Uncle Trapspringer's age, knowledge, level, possessions, and other personal characteristics would vary wildly depending on which point in his life he is encountered; his travels through time are completely random. (See The History of DRAGONLANCE Saga, pages 17-18, for details.)
FORGOTTEN REALMS(R)/Kara-Tur/AL-QADIM(R)/Maztica/MALATRA(TM) campaigns: Toril has many powerful forces devoted to keeping its history intact. Elminster, Khelben Arunsun, the Seven Sisters, and many other powerful wizards have been granted certain undefined powers from Mystra, goddess of magic, to prevent all chronomantic spells from working in their vicinities. Supernatural or priestly agents of Deneir and Oghma (Toril's gods of history, so to speak) are believed able to follow a chronomancer's trail and undo any damage he has done. Finally, a chronomancer who seriously disrupts history is likely to encounter an avatar of the most directly concerned deity, a meeting which will likely result in the abrupt termination of that chronomancer's life.
Other than this, chronomancers are known to make limited, low-key trips through time in Faerun, Kara-Tur, Zakhara, and Maztica. Native chronomancers are usually devout followers of both a deity of magic (e.g., Mystra) and a deity of time or history (e.g., Deneir or Oghma), serving as historians and information collectors. Elven chronomancers of Labelas Enoreth are possible. Shou Lung, in Kara-Tur, might have a secret, officially approved group of chronomancers, probably Historians, working for the Emperor. Ancient empires such as Netheril, Raurin, Narfell, Raumathar, and Cormanthyr might have known of chronomancy or time travel, though this did not prevent their fall; these empires can be reached only through vortices or by using powerful magical devices or artifacts. Most wizards here refer to Temporal Prime as the Plane or Demiplane of Time.
Aside from human, half-elven, and elven chronomancers, rumors pass that a few hare and crane hengeyokai from Shou Lung have gained chronomancer abilities of up to the 9th level of ability. Their time travels seem motivated solely for either escaping current troubles (for hare hengeyokai) or official historical studies (for crane hengeyokai).
Possible psionic time travelers from Toril could include couatl, shedu, and titans, as well as humans and demihumans.
GREYHAWK(R) campaign: Evidence suggests that a group of Guardians-like chronomancers exists on Oerth, but little is known of them. The Codex of Infinite Planes has a cryptic reference to the Monitors of Infinity, "drawn from all places in Time," but this is the sum of the evidence. Chronomancers risk pursuit by the Monitors or by an avatar of a time-related deity if a major disruption of history occurs.
Two quasi-deities, Heward and Murlynd, are thought to be chronomancers or have time-travel powers from devices, psionics, or artifacts. Both have collected items from various periods in Earth history, and both have domiciles with multiple gate links across time and space to many worlds (see DRAGON(R) issue #71, pages 19-21, and module EX2 The Land Beyond the Magic Mirror.) The mad demigod Zagyg likely travels Temporal Prime, which is here usually called the Plane or Demiplane of Time; the demigod Vecna certainly knows of chronomancy.
The ancient Suloise-Baklunish conflict may have involved time battles between rival chronomancers. Istus (goddess of fate and destiny) is Baklunish; Lendor (god of time) is Suel. The outcome of such battles (if there were any), and any involvement of the Monitors or godly avatars, are unknown. Rumors circulate from time to time that small groups of hostile, destructive Suel wizards, often loners, appear in the Sea of Dust, either arising from magical suspended animation or arriving from chronomantic travel.
Chronomancy might also be known to elven wizards worshiping Labelas Enoreth, the elven deity of longevity, history, and time; to wizards of Boccob, the Oerik god of magic; and to wizards of Cyndor, the Oerik god of time, continuity, and infinity.
Chronomancers may wish to explore Tovag Baragu, the Stone Circles, whose arches sometimes open into Oerth's past. Some portions of Oerth's distant past appear to resemble our Earth's early Cenozoic period (the Age of Mammals) up to Pleistocene times. (See GREYHAWK Adventures, pages 98-99, and the adventure Vecna Lives!(/italic. Chronomancers should be warned that exploring Tovag Baragu might possibly lead to an alternate timeline of Oerth in which the demigod Vecna triumphs (as per the "Vecna Wins" scenario outlined on page 68 of Vecna Lives!. See also the potentially dangerous time-altering properties of the wildspace objects called The Sisters, in Oerth's crystal sphere of Greyspace (see Greyspace, pages 71-72).
There is speculation that the humans and centaurs who live near Tovag Baragu might have knowledge of some basic elements of chronomancy from their years of cautiously observing this artifact, though it is unlikely they openly practice this magic.
Possible psionic time travelers from Oerth could include couatl, shedu, and titans, as well as humans, halflings, and so forth.
Historical Reference campaign: The seven volumes in the HR series describe Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East of Earth across a variety of historical periods, from 2200 B.C. (HR6 Age of Heroes(/italic to A.D. 1650 (HR4 A Mighty Fortress. Magic is assumed to be possible, though it is limited in nature and normal technological development occurs at the same time.
Certain historical figures of this "magic Earth" may have had limited knowledge of chronomancy, given their reputed predictive or magical abilities (e.g., Nostradamus, Roger Bacon, Michael Scot, Dr. John Dee). Mythical figures with extraordinary magical powers might have time-traveling abilities, too (e.g., Oracle at Delphi, Merlin, Morgan le Fay). Fabled Atlantis, said to have existed in the distant past, might be the home of a Guardians-like force of Temporal Champions. The legendary ogre-witch Baba Yaga has likely been time traveling as well as world-hopping (see DRAGON(R) issue #83, "The Dancing Hut," and the recent module The Dancing Hut of Baba Yaga.
There is evidence that Heward and Murlynd (see GREYHAWK campaign) have been to this world, during this and other time periods. Elminster (see FORGOTTEN REALMS campaign) has gates in his "hideout" in Realmspace leading to various times and places in Earth history (see Realmspace, pages 51-52).
In the MYSTARA(R) adventure Mark of Amber (page 62), a wizardess from the fantastic French province of Averoigne is said to have invented potions of time travel, with which she explored Earth's history for her own amusement. She now lives in Glantri, maintaining her youth with other magical potions. Averoigne could be part of a magical Europe around A.D. 1600 in HR4 A Mighty Fortress, and this wizardess could be met at various times through Earth's history prior to her move to the world of Mystara.
The RAVENLOFT(R) campaign expansion, Masque of the Red Death and Other Tales, shows this same magical Earth in the late 19th century, though with a dark strain of horror. (The world is here nicknamed "Gothic Earth.") H.G. Wells published The Time Machine in 1895; if this tale is assumed to be in part autobiographical, he would be the only known time traveler from this period, and his time machine would be equal to an artifact.
It is possible that a far-future group of technological time travelers will be created in an alternate future to patrol Earth's history as a sort of "time police." If encountered, these officers could be easily designed using materials from the GAMMA WORLD(R) game (e.g., with grenades, powered armor, blasters, and vibroblades when traveling heavy). The GAMMA WORLD game itself could depict an alternate future of Earth; this system is largely compatible with the AD&D game. A few mutant humans or animals might have the Time Field Manipulation mutation and thus meet up with actual chronomancers (see the GAMMA WORLD 1st Edition game (1978), page 14).
Psionic time travelers with time-related psychoportive sciences and devotions are possible; these could hail from any period in human history, past or future. Nonhuman psionic or magical time travelers are also possible, but none are known.
MYSTARA(R)/BLACKMOOR(R)/HOLLOW WORLD(R)/RED STEEL(R) campaign: Chronomancy was known to the wizards of Alphatia, but all Alphatian chronomancers were destroyed by an unknown Immortal after they attempted to visit the long-lost techno-magical empire of Blackmoor during its last few years and at the time of the global disaster that destroyed that nation. One investigator of the loss of the Alphatians believes the Immortals Rafiel and possibly Rad (a.k.a. Etienne d'Amberville) are defending a prehistoric secret somehow connected with the Radiance of Glantri.
Despite the dangers associated with visiting Blackmoor, some adventurers have reported actually visiting a place called the Kingdom of Blackmoor, meeting personages known to current historians to have lived at that ancient time. Such voyages were accomplished by accident; the adventurers said they were trapped in the basement of a ruined building in the Broken Lands, and were then transported to Blackmoor of 3,000 years past by a magical time gate that was possibly controlled by the rulers of Blackmoor. This ruin is of obvious interest to chronomancers; if it exists, it likely opens into a long-duration vortex in Temporal Prime. (For more information, see the D&D(R) modules DA1 Adventures in Blackmoor, DA2 The Temple of the Frog, DA3 City of the Gods, and DA4 The Duchy of Ten.)
No Guardians-like group of chronomancers is known here, as the Immortals of Time do a fine job of policing. Unobtrusive chronomancers would have considerable freedom; furthermore, they might gain the cautious notice of Immortals from Energy or Time (particularly Ixion or Khoronus), who might be bribed at tremendous expense to reveal other secrets of chronomancy or Mystaran history. Immortals of Time carefully shunt time travelers "around" critical events in history, so that all attempts to reach those times are missed by days, months, or years. Time travelers perceived as dangerously hostile to Mystaran history are located and destroyed without ceremony or delay. No chronomancer can use time-travel powers, either arriving or departing, during the Day of Dread (Kaldmont 28), from AC 1009 onward.
The most important Immortals of Time are described in the Wrath of the Immortals boxed set, in Book One: Codex of the Immortals; see especially Ixion (page 23), Khoronus (pages 25-26), Rad (pages 33-34), and Rafiel (page 34). Several major elven Immortals are from the Sphere of Time, but they are largely concerned with maintaining the elven race and the natural environment.
One curious aspect of time travel here concerns the future of magic on Mystara. Some sages believe, for reasons they will not disclose, that all magic on Mystara is doomed to fade away in the far future. (This situation seems somehow connected to the actions of Rad and the Radiance of Glantri.) Indeed, for a time there were reports of humanoid creatures called "oards" appearing across the Known World. Oards, who seemed to all look alike, were said to have been manufactured in the far future, and their bodies were both flesh and machine. They were able to disguise and defend themselves using means other than magical, and were extraordinarily powerful. A few wizards have attempted to go into the far future of Mystara to investigate these creatures and their world first-hand, but none have returned. Perhaps they were (will be?) stranded there, far in advance of our time, with no magic left in the world to bring themselves home. Or perhaps they were (will be?) caught by the oards or other beings, suffering fates that cannot be guessed. Questioning Khoronus or other Immortals on the nature of oards yields no responses. (See the 1986 edition of the D&D Creature Catalogue, pages 42-43, for more on oards.)
Rumors sometimes pass through Glantri that a local wizard has rediscovered the lost secrets of chronomancy, but this has never been proven. Note the mention of a time-traveling Glantri wizardess from Averoigne (see Historical Reference) in Mark of Amber (page 62). Though not a true chronomancer, she could be encountered all across Mystara's timeline, using her potions to cross time itself.
Humans, elves, and half-elves are the most likely chronomancer races here. However, time travelers might also meet up with a jackal-headed humanoid race also using Temporal Prime: the hutaakans of Karameikos, who can achieve chronomancer levels roughly equal to those gained by half-elves.
PLANESCAPE(TM) campaign: Anyone attempting time travel on an Outer or Elemental Plane is at extreme risk of attracting the unwelcome attention of one or more deities or supernatural monstrosities. Some deities whose spheres include time might have their avatars capture and question chronomancers, trading freedom for all the information and new spells that the chronomancers have (and the promise never to return). Most deities are not so forgiving.
In Sigil, access to Temporal Prime has been completely blocked by the Lady of Pain, who controls all portals in that city (even into Temporal Prime) and does not personally like chronomancy. Chronomancers who reveal their powers in Sigil find that they instantly become pariahs, and they invariably and quickly disappear - forever.
RAVENLOFT(R) campaign: Chronomancy is completely unknown on the Demiplane of Dread as a magical school. However, chronomancers from other worlds might be involuntarily drawn to this demiplane.
Time travel here is dangerous at best. Since domains come and go over time, chronomancers risk traveling to a time where a domain ceases to exist. Many RAVENLOFT domains have calendars that range back a millennia or more, but the oldest land has, in fact, barely been in existence for 390 years at present.
Using chronomancy in the relatively stable core domains is fairly risk free, so long as the character travels to a time where that land exists. Time traveling in any of the Islands of Terror, however, is very dangerous, since the Islands are in erratic states of flux across time and space. When attempting time travel in one of these realms, there is a 50% chance the character will end up at a time where the land does not exist, even if the time traveled was but a minute long. Should a chronomancer accidentally venture to a time before the domain in question exists, the character is stranded in the Mists surrounding the demiplane, there to wander alone until he finds his way back to the Land.
Of interest to chronomancers in this setting is the tiny, desolate realm of Forlorn, which contains a castle whose halls and doorways are reported to serve as gates to other time periods. Investigating and harnessing this incredible resource is a quest worthy of any chronomancer, though the strange phantom who dwells in the crumbling edifice must be dealt with first. See the Castles Forlorn boxed set for further details.
SPELLJAMMER(R) campaign: Most worlds in other crystal spheres have no knowledge of chronomancy, and time travel there is often unrestricted (e.g., the Rock of Bral). Other worlds might have nonhuman chronomancers, but this is unproven. If there is a dragon chronomancer, for example, it undoubtedly exists on the world of the Io's Blood Isles (see the COUNCIL OF WYRMS (TM) campaign set).