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Currently working on a game that will most likely be free because it would have all kinds of rights issues so it’s a fan work. Based on a spinoff of Doctor Who which is darker in tone

It’s mostly Forged in the Dark, but it will be using the more traditional PbtA Moves rather than risk/quality assessments and dice pools for the progress of clocks. There’s various other mechanics from other PbtA games as well.

It does involve Time Travel

Faction Paradox game summary


Oh my, there’s a lot going on here!

I’m liking a lot of what I’m seeing here (although I’m entirely unfamiliar with these guys from Doctor Who , I don’t think I’ve seen/read any of the stuff they’re in).

I’m still rather unclear about what the PCs will … do?

I love the idea that your type of time travel is so important.

I like the (C°ntinuum-esque) possibility of implying that you will-have-been-going-to-have time-traveled to fix this problem, and that lingers over you until you go sort it out.
I have a suggestion about temporary Completion: instead of a separate box, you could use the Storyteller method of tracking Bashing and Lethal damage:
When you gain Completion, put an X in your track.
When you gain a temporary Completion, put a / in your track. If you gain another, add a \ to turn that box into an X.
Nice and simple, saves on space.

Malevolence reminds me a lot of Bad Stuff from the old Amber Diceless Roleplaying , but with no upside to taking it.

Is it intentional that martyrdom is the only method of retirement that doesn’t give a Story Point?

The “If you chose a Faction Machinations ending for your character then at some point in the future you may spend a Story Point to have that character turn up. They are controlled by the Grandfather however and my choose not to help.” sounds like a really bad deal for that Story Point.
Might be better to just make Faction Machinations NOT give you a Story Point, but guarantee that your old character WILL turn up again, for good or ill.

Are there playbooks, at present? I couldn’t find them.

The PCs in general will be given missions to do by their bosses. What those missions are depends on which Coterie Playbook they have. Much like ships in Impulse Drive and Scum&Villainy, the Coterie Playbooks have different flavours. Currently there’s 4 -

  1. Stolen Timeship (aka TARDIS) which will mostly be related to who they stole it from and the reasons why they did it
  2. Faction Shrine - the official most often used method of travel/base. It’s there for specific espionage missions
  3. Faction Embassy - unlike the first two this is stationary. This is for more diplomatic and clandestine missions with lower profiles
  4. A Minute in London - this is inside the main Faction base. Again stationary, but with a lot more access to resources - and the missions are more dangerous

Missions can range from “make sure person A is in this location at this time” up to “assassinate the agent of the Time Lords, track down all their devices and blow up their base” etc. Similar to most missions in Blades but with a scifi twist. It is less about acquiring wealth however, and more about data and significance - changing who invented something or where it was invented can be as important as changing the wording in a book. Certainly if that book is a sacred text, for example.

I think it’s a bit like any thriller where someone’s motivations objectively seem ineffable and you think it’s bad writing - but actually it’s effable because it’s the PCs who may eff it up.

On Completion and Untethered Flashbacks - I mostly have the one temporary box and it’s only used for this to stress the importance of tieing up loose ends (ie fix it before it happens again or your character will permanently be closer to retirement). Unsolved paradoxes are messy and often lead to the bad guys having methods to attack you and damage your cause. So it’s always best to fix those as soon as you can. Possibly rather than completion I could have some other sword of Damocles type foreshadowing of doom - fix this ASAP or there will be dire consequences.

Malevolence is basically Bad Stuff - but as Heat is used in Blades in the Dark. As I’m using Moves and Attributes to fuel clocks instead of position/effect and a dice pool - odds are in their favour to complete clocks. Therefore Malevolence will also be a minus to rolls in addition to Tier differences. The fluff of entropy and reasoning behind Malevolence is mostly to validate it effecting every roll.

Martyrdom doesn’t give you a Story Point because it’s basically giving the other players your Story Point to use immediately.

I like the idea of “will turn up” instead - plus it’s one of the nicer retirements.

The Citizen is the closest I have to a playbook so far, but only has its signature move which varies based on the background you choose.

Now that I think about it, Lag could work as a group Untethered Flashback buffer, so instead of you being able to each have just one, you could have a pool of “um, er, we’ll get back to that”-ness to go around, as a resource?
As it is, Lag seems too vague to do anything with.

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It could cause problems for the metatime in general and it would also give then incentives to work as a group…

I love group resources for that kind of thing.

Lag is plot important when you have two groups (or perhaps more) working on the same problem at different times. If the group in the past does something, you have to wait for it to have repurcussions in the future before you can act on it. My exemplum for this is the Split Infinitives story in The Legacy of Time - Where the 7th Doctor is in the 80s and Ace is in the 70s and they’re both going after a gang of alien criminals and working with the same members of UNIT/Counter Measures. The Doctor has to wait for the humans to remember what Ace wants him to know or what happened at the time period Ace is in.

There’s no reason why you couldn’t do the same thing with a story like It by Stephen King. In this case there’s no unusual time travel - but the Lag is the adult character’s artificially repressed memories.

Also I’m going to use the Blades Against Darkness Gear rules becuase the main advantage of being a Faction Paradox member is often that they always have a readied weapon.

Just thinking of doing some HTML/CSS playbooks and probably going to full XML/XSLT just so it’s easy to make pretty sheets with just plain text. If someone’s done this before let me know - saves me fiddling with styles.


Cool idea. I’d love a Forged in the Dark game with time travelling and by the looks of it there’s going to be a lot of that in here. I’m just wondering: How are GMs and players going to keep track of the various timelines/ events that affect one another, without getting confused sooner or later? :slight_smile:

They don’t. It’s similar to how GMs in Blades don’t track every faction at all times. We only care about the PCs, the big picture looks after itself. They’re working on one event that will effect things for someone other than themselves (either another Faction Paradox group or more likely the greater powers)

In general missions that PCs are sent on are not linked, but with discreet goals. Much like how 99% of Doctor Who is not about time travel, it’s just a plot device to have a different location for the story they wish to tell. But then like giant robot anime - its not about the giant robots. Science fiction isn’t what the story is about, that’s just the stage.

So a few things to make it easier for the Grandfather (GM):

  • don’t have missions on the same planet, you don’t even have to have them in the same galaxy.
  • if you do, don’t have then on the same continent
  • have them occur generations apart
  • assume the larger powers fix otherwise unsolvable problems caused
  • alternate multiverses, dimensions and universes are a thing, as are alternate timelines and time loops. Time sometimes naturally fixes itself, sometimes artificially.
  • egregious paradox eats itself. Which is to say too many problems and the cause is removed. The completion mechanic and the group playbook paradox flag (usually caused by untethered flashbacks aka time travel) help with this.
  • all that being said, this is never our universe. We haven’t had dalek invasions or a UN sponsored anti-alien task force. Let them kill Hitler, then discuss what the new timeline is. Or just make it splinter off into an alternate timeline .

Finally worked out the basic approaches, but may need to reorder the second group so their initials don’t spell “ASS” :smile:

I also need to rework the wiki, it’s not easily navigable on mobile view

I not sure whether you really need to rework the order of the second group. I would never have noticed it and I don’t expect that most others have. But once you see it you can’t unsee it.:grin:

The question is if you want it in alphabetical order or a random order. I noticed they aren’t in alphabetical order in the first part, but in the second and third.

Yeah, it roughly follows the sources I used - BitD and S&V, but as I have 3 approaches per group, I’ve combined one in each group. It’s not a hassle to change, it’s just a photoshop file.

I’m going with Agenda & Principles rather than best practics. I’ve got the Player Agenda written and the titles for the rest needing filling out - it’s a mix of BitD and Impulse Drive:


  • Embrace the renegade’s life
  • Use your stress
  • Imagine dangerous and exciting times and places
  • Act now, plan later

Embrace the renegade’s life

You are a freedom fighter, there’s no doubt about it. You fight for the freedom to use time as anyone sees fit. The powers that have authority over the web of time that keep it linear and without paradox are both cruel and petty. The are above any laws that anyone cares to think of, even breaking their own in the course of their xenophobia.

In the Spiral Politic - the vast expanse of this galaxy, this universe and even their incursions into the multiverses themselves, the oppressors must be resisted. The imposed theocracy of linear time and the brutal retro-genocides of entire species must be fought. The only reason you aren’t fighting for the Enemy is because they are even more fanatically driven and prone to excesses than the Great Houses you also oppose.

You are caught between the opressors that want linear time and the Enemy that just wants to destroy them utterly, trying to have some freedom, some time plurality. You want secular time, free of the fanatic theocrats and their anti-theists and all their brutal ways. No matter the Malevolence you personally incur, a renegade to the old ways is what you’ll always strive for.

Use your stress

Your ability to use stress puts you ahead of any antagonist you’re likely to come across in the Spiral Politic. don’t be afraid to use it whenever possible, only be wary when it approaches levels where you may incur some trauma. With stress you can cheat causality and retroactively solve problems. You will need to exploit that edge in order to hold your own in a vast and dangerous universe.

If you can no longer afford to Push with your stress, remember you can always Invoke the Spirits.

Imagine dangerous and exciting times and places

Be curious about the times and places you find yourself in. Everyone has a story to tell and their own agendas. A medieval peasant with a knife can kill you as easily as a time travelling Dalek if you’re not careful. Respect the danger of your surrounding and your place in it.

Act now, plan later

Planning is the one aspect of the game you need never do in actual play in real time. Not only are your characters gung-ho and impetuous, often leaping first without looking, but they’re also competent and will have foreseen circumstances you may not have as a player. Flashbacks cover this as does various other planning moves such as getting gear retrospectively, communing with the spirits or even having to resort to the untethered flashback.

Don’t sit down with other players and work our exactly what you’re going to do - you never need to. Work out roughly what you are going to do, then do it. Patch up the plot holes if you need to retrospectively. It’s why you have stress after all.


  • Go into danger, fall in love with trouble
  • Don’t be a Logopolitan
  • Take responsibility
  • Don’t talk yourself out of fun
  • Volunteer when needed, listen when others do
  • You are a family

Go into danger, fall in love with trouble

You are an anti-establishment, anti-authoritarian renegade existing in a life’s worth of time in the eternity of infinity. You are not a cage-farmed chicken or a cubicle worker on minimum wage. You are daring, bold, ambitious and willing to take on the monstrous powers because you actually know they’re made of fallible members that really aren’t much more impressive than you - individually, often less so. There are reasons why members of Faction Paradox are feared and respected - and it’s not just because you can’t predict their behaviour.

Don’t be a Logopolitan

Everything does not come down to numbers and block transfer calculations. Don’t play your character around the numbers that comprise them. You can choose any approach to use with any move but you should always choose the one that matches what your character is doing.

  • Don’t choose the approach with the highest number because you want to succeed

  • Don’t choose the approach with the lowest number because you want to fail and get XP

  • Always choose the approach that best suits what the character wants to do with the move

Take responsibility

You are as vital a component of the co-operative story you all all creating together as any other player, including the Grandfather. Likewise you have responsibilities for what occurs within the collective fiction. If you want something about your character to appear in the game, you must actively pursue and agenda to have it appear. Your characters strengths and their weaknesses are all worthless unless they interact with the game you are playing and become more than just a note on your playbook.

You are also responsible for your behaviour and the enjoyment of the game by every other player as well. This means your participation effects the tone of the game, the style of play and what themes may occur. When you say something, know what you are saying, and mean what you say.

Don’t talk yourself out of fun

When commiting to a plan, or a series of actions, go for what you think is fun. Trust in your character’s competence to get things done no matter what you decide they do: there are multiple game mechanics to patch over any potential problems that occur. Not only that - you need to know that the Grandfather is a fan your characters, they’re the main protagonists, so of course the script is on their side.

Volunteer when needed, listen when others do

When the spotlight shifts in your direction, when the Grandfather or other players look to you expectantly, go for it. Do something cool or something flawed. Try or fail. Show something about your character, something new or something the other players have seen before. Do something that makes sense to you as you get involved in the game.

When attention passes on to others, give them space to shine. Don’t rush in with advice and hints, or your ideas on how their actions may fit into your plans. Let them have their moment. Wait until attention is given back to you, or if you are asked by the other players.

You are a family

For this game, you and your fellow players are a family and need to look after each other. Everyone needs to know they are a safe place so they can roleplay with enough freedom. When you start playing, discuss how you want safety tools to be used to make your gaming experience comfortable and listen to everyone else’s contributions. Don’t be afraid to revisit the tools every so often. Use them as often as you need to.

Safety Tools

  • Lines & Veils - These are used to setup the tone of the game you want to play and how willing everyone is to come close to taboo subjects. You discuss these at the start of the game, before you begin playing - but as with all tools it helps to revisit them every so often.

    • Lines are things in the game that won’t be crossed into. You draw the line at these subjects. These are things that won’t appear in the game at any time, they don’t happen off-screen and are never alluded to or inferred. They aren’t mentioned at all.

    • Veils are things that can happen off-screen and be alluded to - but will never be explicitly described or roleplayed. A veil is drawn over the scene and you skip to the next bit.

  • The X-Card - This is used throughout the game, for every “nope!” you have.

    • If it looks like a veil might be getting close to a line - X-Card it.

    • If someone comes up with something in the game that no one thought of at the beginning to be a line or a veil - X-Card it.

    • You should always explain why you’re using the X-Card, it immediately takes effect and as much of the scene will be redone and reworded as is necessary or fade to black and skip to the next scene.



  • Fill the vortex of time and the void of space with danger and excitement
  • Show how epic the participants are and how small the Pcs are
  • Journey with your players


  • Earn the trust of the group
  • Actively engage in the conversation
  • Be a fan of the characters and tragedy
  • Cut to the action
  • Always assume competency

Earn the trust of the group

Be a supportive and fair advocate of the integrity of the fiction. One of your main purposes is to portray the fictional setting in an intuitive way. Things should flow, if not logically, at least with a mostly rational chain of reasoning. The situations players end up in should not feel contrived or intended for particular outcomes. When you advocate for something, the players knowthat you do so on behalf of the integrity of the fiction, not to get your way or to arrange situations to your liking.

Actively engage in the conversation

You are playing to find out what happens. Ask players things that feed the fiction. Paint the scene - encourage players to describe important objects, events or NPCs in a scene. Don’t outright block any ideas given by players, you aren’t the only authority in the game, all players are helping with the fiction. Instead use leading questions to create choices to be made that are interesting.


You could change Skirmish to Battle and makes ABS. :wink:

I’ve been reading through the rules a lot lately and doing some research on the setting, as I’m somewhat unfamiliar with Faction Paradox. Here are some thoughts I have.

  • A Faction Shrine should always be the time-travelling method of choice, as they evoke The Faction and core themes of the game. Coteries could instead focus solely on what kind of gameplay/missions the group wants to focus on and what tools they want access to. A Combat Coterie could get special weapons, designed for fighting on the frontlines of the time war; while more Espionage and Influence focused Coteries could get Biodata Hacking tools, Tracking Knives, or Remembrance Tanks. This also brings the unique elements of the setting to the forefront, where they ought to be.

  • As far as the Shrine blood sacrifices go, moves could be added to the playbooks (coterie or player) that modify how the Shrine is used or mitigate certain costs. Such as, keeping biodata samples on-hand so sacrifices aren’t always necessary and the group has a list of locations they can always visit; or a device that deposits the sacrificed person back to their own time and rewrites their biodata to make their injuries be the result of an accident; and so on… A Shrine has rules that enact a heavy cost for it to work, but The Faction is about breaking rules and tradition (even when its their own), so this kind of thing could be encouraged.

  • Faction Embassies are iconic, but I think it’s better to focus on them only as an occasional mission, since they detract from the time travel element. Besides, a Shrine can already fit perfectly within the existing architecture of whatever building. Perhaps there could be Coterie or Playbooks moves that are about establishing an Embassy, providing support for the Coterie’s activities during missions or downtime.

  • The Eleven Day Empire should be something visited through Downtime. It’s a neat place and the heart of The Faction, but it’s not great for focusing a whole game around. Add Downtime Moves for doing cool things there, like consulting with the Unkindnesses, performing rituals, or attending parliament. Since some form of time travel is necessary to get there, this could create interesting decisions on whether it’s better to get an asset from the local time or if it’s worth it to make the trip to the Empire.

  • Species could be removed. A big part of joining The Faction is renouncing your ancestry, so it doesn’t make sense to me that what race a character is be so intently focused on. Not to mention, as cool as it is to be a Gallifreyan or a Dalek, they muddy the narrative and cause problems, such as being an oversized pepper pot that is completely unable to blend in with the local natives during missions. Even when it comes to more interesting ideas, like being an escaped citizen from the City of the Saved, I feel like its best relegated to the backstory of the character rather than adding new mechanics.

  • The Citizen, The Homeworlder, and The Killer also don’t really fit in with the other playbook archetypes, The Chosen One, The Diplomat, The Fighter, and The Leader, as these focus on what you DO while the others focus on what you ARE. Homeworlder could be ‘The Engineer’, Citizen could be ‘The Spy’, and Killer has Moves that could be split up into the other playbooks.

  • On that note about Playbooks, I think its worth merging The Potential Recruit playbook into the Little Sibling rank, and allow most of the playbooks to be this rank. “A Little Help” and “What Does This Do?” fit really well with the idea of being an apprentice/initiate.

  • If species must be a thing, then racial abilities could be treated as a type of ‘biological’ Gear that permanently takes up a slot. This works well with Completion, balances them with other player characters, gives options for representing many different species, and all while not making the choice of race too much of a focus. For example; being cyber-converted could mean losing your Packed slot, as you’re forever in armor; being a Time Lord could mean choosing to lose your Ready slot in exchange for a Regeneration ability, as you’re more at home in libraries and not time wars and action. One idea might be to allow players to take Completion during character creation, so that they can have extra gear slots to be used with racial abilities.

  • Consider making Metatime a spendable resource. I think this will be easier to keep track of, while also encouraging more timey-wimey shenanigans. For example, every Coterie starts missions with 10/10 Metatime (MT). Instead of Length, and the arbitrary measurement of ‘Game Sessions’ (which don’t really work for those running the game as a play-by-post), the Coterie must spend 1 MT every time the players enter the Downtime phase, as long as the mission is incomplete; and if they run out of MT they gain Completion and consequences as normal. Instead of Width, the Coterie must spend 1 MT every time the players split the party between multiple points in the timeline; and if they run out, the split can’t happen. Instead of Lag, the Coterie can spend 1 MT to have a change in the timeline happen immediately, otherwise it happens during the next Downtime phase. There could then be options, with perhaps some unlocked via spending Flux, such as: spend 1 MT to have a previously non-time aware NPC remember changes in the timeline; spend MT to create an unstable time loop, where time repeats itself but events don’t necessarily happen the same way as before; and spending MT to keep track of alternate timelines.

  • I feel like Malevolence and Stress should really work differently. Since Stress leads to trauma, it just makes sense that it should be the go-to initial penalty as a consequence for doing ‘bad stuff’, like murdering someone or screwing a native’s life over. Malevolence should be something that is incurred for controlling time, as you attract the wrath of other Participants, who notice shifts in timelines. Malevolence could even be a resource in this way, such as incurring it when hacking biodata, or to give yourself a spooky otherworldly aura, or so on. Perhaps it could then also work as a resource for The Grandfather, with a list of effects they can activate, such as having a Participant start a time loop of their own or do their own biodata hacking, or even just bad luck (courtesy of The Enemy).

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