Thread: WWBEMD?
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Old 07-25-2018, 09:31 AM
cosmicfish cosmicfish is offline
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Default WWBEMD?

What would Bruce Edward Morrow Do? (And by corollary, what would the Council of Tomorrow do?)

This is my question to the group. Imagine for a moment that you are Bruce Edward Morrow. One day, you realize that you can travel in time. Maybe you take a few short trips backwards or forwards at first, but eventually you take a BIG leap forward and discover an apocalyptic nightmare.

You're shocked, you're devastated, but you realize that you have both the power and the moral obligation to do something, but other than the ability to time travel you are a pretty ordinary guy.

So... what do you do?

You go back in time. You look for help, what will eventually become the Council of Tomorrow. You probably try to STOP the apocalypse at first, but at some point you realize that it cannot be prevented. So when you reach that point, you switch from preventing the apocalypse to trying to save as much as possible from devastation and bring back civilization as soon as possible.

You have a lot of obstacles, certainly. You need to convince people of this truth, and motivate them to help. You need to develop the technologies that will help you to do the impossible, and the resources to create what will become The Morrow Project.

Your contribution is time travel. There are scientists and engineers and military personnel and other experts who can be recruited for their expertise, and the CoT is providing funding and infrastructure.

All of this is canon and, I think, pretty reasonable. But what comes next? What do you prioritize? What is your schedule and methodology? Don't worry about the specific date of the war*, as that just affects the number of years you have to work with.

My thought is that you need to focus on your ability to gather information about the future.

Once you have decided that the war cannot be stopped, either because time is immutable or because it already had too much momentum to be prevented within BEM's ability to time travel, the most important piece of information is the estimated date of the war. If you know that you can do a tremendous variety of things that you can't do if the date is completely unknown.

So you stop trying to stop it. You have to. It's like a medical decision - there comes a point where trying to save the leg means endangering the life of the patient, and at that point you sacrifice the leg.

From that point, you do everything possible to avoid influencing the war. Everything is done in secret, you accept that those people will die and you focus on saving the rest. And BEM goes carefully into the future, past the war, and collects what data he can on when it occurred**.

This is not impossible, or even difficult. Nuclear weapons leave a variety of byproducts that decay at different rates. Analysis of soil samples from a handful of sites would give a good estimate for the major exchange. Give a few years as a fudge factor for measurement error and any unavoidable corruption of the time stream, and you have a date when the Project must be up and running with the expectation that the war could happen any time thereafter. Let's call that Last Day.

Now you can do finance much easier. Now you can look at where the money is made and make sure that the CoT makes it and diverts as much as possible to TMP. How this works exactly depends on the nature of time travel, but there are definitely things you can do.

Technologically, BEM can return not just samples of advanced technologies, but scientific papers and engineering designs as well. I would have the CoT set up a series of independent labs, operating in secret. BEM travels to the Last Day and collects a series of packages from a dead drop, takes them back to an early day in the Project formation, and distributes some of the contents to the labs. The first lab receives the state of the art in science and technology from Last Day, stored on a couple of TMP-level laptops. Their output, decades later, winds up in the package that BEM delivers to the second lab, and so on and so on. The last lab delivers the pinnacle of TMP technology including the methods for improving necessary manufacturing technologies.

Organizationally, BEM can bring back everything the world of Last Day knows about organizations and the military and psychology. Perhaps there are a couple of time-chained think tanks operating like the labs. They lay out the Project and organize recruiting, training, and the urgent technological needs that the labs will develop.

Now you know what to do.

One of the important influences on all of this is the very nature of time travel. If time is completely immutable then there is only ever one future and TMP cannot exist. If time travel involves multiple universes then nothing matters - for every universe where the Project fails there is another where it succeeds, so you just need to accept whatever universe you are in.

Personally I prefer some version of the Observer Effect, where you cannot change anything you know to exist. That allows a lot of leeway for TMP to operate while still tightly constraining what they can do and even what they will want to know.

Tied into all of this are all the potential paradoxes. The Observer Effect describes one such possibility, as does the bootstrap paradox - if the Project fails completely, where does BEM get all the stuff he uses to recruit the CoT. I think these are worth discussing as well.

Well, that was longer than expected, but I am curious what people think. Please note personally I am interested in building a reasonable structure for the story, game mechanics and playability are, in my mind, easier and benefit from a well-formed understanding of how all this started and how it works.

Go to it.

*: With the way things are going, I would suggest 2020 for TEOTWAWKI.

**: Perhaps this is what kills him, although I like the idea that either overuse of his power does it or that he simply vanishes into the future one day. Heck, maybe he sees the Project fail and decides not to return because he knows he cannot prevent it.
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