Perilous Gateways

Portals in Time

By Robert Wiese

The Portal Through Time (Part 2)

The time portal constructed and used by the Imperial Society of Historical Study could be a reality only through lost arcane magic. The Society found this magic while on a dig for lost records of ancient Netheril. A wizard who lived in the heyday of that empire conducted research into time travel and created a spell for traveling in time. He was on one of the cities that crashed and perished in the devastation. His knowledge was lost, until now. The Society closely guards the secret of this spell, knowing that in the wrong hands this knowledge could destroy Faerûn. Like all intellectuals, however, they cannot just eradicate the knowledge; they feel compelled to use it themselves, and they feel confident in their ability to guard their secrets.

Teleport Through Time
Transmutation [Teleportation]
Level: Sor/Wiz 9
Components: V, S, M, XP
Casting Time: 1 round
Range: Personal and touch
Target: The character and touched objects or other touched willing creatures weighing up to 50 lb./level
Duration: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: None and Will negates (object)
Spell Resistance: No and Yes (object)

A far more powerful version of the teleport spell, this spell instantly transports the character to the same location, but to a different time. Interplanar travel is not possible, and the spell fails on any plane where time is meaningless. The character can bring along objects and willing creatures totaling up to 50 pounds per caster level. Unwilling creatures cannot be affected by this spell. Only objects held or in use (attended) by another person receive saving throws and spell resistance.

To cast this spell, the character must be able to state the arrival time accurately, down to the minute. The spell never transports the caster and companions to the precise minute desired, but it cannot function at all without a specific minute in time to target. This "drift" effect of not arriving at the precise time desired grows with the "distance" through time (measured in years, months, and weeks) traveled. Thus, a caster teleporting to last month arrives closer to her goal than one traveling 250 years. The minimum temporal distance traveled is 1 day, so this spell is not useful for going back to the beginning of a melee that is still progressing.

This spell requires some knowledge of the destination time, so it cannot transport anyone into the future since the future is entirely unknown to the caster. Even spells that give knowledge of the future cannot give definite enough knowledge to allow this spell to work. It is possible to use this spell to travel forward in time, but only to the point in the caster's life when the caster first went back in time.

Since the caster may not know exactly what is transpiring at the destination time, prudent time-travelers prepare for the worst.

The errors in arrival for this spell occur in time rather than in location, since the character does not change locations at all. To see how closely the character arrives to the planned arrival time, consult this table.

Temporal Distance TraveledTemporal Drift*Chance of Mishap
1 day to 1 month +/- d8 minutes5%
1 month to 1 year +/- d8 hours7%
1 year to 10 years +/- d20 hours10%
10 years to 100 years +/- d8 days15%
100 years to 1,000 years +/- d20 days20%
1,000 years + +/- d20 months25%
* There is a 50% chance that the number is a negative number.

Add or subtract the temporal drift to the destination time to determine the exact time of arrival.

Mishaps result in the spell failing and the character taking 1 point of Intelligence damage for every 10 years of expected time travel due to the mental bombardment that time travel brings with it. Thus, a character trying to transport through 100 years would take 10 points of Intelligence damage. Intelligence can be reduced to 0 through this damage (but not lower).

In the case that a traveler meets himself, the two travelers instantly lose control and attack each other with every ability and item at their disposal. However, should a traveler die while traveling in the past, the traveler's body immediately vanishes from the point of time it traveled to and returns to the point where the spell was cast at the time that the spell was cast. In other words, if a traveler perishes in a fire, the instant that the traveler died in that fire is the instant in which the traveler is no longer in that time period, and the body is never found within that location since it returns to the moment of time in which the traveler finished the spell and began time traveling.

Special Note: The introduction of time travel into any campaign can be fraught with peril, so tread carefully. Players will wonder how much they can mess with the timeline, and you may run into instances of the grandfather paradox. Further, changes made very far back in time cannot really be worked out completely because of the chaotic aspect of events. Thus, it is simplest to use the rule that changes in time are minor and somehow time smooths them out. This argues for a determinism and predestination in the ways of your world, but you can say that once events have transpired, small perturbations are possible (this person lives rather than dies, but does not contribute to events in a meaningful way), but the large-scale events themselves somehow happen anyway. If the cause is changed, another cause comes along. In the case of someone killing their own grandfather, the PC might find that he is the same but has a different family when returning to the present. As long as you keep the knowledge of how to travel in time restricted, your campaign will not fall apart.

Material Components: The material components of this spell are a pinch of dead skin, a drop of oil of timelessness, and a flower grown in soil untouched by any intelligent creature since the desired destination time. The flower must be picked during the casting of the spell. Untouched soil is defined as soil that no creature with an Intelligence score of 3 or higher has walked on, touched, or disturbed in any way, and it is usually found in remote locations (putting soil in a portable container disturbs it). The caster does not know whether the soil has been disturbed too recently for the time travel attempt, and many wizards simply use trial and error to find suitable locations. In short, you must find a pristine area to cast this spell, then you travel back in time to the exact same location at which you cast the spell. Because important events in a character's life are highly unlikely to take place in pristine locales, it's unlikely you'll have the ability to use this spell to make two of yourself to appear in the same place at the same time. Once you cast the spell in a particular location, it is no longer pristine, making it even more difficult to arrange for three or more of your future selves to assemble together.

XP Cost: 1,000 XP.

Part 3 gives information on the survey constructs and some ideas for using this portal in your campaign.

Portals in Time