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Entry updated 21 August 2012. Tagged: Game.

Card Game (2000). Looney Labs (LL). Designed by Andrew Looney.

Chrononauts is a light hearted game of Time Travel. A special deck of cards is laid out to form a map of the timeline, specifying a somewhat US-centric set of significant events such as the assassination of President Lincoln and the launch of Sputnik. Players can then use cards from their hands to alter history at Jonbar Points, known as linchpin events in the game. Unusually, changing a Jonbar Point does not fully determine the new timeline. Instead, events affected by the linchpin become paradoxes, which must be resolved to a definite historical state by the use of other cards. If 13 unresolved paradoxes are ever present at once, the universe is destroyed. Players are all time travellers whose home timelines have been erased by the manipulation of past events before the beginning of the game. Victory can be achieved by restoring a player's original history (allowing them to go home), salvaging valuable artefacts from the past (the original mission of many lost time wanderers), or repairing enough paradoxes to become a respected member of the Time Police (an extratemporal organization of which all players are automatically members). The tone is gently satirical, featuring such player identities as a highly evolved cockroach originating from a reality in which humanity was destroyed by a nuclear war triggered by the 1962 Cuban missile crisis; sf texts including cockroach protagonists from the future include Penny Perkins's Bob Bridges: An Apocalyptic Fable (1989). "Nanofiction" narratives are included on players' identity cards to stimulate role play. Chrononauts' design encourages fluid and unpredictable games in which players' divergent goals interact in unexpected ways.

Related works: Chrononauts: Lost Identities (2001 LL) designed by Andrew Looney is a collection of additional player character identities for Chrononauts, partially designed by its players. Early American Chrononauts (2004 LL) designed by Andrew Looney is a separate but similar game with a timeline extending from the American Revolution to the First World War; it can be combined with the original Chrononauts to form a single game. [NT]


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