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Tabletop Game / C°ntinuum: roleplaying in The Yet
aka: Continuum

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Hello. What time is it?

Ah, so you want me to describe Continuum here. You've picked the right chrony to frune with, then. I'll tell you what's what.

Cºntinuum: roleplaying in The Yet is a Time Travel Tabletop RPG by the folks at AetherCo. It starts with the question, "If you could learn to span time at will, what sort of civilization would you be entering?" It moves on from there, and the results are very well thought out — but since it requires four-dimensional thinking, it can really mess with your head. This has led to some calling it "The best time-travel game you'll ever read, but never actually play."

Basically, all of human history leads up to us inventing time travel; this includes all of the time traveling going on before that, making sure history turns out right. That's the job of the Continuum: to keep history working smoothly.

If you'd like to join up, always remember to follow the Five Maxims. In particular, information is all; knowing too little or too much of your Yet (your subjective future) can bite you. When meeting yourself, always respect your Elders. Never let the levellers know what's going on. And never, never try to change the known. That's what the Narcissists do, and you don't want the Foxhorns after you.

Past that and the list of tropes below, well, the core rulebook and the GM guide have both been out of print for ten years, so further information is not available here.

Has nothing to do with Stargate: Continuum besides also being based on time travel. Not to be confused with the webcomic or the TV series of the same name.

Time Travel Tropes:

  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Joan of Arc is a spanner; you might even get to meet her a good ways from her historical era. Other historical figures might be spanners, or be replaced by spanners if the need arises — the Thespians specialize in this.
  • Butterfly of Doom: Since more overt actions like killing an opponent's grandfather in Time Combat tend to frag hundreds if not thousands of spanners, most Time Combat mechanics focus on smaller stuff. Stealing an opponent's newspaper three days Down is a surprisingly effective way to frag them into non-sentience, with really ugly long-term effects for every other spanner the now-fragged target had in the Yet.
  • Can't Take Anything with You: 'Darter' Narcissists use old or crippled tech and therefore cannot take anything with them while traveling time. Not even Magic Pants. In the less naked version of the trope, carrying technology Down from its original time zone is frowned upon. Trying to bring powerful nanotech Down before its invention tends to result in a visit by the Engineers or Inheritors before you leave.
  • Casual Time Travel: Every PC is capable of travelling through time at will.
  • Clock Roaches: The Inheritors can act like this sometimes. They look a lot like The Greys and they tend to show up exactly where and when things get really messy.
  • Close-Enough Timeline: All fixes for frag are actually this, since you are changing things back rather than experiencing You Already Changed the Past. Under ideal circumstances the two are indistinguishable, but sometimes repair is impractical and you need to rely on memory alteration instead. The key determinant of "close enough" is whether anyone (any "sentient force") can recognize the difference.
  • Contemporary Caveman: Rare, due to population pressures, but not unknown. Most tend to learn English further Down.
  • Delayed Ripple Effect: A Narc can frag you and your favorite book to oblivion years Down from your birthdate, but neither will feel the frag until it's time to deal with the Frag and the Narcissist.
    • The (complicated) explanation is that you have to experience the events that caused the frag in the first place, including your own actions. So until you actually make someone mad they won't decide to go back and frag you, but once they have you'll feel the effects immediately.
  • Fashions Never Change: Averted. Ones and Twos can only travel a year and a decade at once, respectively, but most clothing will still attract attention. Threes and higher usually end up running from an angry mob if they aren't careful about keeping with the times.
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: Unprepared visits to unfamiliar levels are not recommended.
  • The Future: Up to AD 2221 is fair game, albeit a little heavy on the nanotech and implied Crystal Spires and Togas. Going past AD 2222 is not advised, and all eras beyond AD 2400 are the realm of the Inheritors and the Exalted. Further information is not available here. The futury contained in the GM section indicates that humans do indeed reach a post scarcity society, but the path is pretty nasty. Included are a third world war that culminates in the mass deployment of psionic weapons and nanites, a period of decadence where immortal proto-Inheritors entertain themselves with gory but nonlethal war and torture, and culminating in those who don't join the group mind and join the Inheritors being rounded up for study in what amount to wildlife preserves.
  • Future Badass: The advantages Favored Exalted, All Too Easy, and Death At Span Four all can be earned by Span Threes and mean a known Gemini with a future and extremely powerful version of themselves. To a lesser extent, GMs may elect for a Gemini to come with a higher Span version of the character, but this is rarely done.
  • Future Me Scares Me: Most Threes and all Fours or Exalted are not friendly things to encounter as a One's Gemini. At best, they've experienced decades or centuries of the spanning life and count as human only by the loosest definition. And that's ignoring the possibility of a future Narcissist self or of seeing your own demise...
  • Have We Met Yet?: While spanners normally ask for the time before talking to even familiar spanners, encounters can sometimes be muddled enough for this to occur.
  • Help Yourself in the Future:
    • The goal of pretty much any planned Continuum Gemini incident. Remember to respect your Elders.
    • Really, really problematic for Narcissists. Narcissists don't respect their elders at all. Partly because they consider their Yet to be mutable, partly because any supposed elder might be a Continuum plant. Any conversation between an Elder and Junior narcissist effectively has the Elder held hostage by the Junior in a really weird case of Stop, or I Shoot Myself!.
  • Historical In-Joke: Strongly encouraged. See Ki-Kung-Shi's airplane, Joan of Arc, the Count Saint-Germain, most Persons of Note from the fraternities.
  • Hitler's Time Travel Exemption Act: Better known as the Maxims and enforced by entire teams of the protagonists of the Continuum. When killing Hitler risks the vigintillionsnote  of lives of the Inheritors, the decision of the Atlantean Council seems a lot more relevant.
    • Lampshaded in the rules book: the description of the Thespian fraternity says something like "Please don't ask us how many times we've had to impersonate Hitler." Further information is not available here.
  • Hollywood Dreamtime: The "Dreamtime" is, in some sense, a real place that everyone visits when they sleep, that experiences All of Time at Once. Spanners who are trained in the "Dreaming" skill can use it to communicate across time (including with their own past and future selves), along with various gods and spirits.
  • I'm Mr. [Future Pop Culture Reference]: Narcissists and Thespians love this.
  • In Spite of a Nail: Not all fragging actions are successful; span Down a few years and take a book from the library first, and it might not stick if the variation is trivial or if the targeted spanner replaces it. The Narcissists can and do make small changes to their Yet, since the Inheritors only change back rather than change and don't put much emphasis on nonhuman things.
  • Meanwhile, in the Future…: Doesn't apply for levellers or physical combat, but Time Combat sweeps can quite easily involve six spanners in a half-dozen different levels.
  • Morton's Fork: Information works like this, especially in combat. On the one hand, acting without information is wasteful and foolish. On the other, once you've learned something you have to stick with it: you can't take frag for something you don't know, and you need to make sure you actually do everything you know you have in your yet.
  • Multiple-Choice Past: The Scorpiod Kings do this intentionally to protect Antedesertium from the Continuum (as well as for ideological reasons). They know that to spanners, information is all, so they ensure that spanners have access to a lot of possible histories and no way to verify any of them, making spanners prone to fragging themselves when they try to attack.
  • The Multiverse: Official Continuum dogma is that this concept is a lie and believing in it is the foundation of Narcissist heresy. (Maxim One: The universe is.) The game Narcissist is, of course, fundamentally based on this concept, and promised a colorful and complex geography of Alternate Universes to explore once you "crashed free" of the Continuum timeline, although the creators didn't get to elaborate on this much before giving up on the game. (What little material we have indicates that, much like in the more mainstream product Infinite Worlds, any imaginable RPG setting, including fantasy and science-fiction ones, could exist as a dimension in the Narcissist multiverse.)
    • At least one "alternate universe" is explicitly discussed in Continuum itself — the Dreamer Fraternity's Dark Secret is that they genuinely believe the Dreamtime to be an independently existent world free of the Continuum's laws where all of time exists at once, in contrast with the Continuum's official belief that the Dreamtime is only an illusion that exists secondarily to the real world. The Dreamers' eventual goal — technically heretical according to the Maxims — is to eventually escape the physical world and live in the Dreamtime permanently.
  • Never the Selves Shall Meet: Averted to hell and back. Meeting yourself is called a Gemini incident, and they're expected of spanners. Quite often, actually: fulfilling a randomly determined number of Gemini's is a requirement for increasing span. Joan of Arc is notable even among spanners, since she makes up 98% of the police force of Atlantis.
  • Ontological Inertia: Not actually a physical attribute of the universe, but when the entire future from AD 2400 onward and every habitable planet in the universe wants history to stay the same, it will stay the same. In fact, the knowledge that everything gets fixed is a necessary element of the Narcissist methodology, because it allows them to safely change the known and leave it for Continuum spanners to clean up.
  • Our Time Machine Is Different: The entire setting is predicated on the idea that the best thing to do with a time machine is to go to the future and get a better time machine. Ultimately, the design is completely internalized: someone can be completely naked, tied up, and still be perfectly capable of spanning. Less cool time machines also exist, but are usually used by Narcissists who can't afford better. However they do offer some advantages, most notably allowing higher span to anyone who can get one. Information on the first time machine (the one you would use to go get a better one) is occluded, and spanners are discouraged from trying to figure it out; way too many things can go wrong and the Inheritors do not want to have to clean it up.
    • The unfinished Narcissist rulebook finally reveals who invented time travel — Betne Rebu, the first of the kings of Antedesertium/Yrnë — although, of course, this may be propaganda, and we're told nothing about how this original time machine worked. We're also told that even though most Narcissists have no choice but to piggyback on the Continuum's nanotech, they don't trust it, and they're always looking for alternatives.
  • Out of Time, Out of Mind: Averted. An Exalted-Span One Gemini incident might have the two looking near identical, but the Exalted's centuries of experience will show up, even if the telekinesis doesn't.
  • Retroactive Preparation: The game calls it "slipshanking," and while it is useful, it gives you a point of Frag per item slipshanked, which must be cured by actually setting it up after you win the combat. The Continuum has rules about how little frag you can have to be allowed to do this, but the Narcissists don't obey them, and if they think they can win, will Slipshank a LOT more.
  • Screw Destiny: Worse than blasphemy, this is a Narcissist's attitude, going against reality itself. According to the physical laws the Inheritors created, at least. According to the Narcissist previews, Alternate Universes are a bit more lenient.
  • Scry vs. Scry: Time Combat: zipping around through time trying to either catch someone with a physical kill or frag them into nonexistence, ideally without fragging yourself in the process.
  • Stable Time Loop:
    • Setting these up and fulfilling them makes up almost all of the action in the game. It's common enough, in fact, that a particular koan used to describe the phenomenon is "The Universe is." This means that information can exist without a first cause, such as being told something by your future self, and later telling it to your past self without ever independently learning the information. This is intentionally allowed by the frag rules. Physical objects, like a letter to your past self with the information written on it, DO need a first cause, though, and removing it is a point of frag for you that's difficult to fix.
    • The Continuum believes that all of history is a Stable Time Loop — the Inheritor civilization exists for the entirety of space-time before the Continuum (all the way back to the outpost at the Big Bang known as "Cold Storage") and after. Human history needs to exist in order to be the physical origin of the Inheritors, but the information they need to exist — the time travel technology used by the Continuum — has no origin; the Hour of the Inheritance is simply humanity's distant descendants deciding they're ready to learn the secret. It's accepted that there has to have been a first time machine, but further information is not available here and spanners are discouraged from pursuing it. Narcissist claims that this hasn't always been true. The inventor of time travel was Betne Rebu, First King of Yrnë, and turning his timeline into a "metastable state" where the Continuum has always existed is his greatest mistake.
  • Temporal Paradox:
    • "Frag," the results of trying to change the known, or of someone changing your known Age or Yet. It starts with your memories getting mixed, then you start to fade out and the Quicker have to clean up after you.
    • The Grandfather Paradox is specifically mentioned in one table. Short form: yes, you can kill your own grandfather. It'll immediately frag you to the same extent as nuking a city out of turn. Not a good idea.
    • A specific situation occurs when an individual is fragged and a second individual then makes them late for the fragging event. The first individual takes both frags (the original As/As Not, and the As/As Not relating to whether or not they make it to the first frag), but the second individual may also fix a point of their own frag by doing so, so long as the point of frag was picked up in the current Time Combat. This is either called "the Statue of Liberty" or "the Fix," depending on which side you're on; for Continuum spanners, it's considered a trick play, but for Narcissists, it's a staple of their arsenal. It also ends the combat instantly in a victory.
  • Time Crash: If you die twice (barring cheats or odd circumstances), you immediately frag out and cause a point of nearly-unfixable Frag for anyone who witnesses both deaths.
  • Time Dissonance: Exalted tend to start thinking of a century of Age as a few birthdays ago. Late Aquarians and Inheritors don't even think of time linearly in the first place.
  • Timeline-Altering MacGuffin: A wide variety of possibilities. Oddly, some things that seem to be Almanacs are actually predestined. No one cares about Ki-Kung-Shi getting a working airplane. Just don't let a Narcissist bring more than a quarter tank of gasoline back. Just don't lose your span book.
  • Time Master: Spanners are these, especially at higher span levels.
  • Time Police: The Foxhorns specialize in taking down Narcissists, while it's the Quicker's job to clean up hopeless Frag-ups. However, the idea of a monolithic Time Police is averted; it's everyone's job to fix Frag where they can find it.
  • The Time Traveller's Dilemma: The reason the Inheritors won't let anyone change the future.
  • Time-Travel Tense Trouble: Averted. The past and future only count from your own perspective, so if you've done something or will do it, you say that. For everyone else, you use the present tense, regardless of "when" it's happening (ie: "Bob is in 1945 in Berlin, 1492 in Argentina, and in 2038 with Alice"). This is because for a time traveler at any time you could be on the same level as them, so it's all happening 'now'.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: Averted. The rules of time travel are fairly straightforward and don't deviate. However, the rules for Narcissists are slightly different than the rules for Continuum spanners. This is due to a combination of the main source book being written by an Unreliable Narrator (it's solidly from the Continuum perspective and written in character) and partly due to the fact that the physical 'Laws' of time travel were actually created by the Inheritors in the first place.
  • Tricked Out Time: The only reliable way to cure frag. Simply preventing the fragging event itself generates more frag instead, since the character knows that the fragging event was in their Age or Yet.
  • Trust Password: Narcissists try this, although most don't respect their Elders even if they are in the Narc's Yet. Continuum spanners have their versions, as well.
  • Unstuck in Time: Possible, but not the worst thing Frag can do.
  • Wayback Trip: Essentially the goal of the Continuum.
  • Write Back to the Future: This is a common solution to being "stuck" in the past while your Span recovers; the Scribes specialize in this. Also, taken to extremes, a way of "instant messaging" with fellow spanners. Example.
  • Written by the Winners: An entirely literal case of this, the course of History is what the winners of the war between Antedesertium and the Continuum decided it would be.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: Your job is to make sure reality runs smoothly. If something tries to change the known, you have to step in. If you screw up, things only get worse; then the Inheritors show up. Except when they don't. Multiple timelines can be a bitch.

Other Tropes:

  • All Myths Are True: Not true, exactly, but the Continuum setting gives an in-universe explanation for stories of Bigfoot, Sasquatch, and Yeti, The Greys, ghost stories and hauntings, and the Western Zodiac. Many stories about supernatural or paranormal events in the past are hinted to be caused by Time Travel — two specific examples given are Joan of Arc and the Comte de Saint-Germain, both of whom were spanners — and Hollywood Dreamtime is both a real place and contains the "gods" and "spirits" of mankind.
  • And Man Grew Proud: Antedesertium is an entire time span of thousands of years where Africa is ruled by Narcissist kings of time and space, granting Schizo Tech to the population, and performing experiments on causality itself. Eventually, they come to look nothing like humans, and then their whole civilization collapses at Interregnum, a massive Temporal Paradox-laden no man's land, where time travelers instantly Frag out if they try to span. Interregnum caused a massive axial shift that left the Sahara a desert.
  • Atlantis: This is a Continuum city and, though chronologically close, is not part of Antedesertium. It's a meeting place where the council decides on all the rules and guidelines of time travel. Strangely enough, after obeying these rules for most of their lives, the player characters might sit on this council and decide on those very same rules.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: Neither the Continuum nor the Narcissist views of morality have much to do with leveller morals. The Continuum exists to preserve the sanctity of the timeline, but its behavioral rules only apply to spanners, sadism in hunting Narcissists is lauded, and levellers have no rights that a spanner is bound to respect. A random leveller in 1950 saw you pull out your iPhone? You could hypnotize him into amnesia, or just kill him. Crashers, meanwhile, have no overriding morality at all, only their own goals and a loose ideology of crashing free and trying to find Yrne, and not only levellers but other crashers may be used freely as tools towards that end.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: The distinction between in- and out-of-character is completely smashed in the rules for advancing between Spans, since one of the requirements for advancing (which the GM is specifically instructed to not waive) is a certain amount of real-world time on the player's part playing Continuum, including requirements for game session length. Not necessarily with any one character.
  • Chain of Command: Spanners at Span 1 and 2 answer to their mentor, who's at Span 3. Span 3s (Mentors), and 4s to a lesser extentnote , have two superiors/contacts, both Exalted (Span 5+). Exalted answer to the Inheritors. Exalted and Inheritors also have command authority over all spanners of lesser rank; in principle, one doesn't have to help the Exalted when "asked," but since an Exalted's request concerns the good of all life everywhen, not doing so is at best going to hurt your chances of advancement, and may get you killed.
  • Cool Starship: The Inheritors zip around in gravity and inertia defying craft, capable of absurd span, with onboard telepathic weapons and unbreakable Deflector Shields that can even stop you from spanning through them.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: Depending on your perspective and goals, the game is either this or Lovecraft Lite. The universe is governed by nigh-omnipotent alien beings operating by rules that have nothing to do with leveller morality, though they're quite interested in Earth and humanity, and their victory is absolutely impossible to stop. While it's not really a bleak universe for Continuum spanners if you ignore the issues with free will, Narcissists are stuck fighting a Hopeless War where destiny itself is out to screw them over.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: If Continuum spanners decide that a Narcissist has to be dealt with, that Narcissist will be fragged into non-sentience before he even knows he's under attack, and that's if he's lucky. Basically, any ongoing fight with a narcissist gets more and more Continuum spanners involved through incidental frag, leading to Serial Escalation. And if it's a major incursion that can't be swept under the rug easily, that's when The Inheritors arrive to put an end to the nonsense.
  • Dark Secret: Everyone in the setting has them, hence the frequent use of the Catchphrase "further information is not available here" to discourage asking about them. The GM section of the rulebook lists some — for instance, several of the Fraternities have one:
    • The Antiquarians frequently "borrow" all of the historical treasures they're assigned to guard by yanking them out of the timeline for their own enjoyment as part of the task of "protecting" them. Indeed, the most famous and beautiful creations of the human race spend most of their historical existence in the private collections and pleasure gardens of Antiquarian higher-ups, only popping back into their normal time and place when levellers interact with them in the historical record.
    • The Dreamers believe the Dreamtime to be a wholly separate universe from the Continuum, that follows its own rules and is not subject to the Continuum's laws. The highest-level Dreamers believe that an agreement was made at some point that the Dreamers would teach the Continuum their ways and allow the Continuum to use the Dreamtime for cross-temporal communication in return for the Dreamers being allowed to abandon the physical universe entirely and live in the Dreamtime permanently once their service is complete.
    • The Engineers know that "time machines" that exist outside a spanner's body and allow levellers and inanimate objects to be moved through time exist, and can be used under specific circumstances approved by the Inheritors. They also share a secret with the Physicians — the two Fraternities' debate over the boundary between Body and Tool is as fraught as it is because they know that creating a spanner involves replacing so much of their biological tissue with nanotech that spanners are arguably more machine than human.
    • The Midwives guard the secret that spanners breed true — any child born to two spanners will be a spanner from birth. The Seven spend the Scorpiod era creating enough new spanners that they hope that spanners will become the dominant subspecies of Homo sapiens — the Midwives respond by introducing enough genetic diseases in the human population that the species is almost wiped out, leading to the Reset Button and "clean slate" of the Virgin Era. Spanners of the Continuum are aware that spanners having children is banned by a decision of the 2nd Atlantean Council, but not the details of why — or that the Midwives make it their duty to hunt down violators of this law, take their children away and wipe their memory of them.
    • The Physicians are the ones actually responsible for making and using Invitation Kits to turn levellers into spanners, a process erased from all spanners' memories until they regain their "In-Between" memories at Span Three. They also share a secret with the Engineers — the two Fraternities' debate over the boundary between Body and Tool is as fraught as it is because they know that creating a spanner involves replacing so much of their biological tissue with nanotech that spanners are arguably more machine than human.
    • The Quicker, if you believe the Narcissist rulebook, are aware that pockets and paraverses exist and are fairly conversant in the terminology and theory behind the Narcissists' view of The Multiverse. High-span Quicker are trusted with this knowledge and the task of pursuing Narcissists into Alternate Universes, once they've proven themselves indoctrinated enough to see these other universes as only illusions borne of Frag doomed to eventual collapse.
  • Death of a Thousand Cuts: The Isolate stratagem, better known to Narcissists as "the Swarm": a carefully coordinated attack to frag someone multiple times one after another. Spanners take a particular moment to attack, and then step in one at a time to alter it with a sequence of attacks so fleeting the attackers don't learn a dangerous amount of information.
  • Death Seeker: Seeking out the information of when and where you die is essentially this, as it locks the event into your Yet. Spanners trying to do this are considered insane.
  • Deus ex Machina: The Inheritors serve this purpose but really only come out to work when things get really, really bad. Since their mere existence back in our time could screw things up, they never want to get involved, ensuring Deus Exit Machina.
  • Direct Line to the Author: The rulebooks claim that the authors of the game received their information from the spanners (time travelers) whose adventures are the basis for the game. The Atlantean Councils believe that it will assist humanity in acclimating to the time-travelling civilization that they'll enter 224 years later. Any inaccuracies in either history or future predictions are handwaved away in the text by saying the Continuum rulebook was written to be deliberately inaccurate to help prepare levellers for the Hour of Inheritance without actually burdening their Yets with things they're not ready to know.
  • Easily Forgiven: If a Narcissist who was originally a Continuum spanner isn't killed or fragged out and they're willing to be rehabilitated, they'll usually be freely brought back into the Continuum after some correctional therapy. Incidentally, this does not apply to anyone who didn't start with the Continuum. Those are handed to the Foxhorns for disposal.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Most of the Scorpiod Kings of Antedesertium look like this. One looks like a tear in reality; another looks like a massive dome several kilometers wide. The scary part? All of them started out as human Narcissists. The Inheritors are "good", but match up to the trope as sheer alien, unstoppable, and incomprehensibly more powerful beings.
  • Fake Memories: A possible result of telepathy or hypnosis, which can be useful to fix Frag if what people remember and what actually happens don't quite match. However, it's not an ideal solution both because the memories can be restored (along with the frag) and because the Continuum considers it sloppy. Leaning on it will impede your advancement.
  • Faking the Dead: Possible. Most often, this is done at Span 2 to disappear from your pre-spanning life. Using it to Trick Out Time and cheat your actual death is a violation of spanner law, because it would mean that nobody would die. It's not against the Maxims, though, so it won't frag anyone and the Inheritors don't care if you do it.
  • Fantastic Racism: There's an era-ist attitude in the Quicker, who are dominated by Early Aquarians (those born from 2000-2400 AD). The Fraternity is seen as Aquarian territory (in large part due to the fact that this Fraternity has the most contact with the Inheritors, but also because even the concept behind their operations is based in Aquarian physics), and downtimers are treated as dogsbodies and face a glass ceiling for advancement.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Fragmentation from paradox leaves one looking and interacting with the world like a ghost, so much like a ghost that almost all ghostly phenomena could be attributed to someone with a high level of frag.
  • Figure It Out Yourself: "Further information not available here" is spanner lingo for this. In a time-travelling civilization, the importance of controlling information is axiomatic, and there are many reasons for not revealing what you know to someone else who might want to know it.
  • Future Slang: Technically "spanner slang," since past and future are all the same to them...
    • Time travelers are called "spanners," and yes, they know that means "ditz" in British slang. Down from the Industrial Revolution, they call themselves "spinners."
    • Your fellow spanners are your chronies. Spanners that try to change history are Narcissists, since they don't think for anyone beyond themselves (and maybe close friends), relatively speaking.
    • Your Age is your subjective past, and your Yet's what you haven't done yet.
    • Up is further into the external future and Down is further into the external past. (The terms "past" and "future" are not used by spanners because they conflate two separate temporal dimensions.)
    • Meeting yourself is called a Gemini; your Elder is the one who's gone through this before, and your Junior is you the first time around (if we're talking just two of you).
    • Levellers are non-time travelers, since they exist on the same "level" of time.
    • Wherever you call home (in whatever part of time you frequent most) is your corner.
  • A God Am I: The Scorpiod Kings of Antedesertium indeed call themselves gods, and they have the mastery of time and space to back it up.
  • Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke: Part of the war with Antedesertium. Mostly not creating supersoldiers and monsters, though this does happen. It's the Dark Secret of the Midwives that they poison Antedesertium's gene pool with numerous defects. In the aftermath of the war, the lingering damage almost wipes out the survivors and creates a genetic bottleneck.
  • The Greys: The Inheritors, who are actually post-Singularity humans.
  • Hand Wave: Hypnosis gets used a lot when people screw up. Also, the explanation for time travel feels a lot like one of these, due to the bizarre physics. Of course, it could also just be false information, since the book is supposedly meant to help ease levellers into accepting time travel.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: According to Crasher mythology, most of their greatest generals sacrificed themselves to create a gate into an alternate timeline where the Inheritors don't rule. Whether this is true or not is deliberately vague.
  • Hive Mind:
    • The Inheritors seem to be this, and certainly act like it. Further information not available here.
    • On a broader scale, the Continuum is the wiki version of this. Frag is cleaned up, history kept on course, and Graces disbursed to spanners through a variety of jobs managed through corners and Fraternities and coordinated by the Exalted and Inheritors.
  • Hopeless War: From the crasher perspective, the war against the Swarm is this; even the Kings and Gods cannot defeat the Singularity. A crasher's objective is not to win but to escape.
  • Humans Are Cthulhu: A weird case of You Will Be Cthulhu. Levellers are ordinary, spanners are something resembling a physical god at high span and with enough tech. But the hive-minded Inheritors reach full Eldritch Abomination: unstoppable swarming lords of all time and space. Even ignoring the Scorpiod Kings, humans essentially become Azathoth.
  • Hunting the Most Dangerous Game: Foxhorns are essentially a hunting club, not a police force; the stereotypical Foxhorn is a sadist who happens to be on the Continuum's payroll, and many of them take trophies from their kills.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal - Spanners can pull a Bill and Ted (in game terms, "Slipshank") and have their future self leave an item just where they need it.
    • Notable in that, while you can suddenly have access to anything, you still have to retrieve it from a place it could logically have been hidden.
  • I Have Many Names: Any spanner who makes it above Span One will go through a bunch of pseudonyms while interacting with levellers, but spanners also typically go through multiple actual names they use with their chronies in the Continuum across their Age. The example PC in the book does this step-by-step as she reclaims her Irish-American roots — she was born Cynthia Carmichael, changes her surname to Cynthia Stirling as a Span Two, and becomes Seana Stirling as an Exalted.
  • Immune to Fate: Partially. Narcissists can be fragged for crossing their Age, but except in limited circumstances, they are not bound to adhere to their Yet even if it's been revealed to them. They are only bound to it if they created the event as a player (Gemini Flush/Slipshank) They can leave the mess for the Continuum to clean up, and if their death is revealed to them, they're not always bound to play nice. They can even warn their junior to undo a deadly time combat by spanning back to an earlier crash point, and giving the warning, fragging their elder selves, but rewinding their character sheet back to what it was, and providing a new possible future.
  • Instant Expert: Not exactly, since you have to study for it, but the rules for it are there. To your chronies it just looks like you vanished and came back a second later, and with a few more months of Age and experience.
  • Intangibility: Fragged Narcissists can use their Frag to become discorporate and see or move through objects, though the Continuum doesn't teach this kind of trick.
  • Koan: "The Universe is." This doesn't directly convey any new information, but it's still an important concept with ramifications for time travel. One of the most important ramifications is that it's possible to have a Stable Time Loop without an independent cause, as long as it involves information only.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: The Fifth Maxim states "Never Fight For A Lost Cause." If someone is fragged too badly, step back and let the Quicker handle it. If you are fragged too badly...tough luck, don't try to save yourself. However, the latter rule has more flexibility; if you do manage to survive and fix your frag, then your actions were clearly legal.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: One of the powers of telepathy (and for some reason, hypnosis). A tool used to protect reality and the Continuum. Also, all player characters start with amnesia, since they don't remember what happened during the months of training they had learning to span.
  • Living on Borrowed Time: If you die, the GM can rule that you spanned out... but you still saw how you died. It's in your Yet. You Can't Fight Fate this time. At some point you have to span back to that moment, close the loop, and die. In game terms, the character can gain one more rank, but eventually they're either going to have to make the trip or be fragged out of existence - there's no escaping it. Unless you engage in shenanigans to reconcile your survival with the information. These tricks are illegal for Continuum spanners - not impossible or against the Maxims, just illegal - but widely practiced by Narcissists. Some of them will leave a corpse of themselves from a parallel universe, which always fools the Foxhorns, and usually even the Quicker.
  • Mana Meter: Your Span denotes how far you can travel through time before you need to sleep. It costs the same to travel Down as to travel Up.
  • Masquerade: The whole point of the Fourth Maxim: don't let the levellers know if it's not time yet. Obviously, things happen, and you have to make an Invitation to Dance; this is how new spanners enter the fold. Also, since spanners are not allowed to reproduce with other spanners, such invitations are the only way to get more spanners. Regardless, a breach of this Maxim is likely to require more cleanup than any other, which means even Narcissists try to be circumspect lest the Foxhorns drop some real ugly on them.
  • Meaningful Name: Due to all of the spanner activity in the Geminid Era, there are a lot of Gemini incidents that occur there.
  • Mentors: The job of most mid-rank (Span 3) spanners is to serve as a mentor to fresh spanners.
  • Mind Screw: The whole game, some would say; there's plenty of examples here. Thinking in four dimensions can cause massive headaches.
  • The Most Dangerous Game: The book points out that the idea of Time Police is very much based on a 20th-century model of a centralized, bureaucratic government and is unworkable in the context of the Continuum; the Foxhorn's version of Time Police is based on the "more ancient" social structure of a hunting party, and is openly staffed by Sadists whose preferred form of service to the Continuum is violence and murder.
  • Muggle Best Friend: The Continuum rulebook explicitly rejects this trope and warns against any bending of the Fourth Maxim. Unlike other "superpowers", Time Travel completely changes the way you think and your view of the universe — it is impossible for a leveller to truly grasp the way a spanner thinks and to join them in that life without becoming a spanner themselves.
    • This is helpfully enforced by the fact that an unaltered human body is incapable of surviving the stresses of spanning — if a spanner tries to carry a leveller with them while time-traveling they'll come out the other side with a corpse. Specialized equipment exists to allow levellers to time travel, but is only available to the Exalted.
  • Muggles: Call them levellers.
  • Nanomachines: Used extensively near The Singularity, which may or may not have something to do with time travel. Further information is not available here.
  • Narcissist: The Continuum gives this name to their opponents, referring to any time traveler who rejects the Maxims and chooses to try to deliberately alter history for their own advantage. It's said to have been coined by a Continuum scholar versed in Greek myth based on the tendency for Narcissists to refer to their future selves as "echoes" who aren't really real and wantonly frag them by contradicting what they remember.
    • The Narcissists themselves, of course, reject this terminology and accuse the Continuum of being the true narcissists, willing to tolerate any amount of atrocity and suffering in history just to ensure their own existence. (According to them, the reason their own rulebook is titled Narcissist is because that's the only way the Continuum would allow it to be published.) Narcissists tend to call themselves "crashers", a term the Continuum also uses but in a more limited sense. (The Continuum thinks "crashers" means anyone who acquires time travel powers without the Continuum's Invitation, i.e. "party crashers"; Narcissists think of "crashing" as meaning "crashing out" of the Continuum's timeline into The Multiverse.)
  • Noble Demon: The Continuum sees Betne Rebu, the First of the Seventy Kings of Antedesertium — and therefore in some sense the "first" of the Narcissists — as the most worthy of their opponents, and the Inheritor fleet that's said to have greeted him when he tried to span Down from the Sagittarian Era greeted him with "the respect due to a king". That said, of course, the Continuum warns against ever truly thinking this of any Narcissist — however principled they may seem, the fundamental basis of their creed is that only they matter and nobody else is real.
  • Not Afraid to Die: It's expected that a Continuum spanner will accept his fated death with good grace if the information has been revealed to him. Those who do not are of course branded Narcissists.
  • Obstructive Code of Conduct: The laws of spanner society. These come in two levels of importance.
    • The decisions of the Atlantean Councils. Spanners are expected to abide by these, though most are not relevant to any particular spanner and they ultimately detail the cosmic plan for the world of the Societies. Breaking these may hinder your advancement or invite retribution from spanners, but will not frag you and will usually not attract Inheritor attention.
    • The Five Maxims are The Law. Every spanner knows them by heart, and they are the cornerstones of the Continuum. They explain how a spanner avoids damaging the fabric of space and time, and to reject them is to be a Narcissist, choosing the self over the entire universe. There's actually more flex in the rules than is written down, but only for those high-ranking enough to be trusted with it.
  • Off the Rails: One of the creators of Continuum related this story about an early beta Narcissist session: His character had successfully crashed out of the main Universe and was trying to evade Quicker by going further out, but got captured. His crib-mates came to rescue him but found a junior version of him pre-capture near the first crash gate and spirited him to safety. This effectively split one character into two: the one who got captured and the one who was rescued from something that hadn't happened to him yet. It was at that point the group realized there was nothing in the rules preventing this. Take that, causality!
  • Omniscient Morality License: The Exalted and Inheritors are not bound by the Five Maxims and can do whatever they need to do to protect the timestream. To look at it another way, they have a different understanding of the Five Maxims. They can be trusted with perfect information of the future because they won't act improperly with it, Gemini incidents are resolved respectfully and without incident, they don't have to keep a span book because they all have perfect memory, they have full discretion when dealing with Masquerade breaches, and if they rehabilitate or execute a badly-fragged spanner, they're not fighting for or against an individual Lost Cause, they're fighting for the Continuum.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: Generally, ghost sightings are a result of part of a fragged spanner ending up where he shouldn't be, and they're a good sign that you need to notify the Quicker. There's also methods for really badly fragged Narcissists to do ghost things, but the Continuum doesn't teach them and they're generally seen as stupid tricks. Further information not available here.
  • Painting the Medium: So much. One of the more subtle cases: several footnotes on the Inheritors advise the reader to look for further information on page 210. That's the end of the GM section, but it's also labeled "Time Travel in the Real World." Use of "further information is not available here" and the warnings about crasher propaganda throughout the rest of the book are less subtle but still very effective. Not to mention that the book also contains Continuum propaganda and Blatant Lies about the goals and capabilites of the Narcissists
    • Further Information is also the name of the game's sole supplement.
  • Perspective Flip: Narcissist: Crash Free. Don't buy into the propaganda of the Swarm! This Universe may be lost to a joyless, devouring inhuman horde, but it is still possible to make a Gate and crash out of here! Yrne awaits those with the courage to seek it...
  • Physical God: Even the weakest of the Exalted can travel 10,000 years in an instant, is immortal unless killed, and has enough mental powers and Aquarian supertechnology to kill someone or erase their mind with a thought. An individual Inheritor is, at a minimum, orders of magnitude more powerful than that. The same goes for the masters of Antedesertium.
  • Power Levels:
    • For Continuum spanners, Span serves as both power level and rank in the hierarchy, and the two are interrelated; spanners with higher Span can not only span farther and carry more than those with lower Span without having to rest, but they also receive access to better tech, longer lives, the potential for higher attributes, and (most importantly) access to further information.
    • Narcissist averts this; a crasher with low Span can easily have more and better toys and powers than one who's spent all his favors and crash points on better Span (though he should beware Phlebotinum Breakdown if his spanning tech is too crude).
  • Psychic Powers: Telepathy, telekinesis, and a few others are available to those with the right tutors.
  • Psychopomp: The role of the Quicker is to take away the fragged dead, or simply those spanners who are too fragged to fix but aren't dead yet.
  • Railroading:
    • This game has to examine it thoroughly, both from an in-character and out-of-character standpoint. Because You Can't Fight Fate, polite spanners avoid giving away too much about someone else's future (the number one reason to say "further information is not available here"). The GM, meanwhile, is advised to go out of his way to avoid filling spanners' Yets. The one big exception, however, is with the Yet of the In-Between, where you can be destined to die, betray the Continuum, or become an Exalted because of what you learned while you were first learning to span, which is hypnotically kept from you until you need to know.
    • If the Inheritors decide that they want something to happen, it happens. This does not mean that you can't defeat an Inheritor, or even an Inheritor spacecraft, because you can. But if you defeat them, then they'll know that instantly and respond by bringing a Bigger Stick - and their resources are, as far as everyone else is concerned, infinite. This is part of why they're called "the Swarm" by Narcissists.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: The Foxhorns and the Quicker are the two Fraternities closest to Time Police, but they're very different groups. The Foxhorns are a passionate hunting club who like to viscerally murder Narcissists for fun and to terrorize the next bunch. The Quicker, meanwhile, specialize in fixing Frag and cleaning up what's left after someone's fragged into a Lost Cause. They don't get along, as they have very different attitudes toward the meaning of death.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Supernatural Powers!:
    • It's mentioned that, since leveller authorities have no hope of constraining a spanner, some spanners decide to abuse them freely, including theft, rape and murder. The Continuum is more or less okay with this, so long as you don't break their laws (which govern social behavior within spanner civilization, not between spanners and levellers or crashers), and if you have a problem with how another spanner is dealing with levelers, do something about it yourself. However, the book also mentions that there's a short step between abandoning social taboos and abandoning the Maxims.
    • The Inheritors operate on Blue-and-Orange Morality and couldn't care less about something so minor as committing a felony if it's necessary for the timestream. They're usually not actively malevolent towards anyone but Narcissists and Lost Causes, however.
  • Shaped Like Itself: The following paragraphs appear in an example of Time Combat:
    [Alice] looks at Gary [the GM]. "Here's a question. We're allies at a Rendezvous. Can I let Ben Oracle first, then use that information to Go Down and target the guy?"
    Gary looks over the rules. "Well, it's not spelled out, but that question does show up in the example of Time Combat."
    "And?" Alice asks hopefully.
    "The GM in the example points out that Oracle has a minimum duration of 7 days. If you were to wait for Ben's Oracle, Amber would have to Stay Level this Sweep, too."
  • Shout-Out: There are many, both overt shout-outs (example character Cynthia Carmichael is a big fan of The Lord of the Rings) and hidden ones:
    • The two fratboy spanners who accidentally frag themselves by drinking the same six-pack of beer twice — in order to introduce the concept of frag — are named "William" and "Theodore" after Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, which directly inspired the concept of "slipshanking".
    • The basic concept of frag — where attempting and failing to change known history causes you to be start Fading Away like a ghost as though consumed by metaphysical Clock Roaches — was inspired by the Alfred Bester story "The Men Who Murdered Mohammed".
  • The Singularity: Time travel itself is the end product of one of these, taking place some time in the early Aquarian period — sorry, around AD 2222.
  • Spy Speak:
    • "What time is it?" and other variations are a callsign; other spanners know what you're supposed to respond with. Levellers will just answer how you'd expect.
    • The phrase "Further information is not available here" could count, too. It's considered to be an information-neutral statement; you're simply telling the other person that no further information will be given to them at this place and time. In practice, it usually means that the other person knows something, but is not telling the other person (for any number of reasons).
  • Splat: The Fraternities, which all specialize in something specific.
    • The Antiquarians specialize in historical objects,
    • the Engineers in technology,
    • the Midwives in who's born when,
    • the Moneychangers in currency (and making sure all spanners start out rich),
    • the Physicians in medicine,
    • the Scribes in storing knowledge and communication,
    • the Dreamers in communicating through dreams across eras,
    • the Foxhorns in Time Policing and taking down Narcissists,
    • the Quicker in looking into hauntings and strange phenomena and cleaning up after hopeless cases of Frag,
    • and the Thespians in disguise and the replacement of levellers or other time travelers.
  • Tele-Frag: Normally, this isn't possible, but spanning can be dangerous. Span into a heavy radiation zone or a lightning storm, and you'll frag out. Span too far, too fast (as defined by your Span), and you'll probably lose control and miss your target (and "missing" usually means missing the Earth and dying in space). And curing your Frag while using it for Intangibility will result in you co-locating with an object and doing this.
  • Teleport Spam: As often pointed out by the creators of the game, starting characters in Continuum are more powerful than most characters in RPGs ever get, with the unlimited ability to "span levelly" (teleport spatially without Time Travel, appearing in a new place exactly one second later) within a one-mile radius. It's already extremely difficult for the GM to think of mundane situations that pose any threat to even a Span One character, much less an experienced player who's achieved Span Three or Four, which is one reason Time Combat is so abstract and is a matter of messing with someone's known timeline from a distance more than it is actual fighting.
  • Temporal Duplication: Any experienced time traveler has the occasional "Gemini incident" and needs to know how to coordinate their Elder and Junior versions to avoid Temporal Paradox. Exaggerated with Joan of Arc, whose temporal duplicates make up 98% of Atlantis's police force.
  • Time and Relative Dimensions in Space: Every spanner can teleport some distance in space, which is treated as time travel with a length of 0, It's "free" as far as their Span is concerned.
  • Total Eclipse of the Plot: One of the major Antedesertium offensives, called The Hunt For The Sun, is a long-running plot over thousands of years to destroy the Sun. This would both have wiped out the Continuum and created a singularity that could be used for even more powerful reality warping.
  • Transhuman Aliens: The Inheritors are post-Singularity humans.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Taken together, the Continuum and Narcissist books present the same world with somewhat different time travel rules. Each side has theories and explanations for the other side's time travel rules, but the contradiction means that at least one side is lying.
  • Viewers Are Geniuses - Running/playing a game that requires 4-dimensional thinking is very hard. And then there's Narcissist...
  • We Need a Distraction: There is speculation that the older, more noble era of Antedesertium allowed the rise of the Scorpiod Kings to distract the Continuum while they worked on their own plans to escape reality. Yes, they are supposed to have deliberately created seven godlike eldritch abominations as a distraction for the Inheritors. Now that's a Godzilla Threshold.
  • Western Zodiac: Continuum gives us a Secret History of the zodiac, which was "leaked" into leveller society as part of the program of preparing humanity for the Inheritance while also giving spanners useful cover for using zodiac signs in their vocabulary. In the Continuum, the division of the solar year into zodiac signs and their use for horoscopes is mostly irrelevant — the true meaning of the signs is the Astrological Ages (called Eras by the Continuum), which are the main way the Continuum divides up history. And yes, true to the meaning of the term "New Age", we in the 21st century are on the cusp of the Aquarian Era, when humanity becomes truly enlightened and transitions to a time-traveling civilization. Each of the zodiac signs has a Meaningful Name related to what was going on in that Era — for instance, "a Gemini" is the general Continuum term for meeting yourself due to Time Travel, and the "Geminid Era" (6000-4000 BC) is an era when Narcissist forces try to invade Continuum spacetime and time-duplicated soldiers become a common sight on the battlefield.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Super?: Levellers have no rights that the Continuum respects and are often reduced to pawns in spanner games. Those who find out about the Masquerade get Laser-Guided Amnesia. By the way, humans who were taught to span without Continuum approval, even if they had no choice in the matter, are Killed to Uphold the Masquerade. (They're never Invited to Dance because the risk that their masters may have planted time bombs in their heads is just too great.)
  • Winds of Destiny, Change!: "Destiny" isn't a force in itself in this world or so the Continuum claims, but there is a system for fate manipulations. Some successes (for spanners) and failures (for crashers) occur as a result of "Graces" or "Jinxes," where some spanner pre-arranges the success or failure through temporal manipulations. (It's stacked this way because the Continuum has effective control of the timeline.)
  • Written by the Winners: The Continuum rulebook is unabashedly written from an in-universe perspective taking the Continuum's side of the Continuum-Narcissist war, insulting the Narcissists and calling them evil deluded sociopaths at every opportunity. The never-published Perspective Flip follow-up, Nᵃrcissist: Crash Free, would've done the same to the Continuum.
  • You Will Be Beethoven - This is par for the course for the Thespians.

Alternative Title(s): Continuum