OSR: Medieval Things, Part 2: Moderately Blasphemous Time Travel Campaign

This post brought to you by Bunnahabhain single malt scotch whisky (18 yr). And a wee cup of water.


The setting is France, ~1390.

A mysterious metal box appeared in a field just outside of Paris. It's the size of a small cottage and shaped vaguely like an enormous upright coffin. King Charles VI orders it brought to the royal court for examination. Everyone gathers around to offer advice. The box has a door, it's discovered, and some strange markings inside in a language no one can read. After a few days, a monk discovers that one of the panels displays numbers in a mangled form of arabic numerals, and a dial can adjust them. There's also a map of the world - at least, it seems to be, but nobody's quite sure - and a way to adjust where the map is focused. Before he can do anything else, the box fills with light. A very confused identical copy of the monk appears.

After a lot of screaming and fighting and a few tests by hot iron, it's determined that the monk is from the future, three weeks away, and knows how the dials work. He explains it to his past-self, who promptly tests it and vanishes.

King Charles declares the box off-limits for a few days, and then makes a revolutionary announcement to his court. The box is divinely sent. It is clearly an invitation to the virtuous nation of France to right the wrongs of history... starting with the obvious source of all trouble. If the Crucifixion can be stopped, he declares, and Christ rescued by the French, all will be right with the world. The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!

Travels of Marco Polo

The PCs

The PCs are standard medieval peasants or knights or monks or whatever, but for some reason, have been inducted into the newly created Ordo Salutis, the Order of Salvation. They are being sent back in time to stop the Crucifixion, rescue Christ, and right all the wrongs of history. To aid in this, they have been given the very best armour, weapons, tools, and advice medieval France can offer.

King Charles and most of the reigning nobles have already vanished into the box, so something must have gone awry. You might also need to rescue them.

The Problem

Somehow, the perfidious English got their hands on their own magic box. In fact, there are dozens of the things. The Mount of Calvary is a chaotic brawl. The English are fighting the French, the French are fighting the Romans, the Romans are fighting crazy bearded men in skirts; it's all chaos and confusion. Every time a box is used it it creates a new box (unless there's one already present).

The PCs are given orders by a weary Oliver de Clisson to stop the English by assassinating King Arthur. Without their mythological founding king, the English would be easy prey and probably vanish completely. It's a long shot, but off the PCs go.

Except King Arthur's a myth (or is he)?

So they decide to assassinate the Emperor Claudius instead. No Claudius, no Roman conquest of Britain. No Roman conquest of Britain, no troublesome English kings.

Except now the Romans now have time machines in 43 AD and 32 AD...
Oh yeah, you should also make sure you've got a good sound effect for time travel.

The Chaos

With multiple competing factions running through time, the game is more or less immediately going to devolve into gonzo time shenanigans. As more and more paradoxes and alternate histories are created, each with their own time machine, the situation grows more complex. Halluci-nations spring up like weeds.

And then the future gets involved, and tanks and laser guns start showing up. Can the PCs find a nice stable point in history and also get rich? Can they acomplish their original goal? What sort of inaccuracies and trouble can they cause, bearing in mind their inaccurate grasp of  history.
War Elephant, BL, Add 11283 fol. 4r

Play Materials

The GM should have access to the internet and a good reference library. The wikipedia pages for each year are useful too. Don't worry too much about accuracy; just skim for interesting bits. Caricaturize.

The players have access to the first few chapters of "1066 and All That" and their own memories. The GM is never to point out inaccuracies in the players' memories; if they can't remember if Charlemagne died in 418 or 814, let them pick a date and a location. They're off!

The GM should build a table of factions and roll on it as required to see who else has turned up to any major historical event. I'll write actual tools if people like this idea.

Ludicrous music too
. Mix all the genres.

Cannot find source; have scotch.

The Machine

Has a resolution of about 6 miles and 0.01 years (4 days, give or take). Tends to arrive in historically amusing times and locations.


  1. Double Gosh. Best scotch recommendation I've ever read. Not sure how to run this. Into the Odd, Dark Ages, OTE/Warp or LotFP all appeal. Perhaps even as Traveller mixing up offworld Scouts from an Iain Banks Special Circumstances team to fix the time travel issue -- with a bit of a dash of the Chronicles of Morgaine. Marvellous idea.

  2. I love it. Definitely want to see the table of factions now.

  3. Hello, I found your blog through Patrick Stuart's False Machine, and I wanted to congratulate you for your work.

    That page is from the French comic "Sept missionnaires" iIt is about seven monks, each one prone to a different deadly sin who for are sent on a suicide mission to convert a norse tribe. It is pretty funny and very well paced. I hope you find it interesting.