Any Game System: The Twist at the End

All of those television people that claim they can talk to the dead are liars. No, I’m not saying there’s no such things as ghosts, or people that can talk to them. It’s that each of those TV scammers like to tell you about what your dead relatives have been doing since they died. But it doesn’t work like that. Ghosts exist backwards.

Yeah, it’s weird. When you die, you go to the spirit world, and time there moves in the opposite direction of time here. Maybe it’s because our universe does actually have enough mass to eventually reverse physics and rewinds as it pulls back in. Maybe it’s God giving dead souls a chance to make sense of their lives before moving on. Whatever the case, ghosts get to watch the world in reverse.

Not that the well adjusted ghosts do much watching. There’s a whole society of spirits out there that have moved on, and don’t need to relive their pasts. It’s only the ones still wrapped up in their lives that tend to watch the tape again. And it’s only the really messed up ones that try to do anything about it.

Yeah, some hauntings are real. An angry enough ghost can affect the world in a moment of stress, at least a little bit. The funniest thing is that most genuine hauntings are you haunting yourself. Ever notice that peoples’ lives tend to be terrible around the time of a haunting? And the stress of the ghost just makes things that much worse? Ever hear of self-fulfilling prophecies. You freak your living self out trying to warn him, and only make the thing you’re warning him about even more tragic.

And that would be where we are: ghosts powerless to affect the world except to make it a little scarier. But there are real mediums out there, and they can play merry hell with our futures.

You see, being able to talk to ghosts (and actually have a conversation when everything is moving backwards: it’s a really complicated talent) is exactly like being able to predict the future. A lot of mediums tend to trade favors with ghosts: they’ll attempt to stop some tragedy in the past in exchange for useful information about the future. Then they trade those favors with the living, or take care of stopping the tragedy themselves, and reap the benefit of the prediction.

As you can imagine, there are quite a lot of spirits that hate this. In places where mediums are active, from the perspective of the spirit world the timelines are completely shredded. Things from their past don’t stay happened. Imagine a ghost that lived a long life, died when he was 90, and has been active for 70 years on the other side… only to suddenly find that someone changed something that resulted in him dying as a young man.

So for every desperate living person over here trying to track down a medium to change the future, there’s a dead soul mostly happy with his life trying to make sure no ghosts talk to mediums and ruin everything.

And we’ll never really know which side is winning until we die.

Players alternate (or two groups compete) between two sets of characters: the living and the dead.

The living characters exist in forward time, and are each driven by a need to improve their circumstances by getting a leg up on fate. They are in contact with a medium that can offer them insights into how to improve their lives… if they can accomplish seemingly unrelated tasks to meet the requirements of the medium’s spiritual allies.

The dead characters exist in a staggered backward pace. They are aware of the future as it was meant to be, for it is their past. Every time the living group changes something, the dead group snaps (for them) back in time, Memento-style: they now have to proceed from a different series of assumptions about their own past. They have a limited time to track down the hungry ghost that spoke to a medium and changed things, and keep him from talking. If they succeed, suddenly the living players’ sure prediction of useful events falls through, and they’re back to helping out the medium for the next favor…

It will likely get very weird, very fast…