Gumshoe SRD (System Reference Document)


[The importance of gear varies from game to game. In TimeWatch, each agent has specified starting gear, and can build or acquire additional gear using Preparedness.]

Standard Issue TimeWatch Gear

Most TimeWatch campaigns feature standard equipment that is issued to every Agent. If this equipment is lost or needs replacing, and you have access to an autochron, the Preparedness Difficulty to replace standard gear is usually 1 lower than normal.


Future, Blatant, Standard

The autochron is TimeWatch’s standard issue time machine, issued to agents because it balances portability and flexibility with ease of use. An inactive autochron looks like a 33 cm long metal bar with no visible controls. Inactive autochrons are incredibly robust and are quite difficult to damage (Armor 5; if unactivated, they generally aren’t damaged by an attack unless the GM deliberately wishes them to be). When inactive, their rod form can be used in combat as an improvised weapon with little risk of damage to the device. An autochron is activated by a control thought from the biometrically linked agent it has been assigned to. A closed autochron can be hacked to open and activate, typically requires a Difficulty 6 Tinkering test.

Once activated, the rod extends one meter to act as a set of handlebars. Holographic controls project from the control bar, and the operator sets the destination time and location with voice, touch, or prerecorded tether command. Once time and destination are set and the autochron is activated, the device extends a brilliant purple sphere around the operator (and up to one adult-sized passenger, if neither mind close quarters). It spends 1 round calculating coordinates and charging its chronal field. One round after activation, the autochron and anything within its chronal field clocks out and disappears.

Time traveling mid-combat can be an extremely dangerous proposition. When the chronal field first activates, the autochron and the operator are both quite vulnerable. Any attack during that round that hits the time traveler, regardless of damage, collapses the chronal field and causes the autochron to stop working until repaired. Any individual in the chronal field at the time must make a Difficulty 6 / Loss 6 Paradox test. After the one round of vulnerability autochron chronal fields act as cover for the pilots inside them, raising Agent Hit Thresholds by 1 point. After a jump an autochron requires 1–3 rounds, rolled randomly as needed, before it recharges and can time travel or teleport again.

Broken autochrons can be repaired with several hours of work by an Agent with Timecraft 2 and an expenditure of 6 Tinkering, although the GM may decide to increase or reduce this repair time and Tinkering cost based on the availability of parts and tools. Spending a Science! or Timecraft point typically cuts this time in half, as does the Tinkering Booster Rapid Deployment.

Autochrons are usually set to adjust their arrival location to somewhere private where their distinctive sound and vibrant purple glow will not be seen. This can easily be turned off by an operator more interested in accuracy than secrecy. An autochron can safely materialize underwater or in outer space and will protect the operator from atmosphere-based environmental hazards so long as the device remains active.

Materialized autochrons cannot physically move under their own power, like a car or a carriage. They only re-emerge inside a solid object if deliberately hacked to do so, something that almost never occurs. This results in a Class 2 explosion.

Although operators can specify a spatial arrival coordinate, the autochron’s physical arrival accuracy is somewhat dependent on the distance traveled in time. Travel within a year, and it’s usually exact; within a decade, and it lands in the same room as the intended spot; within a century, and it arrives in the same building, up to an error of perhaps twenty kilometers after traveling hundreds of millions of years. The GM can increase or decrease this accuracy at her whim, and one Agent spending a Timecraft point before clocking out will usually ensure precise arrival for the entire group.

The chronal accuracy of an autochron does not suffer from this error. Barring interference or unusual circumstances, an autochron arrives exactly when it is set to, regardless of the amount of time jumped.

Impersonator Mesh

Future, Subtle, Standard

Impersonator mesh is a transparent, psi-active device that sits directly on the Agent’s skin and immediately blends in with skin to become almost invisible. It samples nearby thoughts and causes observers to be casually uninterested in any individual wearing the mesh. Impersonator mesh grants a +3 Stealth Modifier on Unobtrusiveness tests so long as the Agent has not yet brought attention to himself in some way. It does not function against mechanical detection devices such as robots, AI, or security systems, and ceases functioning for the scene once the Agent deliberately or accidentally gets the attention of anyone outside of the mission team.


Future, Blatant, Standard

A TimeWatch medkit consists of a drug synthesis micro-unit, a tether-linked bio-scanner, rapid-heal nanites, dermal repair units, and other technobabble-laden devices that provide rapid and high-tech healing. The Medic ability works at half efficiency unless the Agent possesses a medkit. The act of using a medkit when healing someone in an anachronistic time period is immediately obvious to anyone with the slightest degree of medical training, and may trigger a Paradox test and/or get you strung up as a witch.


Future, Standard, Hackable

When someone witnesses anachronistic events and can’t be talked out of the memory in any other way, TimeWatch agents turn to the MEM-tagging process. MEM-tags are small data chips that must be deliberately placed on an unconscious (and usually stunned) subject. They act as a chronal beacon for TimeWatch technicians in the far future to kidnap the subject with a directed tachyon beam. Subjects are kidnapped, mind-wiped, given reconstructed memories, and returned to their same locations a few milliseconds later, after which the agent removes the used MEM-tag. To local observers a MEM-tagged subject seems to flicker slightly; once woken, they will remember whatever variant memories that TimeWatch technicians have installed.

The process isn’t perfect; it isn’t uncommon for subjects to experience lost time or déjà vu, have contradictory memories, or to retain a feeling of being probed. The process leaves neurological traces in brain chemistry that can be detected with Medical Expertise or Science! by an investigator who is deliberately looking for irregularities. Rumors that some TimeWatch agents have themselves shown signs of MEM-tagging are surely just that: rumors.

One thing is clear: rendering the subject unconscious first isn’t just a good recommendation to make the technicians’ jobs easier. The tachyon-beam technology used for remote retrieval typically renders a conscious subject incurably insane. MEM-tags have a red LED that starts blinking when it locks onto a conscious target, and as per TimeWatch regulations, technicians refuse to retrieve them. This bureaucratic limitation can be sidestepped with a Bureaucracy spend (to have bribed the technician), or a Tinkering test (to have surreptitiously hacked the MEM-tag).

Clever Agents may try to use MEM-tags to heal their own fallen and unconscious Agents, something that is against TimeWatch policy but which sometimes occurs anyways. An expenditure of 2 Bureaucracy points is required; these points can either come from the unconscious Agent, the Agent slapping on the MEM-tag, or both. Without the Bureaucracy spend, the downed Agent is simply not retrieved by technicians who have a greater love of bureaucratic protocol than they do of heroism.

Successful retrieval delivers a fully healed but stunned Agent to the spot he disappeared from seconds before. As with any stunned character, a successful Difficulty 4 Medic test (typically taking a combat action) is needed to restore consciousness.

Anything that stops time travel, such as chronal inhibitors, mission-related time disruption, gratuitous GM plot devices, and the complete or partial elimination of TimeWatch through chronal hijinks will stop MEM-tags from functioning.

PaciFist Neural Disruptor

Future, Subtle, Chronomorphic, Standard, Hackable; Close range; Stun 5

PaciFists are stun guns usable with both the Scuffling (for Point-Blank range only) and Shooting (for up to Close range) abilities, and are specially designed for TimeWatch use. They are chronomorphic, blending in to a historical era by changing their physical shape and appearance. Agents can usually decide what shape their PaciFist assumes: a walking cane, a six-gun revolver, a mobile phone, a short stick, a cigarette case, a pipe, or whatever appropriate form the Agent wishes. The GM can pick the form for the player if she wishes, although she may want to toss the player a Stitch if she picks something awkward or incongruous.

PaciFists have a rating of Stun 5. They only work at Point-Blank and (if used with the Shooting ability) Close range, and are ineffective at farther ranges. That’s their trade-off for making no noise and having no visible beam; the only way to tell a PaciFist has been fired is by the slight scent of ozone and a toppling, unconscious body, which makes them perfect for undercover work.

Making a successful Tinkering test can overcharge a PaciFist, boosting its effect up to either Stun 6 or Near range, your choice, for its next shot. Rolling a 1 on the d6 during an overcharged attack burns out the weapon regardless of whether the attack was successful. Fixing a burned out weapon requires 10 minutes of work time and a successful Tinkering test.


Future, Subtle, Standard

No one expects your character — or you — to remember all the intricate details of recorded history. That’s what your tether is for.

This 25th-century technology is a ring-sized personal digital assistant on overdrive. Your tether serves as your encrypted communicator, your camera, your encyclopedia, your journal, your holographic research assistant, and your personal historian for any information you don’t already know. It can observe and record your surroundings, talk directly and secretly into your ear through a subdermal implant, feed information directly into linked contact lenses, holographically display and rotate 3-D maps, translate any known language instantaneously, interface with your weapons, manifest a holographic screen, and help you run technical tests if you need to investigate a crime scene. The AI in your tether is even capable of having its own personality, although not all agents enable this.

Tethers access records of true history, the correct recorded history as TimeWatch knows it. When history changes around you, your tether won’t know anything about the newly created history, but it will tell you what originally should have happened instead.

Your tether is chronomorphic; that means that it adjusts its appearance to your current time period. If you’re in the 20th century, its holographic readouts might look like a newspaper; in the 15th century, like a woodcut. You usually get to choose.

If you lack the Research Investigative ability, your connection with your tether is somewhat compromised when compared to other Agents. Your tether will still report to you on whatever eras of history you have selected as Investigative abilities, but will lose its data connection or have a tendency to report less relevant information when you are attempting to research other areas of interest. Don’t be surprised if the GM has fun roleplaying this.

Tethers are a plot device that exist to make TimeWatch games more fun. They’re the reason that Agents using their Research ability can spend most of their time in the field instead of in libraries. Not that libraries aren’t fantastic, but when you need to know the exact details of the Battle of Hastings while someone with a sword is trying to kill you, you’ll appreciate your tether’s more immediate convenience.

Because their capabilities aren’t minutely described, a tether’s capabilities can be as advanced as you and the GM wish it to be. Tethers are superb for explaining how you can quickly gain information from your more obscure Investigative abilities. Whether you’re secretly subvocalizing with your team on an encrypted channel, interfacing with a missile’s guidance system, hacking a massive information network, or viewing a 3-D map of Prussian battle sites, your tether is the tool of choice to use.

TimeWatch Uniform

Future, Subtle, Chronomorphic, Standard; Armor 1

It’s common for TimeWatch agents to change clothes early and often as they disguise themselves for different time periods, and the TimeWatch uniform often remains on if it can be worked into the disguise. This comfortable two-part uniform of incredibly light, resilient futuristic material is chronomorphic and can be changed in color and shape to accompany many appropriate styles for a given era of history. Its most valuable quality is that despite its lack of heft, the nanofibers it is woven from act as Armor 1 against all Scuffling and Shooting attacks. It does not provide protection from incidents such as fire, explosions, and crashes.

It is up to the GM and the group to decide what TimeWatch’s official uniform looks like in terms of color, pattern, and cut.


Future, Subtle, Standard

Using the sensory data from your tether, the translator instantly translates any historical language that TimeWatch linguists have investigated and instantly allows an agent to correctly vocalize that language as well. If desired, vocalization can include an accent. The translator can also translate written text and hieroglyphs, if they are in a known language and are legible.

There are some languages that the translator cannot help with until it has gathered a sufficient sample of audio and/or written data: extremely obscure languages, prehistoric languages, alien languages, and unique languages from parallel timelines.