Continuum: Roleplaying in the Yet was, for a long time, a bit of an obsession of mine. Well, when I say it was "a bit of an obsession", I suppose that implies that I was actually playing it. I wasn't. In fact, I've never owned a copy, and I've never even read it. And, since used copies start at US$325 on amazon, I'm unlikely ever to do so - at least legally.
I wanted to, though. Reading through the scattered resources that are available now on the internet, the game itself feels like some sort of lost artefact, some Necronomicum from a distant past, knowable only through vague and unconfirmed rumour. What strange property of the internet is it, that makes cultural items from recent history feel so ancient? Continuum was released in around 1998, but it almost feels as if it was created in 1498 for all the information you can get your hands on about it nowadays. (Old geocities sites have this same quality. But I digress.)
Anyway, some combination of factors made the game compelling to me. Part of it is the mysterious artwork, which really doesn't look what you would think of when somebody says to you "It's a game about time travel". Part of it is the assumption that time travellers would ultimately create their own societies and culture, which is something that I think is genuinely unique. Part of it is all the talk of time-travel combat: trying to "frag" your opponent by making him cease to exist due to historical discrepancy. And undoubtedly, a large part of the attraction was the air of enigma surrounding this apparently excellent but impossible-to-possess gaming grimoire.
Now I'm less interested in some aspects of the game, because reading through the Wikipedia article makes it sound in retrospect like its core assumptions would make it fall prey to that problem which Zak S once wrote an entry about that I can't find: it seems to assume that players are supposed to be the "good guys" who go about reparing problems in time - which seems like a recipe for GM-led railroading if ever there was one ("Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to solve problem X").
But Narcissist on the other hand, is something I could really get behind. Tell me you don't like the idea of this:
NªRCISSIST:™ Crash Free is the roleplaying game of alternating histories– Players take the roles of crashers, people who have discovered the means to traverse the multiverse, tweaking timelines and triggering gates in pursuit of their best destinies.NªRCISSIST is the long-awaited sequel roleplaying game to CºNTINUUM.
Appearing only briefly as a pre-release in 1999 and 2000, the game was originally envisioned as a way of playing the opponents of the Continuum, weaker and more vulnerable at first, but with the chance to escape the Continuum's "clutches" and see other worlds.
But in many playtests extending over the last six years, NªRCISSIST itself has changed and evolved into a game of exploration, of success and loss, and of transdimensional intrigue. A new, completely revised edition of a NªRCISSIST pre-release, based on half a decade of notes, is planned for 2008.
Barring any unforseen changes, that is.