In this alternate timeline, history diverged from what the PCs know in 1926, when the fossilised remains of what they left behind in the Jurassic were discovered by a paleontologist digging for dinosaur bones in Montana. With this incontrovertible proof that dinosaurs and humans co-existed, fundamentalist Christianity received a big boost in the USA. The fossil site in Montana became a large city, named New Jericho, based around a holy shrine.
Unfortunately, the profound change in society in the USA had a negative effect on scientific research, with the result that America was ill- prepared for World War II. Japan succeeded in crippling the US Pacific Fleet, and invaded the west coast. This is the point where events recorded in the library end.
A resistance movement held on in the USA for some years, but the Japanese bombed New Jericho into ruins and slowly advanced across the country. At present, the Japanese Empire holds all of Mexico, and about half of the USA and Canada. It also incidentally covers South-East Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and every Pacific island worth owning.
If this isn't enough to give the players the willies, with the USA subjugated, the Allies were unable to stop Hitler from conquering all of Europe. With their various puppet states, the global superpowers are now Japan and Germany.
When the PCs begin to explore, they will eventually run into a Resistance group. They will be viewed with suspicion, but the Resistance will not be immediately hostile, since the PCs do not look Japanese. If the PCs can win them over, the Resistance will relate the history of their world.
The Resistance have a small supply of diesel fuel, enough to run the time machine generator for a minimal trip to the past. The GM should calculate the amount of fuel required for a return trip of just over 65 million years, less any energy/fuel reserves still in the time machine. However, they are not willing to simply hand it over! The PCs will either have to talk the Resistance into handing over the fuel, or take it by force.
If the PCs tell them the truth about why they need it, it raises several interesting reactions. The first is sheer disbelief. This can be overcome with physical evidence - the captured Ornitholestes being the obvious choice. But then the Resistance will want to know why the PCs need to travel back in time again, which raises the dilemma of telling them about the alternate timelines and histories.
If the Resistance become aware that the PCs come from a world where the Americans won the war, all hell will break loose. Some members will advocate using the time machine to “fix” history, others will worry that changing history might erase their lives, some will try to help the PCs in their quest, some will want to go along for the ride, others will become hostile. The hostile portion will variously try to have the PCs killed, or seize the time machine, or destroy it completely. Fast Talk and Diplomacy skills will be paramount in keeping the situation under control.
At this point, one of the Resistance members of appropriate sex will become romantically attached to one of the PCs and beg to be allowed to accompany the group. This character will preferably target any PC who is Lecherous or has appropriate romantic quirks, using high levels of Sex Appeal if necessary. This poses serious moral, philosophical, and scientific problems. Will it be ethical to permanently move a person from one timeline to another? Will it be possible? Will it be safe?
Just when things are at their most complicated, the Japanese army shows up. An armed patrol bursts into the meeting and demands surrender. A shot from an overzealous Resistance member initiates a shootout. The 4 Japanese soldiers are armed with M16-style machine guns, but should be taken out fairly quickly by Resistance members. PCs should dive for cover and keep their heads down!
The Japanese patrol arrived in a jeep, which is parked outside. The petrol in the jeep cannot be used in the diesel engine of the time machine generator. The jeep’s battery can however be connected to the charging terminals of the time machine and the capacitors charged as the jeep engine runs. This will require cables long enough to reach from the jeep to the wiring inside the time machine. A Scrounging roll will locate suitable material within the ruins of the city, while a Mechanic roll can extract enough useful cable from the time machine’s electrical system itself. A critical failure on this Mechanic roll will cripple the machine and require hours of repair work.
In the jeep is a metal detector, used for finding landmines. If the PCs think to take this, it may come in handy later.
The PCs may decide to explore the city some more in search of additional fuel/energy supplies. This should be allowed, but the players should remember that this is a race against time! Suitable encounters for this sort of activity would be wild animals: Wolves, bears, eagles. The search for fuel should prove futile.
The best plan is to try to remember or work out where the relic was lost, jump to a time soon afterwards, and find it before it is too heavily buried and fossilised by sediment. Unfortunately, this plan is doomed to failure and it will be considerably more difficult to recover the artefact than the PCs may imagine.
With the extra energy from the jeep engine, there will be enough energy to make a return trip to about the same time of their previous trip. If the PCs do not think to use the jeep engine for energy, they will be restricted to attempting a return trip only just within the operating parameters of the time machine, to the very end of the Cretaceous some 65 million years ago. If they do have the energy, they may try to return to a time shortly after their previous trip.
If the PCs are foolhardy, they may attempt a time trip without enough energy for a return trip. This will be suicide, unless the characters are clever enough to generate energy with no more equipment than is in the time machine. This is unlikely.
Next file: Tyrannosaurus Attack.