by Steve Kenson
You're in charge of policing not one, two, but hundreds of known parallel timelines. Your job is to protect the secret of cross-world travel from every greedy government, corporation, and individual who'd like to get their hands on it. You also have to deal with keeping it out of the hands of outtimers, stop governments from Homeline from abusing it, and rescue people who get themselves into trouble in some godforsaken parallel. As if that weren't enough, you are the best protection Homeline has against another parallel with cross-world technology, a parallel that would like to see your world deprived of the ability to visit other worlds at the least, a conquered protectorate of their Empire, at most.
Art by andi jones
For a job like this, you need to be the best there is in a hundred worlds. Fortunately, you are . . .
The "Infinite Worlds" setting from GURPS Time Travel posits the existence of numerous parallel worlds. Two of these worlds, Homeline and Centrum, have the ability to travel from one parallel to another. Homeline is much like our own world might be in 2015, with the addition of parachronic travel. Centrum is a ruthless, totalitarian culture that would like nothing more than to deprive Homeline of its ability to visit other worlds, giving them a monopoly on cross-world travel.
Parachronic technology on Homeline is controlled by an organization called Infinity Unlimited. They license their technology to various governments and corporations, but generally keep a tight control over it. Their enforcement arm is the Infinity Patrol, or the "I-Cops." The I-Cops are responsible for policing known timelines to protect them from exploitation, protecting Homeline from other worlds (especially Centrum), keeping the secret of parachronics in Infinity's (and Homeline's) hands, and protecting historical "echoes" of Homeline from Centrum agents. All in all, it's a big job.
The setting in GURPS Time Travel assumes a fairly "realistic" world, apart from the existence of parachronics. I-Cops are built on 100 points. They have TL8 equipment but, other than that, not a lot of advantages. 100-point agents are certainly hero material, compared to most normal people, but are they really going to have the skills needed to operate in virtually any conditions found across hundreds of different parallel worlds?
It's a simple matter to take the "Infinite Worlds" background and add to it the cinematic characters, rules, and material from GURPS Black Ops to create a truly badass cinematic adventure campaign across an infinity of worlds. In an Infinity Ops game, the player characters are some of the Best There Is on any world, capable of meeting any challenge the continuum has to throw at them.
InfinityIn this world, Infinity Unlimited still created and controls parachronic technology. The prime difference is with the Infinity Patrol itself. The Patrol is organized more like Argus from GURPS Black Ops, and even the governments of Homeline are kept ignorant of just how capable of the Patrol is. Infinity spares no expense in recruiting and training its operatives and, as the wealthiest corporation in existence, it has money to spare.
The AcademyAgents are trained at Infinity's secret Academy, which is similar in design and function to the Academy from Black Ops, with one important difference: instead of being located in an isolated area of Homeline, the Academy is located in its own parallel! Infinity maintains the Academy in an empty Quantum 3 parallel (simply called Academy), an Earth where humans never evolved. Additionally, like Coventry (p. TT105) the parallel blocks the abilities of world-jumpers, the only way to reach it is by projector assisted conveyor from Homeline. Cadets who choose to go AWOL have literally nowhere to go.
Training is brutal and efficient, designed to take the very best Homeline has to offer and make them even better. Infinity ops are designed using the same guidelines given in Black Ops with only a few minor differences. Infinity even uses the same system of departments: Combat, Intelligence, Security, Science, and Technology, with a special Psi Department, which includes ops with the World Jumper advantage (p. TT32), or any other psionic abilities.
Infinity ops gain all the same advantages and skills, and follow the same departmental requirements, with the following exceptions:
* Ops learn more language skills. All ops speak English, Latin, Greek, Arabic, French, and Spanish (the most common languages in all worlds) with at least 1 point in each. Intelligence ops are required to speak at least two other languages, while others ops have at least one language "elective." Common choices include Chinese (Mandarin or Cantonese), Japanese, Portuguese, and German.
* All ops must know the skills of Parachronic Electronics, Parachronic Operation, and Parachronic Physics at level 12. Science and Technology ops must have these skills at level 14 or better, with Parachronic Physics at 16+ for Science ops and Parachronic Electronics at 16+ for Technology ops.
* Combat ops must have a History skill of at least 14, not 12.
* All ops must know the Beam Weapons (Stunner) skill at the same level as their Guns (Pistol) skill.
* Many ops train to improve their default levels with other Tech Levels (p. B187), allowing them to operate more efficiently in a variety of different timelines. Of course, most ops are already so skilled only enormous TL penalties really affect them at all.
EquipmentHomeline is Tech Level 8, so Infinity ops have access to mature TL8 equipment and some cutting-edge TL9 gear as well. Most of the gear from Black Ops works fine in an Infinity ops game (since the Black Ops are TL8 in many respects anyway). The GM may wish to include some TL8 gear from GURPS Ultra-Tech or Ultra-Tech 2 for some additional fun and firepower.
The Infinity Ops use stunners as their prime weapons, since they are under order to avoid needless casualties. They also use the Eraser drug (p. TT103), which may be a more advanced version of the memory-erasing "cocktail" from Black Ops.
Historical OpsInfinity does not generally recruit outtimers for its organization, due to their desire to keep cross-time travel a secret. Gamemasters looking for a truly unique Infinity Ops campaign, however, may allow recruits from other timelines, possibly including famous figures from historical echoes, presumably recruited after their death or disappearance and restored to full health by TL8 Homeline medicine. GURPS Who's Who 1 can provide some ideas only playing famous figures from history (although most will need to be "beefed up" to meet the requirements for being an Infinity op!)
CentrumOf course, in an Infinity Ops campaign, player characters' opposition is just as capable as they are, if not more so. Centrum Interworld Service agents are the Infinity Ops' opposite numbers. Their training is, if possible, even more brutal, since the Centrum does not accept failure. The GM can build Centrum agents using the same guidelines for Infinity ops, above.
If desired, the GM can give Centrum agents extensive bionic and cybernetic modifications (concealed beneath synthflesh) to make the agents of the enemy even more inhuman and unstoppable, giving them a "Terminator" feel. Perhaps Centrum relies more on technology to turn out capable agents than intensive training. Their agents have the same high attributes as the ops, but because of artificial enhancements. This provides some distinction between Centrum agents and the ops, and may give the ops a way of detecting Centrum agents (until they run into one of the non-cybered ones, at least).
Most of the information on Centrum and its goals from Time Travel remains the same. GMs can consult GURPS Alternate Earths 2 (still in playtest) for more information and ideas regarding Centrum. In fact, an Infinity Ops campaign works perfectly well using the pragmatic and somewhat brutal Centrum as a home base for the player characters!
Other ThreatsThe GM may choose the use the various adversaries described in GURPS Black Ops or ignore them in the context of the Infinity Ops campaign. If the GM wants to include them, there's plenty of room among the infinite worlds for gargoyles, demons, giant bugs, dinosaurs, aliens, and rogue psis.
AliensOne possibility is to replace Centrum with the Greys, making the Greys into cross-time travelers rather than extraterrestrials. Perhaps the Greys were stranded on Homeline by the destruction of their parachronic conveyor, or perhaps they are infiltrating Homeline in preparation for an invasion. Or, like Centrum, the Greys might originate from a parallel far enough away that they can't reach Homeline, but they have infiltrated dozens of other worlds.
Likewise, the Prima may have been cross-time travelers rather than extraterrestrials. Perhaps their parallel is still out there, waiting to be found. Whether or not the Prima still live there is in question. They may have abandoned it because they developed beyond it, or due to a biological experiment (like the brainsuckers) gone terribly wrong.
MonstersThe various monsters from Black Ops can turn up on other parallel worlds as a result of magic, genetic engineering, variant evolution, or science gone wrong. They might also show up on Homeline. Maybe they were always there, or perhaps they arrived through some kind of "wormhole" between worlds, which may or may not still be around. Either way, the Ops have to deal with them.
Ghosts in particular may be beings from other parallels. Some ghosts might be "reflections" or "echoes" of events on other parallels "leaking" into Homeline.
RoguesRogue psis present a number of possibilities. Groups with the power and influence of the Lodge or Mind almost certainly have access to parachronic technology (through puppets in the government), there may even be world-jumpers among their number. Their psionic abilities allow them to secretly influence any number of other worlds, setting themselves up as wizards or even gods on primitive parallels.
Maybe all psis are potential world-jumpers. Perhaps psis aren't even from Homeline in the first place! There may be a parallel where psis originated, including world-jumpers who spread psionic genes to other worlds, leading to legends of "witches" and "sorcerers." If the Lodge or Mind spans multiple worlds, they become another adversary for both Infinity and Centrum. And what happens when a Lodge psi world-jumps to a parallel like Yrth (from GURPS Fantasy) or Merlin (from GURPS Technomancer) and discovers real magic? (To say nothing about finding out his formidable psi powers don't work on Merlin at all.)
World-jumping ramblers looking for a good time in any number of parallels and historical echoes can be a headache for the Infinity Ops sent to track them down and ensure they don't do enough damage to an echo to shift it into another quantum.
CampaignsAny of the missions formats from Black Ops or Time Travel adapt easily to an Infinity Ops campaign. The ops police parachronic technology and timelines to ensure they are not abused by Homeline governments, protect Homeline from possible outtime threats, maintain Infinity's monopoly on parachronic technology, and protect Homeline and its echo timelines against the activities of Centrum agents and other threats (like the Greys, Mind, and the Lodge). They can go on rescue missions into other timelines after lost parties, and scout out newly discovered timelines.
Dimension WarGamemasters looking for a very lively setting can incorporate J. Hunter Johnson's "Banestorming Infinity Unlimited" article into an Infinity Ops setting, bringing several other players into the dimension war between Infinity and Centrum. A fully trained Infinity Op, based on 700 points, can be a match even for a super from the GURPS IST world! The GM can also allow ops to take Magical Aptitude and learn spells, although they won't work on many parallels.
Alternate EarthsGamemasters with GURPS Alternate Earths or Alternate Earths 2 can get them in on the game as settings for Infinity Ops adventures.
Reich-5 cries out for a crack team of ops to ferment rebellion against the Axis regime, keeping the Nazis from developing parachronic travel and ensuring the safety of Homeline. Shikoku-Mon is a likely world to develop parachronics on its own, making it a target for an extraction, destroying the technology and kidnapping the scientists involved to Coventry. It could also become a potential ally of Homeline, if approached properly. Gernsback has extensive weird science and a pulp-action feel to it well suited to cinematic adventures.
With the addition of psionics, arcane magics, or martial arts, Ming-3 is the perfect location for high-powered action-adventure stories, as is Midgard (Infinity ops vs. Viking warriors). Ops can help support the republicans on Aeolus and thwart Centrum schemes on Cornwallis, and how can Homeline resist the lure of Caliph's advanced technology?
The introduction of parachronic travel and parallel worlds can even liven up an ongoing Black Ops game, either as a short change of pace adventure or by shifting the campaign over to an Infinity Ops format. Imagine the surprise of the Black Ops who discover there is a whole infinity of Earths out there. That's a whole lot of butts for them to kick.
Article publication date: August 20, 1999
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