Overview Of Play

Timelines is a combination game. It has elements of role-playing, wargaming, and simulation games. Various elements of these three gaming genres are incorporated into the game. Some elements are rule and procedure based, while some are free-form. Some elements are detailed while others are abstracted in order to minimize paperwork or maintain game balance.

Since it is a combination game, adherents of a particular gaming genre may find some elements of play either unfamiliar, or irritating. For instance, a strict wargamer may find the free-form role-playing elements of the game difficult to adjust to. Players who are adherents of one gaming style should realize from the start that players with different gaming styles are participating in this game. In order to enhance the experience for all players, you should attempt to participate in all aspects of the game and do your best even in those areas that are not your favorite.


This game is a spin-off of the long-running and popular Coldwars PBEM game with a nod to the author Harry Turtledove thrown in.


This game has elements of role-playing. That means you must make efforts to play your nation in the context of its society and traditions. So do not expect to be able to do silly things just because you wanna. If you are the US you will not be invading people willy-nilly for no reason and depopulating their nations on turn one.


Public diplomacy is conducted in the IC forums through player interaction and discussion. Public diplomacy should be conducted in-character with messages from recognized characters. Public diplomacy can be conducted by Heads of State, Foreign Ministers, Deputy Assistant Ambassadors, or whomever you choose.

Private Diplomacy is usually conducted by private email or chat. These can be either IC or OOC at the agreement of the parties.

NPC Nations

These will be played by the GM. They may or may not be as focused on advancement as you are. Some NPC nations will attempt to exert themselves and others will end up with corruption or malaise depending on their leadership and events.

You should be aware that NPC nations WILL look out for their own survival and take action to try and assure that survival. NPC nations WILL react to events and will not sit idly by. For instance, if you decide to invade all of your neighbors, expect nations in your region to react as nations do. There is a chance they will go to others for help, raise an international outcry, impose an embargo, or intervene militarily.

International Norms

At game start there are essentially no international norms. The world is in a formative period. There is no UN, no World Trade Organization, no Interpol. If players want those things they will form them.

News Reports

Official news reports are posted by the Gamemaster after the resolution of turns. These reports serve to inform the players what is going on in the world and what has occurred since the last turn. These reports are considered to be clippings of news reports from across the globe. Players should be aware that not all news reports from across the globe are accurate since many of them may come from enemy nations or from non-free press.

National news reports are posted by players to let other players, and the Gamemaster, know what is going on in their nation. These reports reflect the point of view of the player/government and also may be false or misleading. Both NPC and Player influences may alter news events to promote false information.


The military aspects are turn-based. Players submit military turns to the Gamemaster on a regular basis and will either receive results, or see the results of their actions in the news reports.


Players submit an economic turn to the Gamemaster containing their plans, intentions, and allocations of resources. The Gamemaster processes these turns and returns the results to the player.

Intelligence Operations

Intelligence operations are submitted along with military turns. Players detail their intelligence actions and specify targets. The Gamemaster resolves these turns and returns results to the player.

Dice Rolls

If dice rolls are needed the GM will request you to use the Irony Games Dice Server. This server allows you to specify a dice roll and have it rolled and sent to two parties.

Player Added Content

This site is a wiki. Players have the opportunity to add content to the game site and thus build up the history and richness of the game world through their contributions. Contributions regarding national history, timeline, flags, national newspapers, and other minor additions to the depth and flavor of the game are welcome. Players who decide to add content should be familiar with Wiki formatting and stick with the current formatting style. NOTE: The GM remains the final arbiter and authority on the game world. Players should have major content additions or changes verified by the GM before entry or discuss them on the OOC site. Adding content to the site is not required or expected. Players can play the game solely through turns and diplomacy.


It is difficult to say what will be a winning strategy. Some nations may concentrate on economic development but find that other players who have concentrated on diplomatic relations limit their markets. Some nations who concentrate on diplomatic relations may find themselves the victim of a player who concentrated on military power. My best guess is that players should keep a close eye on each other and try to react rather than letting another player get some sort of advantage in a certain area or locale.

Game Changes

Game balance in these games is very difficult without extensive playtesting. For instance, it is difficult to balance national incomes with the costs of things. Without such balance you can end up with all players having huge amounts of money able to buy ridiculous amounts of stuff. You can end up with every nation having 2400 military units. This effect can grow over time.

Unfortunately, we do not have time to playtest 100 years for game balance. So we take what we have and run with it. That means that during the game we will encounter game imbalances that will require rule changes, adjustments, and manual intervention to rebalance the situation.

THIS WILL OCCUR. There are two things to keep in mind.

1) Do not get angry when adjustments are required. They will be required for the long-term health of the game and are not intended to screw you. Chances are, every player will be hit the same way. Take these changes in stride and with some level of cheerfulness.

2) If you are a metagamer…that is someone who enjoys gaming the game system as a system….then you are simply not wanted. If you like trying to break the game system you are not wanted. If you like trying to exploit flaws in the game system….you are not wanted. These things are just not my idea of the spirit of the game.

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