Time Tails is for all ages (requires reading and addition or some help)
Time Tails RPG is a system (that comes with an adventure in the magazine) focusing on time travel mechanics and sliding in with some 80’s vibes. The mechanics involve modifier addition with a d20 system and some minor reading on an easy to follow character sheet.
For the story that we played, The Mystery of Mothcat, there is potential for some moments of combat depending on how players want to handle the situation, however, there are lots of options to choose from besides fighting, and I felt that the adventure did trend towards non-combat options to focus more on discovery and using time glitch repair powers.
Time Tails is set in the 80s (and all over time… and also with cats)!
In the previous section, I did mention that the adventure was about Mothcat, not Mothman, right? That’s because Time Tails is set in a world of anthropomorphic cool cats from the 80s who travel through time!
Players start in a home timezone of the 80s, and the adventure does a great job of setting the scene! There’s references to Blockbuster Movie Cards, The Cure, and more as the two main cats pursue the mystery.
It’s also set across all of time! In the pursuit of Mothcat, characters travel back to the 60’s to resolve a time glitch that’s caused Mothcat (and other creatures) to appear. This adventure spans through a graveyard, a hotel, and a newfangled type of building called a “mall”.
You can also travel to any other time period with this system in your homebrew games. Ancient Egypt, the Renaissance, the Golden Age of Japan, and more are all options to visit and learn about as you make your own adventures – just don’t trip a time glitch or a paradox!
Your character in Time Tails
In Time Tails, you play as a cool cat who is ready to take on the challenges of time with their stylish Time Band, and character creation is pretty rad.
You assign skills to your habits and mindsets (we will get into this more during the mechanics section), fill in an inventory item or two and some basic info about your cat (name, pronouns, favorite snack, etc), and…. You’re all set! It takes a minute or two to set up, and then you’re ready to start time traveling!
Mechanics in Time Tails
Habits and Mindsets
Your stats in Time Tails come from your habits and your mindsets. Habits are about who you are and mindsets are about the choices you make.
To set your habits, you assign points to a wedge in your stat chart, and those points count for both adjacent traits. So, if you have +2 in the wedge between Claws and Paws, you get a +2 to both of those habits. There are four habits (Claws, Paws, Curiosity, and Snuggles) that each represent a different type of skill check that you roll for and add your bonuses to.
There are also mindsets, which you assign a dot to and give a positive modifier to any trait adjacent to that wedge… and a negative modifier to anything NOT adjacent to that wedge. The four mindsets are Flow, Rational, Firecracker, and Raditude, which represent how your character may go about solving something with style, caution, consistency, etc.
I really liked that the habits affect more than one trait, so you can add modifiers to different wedges to combo up certain skills. If you put a +1 on Claws/Paws, and a +1 on Paws/Curiosity, you get a total +2 on Paws while still boosting the other two a bit, so it’s not just a straight 1-to-1 adding points type of leveling.
I also like the balance offered by the mindsets wheel giving a positive modifier for two areas and a negative for the others so players need to balance each other’s actions, and they get rewarded for playing the character (i.e. making choices for their character in line with where they get bonuses) and emphasizing their personality.
The wheels are also pretty easy to read – there’s only 4 words for each wheel to track, and it’s very visual, which is great for playing with my kid.
Paradoxes and P.A.T.s
Because this is a game about time travel, you HAVE to have time paradoxes, time glitches, and some time-based technology-fueled abilities!
Whenever the characters have a BIG impact on the timeline, they need to complete anywhere from one to three rolls (depending on how the 1’s pop up) to see if they spark a glitch or paradox that needs fixing or ends the mission and causes time shenanigans! Each successful roll to avoid a paradox does result in the paradox level still increasing… and making the roll harder as the die you roll decreases.
This creates stakes for completing the mission that don’t involve characters going down, and you have opportunities to repair the time glitches using your P.A.T.s… and if you do get a paradox and mess with the timeline, then…. You just end up with the world changing a bit and now an occasional cyborg dinosaur shows up or everyone starts wearing massive pirate hats because they’re the latest fashion!
I talked about P.A.T.s fixing time glitches – P.A.T.s are Powers that Alter Time! You can change the size of things, fix time glitches, speed things up, etc as part of your time powers, as granted by your Time Band. These are fueled by Chrono Crystals and rely on you rolling for the correct wedge on your habits circle to activate, so it’s a nice balance of strategy and chance to plan when to bank up your chrono energy and how to distribute your habits.
Extra Educational Bits!
Throughout the story, and by nature of the system being about time travel, there’s some great educational bits and pieces included throughout the game! From learning about different prehistoric creatures to the history of the first malls, there’s lots of teaching opportunities for curious players to uncover. Homebrew games can easily incorporate this as well, including bits about pop culture, history, and nature in different eras and lands.
Bonus: Cozy Companion
We played this adventure as it came in the Cozy Companion magazine, which is a wonderful games and fiction publication that includes lore for game settings, interviews with a creator and a scientist, activities to do at home, and adventures, like The Mystery of Mothcat, for you to play with various systems. I had the vol 2 magazine, which was themed around pollinators and had some wonderful articles and worldbuilding pieces that blended storytelling and education into one beautifully illustrated package.
Overall thoughts on Time Tails and Cozy Companion
Everything about both of these was amazing.
Time Tails and the associated adventure were fun to play, easy to understand, and engaging. I love the time travel mechanic having a solid impact on the story’s world, and the educational elements that were incorporated with the journey both set the scene and were a good learning point for kiddo and me.
With regards to Cozy Companion, I’m digging the idea of themed activities and articles in parallel to related game adventures! I’ve done this with a lot of my games with my kid, where we do tangential activities and learning based on the stories we make together, and I’m happy to see a whole magazine devoted to this. It’s fun, interesting, educational, and also visually stunning.
Both Time Tails and Cozy Companion are great for some cozy and whimsical fun for any age, and I hope you get to check them out!
Find a copy of Time Tails and Cozy Companion
And you can also find Cozy Companion here on the Snowbright Studio site!If you liked this post, make sure to subscribe to the TTRPGkids monthly newsletter to stay up to date on the latest reviews, tips and tricks, game and podcast list updates, and more! Thank you for playing tabletop RPGs with your kids and sharing this awesome hobby with the next generation!