The Sixth Law - Never Swim Against the Currents of Time

It’s clear that mucking about with time is another one of those “don’t mess with the natural order” things. We just don’t know what the consequences are likely to be, even though we can speculate. There are the classics, straight out of science fiction—paradoxes, traveling back in time to stop someone bad from coming into power, altering the course of human history for better or worse, questions about alternate universes, the “elasticity” of time, all of that—but due to the nature of this sort of magic, it’s a difficult topic for finding concrete conclusions.

Similarly, we can reasonably anticipate what breaking this Law would do to the practitioner who broke it. We know what holding power over life and death can do to a necromancer; imagine the effect it would have on the personality of a chronomancer (for lack of a better term), who can skip right past death and go straight for the “cause something to wink out of existence” trump card.

It’s bad news, and worse yet it’s the kind of dark cloud that has an even darker lining. How do you catch someone in the act of time travel? How do you enforce the Sixth Law in a way that’s meaningful? How do you prove the crime so you can prosecute the criminal? Are the Wardens even equipped to take on a threat of this kind? And how much of our present day is already formed by the meddlesome acts of a wizard who thought he knew what he was doing? We’ve already talked about how the body and the mind are too complex to alter successfully, without trauma—now take that up several orders of magnitude to contemplate the complexity of time itself, and what a single, blundering human agent might do if he had the power to change its flow? What sorts of cracks might form in the universe at such an unnatural strain?

When it comes down to it, only a very small number of White Council members truly have the authority to do something about the Sixth Law (quite a number more might have the power, but this is explicitly a case of authority). The Blackstaff, a quasi-secret role filled by a senior wizard of the Council, is empowered to break all seven of the Laws should he see fit, but when it comes right down to it he’s essentially just a heavy brought in to fix the biggest of problems by any means necessary. The real guardian of time is the Gatekeeper, the senior member of the White Council entrusted with watching over the Outer Gates (we’ll talk more about those in the Seventh Law). While as far as we know he doesn’t have the blanket authority to break the Laws of Magic that the Blackstaff enjoys, he does peer deep into the flow of time, foreseeing events that are yet to come—or even receiving communications from his future self. Such communications are always very indirect and unspecific. The Gatekeeper can’t pass much real, factual information back from the future, assumedly because doing so would introduce a paradox, or at least cause events to unfold that shouldn’t. All he can really do is subtly nudge people who might be able to do something about those future circumstances in the right direction, and then let things unfold without his guiding hand upon them. In the end, we have to pray that’s enough.

Previous – The Fifth Law: Never Reach Beyond the Borders of Life
Next – The Seventh Law: Never Seek Knowledge and Power from Beyond the Outer Gates

The Sixth Law - Never Swim Against the Currents of Time

As The Chips Fall evilbrat