The Timeless Pocket Watch

An ancient pocket watch grants its possessor sway over time itself, granted, at heavy price.

Physical Description

Sitting at the end of a golden chain, this golden stopwatch looks to be ravaged by time; its once extravagant design, which covers the edges and the hatch, is heavily worn. There are various and seemingly random scratches that do well to destroy any semblance of beauty the watch may have once possessed. The pocket watch is coated in dust, dust that covers every inch of the watch and chain save the interior.

The glass, which protects the set of Roman numerals and the watches 3 hands, which all rest motionless on midnight, is covered in grime. It almost appears to be foggy, it is the least foggy between 12 and 1-o-clock, and gets progressively foggier as one moves clockwise, though this fog effect never obscures the numbers enough to make them illegible. Any attempt to clean this grime, buff out these scratches, and dust the watch are in vain, as the watch will age rapidly, and after a day, it will have returned to its previous worn out state.

An expert watchmaker would most likely be perplexed by this device, as there is no clear way to open the watch and access its inner mechanisms, he would perhaps wonder how this device was even made, as it is sealed tight, and for the most part the exterior feels solid.


Sitting on outside of the watch at 3-o-clock there is a small knob, one that is typical to watches, and is used to adjust the time. This wheel only spins clockwise, and likewise moves the hands in the clockwise direction, at the usual ratio that a watches hands will maintain. The hands can only be adjusted when the knob is pulled out out slightly, when one pushes the knob inward is when the device activates. Persons making physical contact with the watch as it is activated will notice that the world around them is frozen in time. The watch's hands will then start to move counter clockwise, and will be back at midnight in an amount of time equal to the time that the hands were displaced from midnight. So if one set the time to 10 after 12 before pressing down the knob, then it would take 10 minutes for the hands to return to midnight. Though this period of time passes as normal, but only for those who were in contact with the watch at the time of activation; these persons will be able to move around freely, and manipulate the world around them.

These persons will find it just as easy to move things as it was when time was not frozen, they could open doors, move people, but would not be able to manipulate anything too heavy for them, objects in this environment also defy gravity, and will float in the air if placed there. Living creatures will offer no additional resistance beyond their mass; moving a living creature in this state would be similar to moving a creature who was standing and offering no resistance against you, so moving around someone's arm, or taking something from their hand would be fairly easy, one would just need to be strong enough to lift the arm.

Once all of the hands reach midnight, those who activated the watch find time to very suddenly continue as normal. The watch however, exacts a heavy toll on its users, those who entered this frozen time state will have aged 1 year for every 10 seconds spent in this frozen time state; this ageing takes place instantly once the frozen state is ended. This counts as a year of natural ageing for the users, so any diseases, sickness, or cancers they had will advance as if they had gone untreated for however much time the user aged.

If individuals should seek to discover this mysterious item's inner workings, they will find, through exhaustive research, that the ageing caused by the item is not a direct side effect. The item itself is simply a catalyst, and needs something to power its abilities, it uses the readily available life force of the user, which in turn causes ageing. This ageing is proportional, so longer lived creatures would simply be aged more, while shorter lived creatures would be aged less. Additionally, those who possess unlife, like the undead cannot use this item, and the life force of immortal creatures cannot be drained, so they would not be able to power this item.

The life-force drain makes age reversal effects useless, as they only recover the symptoms of age, but not the underlying problem, that is the absence of life force, which could only be truly restored by the most powerful of deities. If one under the effect of an age restoring spell were to use this watch, they would find that spell dispelled, and themselves reverted back to their age plus however many years were gained with the use of the item. As usual, all of this would only take effect as soon as the time freeze effect ends.

Finally, should one seek to destroy this item, it can be done easily enough, for the item has no magical protection, and is no tougher than its component materials. The item is destroyed by puncturing, or creating a hole of any size that leads to the tightly sealed innards of the watch. When one creates this hole, a grey mist will leak from the wound and rapidly expand as its edges are touched by the grey mist, and in seconds the watch will age at an unimaginable rate until it is nothing but dust. This mist will rise upwards, and create this effect upon whatever it touches, it will slowly rise upwards until it disappears into the sky.


The origin of this item is unknown, though there are many tales, a studious scholar who researches this may find that stories of this item that date further and further back; some claim to know the origin of this watch, but it never fails that with enough research a story that is even older than that can be found. Some stories might include:

  • A powerful wizard crafted this item with a well meaning ritual, he wanted to stop time so he could spend as much of his ever shortening days with his love. The side ffects of this item unknown to him, sent him to an early grave.
  • A wizard sought to steal an enemies spell book, and crafted this item to pause time and steal the book; though he would never get to enjoy the books contents, as he was aged to his bones.
  • A terrible God used this item as an answer to a wish from a mortal who sought to control time. Appreciating irony, the God was gleeful as this mortal was undone by the very element he was foolishly determined to control.
  • Through evil magic a man gave this as a gift to a king, he sought to age the king to death as he attempted to set the time on the watch; though the time-controlling element was a side effect.
  • An ancient, great, and dying civilization crafted this item, they used it to defeat their enemies armies as they gathered at the gates, brave teams of warriors stepped up to defeat entire armies by themselves, even knowing the ultimate consequences of using this item.

Using This Item

This item possesses great power and terrible side effects, so it is not suited to be just another 'loot drop' item; if the player characters use this item without knowing the consequences, they could easily kill themselves. So unless you are cruel they should be aware of its properties before using it. Used correctly, this item could be crucial in a clutch situation, its power in this immense in this respect. Here are some ideas for how this item could be used:

  • It is in possession of a figure of great power, who is well aware of its effects, and uses it sparingly as appropriate. Perhaps they even used it to gain the power or prestige they possessed, by eliminating those who opposed them.
  • A religious figure sends the players on a quest to seek and destroy this item, as this figure believes this item was crafted by a heathen God, and works only to destroy.
  • A king or other powerful figure who seeks this item sends the players on a quest to retrieve it.
  • Tales or legends of this item are heard.
  • This item is stored in a safe, or other high security location, as an item of great and terrible power; to be used only in times of great need.

? Community Contributions (2)-1

The PCs must find a way to gather enough lifeforce to power the watch long enough to prevent an apocalyptic horror from taking place.

Like others, I wonder at this device in Immortal hands, without rewriting how immortality in a setting works it could cause problems.

Alternate idea: for every minute used, the user loses consciousness for 10 minutes. Certain magics could delay this, but not eliminate this. The user cannot be woken by any means during this period, it resembles a coma if it lasts long enough.
While the user will not starve nor age, he or she is not protected in any other way, so exposure to elements, wild animals, ect. may all lead to the demise of the unwary. (GM's whos players overuse the item are encouraged to find creative places for the player to wake up)

? Responses (12)-13

Goto Author

A predictable power, but it has a nice cursed touch to it and is well written up!

Even though the curse is very potent and life threatening, I still feel it is a red overpowered because it may be exploitable: should the pc's ever find a way to reverse their age, or ever have a chance at immortality this would more or less turn them into gods.

To help limit this exploitation, Personally, I would make it a one-use or maybe several-use item before it breaks (perhaps ages as well, and ends up turning to dust).

All in all, a very solid first sub; welcome to the citadel and keep on writing! :D

Goto Author

True, same would go for ageless or undead beings; in their hands this would be a potent item. The age loophole is one that should be considered; though having a limited amount of uses would put into question how the watch has survived for so long. However, I've thought of a solution.

The watch has no power on its own, it uses the life force to power its time pausing feats; so age reversal can be thought of as a merely aesthetic or surface repair, something that repairs the symptoms of age, but not the root issue. This means that whenever one uses the watch, they have no more life force to power the item with, so their age reversal would be dispelled, and more age would be added on top of them; this could be found out by the PCs reading journals of people who attempted to use this loophole and failed. This would also deal with undead or constructs attempting to use this item, as they would have no life force to power it.

Goto Author

Nice item, and I like the amount of time and thought that went into it. How would this device function in the hands of an immortal, like the typical elf, Highlander or such?

Goto Author

That is a good question, I mentioned that it would drain the life force of a being that uses it; so it would have some sort of permanent negative effect that may manifest in another form besides age; perhaps it would weaken them physically, or age them mentally, so that they could conceivably become senile.

Goto Author

Creative and a good first submission. Welcome!

Goto Author

I've often dreamed of having an item like this...Minus the side-effects, of course. Okay, starting with the bad, could do with some more spellchecking, nothing serious though. And it would have been nice with some more parsing to make it an easier read. Like SE said, a predictable power.

The good, spelling and grammatical errors aside, it is well-written, as far as I can see, all possible plot-holes have been pre-emptively fixed, like for instance there's no chance of stopping time forever because of the mechanics involved. And you also covered what would happen if it was destroyed. I also love the idea of the watch being in an Npc's hands, that way the Npc could age a bit every time they meet with the PCs, perfect plot-hook.

How much can one manipulate humans and other living things once time has stopped? You wrote they could be moved, but how much? Would their skin be like rock, could their arms or legs be moved? Could you put them in compromising situations or even kill/harm them directly?

If you answer my questions and clean it up a bit, I'll add another .5. All in all, a great first time submission, hope to see more like it.

Goto Author

I fixed up the paragraphs, and added some more detail on manipulating living creatures, I'll quote it here so you don't need to hunt for it:

'Living creatures will offer no additional resistance beyond their mass; moving a living creature in this state would be similar to moving a creature who was standing and offering no resistance against you, so moving around someone's arm, or taking something from their hand would be fairly easy, one would just need to be strong enough to lift the arm. '

Goto Author

A great item with lots of potential. It is really well done, though one of Gossamer's questions highlights a minor formatting issue - some of the paragraphs need to be broken up. For example, even the description could benefit from being broken into more paragraphs - I would do so at the

'The glass, which protects'


' An expert watchmaker '

I think the watch would draw its power from the life-potential lost by its users due to the ageing, and so those with longer lifespans that humans would simply be aged a greater amount consistent with their extended lifespans. I'd rule Immortals could not use the item at all for the same reason.
Gossamer - the question on manipulation is in there, though it may have been added since you read it, but it is buried deep in a paragraph.

...'They will find it just as easy to move things as it was when time was not frozen, they could open doors, move people, but would not be able to manipulate anything too heavy for them, objects in this environment also defy gravity, and will float in the air if placed there'

Goto Author

I really like the potential life loss idea, much more clean than the life-force idea.

Goto Author

Alright, looks better. +.5.