Doctor Who RPG: Voyagers! Edition

Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space (or DWAITAS) of course allows you to run time travel games via a TARDIS, but there are other possibilities. What about Voyagers!, the terrible little time travel show that aired on NBC in the '82-'83 season? Yes, it was badly put together, but the concept can still be used as the foundation for a "time agents" series. This is the first of three alternative settings for DWAITAS I aim to do.

Tropes
Voyagers! features a sort of time agency that (apparently, many things are not plainly stated) recruit people from across human history, make them go through training at "Voyager School" and sends them into the time stream to historical troublespots where they must "fix" history and make sure it goes along the correct path. Each Voyager is given an Omni (a time travel device, see below) and a guidebook full of historical detail (for game purposes, the guidebook gives Voyagers a +2 bonus to their history-related Knowledge rolls). The following elements should be taken into account when recreating the show:
-Though there is violence, there is little to no NPC death in the episodes. Non-lethal solutions should be sought by Voyagers to prevent accidentally subverting history.
-Voyagers! deals with Hollywoodized history. The apocryphal is real, and time periods are closer to our IDEA of them (from movies) than the actual time period. Obviously, everyone in every time and place speaks English (though sometimes with accents).
-While most Voyagers travel alone, small teams have been known to work together. Obviously, the show is about Phineas Bogg taking a companion, Jeffrey, under his wing. They've worked with a Voyager called Olivia as well. So a group of 2 or 3 Voyagers isn't unheard of.
-Stories often begin with a landing years after the deviation, giving players the first act to figure out what went wrong and when, then going back to the correct moment to fix things.
-There is no explanation as to why history so often deviates from established facts. An enterprising GM might lay in slow (or sudden) revelations as to why, expanding from the show's premise. Maybe history is only as it is because the Voyager leadership wants it so (the guidebook is a blueprint for what they want history to be). Maybe there are very subtle enemy time agents or rogue Voyagers out there. Or more simply, it's possible the discovery of time travel has shaken the timeline, creating eddies that threaten to take it off course. The Voyagers may feel responsible for repairing the damage, or want to prevent history from smoothing itself out so that time travel is never invented.
-Don't sweat the details. As long as the big banner events of history happen, it doesn't matter exactly how the result was achieved.

The Omni
In the Voyagers! campaign, the players use an Omni instead of a TARDIS. The Vortex trait is not required to use one. The Omni looks vaguely like a pocket watch. Inside are an indicator of date and place and two lights. If the red light is blinking, something's wrong with history. If the green light turns on, history is proceeding normally. Voyagers can set the Omni to the time and place of their choice, but leaving it on automatic mode will necessarily send them to a deviation in time. Voyagers can escape a situation by simply pressing the button on top of the Omni, but will be sent to an automatic location. They frequently have to deal with two problems "simultaneously", one immediate, and the other which they must "get back to". When the Omni's button is pressed, the Voyager and anyone touching him or her are whisked into the "cosmos", flying through time and space to their new destination. They invariably appear in the air and fall to earth. The Omni will usually find something soft for them to fall onto (a pile of hay, for example), but even when they don't, no injuries are usually incurred. Omnis are set to a range of years a specific Voyager has been assigned to (Bogg's ranged from Antiquity to the 1970s, for example). Omnis have been known to malfunction, especially when they've repeatedly been dirtied. Maintaining an Omni without a guidebook is a Technology roll at -2.

Character Sheets
Here are some sheets I made for the tv show's characters. Clicking on them will double their size. First Bogg:
Then Jeffrey:
And a virgin sheet for your own Voyager:
Hope you enjoy them. I'll be looking at a more popular time travel show next time!

17 comments:

Craig said...

Fantastic! I remember this show from my youth. Mostly I remember it having better production values than Doctor Who but not having any monsters and the kid being an irritant.

But "travelling around with a little time machine fixing history" is indeed a good base.

Siskoid said...

I had the same youthful enthusiasm for it, but was disappointed with it as an adult (scroll down to This Week in Geek if you haven't see the capsule review).

Being bad tv in no way makes it a bad RPG concept, of course.

Eric TF Bat said...

Wow - I'd never heard of this one. I figured I knew all the obscure and stupid eighties SF shows. I even liked The Powers Of Matthew Starr, at least until he developed the ability to transmogrify things with his mind, which was the shark-jumping moment for me and, apparently, for his series. Must go look that up, actually...

I'm hoping to see Journeyman included in your list, since that's my favourite USian time travel series by a loooong way.

Siskoid said...

Journeyman doesn't ring a bell. I guess I'll have to look THAT up.

Sniderman said...

Very keen! Loved that show as a kid. Can't wait to see what other shows you have in mind. I'd like to see a version based on Cartoon Network's Time Squad cartoon series. Always thought it was hysterical.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_Squad

Siskoid said...

Wow you guys, you're having me track lots of stuff I haven't even seen before!

David H. said...

yeah i remember this show too. the episode that sticks out in my head is the one that had to do with Thomas Edison. didn't the actor who was the grown up of the two get himself killed by firing a gun he held up to his head as a gag? the gun had blanks but the explosive force of the gun powder still sends out a concussive blast through the barrel which if held directly to your head can fracture your skull. i was watching an episode of 1000 Ways to day last night where some dude also got himself killed by doing that.

Siskoid said...

Yes, poor Jon-Erik Hexum shot himself with a blank on the set of his show at the time, Cover Up.

Gratuitous Saxon Violence said...

don't know if you use minis, but Reaper makes a Chronoscope line for just this sort of game. And it has a figure holding a device very similar to an Omni.

http://www.reapermini.com/OnlineStore/Sci-Fi/latest/50001

Siskoid said...

That's pretty neat! DWAITAS doesn't really use minis (it's fast and loose), but those could definitely be used in a Voyagers game.

Also: Love your handle.

Combom said...

http://www.flickr.com/photos/combomphotos/sets/72157623645847966/

all the cardboard figures you need, well most and yes i do requests and add more :) catch me on my blog :)

Combom said...

comments chop it up so heres a short ver :)

http://bit.ly/dXD5IP

Siskoid said...

I often do catch you on your blog, Combom. I always check it out for my Doctor Who RPG round-up I do for the DWAITAS boards.

And I love your cardboard stand-up miniatures too.

Bauble said...

I remember watching this show on CBC when I was a kid. There was the episode with the Titanic which stuck with me (this was before the movie of course). There was also one where there was a girl who travelled with them.

I was always asking myself how they kept falling from the sky without getting hurt.

And one thing that always bugged me at the time, each episode ended with the kid inviting us to read more about history (based on the show's plot) at our local library, but living in a French town I was never able to find anything. For some reason the librarians would always look at me funny when I asked them for books about the subjects in question.

I guess it had something to do with the fact that if they didn't know anything about a subject, then it wasn't important for the 8-9 year old kid to ask about it. However I'm blessed with a photographic memory so they must have thought that my interest would be short loved. I still remember the faces they gave me when I was asking them about the Titanic, the various American wars and Joe Louis.

Siskoid said...

The Titanic episode is the one where they travel with a girl. It's the same ep.

VoyagerG said...

This was cool. I just found it now and added it to the link page to my Voyagers! Website, voyagersguidebook.net

If you haven't seen it I think you will enjoy it. :) I like your ideas about why history goes wrong. I had similar ones in my fanfic stories.

Siskoid said...

I'll check it out! Thanks for sharing!

 

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