Doctor Who RPG: Season 6

On the occasion of completing reviews on the 1968-9 season of Doctor Who, I should like to re-imagine it as a role-playing game campaign using Cubicle 7's Doctor Who RPG. (Go back one, to Season 5)

The GMs
In the past couple seasons, the group had trouble keeping a steady GameMaster. Because the present GM, Derrick, knows he'll be unable to keep to a schedule, he brings in his friend Terry to GM, as it turns out, more than half the games. They even collaborate on overall story arcs and season structure. They make a good team, but Terry will end up inheriting the whole kit and caboodle, which is fine by him because his schedule is much open. He even shows up at games he's not GMing, just to track the action and enjoy the show.

The Characters
-Because of family commitments, Pat has decided this will be his last year. Though the sessions are short and punchy, it's still a weekly thing for more than 9 months out of the year. He just can't keep doing it, not that he isn't giving it his all.
-Frazer thought about leaving before the new season began, but Pat convinced to stay another year so they could leave together. There were other games Frazer wanted to get into, but because he's having fun playing with Pat, he'll stay. He dumps a point into Jamie's Technology skill, as a sign that he's been traveling a long time and to make it easier to interact with post-18th century environments.
-Wendy's the fresh face around here and she brings a new energy to the player dynamic. Because her character is brainier, she and Pat have their characters bond, and Frazer gets to play the jealous pupil, annoyed at the teacher's new pet.

The Dominators. In his first scenario, Derrick tries to create new enemies for the Doctor after spending much of his time last year using old ones. Neither the Dominators nor their Quarks are too successful, partly because the GM fails to give them proper personalities. He's trying to make the story a satire of hippie culture, but it's a silly theme and the characters are much too in service of it. It allows the players to get back into their characters' skins after summer break, but little else.

Attributes: Awareness 3, Coordination 3, Ingenuity 4, Presence 4, Resolve 5, Strength 3
Skills: Convince 1, Knowledge 2, Marksman 1, Medicine 2, Science 3, Technology 3, Transport 3
Traits: Alien, Alien Appearance (Minor), Eccentric/Emotionless (Major), Voice of Authority; and choose from Argumentative and By the Book. Story Points: 4-8
Home Tech Level: 7 (Equipment: Armored shell [5 points protecting the back, neck and shoulders])

Attributes: Awareness 3, Coordination 1, Ingenuity 1, Presence 1, Resolve 3, Strength 2
Skills: Marksman 4, Science 2, Technology 3
Traits: Robot, Armor [5 points], Natural Weapon x2 (Disruptor L[4/L/L]), Networked, Scan; Restriction: Power Limits (Quarks need to be recharged after extended use); Special: Equipment can be plugged into Quarks to share their power source; Special: The Quarks' presence disrupts normal communication devices. Story Points: 1-2
Home Tech Level: 7

The Mind Robber. Seeing as his last two SF stories have lacked luster, and that he has no interest in historicals, Derrick tries something completely new - a sort of storybook fantasy. The TARDIS blowing up, an empty void, alchemical word transformations, mythical monsters, characters from literature... He throws it all in there, and even goes the extra step in making Gulliver only speak in words from the book, one of his favorites. It's completely insane, and yet, just what the doctor (small "d") asked for to get the group out of an early rut. Frazer gets chicken pox during this batch of sessions and a friend, Hamish, comes in to try the game and play Jamie. They even find a cute way to explain the discrepancies in performance by letting the Doctor screw up a puzzle that reconstitutes Jamie's face.

The Invasion. Derrick and Terry have been talking and together they work out this story, which is nominally about the return of the Cybermen, but is really a second attempt at a new format for this long-running campaign. Last year, Derrick toyed with the idea of the Doctor working with scientists and military men against alien threats in the present day (in The Web of Fear). This time, he and Terry have devised an organization called UNIT that would deal with such threats specifically, and with which the Doctor might work. Nick returns as Lethbridge-Stewart for these sessions, promoted to Brigadier in charge of UNIT. They also bring in shy player John to play one of the UNIT men, Sgt. Benton, and another new player, Sally, to play Isobel Watkins, a fashion photographer who gets mixed up in the story (a terrible character, we're well afraid, sorry Sally). The Doctor's had present-day invasion stories before. The real experiment is whether a larger group of players can be accommodated by this format. There are perhaps too many people around the table, but it shows promise, maybe with some more tinkering. What is a complete success is Terry as GameMaster. While the players are fine with seeing the Cybermen again, they love his human villains and the scenario's high stakes.

The Krotons.
GMing is more than running sessions, it's also prep work. And sometimes, you just don't have enough of time to do both well. It was supposed to be Derrick's turn, but he just couldn't make it. Terry's quick attempt at saving those sessions is a bit of a failure, with badly-drawn aliens that give the Quarks a run for their money. By this point though, the players have so much fun with their characters that the plot hardly matters anymore.

Attributes: Awareness 2, Coordination 2, Ingenuity 3, Presence 3, Resolve 4, Strength 7
Skills: Fighting 2, Knowledge 2, Marksman 2, Science 2, Subterfuge 3, Technology 2, Transport 2
Traits: Alien, Alien Appearance (Major), Armor (5 points), By the Book, Dependency: Neural Energy (Major; Krotons must rejuvenate themselves periodically by draining others' brain power), Fast Healing (Major), Weakness/Acid (Major), Weakness/Light (Minor; Krotons must be guided remotely when adventuring out into the sunlight). Story Points: 4-6
Home Tech Level: 7 (Equipment: Dispersal Gun 6[3/6/8])

The Seeds of Death. Terry returns to what worked in his first adventure and brings back an old enemy - the Ice Warriors. He also creates T Mat, a teleporting technology that might be useful to him later and to other GMs down the road. Again the stakes are high, and to make his NPCs a little deeper, he creates tense "cut scenes" on the Moonbase as the PCs try to get there.

The Space Pirates.
Derrick takes his final turn with a space opera story he animates with little models at the table, but after the first session, players start to roll their eyes at the device. Early on, the GM gets good paranoia going about who's a baddie and who's a goodie, but ultimately, the players are just bystanders in the story he's telling. They're tired, he's tired, and it shows. Where's that young buck Terry and HIS energy?

The War Games. With 10 sessions left on the clock, and Derrick opting out entirely, Terry decides to make these sessions one big, final story. Because he knows all the players will leave the game after this (Wendy wants to leave her options open, but wants to play with the finale as hers too), he wants it to be epic, important, reference the past, AND be a game-changer. So he starts it out as a historical that dove-tails into something else entirely - a temporal shenanigans SF story with lots of action and paranoia, some of his delicious villains (including a new Time Lord) and revelations almost every session. Every time the players play a "classic bit", it's made more important because it's probably the last time they do so. Terry is keen on setting up his own vision for the Doctor Who RPG (though he's yet to find a player to replace Pat), so he has a private discussion with Pat about allowing the Time Lords to catch up to the Doctor. The result is a momentous first use of the Doctor's people - not as specific characters, but as a culture - and the Doctor put on trial. There's a bit of railroading, but the GM allows Pat's arguments to change the reasons for the preordained sentence of exile on Earth. This is, of course, necessary for the UNIT campaign he plans to start next year.

Attributes: Awareness 4, Coordination 3, Ingenuity 7, Presence 4, Resolve 3, Strength 3
Skills: Convince 3, Fighting 2, Knowledge 4, Marksman 2, Science 3 (Temporal +2), Subterfuge 3, Technology 4 (Space-time capsules +2)
Traits: Boffin, Indomitable, Psychic Training, Technically Adept, Voice of Authority, Eccentric/Megalomania (Major), Outcast, Selfish, Time Lord (Feel the Turn of the Universe, Vortex). Story Points: 8
Home Tech Level: 10

Now if only Terry can find himself some new players. He's got Nick and John to come back as their UNIT characters, but who will be the Doctor and his companion assistant?


JeffStormer said...

These never cease to be a delight!

Siskoid said...

Glad you enjoy them. The seasons just got shorter, so they will appear more often!

Kit said...

I love these. Excellent resource!

Anonymous said...

thanks for sharing.


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