Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Doctor Who RPG: Season 10

On the occasion of completing reviews on the 1973 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 9.)

The GM
When Terry realizes this is the 10th season (wow!), he decides to go back into the role-playing club's notes and pay tribute to what has gone before. Obviously, his current players weren't necessarily there, but like him, they've heard stories that have become part of their campaign's lore. These notes and scenario synopses give him a few ideas, which he'll mix in with his own original plots. His biggest challenge this season is actually coordinating player schedules so that snafus, like the UNIT players not participating in the UNIT story The Sea Devils last season, don't happen again, AND because he's inviting some very special guests to play (see below). The formula otherwise remains much the same, with Jon and Katy as regulars, with Nick, John, Richard and Roger showing up as glorified guest stars from time to time.

The Characters
-Jon is on his fourth season, so he's grown very comfortable with his character, and even means to soften him a little. No more crazy vehicles shoehorned into plots, a less gruff manner with the UNIT guys, and playing up the character's wisdom and father figure elements.
-Katy too is a veteran by now (third season), and looking for different games and characters, she decides this will be her last season, even if she knows she'll miss the group terribly. She tells everyone about mid-season, and Terry adds possible romantic interests for Jo in the stories after that to see if she'll take the bait. She eventually does.
-Nick, John, Richard and Roger (the Brig, Benton, Yates and the Master) are all booked for limited engagements, like in the previous season, which is fine by them.

The Three Doctors. Terry wants to start the season off with a bang to celebrate the campaign's 10th anniversary, so he gets it into his head to get the Time Lords to allow the Doctor to cross his own timeline, inviting the players who previously played him to come back and share an adventure. Nick, who has played with all three, is instrumental in getting them to do it, but it's not that easy. Billy has moved away and can only play via Skype, and the connection's not so good, so he sits back, gives advice at opportune times, and that's it. Pat is at the table as the 2nd Doctor though, and he and Jon get rather competitive, so maybe it's for the best Terry didn't have to handle THREE Doctors at the same time. Surrounded by old friends, Nick gets a bit excited and decides to make the Brigadier unable to handle all this craziness - good for a laugh - while Jon's Sgt. Benton is more deadpan in his reactions. To make it even more special, Terry adds to the Time Lords' mythology (which he's been steadily building) and introduces a legendary figure from their history called Omega, and rewards the Doctor with an end to his exile (because frankly, drafting off-world stories has been a bit annoying with it in place).

OMEGA
Attributes: Awareness 3, Coordination 2, Ingenuity 10, Presence 4, Resolve 6, Strength 2
Skills: Convince 3, Craft 5, Knowledge 4, Science 5 (+2 Astrophysics), Subterfuge 1, Survival 3, Technology 5 (+2 Stellar Engineering), Transport 2
Traits: Indomitable, Screamer!, Technically Adept, Voice of Authority; Distinctive, Eccentric/Megalomania, Obsessions (getting revenge on the Time Lords), Outcast, Weaknesses (has no actual body under his armor; cannot leave his anti-matter universe if no sentient mind there to hold its reality); Time Lord (Feel the Turn of the Universe, Vortex), Immortal, Special: While in anti-matter universe, can create anything short of sentient beings (using Ingenuity+Craft), which may be sent to positive universe. Story Points: 6
Home Tech Level: 10

Carnival of Monsters. In the RPG club's archives, Terry found a note about a scenario called Planet of Giants, in which the shrunken heroes were called upon to also play characters on the macro-scale. Hm... He tries a variation on it, with Jon and Katy playing alien carnies showing off their "mini-scope" and sometimes interfering with their own (as the Doctor and Jo) story inside the machine. Terry eventually has to take Vorg and Shirna over when the main PCs get out of the scope, but it keeps both players involved in the alien planet's political plot while it lasts. The GM throws a lot of stuff at them, from a disappearing ship in the Indian Ocean to a swamp full of monstrous Drashigs, from the inner workings of a giant machine to marine dinosaurs. The players never broke into his other areas where Ogrons and Cybermen lurked. Guest player Ian came in to play 1920s ship's officer Andrews to see what the campaign was all about - a repetitive but amusing role - and said he'd think about putting his name of the list to play more regularly.

DRASHIG
Attributes: Awareness 2, Coordination 2, Presence 4, Resolve 2, Strength 10
Skills: Athletics 2, Fighting 1, Subterfuge 1, Survival 4
Traits: Keen Senses (smell); Obsession (eating), Weaknesses (blind, no limbs); Alien, Alien Appearance (Major), Armour (5), Burrowing, Environmental (can eat almost anything, including metal), Fear Factor +3, Frenzy, Size/Huge, Natural Weapon: Teeth (+4 to Strength). Story Points: N/A
Home Tech Level: N/A

Frontier in Space. Again looking at those old campaign notes, the GM was impressed with the more serialized of the first few seasons, and in particular in the massive 12-parter, The Daleks' Master Plan. Just as that scenario fleshed out the 41st century, Terry sets his in the middle of the Earth Empire (26th century), a history he's added to every season since Katy started playing. He creates a Draconian Empire next to Earth's, springs Roger's seasonal surprise appearance on the players, and plans to surprise them even more with the Daleks appearing midway through his 12-parter as the real power behind the Master's schemes. It doesn't quite work, because he also uses the Ogrons, which were first introduced as the Daleks' lackeys. So the players, having been told this would be a long one and expecting the Doctor's greatest enemies (plus the Master), start hoarding Story Points early by allowing themselves to be captured over and over again. It might have been a good idea, since Jon has to use his stash to make his character survive when shot by the Master at 6-session mark! This is also Roger's last appearance at the gaming table as tragically, he died in a car accident not long after*. The group, shocked and saddened by this turn of events, agree to retire the character of the Master and not allow him to regenerate and be played by someone else.

*Let me break character here to say that I wasn't sure what to do about Roger Delgado's death in this series. I, in no way, wanted to make light of his tragic death, but felt creating a fictional excuse for his leaving "the game" would be worse than actually referring to it. It, and the Master's character sheet, stand as a tribute to the actor who created the character, a performance that remains its most iconic. Please accept it as such in this otherwise tongue-in-cheek article.

TYPICAL DRACONIAN
Attributes: Awareness 3, Coordination 3, Ingenuity 3, Presence 4, Resolve 3, Strength 4
Skills: Athletics 1, Convince 1, Fighting 2, Knowledge 1, Marksman 2, Medicine 1, Subterfuge 1, Technology 1, Transport 2
Traits: Tough; Code of Conduct/Draconian Honor, Obligation (to Emperor); Alien, Alien Appearance (Minor). Story Points: 12
Home Tech Level: 6 (Equipment: Draconian Blaster [4/L/L])

Planet of the Daleks. In constructing his 12-part epic, Terry actually structured it as two 6-parters, each with their own focus. The second half actually took its cue from the very first Dalek story, or rather, the notes left by the original GM. Daleks, Thals, more cliffhangers than a Saturday matinée, invisible men, vicious plants and animals, a space plague... The world of Spiridon is so dangerous, Katy has to blow her hoard of Story Points on undoing Jo's death! That's one level of Unadventurous, but since she's soon leaving the game, there are no hard feelings. Among the Thals the PCs help, the GM has included a possible romantic lead, but Katy decides to ignore it and carry on to the end of the season.

The Green Death. Jon, Katy and Nick agree to give Jo's departure a little more oomph by making the Doctor choose to TARDIS away while she stays behind and explores an Earth-bound mystery. The Doctor's adventure on Metebelis 3 is done mostly through montage, in between Jo and the Brig's scenes. Just for fun, it seems, but the GM does give the Doctor access to a Metebelis crystal, a gadget that will become useful by adventure's end. John and Richard (the latter of which has been GMing something else, so hasn't even yet participated in the Doctor Who game this season), when they hear about Katy's leaving, make an effort to join the group and battle mad computers and giant maggots in the last three sessions. From the first chapter, Terry introduces a viable love interest for Jo (a younger version of the Doctor, by all accounts), and this time, Katy goes along with it. The group is more than a little surprised to find themselves choking up at the choices Jon and Katy make in their farewell scene. They have been gaming partners for three seasons, after all. A very nice close to an "anniversary" season, and the players and GM don't mind at all sharing a bottle of wine to celebrate when it's all over.

GIANT MAGGOT/FLY
Attributes: Awareness 2, Coordination 3, Marksman 1, Presence 1, Resolve 3, Strength 4
Skills: Athletics 2, Fighting 1, Subterfuge 2, Survival 5
Traits: Alien, Alien Appearance (Major), Armour (10), Burrowing, Fear Factor +2, Frenzy, Immunity (toxins), Size/Tiny, Natural Weapon: Toxic Bite (4/L1/L2, death comes after a few days [L1] or a few hours [L2]), Shapeshift (the maggot will eventually pupate and turn into a fly), Slow; Weakness (Professor Jones' hybrid fungus kills them; no limbs).
Fly's Traits: Alien, Alien Appearance (Major), Fear Factor +2, Flight, Frenzy, Immunity (toxins), Natural Weapon: Toxic Spray (4/L1/L2); Weakness (Professor Jones' hybrid fungus kills them). Story Points: N/A
Home Tech Level: N/A


Katy's left, but everybody else is staying on, so the hiatus is all about finding a suitable player to replace Jo's. Could the best be yet to come?

4 comments:

LiamKav said...

"Billy has moved away and can only play via Skype, and the connection's not so good..."

Brilliant. Simply brilliant.

Siskoid said...

Even if it makes the whole campaign wonky. I mean, if they have a season every year, and they have Skype in Season 10, they'll be up to the 11th Doctor when? In the 2030s? Everybody'll be driving Whomobiles by then!

Timothy Brannan said...

I KNEW you had Draconian stats! Might be playing some DWAITAS this weekend.

Siskoid said...

Glad to be of service!

I'm trying to get an Anniversary group together myself to play a "special", probably in December (we're all tied up Nov 23rd damn).