Doctor Who RPG: Season 15

On the occasion of completing reviews on the 1977-78 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 14.)

The GMs
Bob is on his way out. He starting to feel tired and it shows in his scenario ideas, either going to the same Gothic well again and again, or trying space opera with variable results. But he won't leave the group until he finds a suitable replacement, and so ends up running four complete adventures, the last one with the help of his replacement, Tony. Tony is a lot more relaxed than Bob when it comes to letting players do ridiculous things and almost immediately, the level of silliness around the table goes up. His particular interests include mythology and working in longer story arcs. He's got big ideas for his first full season, so takes the few games left in this one to get his bearings.

The Characters
-Tom has tremendous fun playing the Doctor, and perhaps even more once Tony's less intense GMing style allows for more laughter around the table (sometimes at the cost of story integrity, but as long as everyone's having fun, right?). His character constantly telling Leela not to be so violent starts to get boring for him, so he shelves the mannerism mid-season.
-It's perhaps Louise's failure that Leela never really learned her lesson, but she was afraid it would make the character less useful and interesting. But a character that doesn't evolve risks becoming boring to its player, and that's just what happens this season (and perhaps Bob leaving has something to do with it - change is in the air). Louise tells the group she wants to leave by the end of the season. Tony, a bit too green to face finding a new player so early, tries to convince her to stay a bit longer, but it doesn't work. We'll see how she forces her hand.
-K9 is the creation of a new player, John, who wants to see how far the chargen system can stretch. A robot dog? It's an experiment that Bob indulges, introducing the character in the first available future scenario, and it proves to be fun. John asks if he can keep on playing with that character and the group agrees. (Tom's not a big fan of the character, but quickly becomes a big fan of John, who actually acts like a dog at the table, walks off on all fours, etc. to great hilarity.) John's schedule is pretty unstable, so he's not often there, so K9 gets left behind, or his batteries run down, as required.

Horror of Fang Rock. When Bob created the Sontarans for one of Terry's games, he'd put in a note about the Sontarans' great enemy, the Rutans, but he'd never really given a thought to what these aliens were like. Talking about it with Terry one day, they hashed and stated it out, and Bob put it into his next game (see below). Creating a cast of victims for his new monster, he set it loose on a lonely lighthouse. As it turns out, only the PCs survived the experience, in part because the Doctor thought he had it all figured out, but didn't. New monsters, eh? Oh and there was this weird thing where Louise colored in her character's eyes blue on her character sheet, so Bob obliged when she got momentarily blinded by making it a reality.

Attributes: Awareness 3, Coordination 2, Ingenuity 3, Presence 2, Resolve 3, Strength 4
Skills: Convince 1, Fighting 2, Knowledge 1, Medicine 1, Science 2, Subterfuge 3, Survival 2, Technology 3, Transport 2
Traits: Alien; Alien Appearance (Major), Climbing (Minor), Fear Factor 1, Environmental (Minor; underwater, extreme cold), Natural Weapon/Bioelectric tendril (Strength +4 damage/round), Networked, Shapeshift (Major; they must have killed and scanned they target appearance), Special (Rutans can drain electricity from technology to heal themselves and/or deprive others of that energy), Tough; Adversary (Sontarans), Slow (Minor). Story Points: 3-5
Home Tech Level: 7

The Invisible Enemy. The GM isn't as comfortable with science fiction, but he needs to do a story in the future to allow John to trot out K9. His possession story further out into the solar system can't be faulted for its ambition, however, when a rather good Science roll allows the Doctor to create clones of himself and Leela that can be shrunk and injected into his own brain. Bob runs with it and creates surreal landscapes as the characters' other selves fight off white blood cells and a rather ugly virus.

Image of the Fendahl. It's back to horror after that. Bob goes to his Call of Cthulhu books for ideas, and more or less writes a crossover module with that Lovecraftian game (shaving off the numbers so it's not too obvious). Resolve is, after all, a kind of Sanity stat. It's a bit dark for this group, but it works well enough. It's Bob's last game as lone GM, and it's perhaps the one closest to his sensibilities.

Attributes: Awareness 2, Coordination 2, Ingenuity 1, Presence 4, Resolve 2, Strength 3
Skills: Fighting 2, Subterfuge 1
Traits: Alien; Alien Appearance (Major), Fear Factor 3 (those affected are frozen in place whatever their natural inclination would be), Natural Weapon/Soul drain ([3/5/7] damaging, in order, Resolve, Presence, Awareness and Ingenuity), Networked; Weakness (Major; takes 4 damage from salt). Story Points: 2-4
Home Tech Level: N/A

The Sun Makers. Basically playing most NPCs in a scenario of his own devising, but letting new GM Tony run the rules and describe the world, Bob hands the torch over with this far future story about something that was close to his experience - tax trouble. The players take great enjoyment in the satire and can be heard throwing a fiscal pun or two right back at their GMs. Leela is killed at some point, and is saved with Story Points, but the group agrees it wouldn't be like her to take a level of Unadventurous. She's to leave at season's end anyway, so the point is moot.

Attributes: Awareness 3, Coordination 1, Ingenuity 5 (AoE: Finances), Presence 3, Resolve 2, Strength 1
Skills: Convince 3, Knowledge 4, Science 1, Subterfuge 2, Technology 1, Transport 1
Traits: Alien; Alien Appearance (Major; only in true form), Shapeshift (Minor), Voice of Authority; Distinctive (in "human" form), Obsession (Major; money), Weakness (wheelchair-bound). Story Points: 12
Home Tech Level: 6 (Equipment: Wheelchair)

Underworld. Tony's first full adventure module is a science fiction riff on Jason and the Argonauts, filled with mythological puns. The sense of fun he brings to the game makes the characters a lot more self-aware and "meta" than before, while his true weakness as a GM is revealed - describing environments. On a few occasions, the players have to ask pointed questions as to any given space's geometry and contents. He creates cultures well enough, but needs to work on his verbal portraiture of those cultures.

The Invasion of Time. Aiming for the epic, Tony wants to return to Gallifrey. In a conversation with Tom, he discovers that the Doctor was recently named Lord President, but that this wasn't followed up on. And the two of them work out a story together, running a short solo game, apart from the other players, to set some evil aliens up for a fall. On Tom's part, it's to tease Louise and frustrate Leela. On Tony's, it's to intrigue Louise enough that she'll stay in the game next season. He even throws Leela a bone by creating Gallifreyan outcast barbarians. That's not all he throws at the players - court intrigue, both a new alien (Vardans) and a returning one (Sontarans), and a chase through the TARDIS' vast interior - but nobody takes this "epic" tale all that seriously. Tony has already cultivated a certain lack of discipline in his group. No one thinks his descriptions of Gallifrey or the TARDIS are evocative either, which may be why the players think it's all a howl. In the end, Louise is still leaving and to make sure she does, she announces a surprise romance and impending marriage with one of the NPCs. Tony is sad about that, and is further crushed when K9 decides to remain with his mistress too! The GM apparently missed the winks shared between his players, and as the Doctor walks back into the TARDIS, Tom and John reveal that the Doctor's built a K9 Mark II! Tony is relieved, but should have known he was being teased.

Attributes: Awareness 4, Coordination 2, Ingenuity 3, Presence 3, Resolve 4, Strength 3
Skills: Convince 2, Fighting 1, Knowledge 4, Marksman 3, Science 2, Subterfuge 3, Technology 2, Transport 2
Traits: Alien; Alien Appearance (Major; in energy form only), Alien Senses (can sense energy across a wide spectrum), Clairvoyance, Environmental (Major; as energy, they can survive the vacuum of space), Immunity (as energy beings, they are immune to physical damage; in human form, damage will force them back to their energy forms), Natural Weapon/Electrical charge [3/6/9], Psychic, Shapeshift (Minor), Telepathy, Teleport (by traveling as energy at the speed of light); Weakness (Major; take +4 damage from sonic attacks); Weakness (their abilities cannot penetrate lead). Story Points: 2-4
Home Tech Level: 6

Tony's learned from his successes and mistakes, and once he finds a player to replace Louise, he'll be ready to launch into the massive arc he's got planned out. But that's a story for another day.


Anonymous said...

I can't tell you how much I enjoy these! Please keep them coming! You still have a long way to go!

Siskoid said...

Don't remind me! ;-)

Since they come at the end of each season as I review episodes, they'll start to look more biweekly than monthly by August as seasons get much shorter.

Unknown said...

Damn, that was great! Dug the justification for Leela's eye-color change. Can't wait for The Key To Time!

Siskoid said...

Just as strange and trivial an event as on the show ;-).

Andrew Gilbertson said...

I love the touch of the poorly-described environments playing into the set shortcomings of the last two stories (perhaps because it's something that I, as a GM, am often accused of shortfall in, too...)

My favorite touch in a series of great touches.


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