Doctor Who RPG: Season 16

On the occasion of completing reviews on the 1978-79 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 15.)

The GM
Tony started GMing in the middle of a season, but for his own, complete season, he wants to unify all the stories into one massive quest. The PCs will be seeking for segments of the Key to Time, an almost mystical artifact required by a benevolent "god" to restore the balance of reality. We should remember that Tony's main inspiration is myth and legend, as evidenced by a number of scenarios this season featuring kings and queens, ancient legends, and powerful gods. His larger story is a big hit with the players, though the later chapters aren't quite as imaginative as earlier ones. In fact, once he's done, he'll be done with the campaign entirely. Mission accomplished, done what he wanted to do, and moving on to other things.

The Characters
-Tom is getting more and more comfortable in his character's skin and having a lot of fun with the other players, sometimes at the expense of the GM, throwing curveballs and sidetracking the game with jokes and laughter.
-Mary is the new player at the table. Coming in just before the Key to Time story is to begin, she and the GM work out her origins as a young Time Lady called Romana, inexperienced but entirely derisive of the Doctor's approach. They love playing this dynamic, the Time Lords in competition with one another. After the season's done, Mary will also leave the campaign, and for much the same reasons as the GM.
-John is still playing K9 and as in the past, has a tendency of not showing up for every game. The robot dog spends a lot of time in the TARDIS, waiting to be called when the Doctor pulls out his whistle (as soon as he sees John sit down at the table, basically). Taking his cue from Mary's haughty airs, he starts to play on K9's own superiority complex, to great comedic effect. This is the season when he gets a real feel for his offbeat character and finds ways to make more of an autonomous hero and less of a computer/weapon on casters. Even so, he asks to play a human character in one story, as a change of pace, and the GM obliges (see The Power of Kroll).

The Ribos Operation. The GM makes the White Guardian - a sort of Gallifreyan deity - give the Doctor and Romana their mission and off they go to the planet Ribos, a well-described Medieval world caught in a web of intrigue an alien warlord. Though meant to introduce the concepts central to the season, finding the disguised segment of the Key and so on, Tony brings in a couple of guest-players, Iain and Nigel, to play Garron and Unstoffe, two con men with their own GM-given agenda, something to complicate matters for the Time Lords. A lot of good role-playing by all concerned, and lots of laughs.

The Pirate Planet. This time, Tony is playing on the players' expectations and he makes the segment something surprisingly unwieldy (though he knows he'll give it a more manageable size later) in a module inspired at least a little bit by Treasure Island. Inspired by the humor of recent sessions, he creates a parrot-like robot nemesis for K9, an idea he might otherwise have found too silly. Again, there's a guest player - David takes on the role of local hero Kimus - who teams up with Romana, the Doctor or both, depending on where they are in the plot.

Attributes: Awareness 3, Coordination 2, Ingenuity 5, Presence 4, Resolve 3, Strength 7
Skills: Athletics 1, Convince 2, Fighting 2, Knowledge 3, Marksman 1, Science 5, Subterfuge 1, Survival 1, Technology 6, Transport 2
Traits: Cyborg, Scan; Boffin, Technically Adept, Tough, Voice of Authority; Code of Conduct (Military Honor), Dark Secret (working against Queen Xanxia), Distinctive, Eccentric/Bombastic (Major), Obligation (to Xanxia), Weakness (Major - Xanxia can place him in a catatonic state at a moment's notice). Story Points: 12
Home Tech Level: 7 (Equipment: Polyphase Avatron [A4, C3, I3, P3, R3, S1, Fighting 3, Marksman 3, Flight, Natural Weapon/Impaling body +4 Strength, Natural Weapon/Energy droppings 3/5/7, Robot, Scan, Size/Tiny])

The Stones of Blood. Interested in the druidic legends associated with stone circles, the GM next sends the PCs to present-day Earth where stones have come alive, and an ancient goddess is roaming the countryside. Another guest player, Beatrix (proving you're never too old to start gaming), plays Professor Rumford, an archaeologist who doesn't know it, but is roommates with the story's villain! Tony's adventure dovetails strangely into a prison ship trapped in hyperspace where Justice Machines put the Doctor on trial, which is at odds with the more Gothic opener.

Attributes: Awareness 2, Coordination 1, Ingenuity 1, Presence 2, Resolve 3, Strength 8
Skills: Athletics 2, Convince 1, Craft 1, Fighting 2, Knowledge 1, Marksman 1, Medicine 1, Science 1, Subterfuge 1, Survival 3, Technology 1, Transport 1
Traits: Alien, Alien Appearance (Major), Armour [10], Fear Factor 1, Natural Weapon/Vampirism (touch only) [5/L/L], Special/No limbs, face or voice; Face in the Crowd (Ogri look like time-worn stones), Sense of Direction; Dependency (Minor - globulin), Slow Reflexes. Story Points: 1-3
Home Tech Level: N/A

The Androids of Tara.
Attempting to be more coherent in tone, Tony next attempts a scenario very obviously based on The Prisoner of Zenda, a romantic tale of royalty, treachery, swordplay and convenient doubles (only some of them played by androids). There are characters that look just like Romana, but Mary doesn't get to play-act them or anything. Tony confounds expectations by letting the players find the segment right off the bat, though the problem becomes leaving with it once his Count Grendel character puts his hands on it.

Attributes: Awareness 3, Coordination 4, Ingenuity 4, Presence 4, Resolve 4, Strength 3
Skills: Athletics 4, Convince 3 (AoE: Politics), Craft 1, Fighting 3 (AoE: Rapier), Knowledge 2, Subterfuge 3, Survival 1
Traits: Brave, Charming, Friends (Major - Castle Gracht), Indomitable, Quick Reflexes, Voice of Authority; Selfish, Technically Inept. Story Points: 12
Home Tech Level: 6 (Equipment: Electric rapier [+3 Strength])

The Power of Kroll.
At about this time, Tony starts to run out of steam. Not for his plots, but in the way he runs the adventures themselves. His descriptions start to flag, and there's little sense of place where before, his worlds were rather evocative. (He's in fact started to look for a replacement.) In this module inspired by material in Chaosium's Call of Cthulhu RPG, he hands John the character of Dugeen, a technician working at a refinery on a moon of Delta Magna. He's more of a player-controlled NPC than a hero, and he'll be glad to get back to K9.

The Armageddon Factor. It's all-out war between two planets, and the GM's twist is to make the segment of the key a PERSON this time, confounding players even more by having that character be controlled by a guest player, Lalla! They didn't see it coming though the clues were there from the start. There's someone else at the table too, Douglas, the campaign's future GM. He'd given Tony a couple of fun ideas to use in The Pirate Planet, so Tony tapped him to become his apprentice, so to speak. Of course, this is Tony's last scenario, so he throws all his spare ideas before time runs out. A mad computer, a devilish Shadow in the service of the Black Guardian, a rogue Time Lord who sells tech to the highest bidder, and a finale that almost pushes the universe into chaos. As has been usual the entire season, the players keep surprising him with unforeseen solutions (and an uncanny ability to make near impossible rolls, though two Time Lord minds and a dog computer runs the Ingenuity to pretty high levels), like assembling the Key with a bum part to create a small time loop, etc.

Attributes: Awareness 4, Coordination 1, Ingenuity 6, Presence 4, Resolve 4, Strength 2
Skills: Convince 2, Knowledge 5, Science 3, Subterfuge 5, Technology 3
Traits: Alien, Alien Appearance (Minor), Immortal (Major); Obligation (to the Black Guardian), Obsession (securing the Key to Time), Weakness (Minor - bright light). Story Points: 12
Home Tech Level: 7 (Equipment: Control devices [Hypnosis (Major - will even work on machine intelligences)])

Nobody seems to believe Mary is really quitting the game, and there's no opportunity for her to leave in the story, but she's adamant. Lalla's caught Tom's eye though (and not just as a player), so maybe all is not lost...


Timothy S. Brannan said...

Dig the stats!

One of my favorite seasons of Doctor Who.


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