Doctor Who RPG: Season 17

On the occasion of completing reviews on the 1979-80 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 16.)

The GM
Douglas is fairy new at running games, and he may have bitten more than he can chew. Not only is he running Doctor Who, but his own homebrew SF comedy game (using Avalon Hill's Tales from the Floating Vagabond RPG system). He runs into two problems. One is that his homebrew is going so well, he starts to prioritize it over the Who campaign in terms of prep. The other is that his sense of humor doesn't always play itself out in his games like he'd prefer them to. Though his scenarios are colorful and absurd, he'd rather the players treat them seriously, but Tom's playing style isn't exactly that of a straight man (neither are Lalla's and David's, for that matter). With comedy happening on both sides of the GM's screen, sessions often devolve into jokes, overblown performances and infectious silliness. Together, these factors mean he'll have trouble finding the time and motivation to even finish the season

The Characters
-Tom is on his sixth season, so it's hard for anyone to tell him what he can and cannot do with his character, something he tends to abuse with the rookie GM. One thing that does keep his ego in check is new player Lalla. They'd met at the end of the previous season and started seeing each other. When a new player was required to replace Mary, Tom simply recruited from his relationship (she was a friend of Douglas' to begin with, so he might want to take the credit for that, Tom). This led to some excellent chemistry between players/characters, especially during this, their first season playing together.
-It would have been a waste if Mary's Romana, a Time Lord, hadn't regenerated, so the boys convince Lalla to pick up where Mary left off. Playing a quirky Time Lady suits her fine, and she plays down the original Romana's glamor, while retaining a haughty posh-ness, taking her cues from Tom does has far as eccentricities go (which makes her character more of a partner and less antagonistic towards the Doctor). One thing she 'ports over from Mary's rendition of the character is special care and attention to what her character is wearing at the start of each scenario.
-Another "regeneration" is K9's. A bit tired of playing a robot dog, John misses a number of games before he hands the reigns over to David, a player clearly fascinated with the challenge of playing such a character and not looking to create his own. But he told John that if he ever wanted his character back, it was his.

Destiny of the Daleks. Starting the session off with a bit of fun, Lalla exposes various designs for her new take on Romana just to annoy the other players before revealing her actual new look. Then, it's off into a Dalek story that brings back Davros (by now part of the lore players like to talk about, though Douglas is uncertain in his characterization of him), and gives the Daleks a new race of robotic enemies, the Movellans.

Attributes: Awareness 3, Coordination 5, Ingenuity 3, Presence 3, Resolve 4, Strength 6
Skills: Athletics 3, Convince 1, Fighting 3, Knowledge 2, Marksman 3, Science 2, Subterfuge 1, Technology 3, Transport 2
Traits: Robot; Attractive, Technically Adept, Tough; Adversary/Daleks (Major), By the Book, Distinctive, Eccentric/Logical, Weakness/External power pack (Major; taking it off their belts renders them stunned). Story Points: 4-8
Home Tech Level: 7 (Equipment: Movellan sidearm 4/L/L)

City of Death.
Whether it's the crazy timey-wimey ideas, or Douglas' fun characters, or the evocative Parisian setting, this will be the module he's remembered for. In a way, the group will spend the rest of the season trying to recapture the special feeling these sessions gave them. But it's hard to recreate Scaroth, the Countess Scarlioni, Duggan and a couple of art critics when you're also trying not to repeat yourself. The next three scenarios will be haunted by this.

Attributes: Awareness 3, Coordination 3, Ingenuity 5, Presence 4, Resolve 5, Strength 3
Skills: Convince 4, Fighting 1, Knowledge 4 (AoE: History, Art), Marksman 2, Science 2, Subterfuge 3 (AoE: Disguise), Survival 2, Technology 3, Transport 3
Traits: Alien; Alien Appearance, Charming, Eccentric/Delightfully sadistic, Fear Factor 1 (maskless), Networked (with his other selves across history) Time Traveller (through his other selves, Scaroth understands TL 1-5 inclusively); Last of My Kind, Obsession (Major; reassembling his selves and resurrecting the Jagaroth race). Story Points: 6
Home Tech Level: 7 (Equipment: Human mask [Shapeshift/Minor])

The Creature from the Pit. It might have worked. A planet without metals. A giant creature locked in an old mine by a ruthless queen. Wolfweeds. But characters that fail to fulfill their promise (an astrologer the Doctor is trapped underground with being the exception), and an unfortunately-described monster that elicits a lot juvenile laughs around the table, sink the enterprise. Oh, people have fun, and that's important, but David does ask if his character can be used as something other than a unwieldy raygun next time. (Good news: The entire group obliges for the rest of the season.)

Nightmare of Eden. Douglas tries a more serious subject - drug smuggling - but because the others are doing comedy and laughing at his monsters, he ends up lampooning his own characters with ill-judged accents and comic stupidity. Trying to regain control of the game's tone leads to a bit of row between him and Tom, and once they clear the air, the players do manage to end the game on imaginative solutions and genuine role-playing.

Attributes: Awareness 3, Coordination 2, Strength 7
Skills: Fighting 3, Subterfuge 2, Survival 3 (AoE: Swamps)
Traits: Alien; Alien Appearance (Major), Alien Senses (ultrasonic hearing and night vision), Fear Factor 1, Natural Weapon/Claws (Strength +2 damage), Tough, Trade Value (burnt remains are powerful narcotic vraxoin); Slow, Weakness/Herding (Minor; Mandrels can be pacified and directed with ultrasonic frequencies and energy weapons set to stun). Story Points: 2-4
Home Tech Level: N/A

The Horns of Nimon. He'd given his predecessor Tony an idea or two, so when stuck for an idea during his stint as GM, Doug asks Tony for one of his. The Minotaur myth dressed as space opera will do, and as usual Douglas throws some nice curveballs. But he's given up trying to make things serious when his players want to yuck it up, and in no hurry to have it out with Tom again, he just goes with it. Maybe if he makes his villain BIG, the players will just naturally tone things down.

Attributes: Awareness 3, Coordination 2, Ingenuity 4, Presence 5, Resolve 4, Strength 6
Skills: Convince 3, Craft 1, Fighting 2, Knowledge 4, Marksman 1, Science 4 (AoE: Wormholes), Subterfuge 1, Technology 3 (AoE: T Mat)
Traits: Alien; Alien Appearance (Major), Armour (5), Fear Factor 1 (2 against NPCs who know the Nimon as a "god"), Natural Weapons/Horn beams (4/L/L), Voice of Authority; Dependency (Minor; Nimon must consume the binding energy in organic compounds), Slow. Story Points: 4
Home Tech Level: 7

Shada. The game starts to break down in its finale scenario, and it's too bad too because it was really looking like City of Death all over again. Maybe it's the new blood - guest players Daniel and Victoria as Cambridge physics students. Most likely it's the very fun character of Professor Chronotis, an absent-minded Time Lord with a dark secret. Douglas' villains are pretty cool too, and while there's a lot of humor, the stakes are high as well. So what went wrong? Well, in addition to all the pressures on Douglas' time, something happens at work that makes it impossible for him to schedule the next session. Eventually, he has to admit it just won't happen, and that he better just be honest about it. The players eventually get together (two of them are dating, after all) and finish the story in conversations, with no dice rolling. It's not the same, but at least they have closure in their minds.

So who's going to take over for Douglas? It's time to put up notices at the old gaming club!


Jayunderscorezero said...

Aw, I really like your take on what happened with Shada.

Timothy S. Brannan said...

I get a huge kick out these.

And yes I loved the Shada "game" as well. Very clever.

American Hawkman said...

There's no way that Douglas's home campaign didn't use Tales from the Floating Vagabond. :)

Siskoid said...

Much better idea! Nicked it!


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