Doctor Who RPG: Season 20

On the occasion of completing reviews on the 1983 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 19.)

The GMs
It's the game's 20th season and Eric is encouraged to research the campaign's long history and maybe bring back old threats and old players as guest-stars too. He also has to cater to the gaming club's recent "Iron GM" tradition that forces certain random elements into every member GM's campaigns (this season, it's to be Amsterdam). And to make things a little tougher on himself, he's worked out a short arc to introduce a new player character, and that's gotta be looked to as well. A couple of new players, one player's departure, guests... there's a lot to take into account. And then there's the Anniversary itself. With the help of the club president, Eric is assembling a sort of group reunion for the exact date of the first ever session. To juggle all those players, he's brought an old GM aboard, Terry, who's been the campaign's longest-serving GameMaster. They'll co-GM that session, and work on the scenario together.

The Characters
-Peter is growing more comfortable with his Doctor as a man who dislikes showing his true emotions, and is looking forward to welcoming all those old players he's heard so much about to the table.
-Janet played coy during the hiatus, just to mess with Eric, perhaps not realizing how much of a puzzle he was dealing with already, and kind of waited for the last second before confirming she would return to the game. She missed the opening session because of it. The break Tegan was on justified her jettisoning the whole air stewardess shtick, and for the GM's part, he was happy he could do the Mara follow-up he'd set in motion the previous season.
-Sarah decided that time had probably passed between the end of Season 19 and the start of Season 20 and wanted to play Nyssa as older, on the cusp of womanhood, and on her way to emancipation from her father figure the Doctor. She started focusing on the character's role as TARDIS den mother and her independence.
-Mark comes on board in the season's third story with a pretty atypical character called Turlough. Unlike most companions, he's greedy, selfish and cowardly. He's also been talked into a secret subplot (played via notes and side-room conferences) initially putting him under the thumb of the Black Guardian, though most of the work seems to be finding reasons why he can't actually assassinate the Doctor. All the side-stuff makes the other players rather paranoid about the character, to be sure.
-Gerald... well... see The King's Demons for what the deal is with Gerald.

Arc of Infinity. After the clunkiness of the previous season's Iron GM plug-in, Eric decides to get Amsterdam out of the way early and makes it the setting for the first scenario. It's not used particularly well though, taking a back seat to the Anniversary return of Omega, the villain from the 10th Anniversary. Because much of the plot involves a secret plan hatched with a Time Lord traitor, which is all hidden behind the scenes, it's not certain the players could describe what just happened, but Peter and Sarah do enjoy acting as a duo through most the scenario, and Janet gets a chance to be an independent heroine in her own thread, helping to free her cousin from the clutches of Omega and his hastily-drawn Ergon minion.

Attributes: Awareness 1, Coordination 2, Ingenuity 1, Presence 1, Resolve 2, Strength 4
Skills: Fighting 1, Marksman 2
Traits: Alien, Alien Appearance (Major), Armour (5), Enslaved, Telepathy (Special - by touch can access and transmit useful information to its master, Omega). Story Points: 2
Home Tech Level: 10 (Equipment: Matter Converter [Teleport - sends victims to Omega's TARDIS; Weapon - 4/L/L])

Snakedance. Though the season was off to a rough start, a sequel to the Mara story (Kinda) puts things back on track. Janet gets to play evil Tegan again, and Eric is somehow inspired to add lots of local color to Manussa and its Mara mythology. It's rather too bad the Mara isn't an easily recurring monster (and the stronger for it), as it's got a better track record than Eric's other fetish villains, the Cybermen and the Master (which he of course plans to use this season as well).

Mawdryn Undead. Because Turlough is meant to be an alien stuck in an Earth school (inspired by the character of Susan from the original party), Eric gave William (who played Ian) a call, but he was too busy to start gaming. So it was up to Nick to retire his Brigadier from UNIT and make him a teacher at the school. Nick was always easy-going about that sort of thing and was intrigued with playing two versions of his character in Eric's timey-wimey plot, one fresh off UNIT, the other mellowed with age. The other players have a grand old time with both versions, excusing the GM's heavy-handed railroading required to make the story work. The girls can't believe how many Story Points Eric had to dump just so they'd keep believing Mawdryn was a regenerating Doctor, especially since they knew Peter wasn't going anywhere.

Terminus. Sarah's final story, and the GM gave her as many outs as possible so she could choose her own destiny. He gave her the plague, but she chose not to die. He gave her a possible romantic entanglement, but she didn't take that bait either. Instead, she decides to accept a call to duty, staying behind on Terminus to put her Medicine and Science skills to good use, turning the ancient ship into a proper hospital. Though she had grown bored with the game, there are still some teary eyes at the end of her last session. The experience was really more about doing something with friends with this group.

Attributes: Awareness 1, Coordination 2, Ingenuity 2, Presence 3, Resolve 4, Strength 6
Skills: Athletics 2, Fighting 2, Medicine 1, Science 1
Traits: Alien, Alien Appearance, Code of Conduct (analogous to Hippocratic Oath), Immunity (to radiation), Enslaved, Last of My Kind, Slow (Minor), Uncreative (as long as he is Enslaved). Story Points: 4
Home Tech Level: 6 (Equipment: Tunic [Armour - 5 points]

Enlightenment. Sarah just missed out on one of the best scenarios of the season, a boat race in space, a contest set up by the Guardians in which powerful Eternals could win Enlightenment. There are plenty of suplots to go around, but ultimately, the story must end with a resolution to Turlough's Black Guardian troubles. Every time these players are in a situation where abstract philosophical concepts are the key to victory, they do very well, and Turlough is freed from his service to the Black Guardian.

ETERNAL (human form)
Attributes: Awareness 7, Coordination 2, Ingenuity 7, Presence 5, Resolve 7, Strength 3
Skills: Convince 4, Craft 4, Fighting 2, Knowledge 7, Marksman 2, Science 7, Subterfuge 2, Technology 5, Transport 4
Traits: Adversaries (one another), Brave (Eternals do not recognize death as a possibility), Code of Conduct (play by the rules of their games), Eccentric, Epicurean Tastes, Hypnosis (Major), Immortal (when Eternals are killed, they merely transfer back to the Void), Insatiable Curiosity, Special: Reality Control (Eternals can transform reality around them to suit their purpose, creating objects and transporting "ephemerals" through time, though they are limited by what they can draw from ephemeral minds due to their Uncreative Trait), Telepathy, Uncreative, Voice of Authority, Vortex. Story Points: 4-6
Home Tech Level: 12

The King's Demons. In the last couple of sessions left to them before the Anniversary game, Eric concocts a quick Medieval plot featuring the Master controlling a King John impersonator. Guest-player Gerald plays the impostor, having a grand old time ordering the PCs about and calling them his demons, until he's revealed to be a shapeshifting robot called Kamelion who soon joins the TARDIS crew. Whaa? Well, the campaign has been getting a lot of attention lately, based on longevity, and John, the club president wanted Eric to set something up whereby guest players could easily jump into the game. Begrudgingly, Eric accepted Kamelion into the game, a character that could become anyone's idea for a character, pre-integrated into the story through this cheat. Gerald was kind enough to try it out, keeping it a secret from the players. From there, Kamelion was stuffed into a TARDIS cupboard until someone basically asked to play him, an opportunity Eric didn't really go out of his way to advertize. After all, the next game would already have too many players without having to bring guests in (as it happened, they did, but not through Kamelion).

The Five Doctors. The concept: A long reunion game with players from all eras of the campaign (i.e. that would have played with each of the Doctors, if not the Doctors themselves) played on the date the campaign had started. Obviously, the present group was included. Eric, John and co-GM Terry (who had worked with three of the Doctors) worked very hard to get as many old players to that game. They got Pat (2nd Doctor), Jon (3rd Doctor), Carole Ann (Susan), Nick (the Brigadier), and Lis (Sarah Jane), which made 8 players around the table. When it looked like Tom was going to make it, the GMs decided it should star all five Doctors and asked a friend, Richard, to run the first's character sheet (alas, Billy had passed away some time before). Then Tom couldn't, and wouldn't let them use his character sheet without his consent, so they waved him away in the plot itself, but kept Richard around. Other players were asked, but couldn't make it. Eric and Terry included many of their characters as phantoms or cameos. The two GMs cooperated on scripting the adventure, with Terry bowing to Eric's decisions as the present GM, though the relationship wasn't without conflict. Terry wanted to include Autons and Quarks, for example, but Eric felt there should be a unifying set of enemies, his old standbys the Master and the Cybermen. He also created the Raston Warrior Robot to get a little novelty in there. A Dalek and a Yeti stayed in. At the table, though players were often partitioned in their own set pieces, all trying to get to the Tower of Rassilon in scenes that harked back to D&D in many ways, they all joined in the banter and made sure they resurrected old inside jokes, lines and tropes from their time in the game, often leaning on anecdotes to explain ther relevance. It was a time of sharing memories, and the current group found it all quite delightful and inspiring.

Attributes: Awareness 5, Coordination 5, Ingenuity 1, Presence 1, Resolve 3, Strength 4
Skills: Athletics 4, Fighting 3, Marksman 4, Subterfuge 2
Traits: Alien Senses (motion sensor), Armour (5), Enslaved, Fast (Special: The Robot can move so fast, it appears invisible to the naked eye), Five Rounds Rapid, Jumping, Natural Weapons (throwing spike 6/L/L), Quick Reflexes, Robot, Weaknesses (blind, deaf and mute). Story Points: 3
Home Tech Level: 10

How will this inspiration take flight? Will anyone ever take Kamelion out of storage? Ahhh, those are stories for Season 21, a season that will prove to be one of change. Peter has announced he never had any intention of doing more than three, and both Janet and Mark think they may follow him out of the door...



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