On the occasion of completing reviews on Doctor Who's fourth series, I should like to re-imagine it as a role-playing game campaign using Cubicle 7's Doctor Who RPG. (Go back one, to Torchwood Series 2.)
-David is talking about this being his last series too, but he's put so much work in the character, he's not sure if he's ready to go. One thing he wants to do this time around is phase out his longing for lost Rose. He's done enough of that, and is tired of playing the romantic lead. Let's just have some fun instead.
-Catherine had played Donna Noble, super-temp, one Christmas, and regretted not accepting the invitation to stick around for more. So she's back, is incredibly willing to play along with the GM's prophetic machinations, a real equal of David's Doctor in the repartee department, and has a secret plan to use a Knowledge Expertise in Office Work to do all sorts of crazy things. Russell's gonna let her, too.
-Freema, the occasional player par excellence, played Martha in Torchwood, and asks to play a few sessions in Russell's new series as well. He readily accepts and writes UNIT into a couple of his scenarios.
-Billie responds to the GM's invitation too, jacks Rose up with alternate Torchwood-related skills, and will bring her back in the last few sessions, actually dreading what Russell's got in store for the reunited "lovers".
(Watch for plenty of guest players throughout the series as well, both returning and completely new to the game.)
Voyage of the Damned. Russell fails to get a returning companion for his annual Holiday Season game, but David's game, so he just gets a bunch of players together for a disaster scenario aboard the Titanic. The SPACE Titanic. And they know the deal. They might not all get out alive. The principal "companion", Astrid Peth, is played by Kylie as an enthusiastic servant who wants to see the stars. Clive plays a funny old man with a fake degree in Earthanomics. Other Clive and Debbie play a couple who spent thousands to win a trip on the ship. Gray, a callous businessman who will hopefully deserve his death. And Jimmy, a diminutive, prickly alien cyborg. An eclectic bunch; characters were drawn up on the fly. Congratulations to Proper Clive and Gray for surviving to the end with the Doctor!
Attributes: Awareness 3, Coordination 2, Ingenuity 2, Presence 2, Resolve 3, Strength 2
Skills: Athletics 2, Convince 2, Craft 3, Fighting 1, Knowledge 1, Science 1, Subterfuge 1, Survival 1, Technology 2, Transport 2
Traits: Attractive, Brave, Charming, Clumsy, Empathic, Insatiable Curiosity. Story Points: 12
Home Tech Level: 6
Partners in Crime. As the fourth cycle of the campaign begins, Catherine returns with Donna, and the players keep their characters apart on purpose, for laughs. The GM goes with it, it's a riot, and besides, his alien dieting scheme was thrown together pretty quickly, it can stand the players taking control of the action.
The Fires of Pompeii. The GM sends the TARDIS to Pompeii where - TWIST! - the Doctor and Donna must make the eruption happen to save history from interfering magma aliens, at the cost of all those people. Catherine makes Donna the woman who keeps the Doctor honest and "human", just as she had in her first game session, by forcing him to go back for the one family of NPCs they'd met. She proves it's not all just laughs with her, she can seriously play her character when she needs to.
Planet of the Ood. The group had liked the Ood first time around, so Russell brings them back to tell their story - how a servant race can develop, what's the economy behind them, etc.; he even find some choice opera pieces to represent their telepathic "songs" - but it's a case of needing to tell too specific a story and railroading the PCs who bear witness more than participate.
The Sontaran Stratagem/The Poison Sky. Freema is with the group for the next three sessions, two of which are taken up with the return of the Sontarans, classic monsters from the club files, an invasion by which is perfect for UNIT involvement. Freema even gets to play an evil clone of Martha for the better part of a session, and David lets her, not outing her true identity even though he lucky-rolled it early on. (Keen Senses, it's a Trait that pays!)
The Doctor's Daughter. Martha sticks around for "one more trip", to a war-torn planet inhabited by humans and Hath, or rather, short-lived clones of the planet's original settlers, and she's joined on the guest side of the table by Georgia, second-generation gamer (Peter "the 5th Doctor"'s daughter), enrolled to play the (current) "Doctor's daughter" Jenny, created whole from the Doctor's DNA. All she knew going in was that she'd have to build a competent soldier and tease David a lot. It's teasing that led the two of them to date and get married later. A role-playing romance story! Jenny is left for dead but survives the scenario, but despite David's access to her, she never did return to the game.
JENNY, THE DOCTOR'S DAUGHTER
Attributes: Awareness 3, Coordination 6, Ingenuity 3, Presence 3, Resolve 4, Strength 3
Skills: Athletics 3 (AoE: Acrobatics), Convince 1, Fighting 3 (AoE: Hand-to-hand), Knowledge 1, Marksman 3, Medicine 1, Subterfuge 2, Survival 1, Technology 1, Transport 2
Traits: Attractive, Brave, Charming, Code of Conduct (initially, Messaline soldier code; then, the Doctor's way), Crack Shot, Eccentric/Enthusiastic about danger, Experienced (born that way), Fast Healing, Impulsive, Insatiable Curiosity, Quick Reflexes, Run for Your Life!. Story Points: 9
Home Tech Level: 6 (Equipment: Automatic weapon 6[5/6/7])
The Unicorn and the Wasp. Another session, another guest player (and Freema's back out). Fenella is a friend of Russell's who wanted to try the game and furthermore, was a huge fan of mystery novels, Agatha Christie's in particular. Bam. He asks her if she'd want to PLAY Agatha herself, and builds a crazy murder mystery with a giant wasp and tropes right out of Christie's books for her to play in. They have so much fun, it almost turns into a parody. No one complains.
Attributes: Awareness 5, Coordination 2, Ingenuity 4, Presence 3, Resolve 3, Strength 2
Skills: Convince 2, Craft 4 (Mysteries), Knowledge 3 (AoE: Archaeology), Subterfuge 2, Transport 2
Traits: Amnesia (Minor; after the events of this scenario), Charming, Eccentric/Contemptuous of men, Empathic, Insatiable Curiosity. Story Points: 12
Home Tech Level: 4
Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead. By this point, Russell's been talking to friend Steven (who had given him the idea for the Weeping Angels, for example) about taking his place, and Steven's interested if he can find the time. One of his ideas for his own campaign (and Russell is willing to set it up in this series) is a "companion" who keeps meeting the Doctor in reverse, from her death to her birth, always struggling not to give the Doctor "spoilers". Well, THEIR friend Alex jumps on the chance to play such a character, and River Song is born. For her, the game is unusual. She can lay in ideas that are part of her past, and that the GM(s) must eventually pay off, but she has to be subtle about it. She's really naughty about it, suggesting with her demeanor that she's the Doctor's wife in the future. Crazy stuff. She knows she has to die in this, her first appearance, so when it looks like the Doctor will save the day, she sacrifices herself instead, it's a bit shocking to the players who don't really know this will all be picked up by another RPG group in the future.
Midnight. Scheduling trouble! David can play a session on one date, and Catherine only on another. So the campaign doesn't lose momentum, the GM decides to make the best of it and rapidly puts together a scenario in which the Doctor goes on an organized tour of a deadly diamond planet and becomes the victim of mob mentality when it all goes incredibly wrong. David is creeped out by Russell's childish game of repeating and it only gets hairier from there.
Turn Left. Catherine doesn't actually play the next session alone, but with Billie, returning as an older, more technically-oriented Rose Tyler. The GM attempts something a little crazy. History is changed and while Rose tries to set things right popping in and out of reality thanks to a dimensional cannon, Donna relives the last year of her life as if she'd never met the Doctor and he had died as a result of her absence. It's mostly reacting to the fall of the UK in the wake of alien invasions and space-born disasters, until she has some very important decisions to make to set the world right again.
The Stolen Earth/Journey's End. The big blow-out, and in Russell's mind, probably his last game. David's and Catherine's too. In fact, he treats it like EVERYONE'S big goodbye and invites everyone he can. The plot of course brings back the Daleks, but with Davros this time (another archive character used many times by past GMs), kidnapping planets to use as a massive engine to trigger their Reality Bomb and destroy everything and everyone but the Daleks. Russell's always been about high stakes. Squeezed around the table are Russell, David, Catherine, Billie, Freema, Noel (Mickey), John (Captain Jack) and Lis (Sarah Jane), some of them with a stash of Major Gadgets to give them a chance. The GM also uses Francine, Jackie, Ianto, Gwen, Luke, Mr. Smith, K9 and Harriet Jones as NPCs. It's a big RPG club reunion, and it's enough to make Russell and David waver in their decision to leave the game. The Doctor does get exterminated, but he decides to blow all his Story Points on a save (that the GM gleefully turns into a second Doctor for David to play, a bit of ironic revenge). After all, his replacement hasn't been selected yet, what would he regenerate into? Donna also dies (it gets pretty lethal in finales, you know), so her Story Point expenditure only delays the inevitable. She's drummed out of the game, reset to before she adventured with the Doctor, after spending a short time as a human/Time Lord hybrid. For the rest, their participation was always going to be temporary, and none of them take the bait and start traveling with the Doctor, returning to their alternate universes, alien-fighting organizations and/or own games.
Attributes: Awareness 5, Coordination 3, Ingenuity 9, Presence 5, Resolve 4, Strength 2
Skills: Athletics 1, Convince 3, Fighting 2, Knowledge 6, Marksman 1, Medicine 3, Science 5, Subterfuge 3, Survival 2, Technology 5, Transport 3
Traits: Arrogant, Boffin, Brave, Eccentric/Motor mouth (the Doctor Donna spouts entirely too much bafflegab), Empathic, Feel the Turn of the Universe, Lucky, Photographic Memory, Reverse the Polarity of the Neutron Flow, Technically Adept, Time Lord (Special: Donna doesn't have any of a Time Lord's physical particularities), Time Traveler (Major), Vortex, Weakness (Major; each turn the Doctor Donna uses a mental Attribute, she risks burning her human brain out; roll against Presence+Resolve, failure resulting in 2/4/L damage to her mental Attributes). Story Points: 9
Home Tech Level: 5 (Equipment: TARDIS Key)
Music of the Spheres. Steven still hasn't accepted the GMing job, and one night, Russell is sitting with David and playing old music tracks he's used in their games together, remembering all the best moments, and suddenly, they're improvising a short music-inspired adventure. It's enough to make them decide to play a few more games, not a whole series, while the new group is being assembled. Just special events, y'know? With new people, and a proper chance to say goodbye to the 10th Doctor and pass the torch.
Some people have a hard time letting go. The story continues...