Doctor Who RPG: Series 5

On the occasion of completing reviews on Doctor Who's 5th 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 The  Specials.)

The GM
Steven takes over for Russell, and he's certainly had a lot of time to prepare. He's very meticulous about his plots and seasonal arcs, and that just takes more lead time. He doesn't really care about technobabble, so would like to approach the game in more magical terms, a fairy tale universe with rules that can be learned and manipulated by the players, and he's found gamers interested in his vision. He plans to use characters he'd developed for Russell's campaign (the RPG club sometimes sponsors GM seminars where they can help each other on problems, inspire one another and share advice and even designs), most notably River Song and the Weeping Angels, and as an obsessive reader of old campaign notes, also hopes to reference older material, bring back old monsters, etc.

The Players
-Matt will play the new Doctor as an old man in a young man's body, awkward and eccentric, a nerd who loves his bow ties, able to switch easily between humor and a dark threatening manner.
-Karen creates Amy Pond, a brash Scots who will meet the Doctor as a child, then wait for her "imaginary friend" to one day return. This, the mysterious crack in her wall and the absence of her parents have all been worked out with the GM as part of his larger story. She puts most of her skill points in Convince and Subterfuge, in absence of any real job.
-Arthur has been recruited, but he's not sure about his schedule, so the GM encourages him to play one of Amy's supporting cast she and the Doctor might go back for from time to time. He designs Rory Williams to be her insecure boyfriend, a nurse by trade, and at Amy's side since they were children.

The Eleventh Hour.
As pre-arranged with Karen, Matt's Doctor first meets her as Amelia, a young girl in an empty house. Matt quickly finds his character, getting up to plenty of strangeness before Steven calls him back to his TARDIS. After this prologue, he returns to adult Amy and Rory and the scenario begins in earnest. There's an ancient shapeshifting criminal, space cops ready to sterlize the planet to get at it, and the mystery of a crack in space-time. The group gels quite well, with plenty of banter and real chemistry. And when the GM impishly puts the Doctor another two years behind schedule, Karen and Arthur decide to accelerate their relationship to fiancé status. The GM pencils in the wedding date, which should give Amy good reason to return for Rory when Arthur can make a game.

Attributes: Awareness 5, Coordination 4, Ingenuity 4, Presence 3, Resolve 4, Strength 4
Skills: Athletics 1, Convince 2, Fighting 1, Knowledge 3, Subterfuge 4 (AoE: Hiding), Survival 3
Traits: Alien, Alien Appearance, Immortal (Major), Invisible (Major; its perception filter may be extended to cover an entire room), Natural Weapons/Needle teeth (+2 Strength), Psychic, Shapeshift (Special; Prisoner Zero can only disguise itself as people it as forged a psychic bond with over a long time; this puts the person in a coma), Telepathy, Wanted. Story Points: 6
Home Tech Level: N/A

The Beast Below. The entire UK on the back of a space whale? Somebody's been reading Terry Pratchett again! The result is a mixed bag, in part because the GM takes conscious choice away from Karen/Amy at one point, showing her a video she recorded, and leaving her to try and justify why she might have recorded it without having actually done so. At least she's the one who comes up with the best solution, out-Doctoring Matt on that point.

LIZ 10
Attributes: Awareness 4, Coordination 4, Ingenuity 3, Presence 5, Resolve 4, Strength 3
Skills: Athletics 2, Convince 2, Fighting 2, Knowledge 3, Marksman 4, Subterfuge 3, Technology 2
Traits: Amnesia, Attractive, Crack Shot, Distinctive, Friends (Starship UK), Immortality (Major), Insatiable Curiosity, Noble, Obligation (to her subjects), Quick Reflexes, Voice of Authority. Story Points: 9
Home Tech Level: 7 (Equipment: Two energy pistols L[4/L/L], Molded mask)

Victory of the Daleks. The GM's first "canonical" Dalek story (he did use them in The Curse of Fatal Death, but that wasn't a serious game), he tries to redesign them in-story and mostly fails. His drawing skills are perhaps not up to snuff, no matter how much color he puts on the page. The players get to roll for the airplane pilots shot into space to dogfight the Dalek saucer, which is cool, though they wish they could have personally flown them.

Time of the Angels/Flesh and Stone. Steven finally brings back both the Angels and River Song in the same adventure module, adding new Traits to his monsters to put the players in even more jeopardy. He also introduces the idea that falling into a spacetime crack unwrites a person from existence and memory, which hints at what happened to Amy's parents, etc.

The Vampires of Venice. Arthur's back, but the GM doesn't have a contemporary story in him quite yet, so the other players crash his bachelor party and bring him to the Renaissance to fight amphibious "vampires". The boys play up their rivalry, but as comedy, both knowing full well Matt isn't playing a sexually aware Doctor.

Amy's Choice. Time for a change of pace. Steven throws a strange reality puzzle at his players. He sets up two situations - one domestic, where Amy is pregnant five years hence, the other technobabble relating to a "cold star" - and has them transition between them with a bird song sample. Which is the dream? The players role-play their confusion, though they're sure the TARDIS reality is the right one because it's in the present and, y'know, it's not possible Arthur actually just got his character killed. Is it? Karen might be cheating when she drives pregnant Amy (and the Doctor) into a fatal accident. It's actually Matt who solves the puzzle, realizing the "Dream Lord" was lying all along and it was all a dream.

EKNODINE (physical Attributes as per habitual hosts)
Attributes: Awareness 2, Coordination 1, Ingenuity 3, Presence 2, Resolve 3, Strength 4
Skills: Athletics 1, Convince 1, Craft 2 (AoE: Knitting), Fighting 2, Knowledge 2, Subterfuge 3, Survival 2
Traits: Alien, Alien Appearance/Face in the Crowd (depending on whether the Eknodine manifests itself), Fear Factor 1, Natural Weapon/Disintegration breath [6/L/L], Possess, Slow Reflexes. Story Points: 4
Home Tech Level: N/A (Equipment: Hosts may have access to walkers)

The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood.
The GM brings back the Silurians, old monsters used in the campaign's far past, though he does spruce up their look and stats, if not the basic plot outline he found in GM Terry's old notes. The players manage to take it farther than Jon and Caroline did back in the day, going so far as sitting down at a peace conference with the lizard people, but alas. Bit of railroading to keep the time line intact, but not too much. Arthur is really unlucky with his character though and gets Rory killed AGAIN. The GM has a spacetime crack absorb him in order to save his life down the line. He's got to miss a couple of sessions anyway, and it might be interesting to see Amy forget her boyfriend for a while.

Vincent and the Doctor. Using a Photoshopped Van Gogh painting as a clue, Steven lures the PCs to the painter in his prime. The way he's designed Vincent, they have to deal with his mental illness as well as the invisible monster that torments him. Matt, ever the maverick, decides at one point to bring the historical guest star forward to the present to see his success - the kind of thing that would normally be a big no-no - and makes it work. The GM relies on fixed points to make sure Vincent commits suicide anyway. After the game, Steven sends Karen another Photoshopped painting, this one with a dedication to Amy, and gets her to tear up. At least that's what we hear.

Attributes: Awareness 5, Coordination 3, Ingenuity 3, Presence 3, Resolve 2, Strength 3
Skills: Athletics 1, Convince 1, Craft 5 (AoL: Painting), Fighting 2, Knowledge 2
Traits: Argumentative, Charming, Eccentric/Bipolar disorder (Major), Empathic, Impulsive, Keen Senses (sight), Obsession (Major; Painting), Outcast, Psychic. Story Points: 12
Home Tech Level: 4 (Equipment: Painting supplies)

The Lodger. Before things get too gloomy, Steven throws a comic scenario at his players. Because Karen is out of town and can only participate by phone, he also invites James, a player well suited to take on the role of the Doctor's new sedentary roommate, Craig. Amy's trapped in the TARDIS (but has a direct line to the Doctor) while the Time Lord tries to figure out why his time machine can't land. It's a chance to use Skills you don't usually see, to make omelets, play football and work the phones at Craig's office. Kind of a hoot.

The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang. The GM has worked long and hard on his finale, and by now, Matt's become past master at dealing with temporal shenanigans. A shrinking universe, a vortex manipulator and a lot of Story Points is all he needs to deal with his problems through fanciful paradoxes. Of course, those troubles are pretty intense. By the end of the first session, all of the Doctor's old enemies have locked him inside a box, all the stars have gone out, and Amy has been killed by a bad Resolve roll on Arthur's part. Despite his character's death and erasure from existence, Steven's let him bring  Rory back as a Roman centurion, not telling him the trade-off is that he'd be a Nestene duplicate sleeper agent. The GM's laid down clues as to how the universe can be restarted, so it's all okay in the end, and Amy and Rory even "arc" past their wedding.

Gosh, that was fun, and all four gamers will be back for another series. Arthur's a permanent fixture around the table from this moment on... if he can keep Rory alive, that is. But those are all stories for another day.


Anonymous said...

Wonderful! Love the Van Gogh writeup.


Siskoid said...

From one historical artist to another.

Craig Oxbrow said...

"Scot" is the singular, laddie. ;)

Siskoid said...

Sure, but Scots is just funnier.


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