On the occasion of completing reviews on Doctor Who's Anniversary shows, I should like to re-imagine it as a role-playing game campaign using Cubicle 7's Doctor Who RPG. (Go back one, to Series 7.)
-Matt's basically been waiting for the Anniversary to leave, because he couldn't miss THAT. It means more pressure on the GM to wrap up all the mysteries he's set in front of his Doctor for three seasons, but it's time to move on.
-Jenna is sticking around a bit longer - she just started, really - and just hopes her character doesn't get smothered by all those old returning players. It could be difficult, but she means to make sure Clara has an impact on these stories.
-In the end, Steven manages to recruit former Doctors (Tom, Paul and David), a few returning players as well (Billie and Jemma), and a new one to play a previously unknown incarnation of the Doctor's (John)! On his end, Peter gets former Doctors Colin and Sylvester to join his impromptu group, and sends out invitations to club members who might want to attend and perhaps throw out a funny line or two.
The Night of the Doctor. Having teased the "War Doctor" at the end of the last series, Steven offers to run a solo game for Paul to give his Doctor the closure he never got. Paul, who's been pretty active running that character online, agrees. It's a short game, but he still gets to run from the Time War, try to impress a potential companion, fling withering remarks at the Sisters of Karn, and finally regenerate into a "warrior".
The Last Day. To get everyone in the club in the spirit of things, he organizes a war game set during the Time War, in which plays take on the roles of Dalek and Time Lord forces, reenacting the Fall of Arcadia. He takes notes so his big Anniversary game can use some of the events from this game as color.
An Adventure in Time and Space. Members from the club's past and present congregated for a public talk about how the club and its first campaign began, with some older gamers recounting special in-game and out-of-game memories, and old campaign notes getting read out loud by younger players. Highlights include how the premise of the game came about, how the first group was recruited, how it was the Daleks that made the players fall in love with the game, and how, inevitably, GMs and players alike left the group. Matt, the current Doctor, made a point of participating in the readings, rather overwhelmed that he was the latest in a long line of players to run with it. It certainly whet his appetite for the next game.
The Day of the Doctor. This was a big one. In fact, the GM set up a live feed so club members could watch from the comfort of their own computers. At the table, Matt and Jenna, of course, plus David (the 10th Doctor), Jemma (UNIT scientific head Kate Stewart), and two players given specific characters to run, John as the War Doctor, and Billie, not as her old Rose Tyler, but as the Moment/Bad Wolf, a Gallifreyan weapon with a conscience (she's been briefed with a secret agenda and how she might get the Doctors together, and is more than happy to make it happen). Steven has to keep a lot of balls in the air - the Time War, Zygons in Elizabethan England and UNIT HQ, Docs 10 and 11 meeting the former self they never talk about, opening the door to the Doctor(s) finding redemption for the destruction of Gallifrey, and the improvisation required when three Doctors are at the table, rolling big numbers and spending Story Points. At some point, the guys figure out they can set their sonic screwdriver (and later, their brain) to run computations for the length of 10 and 11's lives by implanting the command in the War Doctor's, so it gets pretty mad. At the end, the players find themselves back in the Time War, with their fingers on the button, and it looks like redemption will take the form of a graceful acceptance of what War Doc's done, but that's when Jenna speaks up, more or less inspired by Billie's invisible interventions (though her character isn't actually aware of her), and makes them find another way. Unsurprisingly, Matt thinks of something (always been good with timey-wimey stuff and besides, he's the current Doctor, all warmed up, and knows what this GM will go for), and suddenly they're using multiple TARDIS and team work to do the impossible (certainly, they've never SEEN such a high Difficulty rating before), calling all former Doctors (and the NEXT, he's been watching from home and sends a PM at the right moment) to help. Gallifrey is merely shunted out of the universe where the campaign is free to next try and retrieve it! Well done. Steven has one last surprise in store for the group, and that's a video-conference with Tom, the player who ran the Doctor the longest and a legend at the club. He has a quick conversation with Matt, throwing out cryptic comments and screwing with Matt's head, which is certainly appreciated by everyone watching.
THE WAR DOCTOR
Attributes: Awareness 4, Coordination 3, Ingenuity 8, Presence 4, Resolve 4, Strength 3
Skills: Athletics 2, Convince 4, Fighting 2, Knowledge 6, Marksman 3, Medicine 2, Science 5, Subterfuge 5, Survival 4, Technology 5, Transport 2
Traits: Adversaries (Daleks and Time Lords), Boffin, Brave, Charming, Code of Conduct (Minor; does not apply to Daleks), Eccentric/Guilt-Ridden, Feel the Turn of the Universe, Indomitable, Obsession (Major; End the Time War), Psychic, Random Regenerator, Technically Adept, Time Lord, Time Lord (Experienced), Time Traveller (Major), Voice of Authority, Vortex, Wanted Renegade. Story Points: 8
Home Tech Level: 10 (Equipment: Sonic screwdriver)
The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot. Another live gaming event, this one set up more as an improv thing than a strict pencil and paper RPG because while Peter (who played the fifth Doctor) has prepped it, he's also going to play in it. The club has had a tradition of spoof-gaming, usually short games (or even just scenes) played for laughs with an audience present. Peter's scenario follows that tradition. The point of this Fiasco-like game is for the Peter, Colin and Sylvester (former Doctor players) to play pathetic versions of themselves desperately trying to get invited to play the big Anniversary game. As they do, guests are invited to interject (or are sometimes addressed), also playing themselves. So for example, the current GM Steven is present, and fields phone calls from these would-be have-been players. They might catch a ride to the club's new digs from John (Captain Jack's player), or try to get Paul and Tom into their team if they're not too busy, or dismiss former GM Russell as irrelevant. Other club members play family members dismissive of their hobby. In the end, the guys manage to get to the club, and use some of the moments they saw on the big game's live feed, but it's no use. In the end, they're happy to get their old character sheets under the door. Loads of fun, and yes, drinks afterward.
The Time of the Doctor. In all the excitement, the GM been hard-pressed to work out exactly how he can tie up all of the 11th Doctor's loose ends in a single session, but he really wants Matt to have closure. (Jenna's been fiercely trying to add to her character for the coming season, with a new job as a teacher and new family members, but she knows this is about Matt first and foremost.) They know they have to go to Trenzalore, and in the wake of Gallifrey's possible return, Steven decides the planet can send a coded message through a crack in spacetime there. Holding back the night, as it were, is the Church of the Silence through which Steven explains the prophecies and how a splinter group tries to stop these events from happening etc. Whatever, let's get on with it. To keep Clara safe from the forces assembled against him, Matt's Doctor sends her home in the TARDIS, but her tenacity makes her return. The GM jumps on this opportunity and - playing with the "you're late" trope he pulled a number of times in the Amy Pond days - makes the TARDIS return centuries late. Matt gets to describe how his Doctor became a fixture in the town he swore to protect, including scenes against some of his favorite monsters. He's eventually so old, death is inevitable, except he's also been informed he has no regenerations left (and yet, there's a new player watching, ready to take over - his name is Peter, but a different Peter from the one who played the 5th model - could his gaming days be over before they even start?). It's up to Clara to talk the Time Lords into pulling a miracle, which they do, but before Matt hands in his sheet, he delivers a speech he'd prepared in advance and it's a great one that gets to the heart of his character and to the heart of role-playing itself. He almost doesn't get through it when Steven pulls out visions of Amelia and Amy and reveals the latter's player, Karen, was listening in on Skype all along. And when it's all done, time for a new player to shuffle the character's stats and start again.
Of course, that's a story for another day, isn't it?