Doctor Who RPG: K9 the Campaign

On the occasion of completing reviews on the K9 series (sorry it's late), I should like to re-imagine it as a role-playing game campaign using Cubicle 7's Doctor Who RPG. (Go back one, to Doctor Who's Anniversary Celebrations.)

The GM
When John, the gamer who used to play K9, moved to Australia, he decided to seek out a gaming club comparable to the one he knew so well back home. He did and convinced a local GameMaster, Paul, to run a game in which K9 would be a character. More than that, it would act as a mentoring program for younger gamers, inspired by the work John's old friend Lis had done with the Sarah Jane Adventures, a youth-oriented campaign he'd been honored to occasionally participate in. Paul immediately started looking for players, young and old, and set his campaign in 2050 London (even if he didn't know all that much about that city), at a time when a shadowy Department was manipulating people's lives and keeping alien threats under wraps. Sessions would be short and quick, geared to teenagers' schedules and attention spans, and though he didn't require it, the UK location inspired his players to adopt what they thought were the posh or Cockney accents they imagined their characters to have, so he more or less did the same with his NPCs.

The Players
-John of course played K9, but was allowed to redesign the robot dog, give him a new body (after events in the first session) and even personality. John gave K9 flight capability and a few other new tricks, as well as a more human personality. As one of the "mentors", he agreed to let K9 get nerfed fairly often (for Story Points he could then share with other players) so the kids in the group would have room to be heroes.
-The other adult/mentor is Robert, playing  Professor Alistair Gryffen, a sort of "Doctor" figure with a tragic past and an inability to leave his house, which he designed himself to act as the group's headquarters, his own trick to keep the kids more involved.
-Keegan plays Starkey, a street urchin and hacker/rebel against the state who becomes K9's best friend. He doesn't know who his parents are, which could present some opportunities.
-Philippa plays Jorjie Turner, another hacker/rebel, but she comes from the other, more well-to-do side of the street, basically doing it because she's bored and to rebel against her mother June, whom she and the GM decide will be a (friendly) Department inspector. A young romance between Keegan and Philippa blooms as a result of sharing this hobby, which impacts their PCs, though Keegan keeps Starkey a little oblivious so he doesn't have to play awkward romantic scenes at the table, in front of the rest of the group.
-Daniel plays Darius Pike, a juvenile delinquent who loves his talking car (they never did much with it though) and works as the Prof's assistant. He sees himself as the antagonist of the group, with trust issues regarding K9, and jealousy about Jorjie's attentions towards Starkey.

The group played 26 sessions in all, a good long season, and might have played more had the group not dissolved under the normal pressures of school, work, friendships and such. Normally, we would look at each sessions individually, but seeing as there are too many, a briefer overview seems more appropriate.

In the first third of the adventures, the GM doesn't impose too rigid a structure. He wants to see what status quo will emerge organically from the game, in essence letting the kids dictate what their campaign's premise should be like. It doesn't take too long for things to slot into place. The cyber-hacker revolutionary aspect is downplayed, especially after Inspector Turner discovers Jorjie is palling around with this lot, in favor of a more familial grouping. Starkey moves in with the Prof (though he tries some scenarios where he and K9 are sleeping rough), and Darius uses his own street abilities to show the group secret tunnels under London which will become a useful recurring advantage to the heroes. As for the Prof, his player laces in veiled references to a family lost in time through the rift that brought K9 to 2050, and initially, the GM uses that rift a lot to bring alien threats from across space and time to Earth, among them recurring aliens like the Jixen and Korven.

Attributes: Awareness 3, Coordination 3, Ingenuity 4, Presence 3, Resolve 3, Strength 5
Skills: Athletics 1, Convince 2, Fighting 2, Knowledge 4, Marksman 2 (AoE: Mucus), Science 1, Subterfuge 2, Survival 3, Technology 1
Traits: Adversary (Korven), Alien, Alien Appearance (Major), Armour (5), Fear Factor 1, Keen Senses (Smell), Linguist (initially, Uncommunicative), Natural Weapons/Sonic Scream (S/S/5), Natural Weapons/Energy Blast (omni-directional S/3/6), Networked, Screamer, Special/Tracking Mucus (gives Jixen +4 bonus to track target and interferes with the Scan Trait), Wanted (by Korven and Department). Story Points: 3-6
Home Tech Level: 7

After that comes a long string of alien-of-the-week scenarios that put the players through their paces, including Egyptian "gods", dream-eaters, interdimensional snakes, surreal musicians, all-devouring nanites and more. Throughout, the GM keeps pushing his pet villain, the evil Department security head Blake, on the group, but they generally think he's risible. Perhaps it's because Paul has taken to using Blake's all-purpose henchmen, the CCPCs (robot policemen) as comic relief, or maybe Blake is just too much of a mustache-twirler, or loses too often to teenagers to be seen as a real threat. Whatever the case may be, he eventually decides to phase him out in favor of another: Thorne (who did appear in an earlier session as warden for alien prisoners).

Attributes: Awareness 3, Coordination 4, Ingenuity 3, Presence 4, Resolve 3, Strength 4
Skills: Athletics 2, Convince 2, Fighting 2, Knowledge 2, Marksman 2, Science 2, Subterfuge 3, Survival 1, Technology 3, Transport 1
Traits: Adversary (K9 Unit), Cutting Edge Technology, Dark Secret (working for Korven), Eccentric/Humorless, Menacing, Owed Favor (Lomax), Ruthless (Minor), Shapeshift (Minor), Voice of Authority. Story Points: 8
Home Tech Level: 5

With Thorne as a more fearsome, colder threat, the campaign picked up a lot of steam. It wasn't just the new villain, however. By this point, the GM and players had mastered the game enough that new kinds of stories could be told, staving off the boredom that might otherwise have set in. The GM gave them the chance to go back in time to when the Prof's house was a police station, with Daniel playing his character's ancestor there. Then there was the one in which the kids got to play a con on an unscrupulous robot gladiator mogul, doing it in noir sytle on purpose. They got to meet a time alien who wanted to take Jorjie's place in the group, and Darius' estranged father. The weakest session was probably Paul's attempt at a relaxed "clip show", where the kids could call out their favorite moments from the past 20-or-so sessions to jog K9's scrambled memory, but it was better than not having a session at all that week, one supposes. With the final few sessions, the GM brought the excitement back, however.

Attributes: Awareness 3, Coordination 3, Ingenuity 4, Presence 3, Resolve 3, Strength 4
Skills: Athletics 1, Convince 2, Fighting 2, Knowledge 3, Marksman 2, Medicine 2, Science 4, Subterfuge 3, Survival 2, Technology 4, Transport 2
Traits: Adversary (Jixen), Alien, Alien Appearance, Environmental (Cold), Owed Favor (Thorne), Psychic, Weakness (Heat). Story Points: 3-5
Home Tech Level: 8 (Equipment: Wrist Device [incorporates Telepathy (leaves victims with Amnesia), Weapon (3/5/7), Disrupt (voices, for 10 minutes), Forcefield, Telekinesis (levitation)])

In the end, he revealed that the Korven were behind everything - the rift, the Department, and even Thorne's genetic code. The climax would shake the status quo to its foundations, with Darius prepped to work for a better, more positive Department under June, Jorjie and Starkey almost sharing a kiss, and K9... dying! John wouldn't regenerate him quite so different this time, but he did wait for the very last instant to make the kids believe it had really happened. Before they got TOO upset, John and the GM let them off the hook, and they all seemed game for another series. Alas, real life had other plans, as is so often the case...



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