Doctor Who RPG: Sarah Jane Adventures Series 1

On the occasion of completing reviews on Sarah Jane Adventures' first 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 Doctor Who Series 3.)

The GMs
-After developing the Torchwood side-game, Russell got together with old-time player Lis, who'd played on and off for years, to develop a campaign focused on her character, journalist Sarah Jane Smith. Their intent was laudable: A game that would be used to introduce role-playing to younger players, in effect creating a new generation of gamers to keep the RPG club energized. The GM and Lis would be the only adults at the table and help the junior members get the most out of their first ever campaign. Though K9 and Sarah Jane had been partners in the last few sessions Lis participated in, K9's player didn't really want to be included, so it was decided the tin dog would be put out of the way and could be brought back, under GM control, if the story demanded it and Lis was willing to pay for it with Story Points. Russell ran the first session as a pilot project, introducing Sarah's attic full of alien tech and her super-computer Mr. Smith, and allowing each player to introduce their characters during the session. It wasn't perfect, but most of the kids had a good time, and they agreed the story should continue if a GM could be found to run it (as Russell had his hands full with Doctor Who).
-Gareth was elected to run the first series. His energetic style was appreciated, even if his pop culture references often went over the kids' heads, and his plan was simple - to introduce the plots through the kids rather than through Sarah Jane, keeping them involved and enthusiastic. To prevent some of the restlessness as the table during the original game, he also decides to keep the gaming sessions short, and end some of them on cliffhangers to keep the hook well baited.

The Players
-Lis had updated Sarah Jane when she'd come back to play a game in Russell's main game, but tweaked her some more so she could be this campaign's "Time Lord stand-in". She threw a few points into Technology, ot herself a Sonic Lipstick (which made the kids giggle) and gave the character a frostier demeanor, an icy facade for the kids to melt.
-Yasmin would play Maria Jackson, a bright and curious 13-year-old girl who lived with her recently-divorced dad and had just moved across the street from Sarah Jane. The recurring NPCs of the campaign would be her parents, naturally.
-Porsha's PC, Kelsey Hooper, would be as overbearing and flighty as Maria was kind and level-headed, a neighbor from down the street who would introduce herself as the unofficial welcome wagon and get Maria into all sorts of trouble. Porsha found the gaming experience a bit tedious and would act out, her character coming off as rather nasty and judgmental. By the end of the rather long session, she would decide gaming wasn't for her.
-An SF fan, Tommy really wanted to go high-concept, so Russell allowed him to make Luke, a boy with the mental potential of thousands of people, grown in a vat by aliens. Luke would be incredibly smart, but know next to nothing about socializing, school or girls. And in exchange for this exceptional character, Tommy would have to wait to be introduced later in the first session and bide his time.
-Porsha's replacement once the campaign began in earnest was Daniel, whose Clyde Langer was a class clown, cooler in his own head than he really was, and a bit of geek at heart. Clyde would simply meet the other players at school, no fuss, no muss. Tommy was happy to have another guy at the table, and the two often paired up, just as the girls did.

Invasion of the Bane. For his the first game, Russell created a new alien, the Bane, but used an old trick of his, exaggerating some modern phenomenon and making it part of an alien agenda. In this case, a new soft drink turned out to be a mind control drug. Tommy's Luke was introduced as a creation of the Bane, an "archetype" made from the template of thousands of humans who wasn't supposed to wake up, only help refine their product. By the end of the rather long session, the game had already shed a player (Porsha) and Sarah Jane had adopted Luke as her son to give him a proper life.

Attributes: Awareness 3, Coordination 4, Ingenuity 4, Presence 3, Resolve 3, Strength 6
Skills: Athletics 1, Convince 1, Craft 1, Fighting 1, Knowledge 1, Marksman 1, Medicine 1, Science 1, Subterfuge 1, Survival 1, Technology 1, Transport 1
Traits: Additional Limbs (the Bane have 7 ambulatory tentacles), Alien, Alien Appearance, Armour (5 points), Climbing (Major), Devotion (to the Bane Mother), Fear Factor 2, Psychic Training, Telepathy (Special; the Bane can alter the memories of an unconscious human by attack its Resolve), Weakness (Minor; mobile phone signals). Story Points: 3-5
Home Tech Level: 6 (Equipment: Image translator [Shapeshift (Minor); Phonic distruptor [Stasis, Weapon 2/5/L])

Revenge of the Slitheen. Gareth takes over as GM and brings back the Slitheen, which he thinks the kids will enjoy. The fart noises eventually lose their novelty, but since none of the players had ever encountered the monsters, they could spend time figuring out how to stop them anew and feel some satisfaction (return monsters often come with a "you know that..." when the Doctor's around). The first day of school is fraught with danger, but the kids save the world and the GM gets to have his most interesting Slitheen escape for a return engagement.

Eye of the Gorgon.
Clyde hears some granny gossip and leads the group to a retirement home and a mystery about a real-life Medusa, evil nuns and an ancient artifact. The kids enjoy the play on mythology they've heard about, and Yasmin freaks out a little bit when her NPC dad is turned to stone, but she makes it her mission to wrest a possible cure from the artifact's caretaker.

GORGON (inside host)
Attributes: Awareness 3, Coordination 1, Ingenuity 4, Presence 5, Resolve 4, Strength 1 (if it changes hosts, use the new host's Coordination and Strength)
Skills: Convince 2, Knowledge 3, Subterfuge 3
Traits: Alien, Fear Factor 2, Friends (Major; mind controlled convent), Hypnosis (Special), Immaterial (in native form), Immortal (Gorgon Major; host Minor), Natural Weapons/Petrification gaze (anyone looking at the Gorgon's face is subject to this attack and may be turned to stone, including the Gorgon's host itself, destroying the monster), Possess (only someone who does not look at her and turn to stone). Story Points: 4
Home Tech Level: N/A

Warriors of the Kudlak. Noticing the boys had given themselves high Marksman scores in a game where it was unlikely they would ever hold a gun, the GM decided to draft a scenario about a laser tag emporium used by aliens to recruit soldiers. By winning the game, Luke and Clyde would get themselves into big trouble. Lis put Sarah Jane's new Boffin Trait to work in this one, though did admit it felt a bit silly to be playing Doctor.

Whatever Happened to Sarah Jane? Gareth introduces a new villain to the game, one he thinks could become Sarah Jane's archenemy, the Trickster, a god-like being intent on unmaking her timeline. The right time to use him is when Tommy and Daniel can't make it to the game. That means Yasmin's Maria is the only one to notice Sarah Jane's been erased from reality and must convince her dad something's wrong. So that it's not a solo adventure, a new (adult) player, Joseph, agrees to come in and play Alan Jackson, the dad, and it's a bit bizarre for Yasmin to finally put a face to her own father. Lis isn't bored either, sending messages to Maria from Limbo, facing off against the creature and even getting to role-play her 13-year-old self back in 1964.

Attributes: Awareness 6, Coordination 2, Ingenuity 6, Presence 5, Resolve 4, Strength 2
Skills: Convince 4, Knowledge 3, Subterfuge 3
Traits: Adversary (Sarah Jane Smith), Alien, Alien Appearance, Dependency (Major; chaos), Fear Factor 1, Friends (Graske minion), Immortal (Major), Psychic, Special/Change history (by getting a mortal's consent, he can rearrange history at a turning point; PCs need to be removed physically and brought to Limbo before the changes can take effect), Telepathy, Teleport, Vortex, Weakness (Major; the Trickster is bound by deals that can be broken at any time by the other party). Story Points: 5
Home Tech Level: N/A

The Lost Boy. The boys are back, and at the girls' request, Joseph agreed to stick around for the season finale to play Alan (now in on the secrets). Yasmin is surprised he would "play the dad" and try to keep her out of trouble, but HE'S surprised she convinces him to get into trouble regardless, breaking into houses and producing illegal computer viruses. Tommy is surprised to discover Luke isn't a clone after all, but has real parents who miss him, then surprised again when they turn out to be Slitheen in disguise, perpetrating a hoax. And Daniel is surprised when Clyde is digitized by Mr. Smith, super-computer gone bad. As the moon starts to crash to Earth, things get so desperate, Lis finally pays the hefty fee to bring K9 to the rescue and things are set right. Even Mr. Smith's soul is saved. A bit of a rush there at the end when the GM realized he didn't have that much time to complete the scenario, but the kids were satisfied. Lis and Gareth too. They had fostered and produced three pretty great young role-players there.

Another season was planned, but for one player, the fun would be short-lived. Stay tuned.


Toby'c said…
"Enemy of the Bane"

Siskoid said…
Oops, clearly I was thinking ahead!

Spoiler: The Bane returns.
Unknown said…
Just rewatched the entire series. Please do the rest.
Siskoid said…
No worries. Articles appear as I complete reviews on each subsequent series. SJA S2 gets its due next Monday!