Doctor Who RPG: Series 10

On the occasion of completing reviews on Doctor Who's 10th 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 Series 9.)
The GM
Steven's threatened it before, but this time it's true. It's his last series. The players are all just sticking around for this one, so the stars have aligned to clear the table for a new group. As an experiment, he and the other players set up a mysterious vault in a university basement (where the Doctor will now be based) and keep new player Pearl out of the loop. The idea is to have her discover things about the campaign world and style as she goes along.

The Players
-Peter's big idea is that he's promised to keep an eye on an imprisoned Missy, initially in a secret vault, which means his Doctor hasn't traveled in a while. He knows the new companion will make him cheat on his promise, and also that Missy could be used as a dangerous secret weapon down the line. It's his last series, and he's stoked that Steven is letting him co-plot at least some of this.
-Pearl will play Bill Potts, a gay black woman the Doctor will take under his wing and mentor. Bill will be sassy and smart, a science-fiction fan, and an orphan who has more or less created an image of her mother in her head.
-Matt has come on board more as a help to the GM than anything. He'll play Nardole, a former NPC, and voluntarily act variably as comic relief, the Doctor's conscience, and only sometimes step up to the table as an actual adventurer. Most times, he'll play his scene and get out of the way. He did play a whole game as the sole companion, but that was before they found Pearl.

The Return of Doctor Mysterio. Steven tries his hand at superhero gaming, a genre no one's really tried with the Doctor Who RPG yet. A lot of Special Traits are required to make it work (and crazy technobabble), but they do. Essentially, it's a case of the GM letting the players do anything they want, so long as it's in a big city, and then dropping the absurd supers tropes on them. With Matt in the companion seat as Nardole, it easily becomes a fun comedy that riffs off the superhero craze.

Attributes: Awareness 5, Coordination 5, Ingenuity 4, Presence 4, Resolve 3, Strength 12
Skills: Athletics 3, Convince 2, Fighting 3, Knowledge 2 (AoE: Comics), Science 2, Subterfuge 2, Technology 2
Traits: Alien Senses (Super hearing, X-Ray vision), Brave, Code of Conduct (Major: Superhero), Dark Secret (Secret Identity), Face in the Crowd, Fast (Major), Flight (Major), Impervious, Inspiring Love (Luy Fletcher), Obligation (Major: to Truth, Justice, and the American Way), Special: Pyrokinesis, Special: Sonic Finger Snap, Voice of Authority. Story Points: 6
Home Tech Level: 5

The Pilot. Pearl is introduced to the game and the group lets Bill be the focus, while everyone else plays up the mystery to draw the character in. No one realizes it, but the story Steven's concocted, about a sentient puddle of timeship oil that becomes Bill's love interest (her decision) is something he keeps in his back pocket for the series end game. There's also a cute interlude where the Doctor goes back in time and takes lots of pictures of Bill's mom so she can discover keepsakes, again to build the mystery. Pearl is hooked.

Smile. Now for some simple one-shot adventures to help Pearl get her bearings in this universe. The first is set on a colony wiped out by servitor robots whose programming has been badly interpreted. The GM has a lot of fun making the silent machines express themselves with emojis. Somehow, there's suspense in his holding up his phone to show the robots' faces.

Thin Ice. Then a trip to the past, specifically to the Frost Fair in 1814 London. There's an alien monster under the frozen Thames, and 19th-Century opportunists are using its dung as fuel, exploiting the creature. A pattern starts to emerge: The "monsters" in these stories turn out to not be evil, but rather misunderstood, exploited or triggered by evil humans (three times in a row, now). This is no accident; Steven is setting up the identity of the entity in the vault thematically.

Attributes: Awareness 2, Coordination 2, Strength 9
Skills: Athletics (Swimming) 3, Subterfuge 2, Survival (Underwater) 4
Traits: Alien (though presumably from prehistoric Earth), Alien Appearance, Animal Friendship (has a symbiotic relationship with Pilot Fish who find her food), Armour (10), Enslaved, Environmental (Underwater), Fear Factor (2), Immortal (Major), Natural Weapons: Teeth and Tail (+2 Strength damage), Size: Huge, Special: Heat absorption (the temperature around her is significantly lowered), Trade Value (Tiny's dung acts as a fuel source). Story Points: 3
Home Tech Level: N/A

Knock Knock. Hey, what if Bill moved out of her foster mother's house? Pearl is up for it and of course, Peter's Doctor crashes the housewarming party. And of course, the GM makes the new house eat people. At some point, Bill passes the Doctor off as her grandfather, a funny bit that inspires the GM. He jots down a note. "Susan's grandfather", it says.

Oxygen. With Pearl now accustomed to the game, Matt starts going on adventures for real. In this space thriller in which air is scarce and spacesuits can take you over, a lot of Story Points get burned. Bill even dies, though her Death Habit Special Trait strikes off the Unadventurous she would normally score when she's miraculously saved, but that miracle comes at a cost. After a bad "Yes, But..." roll, the Doctor is blinded. For how long? That's the question. Peter decides to hide it from his companions, who don't realize his skill checks are just getting harder.

Extremis. Steven wants to introduce new villains - the Monks - but does it in a totally wonky way. The characters are set on a quest for a mysterious book by the Vatican, but over the course of the adventure, will realize they are actually inside a simulation run by these alien Monks who run every scenario before invading a planet. The conceit is that, whatever happens, the simulated Doctor can send a signal out to his real self out there so the players can then remember what the Monks are about, but yeah, this adventure was all a dream!

Attributes: Awareness 4, Coordination 2, Ingenuity 6, Presence 4, Resolve 4, Strength 2
Skills: Convince 5, Craft 3, Knowledge 6, Marksman 2, Science 4, Subterfuge 4, Technology 4, Transport 3
Traits: Alien, Alien Appearance, Armour (forcefield, 10), Code of Conduct (Major: Can only take over worlds if representative agrees without ulterior motives), Detect Truth, Fear Factor (1), Natural Weapon: Disintegrating Touch (fatal), Natural Weapon: Bio-electric blast (4/L/L), Psychic Training, Shapeshift (mentioned, not seen). Story Points: 8
Home Tech Level: 8 [Equipment: The technology aboard their ships gives them the following Traits - Clairvoyance, Control (Major), Hypnosis (Special), Precognition, Teleport, and Transmit)

The Pyramid at the End of the World/The Lie of the Land. The Monks' invasion forces Bill to make an impossible choice - save the Doctor or prevent the take-over of Earth - but seeing as invasions offer a chance for adventure and character death doesn't, she chooses the former. The GM calls for the end of that first session to work out a second part (and once again works out a few things with Peter and Matt, while keeping Pearl in the dark), and cues up the timeline to several months later, on a Monk-controlled Earth with a rewritten history. Once the Doctor and Bill are reunited, Peter decides it's finally time to open up the vault and reveal Missy (they even play a "cut scene" where he promises to reform her) and use her as  source of information/advice. Pearl has the interesting idea to keep true history in mind by playing out scenes with her imagined mother, which comes in handy when trying to overwrite Monk history at the end. Doctor Who players really are the best at using innocuous elements as solutions.

Empress of Mars. The players are allowed to witness a strange message on the surface of Mars, and then sort of have to make it happen by the end. Good ol' timey-wimey Steven, who this time has concocted a strange story of Colonial British soldiers finding their way to the Red Planet and awakening an Ice Warrior queen and her retinue. Sadly, Matt was going to participate, but then got an urgent phone call and had to leave. Steven makes the story link to the Peladon adventures from the campaign notes, and since Peter's read them, at least, it's a nice moment for him.

Attributes: Awareness 3, Coordination 2, Ingenuity 4, Presence 4, Resolve 4, Strength 7
Skills: Convince 2, Fighting 4, Knowledge 2, Marksman 3, Survival 3, Technology 3
Traits: Alien, Alien Appearance, Armour (10), Authority (Major), Code of Conduct (Major): Martian honor, Cyborg, Natural Weapon: Compression gun (4/L/L), Slow (Minor), Weakness (Major): -2 penalty at low temperatures, Voice of Authority. Story Points: 6
Home Tech Level: 6

The Eaters of Light. A chance to find out what happened to the fabled lost Ninth Legion back in Celtic Britain. Each of the players gets to spend time apart and develop his or her own strand of what turns out to be a pretty strange story about interdimensional predators.

World Enough and Time/The Doctor Falls. In what is meant to be the big finale, the TARDIS crew + Missy (to see if she can now be trusted) land on a colony ship trapped in a black hole's gravitational pull. Steven wants one last crazy time-related story, and this set-up makes years pass in the lower decks while only seconds do on the bridge. Once the players are separated, the unsychronized decks become a kind of puzzle for the players and GM alike. It's also a way to bring back the original Mondasian Cybermen and have them evolve at a quick pace down below. Steven also wants to give Missy a send-off, so he's also brought back the Master from Russell's time on the campaign, so a regeneration is at all times imminent, but the Doctor has to deal with both. And because this is meant to be the final story for all the players, he doesn't blink twice at having Bill be turned into a Cyberman (she's still allowed to play normally without doing the voice, though it's accepted that that's what happening), and by the end, forcing the Doctor to regenerate, Nardole stay behind on the doomed ship, and giving Bill a send-up by having the Pilot return and give her life as sentient oil (see? it did come back). Before the Doctor regenerates, Steven asks Peter... would you do one more? See there's this note I want to expand on, and then we could actually have the new crew come in and do the ending properly. With a smile, Peter says, of course...

Twice Upon a Time. The conceit may be that the Doctor doesn't want to regenerate (calling for one last adventure), but the set-up says differently. Chris, the next GM, sits on the outskirts, waiting for his chance to run the final scene. Jodie, the next player to take on the Doctor, is with him. Peter and Pearl have returned (there's always a way), and are accompanied by David, who will take on the role of the very first Doctor, dusting off an old character sheet from the archives (it's Steven's idea to make two Doctors in the middle of a regeneration have a final adventure together). Matt and Jenna will skype in at the end to make Peter tear up. Over the course of the scenario, which includes a digital afterlife, Rusty the Good Dalek, and the Christmas Armistice, both Doctors will understand the need to let go of the past and regenerate, which is a kind of metaphor for passing the torch over to a new group. Peter makes a final grand speech that's meant to give advice to the incoming Doctor, and Jodie takes the helm even before her character sheet is written down. Chris sets himself behind the GM screen... and blows the TARDIS doors wide open, sending the new Doctor tumbling out into the sky before the TARDIS up and vanishes.

Where are they gonna go with this?


Ryan Blake said...

Beautiful. Great job with the ghost.


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