Admittedly some (like The Hidden Door / The World Next Door) are recycled and expanded on elsewhere in this collection, but hey.
Inspired by SteveD's legendary Elton John Firefly saga, I requested a list of suitably random titles to write plot ideas from. And this lead to several episodes based on song titles threads on RPGnet, including this Doctor Who one by SteveD again, and this one by me. Which isn't actually based on song titles, but never mind.
Doctor Who this time to celebrate the launch of the new RPG, with a list from Billwerk of titles for Decoder Ring Theatre's Red Panda adventures. He sifted out some of the more retro-pulp specific, but left a few of those in as well.
Every episode has the following framework:
Hook: The problem, weird occurrence or opening situation which causes the travellers to get involved with events. The pre-credits cliffhanger.
Problem: The full nature of what's going on - what caused the hook to happen, and what forces are aligned against the travellers.
Complications: Elements which are either part of the problem or external events which will make solving the problem not quite so straightforward as checking the databanks and reversing the polarity of the neutron flow.
Sub-Plots: These are a few lines on the character drama that could be wrung out of the events described, so that each episode is more than just a monster hunt.
Resolution: How to solve the mystery, defeat the monster and finish the story. Usually some options are included to suit your players or allow for their creativity.
Fun Stuff: This is just a list of some of the fun scenes or ideas the episode will let you play around with, to inspire your imagination.
Theme: This last section contains ideas on how the plot could be used as a reflection or life lesson for the travellers involved.
Because the setting roves across all of space and time, I've included alternative versions of a few titles as exercises for the reader.
Finally, note that for convenience and greatest applicability, every episode assumes a Time Lord or other time traveller and some Companions, one of whom at least knows what modern Earth history should look like. However, most of them are easy to convert to a variety of show concepts, although a fair few of them are based in specific times and places.
01 Riddle of the Sphinx
02 The Devil's Due
03 Death Danced at Midnight
04 Curse of Beaton Hall
05 The Shadow Hunter
07 The Deadliest Game
08 When Darkness Falls
09 Merlin's Tomb
10 The Dream Factory
11 The Black Hand
12 The Hidden Door
13 The World Next Door
14 The Opening Gambit
15 The Terrible Two
16 Barton's Charm
17 The Empty Box
18 The Third Wave
19 Murder in the Castle
20 The Gathering Storm
21 Trial By Terror
22 The Boy in Blue
23 The Golden Idol
24 Jungle of Terror
25 The Crimson Death
26 The Endgame
28 The Puzzle Master
29 Just Like Clockwork
30 Murder Wears a Mask
Riddle of the Sphinx
Hook: What is the Sphinx? Who was it meant to represent and exalt? Is there really a secret chamber inside it? And if so, what does it contain? And why did no-one know about it until a self-proclaimed psychic described it in 1918?
Problem: The best way to find out is to visit its building. Which turns out to be guarded by Sphinx-masked killers at night, armed with spears that shoot lightning from their crystalline tips.
Complications: They don't appear to be guarding the Sphinx itself, but the hollow underneath. Does it really contain the knowledge of lost Atlantis, as the psychic claimed?
Sub-Plots: Besides the whole anachronistic assassin thingy, the Pharaonic authorities are keeping a wide berth from the construction. Do they know about the guards and what they're protecting? Do they even know where they came from, as they only arrived recently?
Resolution: Breach the chamber and find the secret of the masked guards - servants of the 1918 seer using a portal in time to remake Egypt in his own image, to make it a power able to defeat Rome and hold the world to this day.
Fun Stuff: Egypt at its ancient height and post-WWI colonial nadir. Masked Stargate-wannabes with lightning spears.
Theme: If there's one lesson Doctor Who teaches, it's that there's always more to history...
The Devil's Due
Hook: The people of Fiddler's Moon owe their colony's success to Belasco, a mysterious alien last seen a thousand years ago. And a figure in black appears in a flash of fire and darkness to announce that the time has come for him to collect. He wants every second woman of child-bearing age.
Problem: Which will probably include some of the travellers. And he incinerates the first negotiator with a gesture when he balks at this demand. He is clearly a being of great power, and he has the colony over a barrel.
Complications: Belasco is happy to make side deals with anyone who has something to offer - varying from the clearly valuable to the decidedly impractical. He'll take the colour of someone's eyes as happily as a bag of diamonds. And in return, he can offer solutions to vast problems and answers to great mysteries. What happened in the year that the amnesiac Companion lost? He says he can tell her. Where is the Time Lord's missing father? He claims to know.
Sub-Plots: The colonists plan to attack him in force, willing to sabotage one of the colony's habitats to kill him. This might work or not, but either way it risks the life of everyone on the planet.
Resolution: Make a counter-offer worth Belasco's consideration.
Fun Stuff: Devilish temptations, high stakes gambling, angry mobs.
Theme: A deal is a deal, fair or otherwise, if it was made without false pretences.
(See also this idea from the Random Doctor Who story title generator thread.)
Death Danced at Midnight
Hook: Tonight, the ailing Sun of Seven Sisters will be rekindled, and a well-protected satellite has docked in the middle of the solar system to host a grand ball celebrating the rebirth of the star.
Problem: But one of the scientists behind the project has been murdered.
Complications: From pro-expansion political types looking to move the civilisation to planets they own in nearby systems to neosaboteurs seeking to protect the sun from a process they distrust to credit-buffing colleagues and all three of the professor's estranged husbands, the list of suspects is about as long as the guest list at the ball. And that's not even counting those who snuck in disguised.
Sub-Plots: And where there's one murder at a highly-charge political party where half the guests are wearing masks, others are bound to follow. Bodies are likely to drop with alarming regularity.
Resolution: Unmask the murderer(s) and stop the sun being imploded.
Fun Stuff: Intergalactic high society in a locked room murder mystery.
Theme: What is the price of progress? When is it too high?
The Curse Of Beaton Hall
Hook: 1930, and an English country manor echoes to the sound of screams. The Honourable Roger Beaton, heir to the manor, has disappeared on the eve of his wedding.
Problem: There is no trace that the detectives of the time can find. Suspicion falls on a jealous lover of Roger or his fiancée, and on his younger brother who will now inherit the house, but the current Lord Beaton knows there is more to it than that. Roger disappeared just like his father's elder brother did, allowing him to inherit. And their father's elder sister in turn... Someone, or something, steals away the firstborn of the family before they should be married.
Complications: Beaton Hall has a strange history going back centuries, and something seems to be producing a causal field that inhibits the TARDIS from going back to the Hall's past.
Sub-Plots: Lord Beaton begged Roger not to return to the Hall for the wedding, but he was convinced otherwise. By whom? Did someone else know about the curse and use it against him?
Resolution: Confront the psychic being that inhabits the Hall and seeks vengeance for its disembodied condition, caused generations ago by one of Roger's ancestors. Find a way fast enough and you might even be able to save the latest victim.
Fun Stuff: Pile on the Old Dark House clichés as much as possible. People disappearing from locked rooms, crashes of thunder and lightning, and a wailing, ghostly image swooping down the darkened corridors.
Theme: That which is hidden decays. Secrets can endanger those kept in the dark.
The Shadow Hunter
Hook: What's stranger than having too many shadows? Not having enough. After exploring the Shattered Stars, one the Companions finds that he has no shadow. Someone he met among the markets must have... stolen it.
Problem: The market for second-hand psychophysical projections like shadows and reflections is surprisingly lucrative. Being able to wrap yourself in someone else's shadow means that even psychic detection finds the shadow, not the wearer.
Complications: Without a shadow, the Companion is blinded by sunlight because he can't shield his eyes and regarded with fear by many who notice.
Sub-Plots: Some Companions might have a hard time accepting the shadow as a thing in itself rather than simply where they block light. They're right... for their own shadows. Logic like this can affect shadow thieves, but their beliefs can be strong enough to counter physics.
Resolution: catch the culprits and expose them to the light of justice. Possibly quite literally.
Fun Stuff: Rogue shadows zipping along surfaces and grabbing people, more Ghostbusters than Silence In The Library.
Theme: Belief can overpower reason, and affect those who don't believe themselves.
Hook: The TARDIS sensors pick up another time machine in the area. This might not be so unusual in a noted gap in history like the Marie Celeste or the Library of Alexandria pre-burning, but would be rather more suspicious in a random maintenance stop nowhen in particular.
Problem: Scans suggest that the machine is... the crew's TARDIS. And not from an unknown future. From right now.
Complications: Sure enough, the travellers have the chance to meet themselves - from just a second out of phase with their own time. This should be impossible, even for time travellers, but there they are, as confused as their equally-current selves. Except that one of the Companions is missing, and who's that girl hiding at the back? It would appear that the two crews come from very slightly parallel realities.
Sub-Plots: Besides comparing notes, the alterna-Companion takes an instant dislike to her non-counterpart and panics at the suggestion that she shouldn't exist which his presence implies. So when she grabs the broken TARDIS part and flees, there are two of the otherwise-identical crews with distinct loyalties chasing after her for different reasons.
Resolution: Find her, get the part back and therefore fix the reality overlap, preferably before two nearly-identical universes crash into each other.
Fun Stuff: "No, I'm the Doctor!"
Theme: Even if you can travel through time and space, you should take a moment to savour the details once in a while.
The Deadliest Game
Hook: She calls herself the Rook, and claims to be a Time Lord. No-one the travellers recognise, though... Is she who she claims to be, and if not, where did she get that time machine?
Problem: Her story of escaping the War during a particularly nonlinear battle checks out, she even seems to have two hearts - but she's a creation, an ersatz Time Lord who uplifted herself from humanity with scavenged Gallifreyan technology. She has the power to push herself through time using the remains of a TARDIS, although each journey puts it out of action for months, so she wants more.
Complications: Even with only a few decades' experience as a would-be Lady of Time, she is an excellent manipulator, playing chess with real societies and looking for someone worthy to play the other side. She's set two planetary systems at each other's throats in hopes that their war will release enough power to reactivate the broken TARDIS she uncovered. Gallifreyans being an endangered species nowadays, she's certain to take an interest in a compatible Time Lord, especially a real one unlike herself.
Sub-Plots: Did she choose this entirely by herself, or did the TARDIS lead her into it? Is some other agency trying to recreate the Time Lords from other sentient beings, willing or otherwise?
Resolution: Shut down her honey trap and persuade the civilisations she's almost pushed to war to back down.
Fun Stuff: A villain with a very personal interest and a flair for causing trouble to entire societies.
Theme: Someone looking at your culture from the outside might see things about it that you would rather overlook. You should learn from what they pick up.
When Darkness Falls
Hook: The Nightfall Nebula. Thirteen stars clouded over and barely able to shine. Thirteen systems waiting for a dawn that might never come. And in the centre, a splinter of the Void itself. The potential power of the Nebula could rip the Void open, and properly harnessed it could even undo the Time War.
Problem: And a scientist from a planet uncreated by the War has found a way to do so, to save his world. No matter the cost to the universe as a whole if the War begins anew.
Complications: Refugees from other destroyed species protect him as he prepares, and the last part he needs is the heart of a TARDIS.
Sub-Plots: His solution has to appeal to a Time Lord, or anyone else from a lost world or time. And if it could be steered so that the knowledge gained could be used... but no, it had to be locked...
Resolution: Save the TARDIS and destroy the array, or find another way to save even just one world from the darkness.
Fun Stuff: Each side fights with the best and noblest of intentions. And whichever sides wins is a death sentence for millions. How's that for an ethical dilemma?
Theme: What would you do with the power to change history absolutely, more than even a Time Lord can?
Hook: "So Doctor, if we're in the late Twenty-first Century, why are there knights in armour?" "... Let's ask."
Problem: Archaeologists in 2060 unearth a seemingly alien vessel under Badon Hill, and release a bunch of armoured men from suspended animation. They speak broken Latin and early Middle English, and escape in a display of expert sword fighting. So now the Knights of the Round Table are loose in a rather confusing future, boldly defeating cars and getting tetchy when asked for exact change at bars.
Complications: And this glaring anachronism draws the attention of an immortal enemy from Arthur's own time, who seeks revenge for a grave insult a dozen centuries ago.
Sub-Plots: A Time Lord worth his salt will know that in the near-apocalypse of the Twenty-third Century, the Knights will save the human race, so they have to return to their slumber.
Resolution: Help the Once and Future King deal with this very much Future problem, persuade his followers to return to stasis, and push the timeline back into place and hope nobody notices the patch job.
Fun Stuff: Ancient prophecies being fulfilled despite or because of the interventions of time travellers. UNIT versus Lancelot.
Theme: How much do hopes and fears for the future define you?
(Trivia: According to the Seventh Doctor story Battlefield, a future Doctor will be Merlin.)
The Dream Factory
Hook: Hollywood, 1933. The Great Depression has punters desperate for entertainment, and the movie studios have never been busier. The travellers are there to see the making of King Kong, when a budding screenwriter is found insane, amnesiac, all but mindless.
Problem: And then a classically-trained leading lady forgets her lines not just for this scene but for every role she's ever played. Something is stealing the creative force from their minds.
Complications: With tyrannical studio bosses looking at the bottom line and newly-installed censors exerting their powers over the business, there are plenty of red herrings to be the thing crushing and stealing ideas.
Sub-Plots: At least one of the Companions has to have feelings redolent of high drama: an unrequited love, a tragic loss or a burning need for revenge. Something juicy anyway, something that a great writer is just bound to recognise and call them on, comparing it to something from one of the classics.
Resolution: Cancel out the Creative Vacuum with a classic idea, a bit of Shakespeare or a well-placed Knock Knock joke.
Fun Stuff: The glitz and glamour of classic Hollywood contrasting with the shadows of the Depression and the grind of the system. Saving the world with stories. Optional guest appearances by psychic creations of the dream thief so the travellers can fight the Universal Monsters.
Theme: We're all defined by the stories we tell.
The Black Hand
Hook: The Imperial War Museum of The Third Great And Bountiful Human Empire, home to the last Mechanoid, the Deathsmith sorrow-guns and the Hunger Men of Kalinda Three. And, as the travellers walk through it, an alarm starts to sound.
Problem: Someone has stolen the Hand of Blaspheme, the cybernetic planet-killer hunted down two centuries ago by a combined force of humans, Cybermen and Madravi. The Hand was always thought to contain the secrets of his lost fleet of daggerships, but with its thumb and forefinger missing it seemed useless. Someone must have found the rest of it.
Complications: A chase across The Third Great And Bountiful Human Empire brings the travellers into contact with many beings who would literally give their right hands to graft on Blaspheme's, from children of the deposed Great And Bountiful Human Emperor to the cloned backup Blaspheme Nine and his foster mother. And the Sixty-third Century equivalent of UNIT is more like its predecessors than one would hope - a few good people and a fair number of grunts who couldn't hit a Cyberking if it fell on them. And a commanding officer who doesn't take too kindly to meddling time travellers.
Sub-Plots: There's nothing like chasing after a dangerous relic to make a Companion reflect on the baggage of her own life. What could she let go of?
Resolution: Track down the Hand and find a way to neutralise it permanently. Pulling its fingers off and flinging each into a separate level of reality might work. And find out who stole it and why... their reasons might actually be for the good of the universe.
Fun Stuff: Crazy hypertechnological supervillains. Super-UNIT on flying bikes still acting like modern squaddies.
Theme: The past may not be gone. History has more to show us than we know.
(Alternative version: Sarajevo, 1914...)
The Hidden Door
Hook: A group of young people break into an abandoned house, supposedly haunted, to explore. And one of them finds a door hidden by a curtain in a standing wall next to a demolished section of the house.
Problem: It opens onto the house as it was in its heyday. Going around, it's a bare wall exposed to the elements with the door bricked up. Going through, it's a mansion hosting a party in 1897.
Complications: The doorway has been time-charged by a time traveller as a "patch" over a temporal distortion, but his defences are breaking down and the girl finally shattered it. So now she's exploring Victorian times, and the thing that caused the distortion is loose in the present.
Sub-Plots: The girl isn't alone - the players could take on these characters for a "Doctor-light episode".
Resolution: The monster escapes, all of the group follow the girl into the past and TO BE CONTINUED!
Fun Stuff: Two times slamming together. An estate kid intruding on Victorian high society. And a monster on the loose.
Theme: Secrets may not stay buried forever.
The World Next Door
Hook: News of the time warp spreads among the girl's friends, and one by one more and more people look in.
Problem: Meanwhile the creature prowls the estate, shifting from one time to another, hunting people who threaten it backwards in time, making them cease to exist before they can be a danger.
Complications: Cause and effect start to break down between the kids' visits and the monster's attacks. People wink in and out of existence. If this continues, the last century could be unwritten completely.
Sub-Plots: And with all these young people looking back at a different life, someone's bound to want to stay.
Resolution: Repair the patch, evacuate the time travellers in both directions, and find a way to trap the monster.
Fun Stuff: A modern Friday night house party spilling over into the Nineteenth Century. Dozens of time travellers. Potential cross-time romance. And still a thing on the loose.
Theme: Have we changed so much?
The Opening Gambit
Hook: The Rook returns. And she has regenerated.
Problem: "Born" a Time Lord in this new incarnation, she is more powerful and more determined than before. Powerful enough to threaten the TARDIS crew and confident enough to try.
Complications: She has recruited others with the promise of immortality and the lure of Gallifreyan technology, forming a cult operating secretly for months before the day the TARDIS lands, infiltrating the corridors of power.
Sub-Plots: And she may now have the power to touch the history of Gallifrey with the Time Lord's help, voluntary or otherwise.
Resolution: Sabotage her technology - seize what you can - and wreck her immortality experiments.
Fun Stuff: The temptation of a Time Lord. Misappropriating a history. The rich and powerful kowtowing to a wannabe Gallifreyan.
Theme: What would you do to take back what you've lost?
The Terrible Two
Hook: Tracking a temporal signature, the travellers chase a thief down a dark alley... and a second version of him watches them go.
Problem: A time-travelling villain teams up with... himself. Using a pocket-sized paradox machine, he can split his personal timeline by just a second. He can be in two places at once as long as he doesn't touch his second self. He can rob and kill with a perfect alibi, track the Time Lord while being tracked himself, disappear without a trace as he returns to his own second...
Complications: And he doesn't have to worry about any other paradoxes he causes, so he can steal and kill with impunity. Imagine the Master with that sort of power.
Sub-Plots: But even a largely innocent time traveller with that device could wreak havoc unintentionally, confusing acquaintances and creating paradoxes he's immune to himself.
Resolution: Push the two together and wait for the Blinovitch Limitation Effect to destroy them. Or grab the paradox handheld and stamp on it, if you don't feel like killing him or dodging Reapers.
Fun Stuff: He's behind you! Oh no he isn't! Oh yes he is!
Theme: Wouldn't it be wonderful to be in two places at once? Wouldn't it be tempting?
Hook: Kashmir, 1857. Major Reginald Henry Barton is struck down in a duel by a fellow officer over the honour of a lady - but survives his seemingly mortal injury and makes a full recovery within two days. Major Barton carries a "good luck charm" recovered from a ruined Hindu temple. Which would appear to work.
Problem: And his physician falls dead seven hours later - of a wound identical to Barton's own.
Complications: Through the power of an alien artefact, Barton can now survive any damage - but passes it on to the first person to touch him. And he's about to be sent with his battalion to suppress the rebellion against the East India Company.
Sub-Plots: The secret sect who kept the amulet might have other alien items. And might want it back. And might know more about its origins.
Resolution: Do you encourage Barton to hand over his Charm and send him to certain death without it?
Fun Stuff: Raj officers, affairs of honour, Hindu gurus and alien mysteries.
Theme: Whose life is worth saving?
The Empty Box
Hook: "Doctor! ... Doctor?"
Problem: One of the Companions visits home, heads out of the TARDIS on personal business, and returns to find it deserted.
Complications: No sign, no word, no answer on the phone. Nothing. And the TARDIS is inert, on standby. The Companion will have to recruit help to find their fellow travellers. And who they can recruit depends on where they are.
Sub-Plots: The other travellers, meanwhile, are out of phase with time. And the Companion's friends and family have to figure a way to save them. A big yellow truck might come in handy.
Resolution: If there is a way, that way will be found. And then all you have to do is figure out why the travellers were separated when the TARDIS was parked...
Fun Stuff: An empty TARDIS. The Companion's background.
Theme: Who can you rely on when everything goes wrong?
The Third Wave
Hook: The Year 2901 (New Byzantine Calendar) and the colony on the cliffs of Hokusai Four shudders from an underwater seismic event. The tremors crush the colony's spaceport, and kick up a massive tidal wave that threatens to drown the colony.
Problem: Fifty thousand people could be killed and have no easy way off-planet.
Complications: So we have colony authorities trying to evacuate survivors, the colony's ruling family looking to blast off in an emergency system and leave everyone else behind, the son of said family wanting to take his "inappropriate" fiancée and her family with him, chaos in the habitat corridors!
Sub-Plots: Any Companions who go off by themselves due to some emergency are sure to end up on the wrong side of a collapsing walkway or a flooded habitat.
Resolution: A TARDIS could get to the sunken weather control station, and from there a counter-wave could be created before the city drowns.
Fun Stuff: A city-sized disaster movie that only the travellers can stop.
Theme: The big moments are gonna come, you can't help that. It's what you do afterwards that counts. That's when you find out who you are.
Murder In The Castle
Hook: The Kingdom Of Jerusalem, 1189 A.D., and the captain of the Knights Of St. Matthias has been murdered.
Problem: With the Third Crusade about to roll out, the death of a leading knight is bound to raise suspicions of traitors and set rival orders against each other. Talk of Assassins fills the camp, and the new arrivals doubt the people of the kingdom.
Complications: And in amongst all this we have the trace of an alien presence.
Resolution: Find the killer - human or otherwise - trying to stop the Crusade, even though this would save thousands of lives.
Fun Stuff: Knights in armour, Assassins, and a very real possibility of sunstroke.
Theme: Who can you trust?
The Gathering Storm
Hook: North America, 1767. A man running full-tilt across a desolate moor. A bolt of lightning strikes just behind him. And then another. And another. And he turns and shouts "No! Please!" to the sky as a fourth bolt arcs down to strike him.
Problem: The travellers find that every electrical device they have has failed, at the same moment. And all the clocks on the devices indicate the same time and date - not the one they were at. It's as if all electricity just ceased to be.
Complications: The Lyr, beings made of pure bioelectricity, are forcing their way into our reality and seek to seize control of electricity by preventing humanity harnessing it.
Sub-Plots: While trying to sort this out, the travellers also have to dodge a crackdown by the colonial governor.
Resolution: Ground the Lyr so that the principal can be safely learned.
Fun Stuff: Benjamin Franklin Versus The Lightning Men!
Theme: The desire to learn is fundamental, vital. Electrifying, dare I say.
Trial By Terror
Hook: City Alpha, Year 38 Of The Edict. An unauthorised use of artron energy has been detected. Judgement Units have been despatched.
Problem: Answering a transtemporal distress call, the travellers find themselves in a bureaucratic totalitarian nightmare. 1984 ½.
Complications: Separated as they are charged with a variety of trumped-up charges, the Time Lord and Companions have to work their way through a web of red tape, escape the humourless Judgement Units and find the source of the distress signal - a rogue time traveller trapped on Moon Gulag 3. Normally an enemy, but in a place like this possibly a vital ally.
Sub-Plots: Even here, human nature finds its own ways to push through. Agents of the Edict include lazy jobsworths as well as relentless monsters, and people will still stop to watch a wind-up mouse.
Resolution: Team up with the renegade and set the forces of tyranny and apathy against each other. Maybe encourage the downtrodden masses to free themselves while you're at it.
Fun Stuff: The Doctor versus Judge Dredd, directed by Terry Gilliam.
Theme: No matter what, we all have choices to make.
(Alternative version: France, 1791.)
The Boy In Blue
Hook: "The Blue Boy (c. 1770) is an oil painting by Thomas Gainsborough. Perhaps Gainsborough's most famous work, it is thought to be a portrait of Jonathan Buttall, the son of a wealthy hardware merchant, although this was never proved." So who was he, really? And why are a group of Fiftieth Century art thieves trying to steal the original preparatory notes from Gainsborough's studio?
Problem: The Blue Boy is actually a portrait of the heir to the throne of Foix, a country which should never have existed. It survived the rewriting of history due to the blue pigment being given to the artist by a time traveller - possibly one with a vested interest in keeping this little bit of unhistory existing.
Complications: So what do the thieves know, and why are they bending time to find out more?
Sub-Plots: In 1919, F.W. Murnau's first film, now lost, was named after the painting and featured it as well. What did it involve, and what happened to it? Was it based on the story of the painting's creation? Or the theft? Or did it cause the theft?
Resolution: Stop the thieves, stop the painting being stolen or destroyed... and stop the painting becoming a fixture in the royal palace of a revived Foix.
Fun Stuff: Two of the Eighteenth Century, possibly the early Twentieth and the Fiftieth as well.
Theme: History is written by the winners.
The Golden Idol
Hook: On a primitive, forgotten world, a cult attacks a tribe seeking prisoners for their god. And un-translated, the cult's battle cry is EX-TER-MIN-ATE!
Problem: A survivor of the destruction of the Daleks crashed here a year ago, its systems too damage to move, to do more than snarl its demands at the inhabitants. Learning their language, it has used their belief that it is a golden idol sent by the gods to take over the tribe that found it, form a cult and start mining for the metals needed to repair its shell.
Complications: The travellers stumble across this as they're nearly knocked over by a tribe fleeing the cultists. A loose coalition of free people plan to strike at the mines and need all the help they can get.
Sub-Plots: The coalition includes escapees from the tribes that formed the cult, among others, and suspicions and old resentments linger under the surface.
Resolution: Agents of the Dalek in the Coalition camp capture one of the Companions to bring them to their idol, who demands that she touch him and renew him with the power of a time traveller, and TO BE CONTINUED!
Fun Stuff: Daleks! Dalek-worshippers! Anti-Dalek-worshippers!
Theme: Power corrupts. The most terrible thing can tempt the innocent.
Jungle of Terror
Hook: The travellers rescue the captured Companion before she can be forced to touch the Dalek's shell and they escape to echoing amplified screams of FIND THEM! FIND THEM! BRING THEM TO ME!
Problem: The Dalek now knows that there are time travellers here, and will stop at nothing to find them. It orders the cult to redouble their efforts to repair it, and to find the travellers and their TARDIS.
Complications: A Dalek cultist in the coalition camp stirs up trouble between two of the leading tribes while the travellers are away, and once they return they find one of the tribes leaving. Can the travellers turn them back?
Sub-Plots: With the Dalek pushing the cult to find the travellers, the slaves are poorly supervised. It would not take much to overthrow their remaining overseers and set them free.
Resolution: Stop the Dalek abusing this world. Destroy it, take it away, help it - stop it however you can.
Fun Stuff: Doctor Who And The Temple Of Doom!
Theme: But the tempted can refuse corruption and learn from what they turned down.
The Crimson Death
Hook: Baltimore, 1849. Edgar Allan Poe goes missing for six days, and reappears close to death. The cause of his death has never been determined... So meeting him in the middle of his six missing days should be interesting... especially when you notice a figure in a dark red cloak following him.
Problem: Poe is about to die, but the way he dies is in flux - and the thing that hunts him, the Red Death from his imagination - seeks to capitalise on this uncertainty to release a plague on the world.
Complications: The Red Death is a thoughtform. It can take on other imagined forms, although few are as powerful as Poe's, so it can take on more mundane identities.
Sub-Plots: Poe knows that his death is close, and has no desire to endanger others, so will try and escape his new friends to keep them safe.
Resolution: Find Poe and work with him to trap the Red Death. With effort, he can imprison it in his mind and take it to the grave with him.
Fun Stuff: Our "celebrity historical" veers into the wildly Gothic and potentially apocalyptic.
Theme: Dream dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.
Hook: The Rook returns, targeting the personal timeline of a Companion, one the Time Lord is especially close to. She is safe in the TARDIS, but her family is in danger. The Rook means them no actual harm, but wants to use them to lure out the Time Lord.
Problem: The Rook has brought along a group of minions culled from across time and space, and the Companion's friends and family go on the run.
Complications: This gang of temporal marauders draws the attention of the local authorities (like UNIT for a Companion from the late Twentieth to late Twenty-first Century) so the hunters are hunted as well.
Sub-Plots: The Rook's attentions could make the Time Lord look again at his relationship with the Companion.
Resolution: Confront the Rook, banish her goons and... work out what to do about her.
Fun Stuff: A wannabe Lady of Time clashing with a Companion's rather more mundane background.
Theme: Hell hath no fury, and all that.
Hook: Gerace, Italy. 1566. A merchant is found dead in his warehouse, his skin mottled and his eyes jet black.
Problem: An alien toxin is being used to kill leading members of the city-state's society. The alien itself is the innocent prisoner of the poisoner, although it is deadly to any human being it touches.
Complications: The poisoner plans to bring Malfi to its knees and then move on Rome, assassinating the Pope. Obviously if that happens, time will go a bit sideways.
Sub-Plots: The poisoner is charming, handsome, cultured...
Resolution: Free the alien - very carefully.
Fun Stuff: A potentially deadly alien who means no harm potentially escaping into Renaissance Italy.
Theme: The threat might not be a monster. The monster might not be a threat.
The Puzzle Master
Hook: Surrey. 1944. A number of code phrases, vital to the war effort, appear in a newspaper crossword.
Problem: The crossword compiler is unconsciously psychic, and tuning in to the codebreakers' thoughts as their stress and worry fill up the mental wavelength.
Complications: Which wouldn't be a problem, but an arms dealer from Nisdomahl Six (stranded here after a deal gone bad during the Blitz) has detected him, and noted the local authorities taking an interest in him. It abducts him, seeking to use his abilities to discover state secrets and sell them to the highest bidder.
Sub-Plots: One of the Companions has an ancestor working in Bletchley Park. Or maybe the Time Lord pulled a few shifts there in another incarnation...
Resolution: Save the crossword compiler. Strike a deal with the alien gunrunner if need be, but don't be surprised if it betrays you.
Fun Stuff: An unremarkable man suddenly becoming the key to saving all of time. And not being exactly happy about it.
Theme: Lives can turn on the smallest things. At the right moment, anyone could be the most important person in the world.
(Alternative version: New York, 1922. Harry Houdini prepares for his most daring escape ever. And someone plans to make sure it is his last...)
Just Like Clockwork
Hook: Antikythera! How was a beautiful, precise clockwork astronomical calculator like that created in the ancient Greek world? If something like that existed, what else did which has been lost? The device itself is possible with ancient Greek technology, so why is there nothing else like it?
Problem: Nothing a quick trip to ancient Greece won't answer... Although on arrival, the streets being patrolled by brass clockwork soldiers raises a few questions of its own. There are signs of a disturbance in time near the temple of Hephaestus - someone else must have been curious about the mechanism. Curious enough to come back, find the designers and bankroll anything and everything they wanted to build.
Complications: It's all lovely, fascinating work, and millennia ahead of its time. Some people (and some Meddling Monks, and quite possibly some Rooks) just have no appreciation for how time is supposed to flow. Oh, and the King's mechanical armies are poised to invade a rival Greek state.
Sub-Plots: The talk of destiny, what should happen and what shouldn't, might have some Companions wondering about their own hopes and fears.
Resolution: Set everything right, as much of a shame as it is.
Fun Stuff: Ancient Greek Clockwork Soldiers!
Theme: Some things are never meant to be, wonderful as they could be.
Murder Wears a Mask
Hook: The present, or a near-modern Companion's home era. The TARDIS lands, a few weeks in local time after their last visit, and finds the night-time streets deserted. Posters warn that a curfew is in force. And then the travellers hear heavy hoofbeats clattering towards them... and see four horsemen in black cloaks and masked armour, mixes of medieval and modern combat gear, riding full-tilt towards them.
Problem: Escaping the riders, they find the locals, including the Companion's family, hiding nearby. They explain that the riders are part of an invasion force, supposedly from Hell itself. The Time Lord doubtless scoffs at this, but they certainly act the part - murderous barbarians who only appear at night and seem to shrug off attacks by the people, police, even the Army or UNIT.
Complications: But really, if they're so tough, why do they need all that armour? They can be brought down, and aren't many in numbers. But convincing the people of that will take some doing. Catching one of the riders and unmasking him would help... depending on what's under the closed helm. And who could be masterminding this occupation? The Rook? Belasco? An older enemy? A new one?
Sub-Plots: The Companion gets to see her family and friends as an active resistance - or not. Even if this timeline is put right, will she ever be able to look at them the same way again?
Resolution: Galvanise the resistance, steal into the fortress of the invaders and discover their secret.
Fun Stuff: The Doctor versus Chaos Spiky Bits. "Gaze into the face of Fear!"
Theme: Fear has a power independent of is causes or creators, possibly far more than they deserve.