Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Where to...?

Currently setting blood boiling on RPGnet is a thread which started innocently enough about the Doctor visiting America. This has lead to arguments about internationalism, Americanisation, parochialism, some deliberately obtuse posts and various other reminders of why I don't go to Outpost Gallifrey. I've held off posting a somewhat grumpy "come back when you give us a Star Trek episode set in Britain" because the thread's ugly enough already.

Now with a currently-less-baity companion thread for where the show might go.

But in an endeavour to be a bit more positive, it got me thinking about how I portray other countries in Who games.

A lot of it has to do with the PCs - when and where they come from inevitably factors in to when and where the game visits.

The Door In Time had a modern British PC, a Roman-era Irish PC, a futuristic colony... but effectively British PC, an American WWII PC based in Britain and an effectively British Time Lord PC. Most of our visits to Earth were in Britain and Ireland, most of them in the home times and places of the PCs but one a century earlier than planned. The jaunt to the building of the Great Wall of China was just one of those things.

Had we gone to a second series, I had an idea for Cybermen in the Russian Civil War. That's purely the result of me finding that part of history fascinating - the sides, the characters involved. I suppose it reflects Series 5 in that it visits other countries in history rather than in the present, and may count as a Celebrity Historical when the PCs team up with Trotsky to save the world.

Doctor Who Series A has the Doctor being Gallifreyan but effectively British, a modern Frenchwoman, two modern Englishmen, a slightly Germanic space colonist (who is only Germanic because she's played by a German in the fictional show) and a German WWII officer. Former PCs include a Roman based in Britain and an alien, both played in the fictional show by British actors.

The presence of the Frenchwoman, played by one of the keenest players, has me thinking of having a modern "Secret Invasion" adventure just happen to be set in Paris rather than the UK, a meeting with Napoleon, and possibly a "Victorian" adventure set in Belle Epoque France instead, while still having some UK-based adventures in the British PCs' home town. The WWII German gets a big intro adventure, as did the Roman, but the future semi-German will have an adventure featuring her era rather than her locale. If we visit the ruined colony she escaped from, the fellow survivors will sound a bit German like she does.

For my own turn as a player, I made my companion-type PC modern British because she was designed to be a fairly typical companion, a gateway to "Aliens Of London" adventures. Other PCs in that group were a modern American, a humanoid alien who sounded British, and a space colonist who (I think) sounded American.

So the backgrounds of the travellers should affect the internationalism of a series, but so should other interests. As a big history wonk, British history will feature in my games but so will other countries'.

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