Saturday, 26 February 2011

Another look at Secret Invasions

Bigger On The Inside looks at them from a practical planning perspective and considers the difficulties of acting in secret.

A series-ful of plots series two: Series Two!

Time for a series rundown again!

And just to give added content, a bunch of different example adventures, with episode ideas listed to map out the shape of a second series.

The Complete Series N2

A series-ful of plots series two: Another Christmas Special

We've discussed this before and the basic idea is pretty much the same, unless your Christmas Special is also your Series Finale.

Do something different from last year, and from the rest of the run. A special guest PC or two wouldn't go amiss, particularly if PCs left in the series finale but their players want to bring in someone new next series.

Here are several more ideas that you might consider.

And an actual play example.

X: I'm the Ghost of Christmas Past...

A series-ful of plots series two: The Big One-Shot

Not an essential, this, but something like Doctor Who Live or a Prom or the Doctor Who Experience exhibition. A one-shot adventure with a bigger cast than usual, which doesn't count as part of the series continuity even though it has bits featuring the Doctor and written by the series lead writer.

This could be a convention game, or a game for guest players you know, where the normal players may or may not appear and may or may not play their regular characters - but even if they do, they shouldn't overshadow the guest players. This will need cooperation from the regular players, of course. Otherwise, the game will be rather baffling and full of in-jokes and the guest players may not get to do very much, and all of these are to be avoided.

The guest players' characters are generally normal modern-ish people (as they're easy to relate to) so it's a huge over-the-top space-opera threat looming over normal modern-ish Earth.

It probably features Daleks.

Even if it doesn't feature Daleks, it probably has Daleks appear in a crowd scene of monsters.

L: Hello! I'm the Doctor! And I need your help!

Friday, 25 February 2011

The Door In Time Christmas Special

Following Yonder Star

Because it's the 25th. And my 150th.

A series-ful of plots series two: The Series Finale, Take Two

So you've ended one series, possibly with a fleet of Dalek ships or the imminent destruction of reality as we know it or some other way of pulling out all the stops. Do you try and top it, or do something else?

12: Don't look back. Just go. RUN!

13: Is this it? Is this my death?

A series-ful of plots series two: Time Travel

You might think that a show about a time traveller would have a fair number of episodes about time travel, but this isn't really the case. Normally, the TARDIS is a magic door to a new adventure, and once you're there, you're there. Episodes where time travel is a major feature after the initial setup are much less common, although Steven Moffat is doing his best to change this...

The series has built up some (rather inconsistent) rules about time travel, from ontological paradoxes and how they apparently work even though they don't to the Blinovitch Limitation Effect saying that you can't meet yourself or you shouldn't meet yourself or you mustn't come into contact with yourself or that's okay as long as you're from a parallel universe or nothing else has happened or...

Generally, going back in time and having another go at fixing things is not on. Unless time itself has gone very wrong, in which case it is. I think. Anyway, there's a lot about this in a future supplement, but I'm not here to talk about how it works as that changes from story to story, I'm here to talk about the story in time travel itself.

11: Wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey!

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

A series-ful of plots series two: And Now For Something Completely Different

Doctor Who can do so much, so it's a good idea to balance light and dark, thrilling adventures, Big Emotional Episodes, horror shows and so on across a series, rather than having a few similar unconnected adventures back to back. Apparently with the mid-series split this year, the episode order has been juggled so we don't have too many funny ones or too many scary ones in a given block.

So take a look at what you've done before, and what you're planning next, and find a place for something a bit different. This could be a format-bender, or simply something in a different theme. Something like a special guest writer might bring this, but it helps to have variety in mind anyway.

10: This, I was not expecting.

A Challenge

One of our watchers bravely put this up. So this resulted in me coming up with thirty Radiohead songs that could work as Earthbound Who adventure titles.

(For an adventures in time and space game I'd go with Muse.)

Monday, 21 February 2011

A series-ful of plots series two: The Arc Episode

So you're building a series arc, and you want to sneak something important in a few weeks beforehand. This seems like a good time to do it!

This has been done to variable degrees and with variable success in the new series. Some were just repeated references subtle or otherwise, but some proved their importance in earlier episodes than anticipated. Mr. Saxon's machinations really started in The Lazarus Experiment and the Crack stopped being a minor out-of-character curio in Flesh And Stone and played a key role in Cold Blood as well.

9: What does that mean?

Friday, 18 February 2011

A series-ful of plots series two: The Special Guest Writer

Or possibly the Blue Peter monster design competition.

Getting an adventure from an outside source - a DWAITAS supplement, another Who source like the books, comics or audio plays, a different game, some random geek's rambling Who blog - would fit here.

But one particular option is to canvass the players and see what adventure ideas they come up with. They probably have ideas for what they'd like their characters to see and do (which may or may not resemble what the characters themselves would want...) and might have suggestions for monsters and the like too.

The ultimate step is to let someone else take a turn GMing an adventure. Normally this is one of the players as they know the series, which can prove a fascinating insight into how the game works.

8: I was tempted to get someone else to write this article...

RPG settings as Who adventure hooks

I linked to the thread in which we remix entire settings as episodes of Doctor Who on the DWAITAS forum, I believe, but having looked it up just now, I figure it's worth an entry on its own.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

A series-ful of plots series two: War Story

Happy birthday Christopher Eccleston!

DWAITAS mostly concerns itself with the Tenth Doctor and his era, with an Eleventh Doctor version out soon, but RTD brought the show back with the slightly more low-key Ninth. Pained but doing his best to hide it, a joker and a threat by turns, a romantic but not a heartbroken one. Plain dark clothes, short cropped hair, "trying to fit in" unlike most of his other selves.

Considering the two-parters we only got ten stories with him, and that doesn't feel like enough.

Every Doctor brings something new to the story, and carries his era with him in return appearances.

Of course, the Ninth Doctor is also associated with the Time War (although he might have been the Eighth for quite a lot of it) so this suggests that travellers might meet him again performing great and terrible deeds, losing those he loves to the Daleks, avenging them, setting a million ships on fire...

The Time War allows for major changes in continuity, overshadows the Davies era, and is full of hinted-at wonders and horrors.

War in general showcases great adventures, terrible tragedies, courageous last stands against overwhelming odds, painful moral questions, monstrosity and heroism in equal measure.

7: What did you do in the war, daddy?

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

A series-ful of plots series two: Insert Ominous Word Here Of The... Somebodies

Once you've been going for a while, you may come up with monsters or other antagonists interesting enough to make a return appearance. So take a look at the monsters that became recurring threats or out-and-out Big Bads, and see what can be learned from their examples.

6: YOU!

Saturday, 12 February 2011

A series-ful of plots series two: Space Opera

Doctor Who frequently brings the alien down to Earth. Often literally, in the TARDIS, with a thump. Even when visiting other worlds, or space stations or Moonbases or what have you, the travellers mostly stay indoors or in quarries. But now and then it goes space opera and gets rather Star Wars, or a bit Dan Dare, or a lot 2000AD, and we find our heroes flying through wormholes as well as running through corridors. Big sensawunda SF, multiple alien types, spaceships swooping around, the whole thing.

4: One condition, it has to be amazing!

5: Get to the escape pods!

A series-ful of plots series two: Time Crash

Since I discussed Historical, Pseudohistorical and Celebrity Historical episodes all together in series one, I thought I'd look at three futuristic styles together in series two. You probably wouldn't actually run them back-to-back.

Anyway, this is where series two started, and I only did it last week, so what the heck.

Something futuristic interacts with the past or present. It seems alien and strange to characters from earlier times, but is of purely human creation.

3: The time is out of joint...

A series-ful of plots series two: Future Tense

The TARDIS lands in the future and the future isn't looking too bright.

Dystopian science fiction set on Earth or a human colony world, generally with humans front and centre rather than alien invaders or the like, allow for a mix of prediction, satire, social commentary and killer robots.

2: I've seen the future... and it's pants.

And again...

The Door, "the first mission for the Temporal Investigation Squad", by the illustrator of Time Leech part three.

Friday, 11 February 2011

A series-ful of plots, series two: The New Series Opener

Happy Palindrome Day!

Well, since I'm running a second series of The Door In Time, might as well...

I've discussed this before and much the same stuff applies, but anyway...

2.1: Hello Again, Faithful Viewer!

A new run of your series (which we'll call a season as to try and keep confusion to a minimum, never mind that the new series box sets are called series, and people argue over which season the latest series was...) might have the same cast of characters and players, new arrivals and absences to the lineup, a Time Lord with a regeneration hangover, a wildly different format, even someone else GMing. So what's new and what's changed?

Edit - a great big bit on regeneration episodes at Bigger On The Inside, go read!

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Rassilon, Omega, Whatsisname

Over on DWAITAS, Kit seeks names for a librarian robot... Of Rassilon.

Rassilon, founder of the Time Lords, or at least Edison-like taker of the credit for founding the Time Lords, loves putting his name on things. He has a Sash, a Rod, a Book, a Record, Scrolls... These days he has a staff of office and a nuclear death gauntlet but he didn't name those, he obviously figured they went without saying.

Omega, by comparison, just gets the occasional doomsday weapon like his Hand. He may be like Vecna from D&D in that regard. Certainly he doesn't have his Head any more.

The Other, the non-canonical trickster figure in this Time Lord mythology who may be the Zeroth Doctor or the Doctor's father or something, sensibly avoids leaving things with his name on them.

Ancient myths can be punctured rather thoroughly by time travel, meeting your heroes often disappoints, and there's always the possibility of the players' characters ending up as the myths they wanted to research. But equally, ancient godlike beings sometimes live up to the hype, and then they're real trouble...

Further to previous post on miniatures

Not content with giving you seventeen suitable-base-colour-cast New Paradigm Daleks last week (after I painted the five bright orange ones I got with an issue a few months back), Doctor Who Adventures this week has eight each of (slightly blobby) dark-metallic plastic Cybermen and blue Sontarans. Not as nice as the Micro Universe ones, or indeed the bigger and more detailed NDP, but we never got Micro Universe Sontarans, let alone eight of them (and eight slightly blobby Cybermen) for £2.20.

And on a related note: a Who minis blog!

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Jules Verne

It's Jules Verne's 183rd birthday, as pointed out by a rather lovely little Google logo. Unlike fellow Father Of Science Fiction H.G. Wells, he didn't write a time travel story so he hasn't had a jokey guest appearance in a Doctor Who story, which is a shame as environmentally-conscious mad scientists with giant killer submarines, mole machines heading for the Earth's core and mad races around the planet would seem to fit the show rather well, especially these days. He wrote legendary SF, great adventure stories, a novel-length Poe fanfic (!) and enough books that you could do a 30 Adventures brainstorm with his titles alone. Probably for Hollow Earth Expedition or something like it.

Meeting him in Who would be a Celebrity Historical unless it was a gag cameo, probably to do with a mad scientist threatening Paris with some sort of gigantic hissing thumping machine, although you could always bring in Silurians as well.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Slamming two times together

Possibly part of A Series-Ful Of Plots, Series Two...

Normally, when Doctor Who slams two times together, one of them is the present. But the present travels with the show (almost) constantly in the form of the Doctor and companions, so every now and then someone (like Steven Moffat) writes an episode where two other eras collide. Aliens may or may not be involved - The Empty Child had the presumably-alien Chula offscreen, The Girl In The Fireplace had none. (Which on reflection makes it the first new Who episode entirely lacking in aliens apart from the obvious one, although not in monsters.)

Anyway, inspired by an LJ post by Trinity and Adventure! co-creator Bruce Baugh, an adventure hook...

50-odd adventures and settings in one thread

101+ Science Fiction and Science Fantasy Settings is RPGnet's most easily-relevant-to-Who brainstorm of its kind since, well, the last Who one.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Adventure supplements

A thought I had caused by two DWAITAS threads being active at the same time (thanks to misterharry posting in both) and Morgan Davie writing an adventure for the lovely Icons...

The we-can-only-do-box-sets rule of C7's licence for DWAITAS means that standalone adventure books are a no-no.


I don't use pre-written adventures much in my games. In fact, using a Traveller magazine adventure as an episode of The Door In Time was the first time in about a decade. But I used it, and could use almost every adventure in the magazine it came from, because Doctor Who is one of the settings where totally episodic nothing-to-do-with-anything adventures happen pretty often. Introducing whole new use-and-discard settings, plot elements, enemies and monsters is a regular feature in Who.

Most of FASA's releases for their Who RPG (the subject of the second thread to spur this thought) were these very things. Of course, it was a different world back then, when adventures on paper were considered a cool thing for games not involving lizards and cellars. But it's also a shame for the partial demographic of kids. Because if you've never done this before, or you're stuck, or looking for something with more of a format, an adventure for the game you're running can come in right handy.