Wednesday, 31 August 2011

The Less Than All Possible Doctors

Some theoretical examples of Game Table Team-Up:

The Less Than All Possible Doctors
Let's say you have a Time Lord with multiple different incarnations, possibly even played by different people around your table. What could bring some but not all of them together? A bit of a crisis but not a universe-threatening super-crisis. An enemy of the current incarnation (or most recent at the table) moving back through his timeline to a vulnerable point in a previous life. Something Gallifreyans presumably can't do, as their travels synch up and they always seem to meet each other in the right order, unlike human or at least not-quite-Time-Lord archaeologists.

The Lost Companions
Missing your Time Lord type? Then maybe it's time for the companions to be separated from the TARDIS, in their home space-time or stranded somewhere or somewhen far away.

The Doctor- And Companion- Lite Episode
Reflect the series directly - the cast need a week off, so shift the focus. Take all the regular PCs out of service and bring in a small number of new PCs, who might get to interact with the regular PCs at the odd point here and there. Good for adventures with lower stakes and/or higher PC death tolls.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Shut up, Hitler!

Y'know, I expected a bit more Hitler.

"Spoilers? What's spoilers?"

An Unearthly Child, Enemy Within, Rose, The Eleventh Hour, ...?

Over on the general RPGs blog which less than half the followers here follow (dagnabbit) I just posted a terribly informative article about planning and running ‘pilots’ for RPG series.

Which I’ve never done for Doctor Who.

The two years I’ve run The Door In Time I had every intention of running something else. It's not that I mind running it - I’m doing another season here and there when the relevant players are free and would be up for another - it’s just one of those things.

First year, the straight espionage game I was running proved helpless before a frankly surreal series of bad dice rolls and I decided to call a halt after one term to prevent the improbability factor causing whales to fall from the sky. DWAITAS was new out, I’d playtested it, the catastrophically unlucky player was volunteered to be a Time Lord.

Second year, I’d have gotten one player for the game I planned, but said Time Lord would come in as well if I switched back.

So how would I do an intro session for Doctor Who?

Since you can knock together non-Time-Lord PCs in about eight minutes I could probably go straight into a generic-ish Season Opener that any regular PCs could plug into. Which is largely what I did that first episode - “people from various times appear in the present, go!”

But as I wouldn't necessarily have the same players next week, I'd probably go with a “special” instead. A one-shot, with the Doctor and current companions and a couple of local characters for the other PC slots. Cram a Big Two-Parter into one session (imagine the show’s going to run for an hour instead of forty-five minutes), put everyone and possibly the world in deadly peril, consider using a classic Big Bad, don’t let whoever’s playing the Doctor overshadow everybody (or River, who is just as likely to these days) and be done in time to go to the pub afterwards, leaving cliffhangers for ongoing games.

Existing Example: The Hammer Of Time

New Example: The Time Thief
The TARDIS is struck down by an unknown force, crashing on modern Earth. The Doctor, Amy and Rory team up with a UNIT research team to find the source of the signal - something drawing in time travellers and stealing their power, threatening to usurp time itself!

Friday, 26 August 2011

Doctor Who And The Shifting Format

10 Totally Different TV Shows that Doctor Who Has Been Over the Years. Almost all by Doctor, but Tom Baker gets two and the Eccleston and Tennant eras are covered in one.

Note that I don't entirely agree, but the show has certainly changed dramatically from Doctor to Doctor and showrunner to showrunner.

I would imagine the educational side doesn't get much play at gaming tables - maybe a solid Celebrity Historical once a season? I hear of teachers using gaming as a stealth educational tool, so maybe it happens here and there.

And the Insane Pantomime probably only happens when the GM isn't paying enough attention - it's certainly an era I haven't delved into, except to pull ideas out of some bottom-of-the-polls stories, shake them off and give them a new lick of paint.

It would be possible to do all ten of these in a single season (these days thirteen episodes, tending to have three two-parters, so ten stories) but what would that look like?

1: An educational adventure show: A straight Historical or adventure based (roughly) on genuine science.
2: A claustrophobic show about monsters attacking: A Base Under Siege. Sorted.
3: An Avengers knock-off: Aliens of London with a particular focus on running around and UNIT appearing and things blowing up. Possibly set in the 80s as played by the 70s. May well involve the Master.
4: Gothic horror movies: This one is not difficult. Choose a monster, put it in an appropriate or deliberately juxtaposing setting, rack up the body count.
5: An absurdist slapstick comedy: Nor is this. Watch City Of Death and take notes.
6: Boys' own adventure stories: Hmm. This is pretty vague. What really makes it stand out is the Doctor's youthfulness. Which is a player option, really.
7: Insane pantomime: Crank up the monster ranting, set it in the 80s or somewhere redolent of the 80s like a tacky theme park or something similarly garish.
8: The Sorcerer's Apprentice: Look at how people, not least companions, view the Time Lord (or equivalent) in your game. Consider their backgrounds, mysteries they might include, issues they could resolve.
9: A postwar survivor's story: War Story.
10: A relationship comedy with universe-shattering consequences: Again, this is a concern for the players. All you can do as GM is complicate matters with varying times and timelines, and possibly NPCs who can stir up trouble as well.

Well, he would say that.

"Are we going to see any more aliens or characters from the original series?" "Yes."

Even if he never does it himself, Steven Moffat can say this fairly safely, can't he?

Or something.

A fan comic about the effect the Doctor can inadvertantly have on people. And occasionally jokes about chips and Captain Jack.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Special episode written by primary school kids

Death Is The Only Answer coming soon to BBC Three. The title sounds more like a Bond movie but never mind.

After the Abzorbaloff and the Junk TARDIS, now a mini-episode. Kids today! In my day we were lucky to get a Weetabix mini-theatre! If you wanted to write for Doctor Who you had to have a PHD on temporal physics bound in the hide of a bear you killed unarmed!

Monday, 22 August 2011

Yay for Hugos for things I like. Although The Pandorica Opens / The Big Bang is a bit of a stretch to call a two-parter, and a two-parter is a bit of a stretch to call "short form"...

Sunday, 21 August 2011


I may have accidentally started another plot hooks thread here.

The USS Cyclops disappeared with all hands in 1918, cementing the idea of the Bermuda Triangle in popular mythology. It's not quite up there with the Marie Celeste because nobody found a deserted ship, and that entire class of ships failed, but it's still a question mark in history.

So who would want to take a ship full of seasoned sailors? Someone who has a battle to fight in water...

Friday, 19 August 2011

It's gaming, Doctor, but not as we know it.

The free Adventure Games, returning soon, show that we live in a bit of a golden age for Whovian computer gaming. I hear tell that The Mazes Of Time has been released, starting free, for the Android (the phone, not the humanoid robot). Okay, the for-pay Nintendo DS and Wii ones may not have been much cop...

... but consider the show's computer gaming history and compare them to this.

Yes, that's the Doctor commandeering a Dalek flying platform in order to play a kill-anything-that-moves side-scrolling shoot-em-up.

Don't worry though, he gets off it later to run around zapping enemies with his sonic screwdriver and throw grenades and pick up bouncing coins...

But even then, in the spirit of pulling good ideas out of The Twin Dilemma, a chase through a maze of tunnels and shafts on a stolen Dalek hoverbout in the style of the hover chase in Akira would be awesome. Just concentrate on the chase, not blasting everything that moves.

Thursday, 18 August 2011


I failed to add Fermat to my accidental Google Doodle Adventure Idea series because I looked at it, considered what I knew about Fermat's Last Theorem and thought "maths monsters and... I got nothin'."

But today, Wikipedia informs me, is the anniversary of governor John White returning to Roanoke to find it deserted. This has of course become a centuried mystery, due to the mysterious word "Croatoan" carved into a post... despite Croatoan being the name of a nearby island, which White would have searched if not for inclement weather, and then nobody investigated for twelve years.

Still, ignoring things like that, a whole town being abandoned makes good mystery fodder.

Hence aliens using them as weapons, a lost Tribe in Werewolf: The Apocalypse, a DC Comics demon, and the ultimate villain in the series blogged over at Bigger On The Inside.

What would I do with it? Probably something with a mysterious mental force compelling people to leave, to get lost and carry on past the point of all logic. Possibly something like Yellowbrickroad... where if you follow where the disappeared went, you start to experience what they suffered...

Saturday, 13 August 2011

The Crash Of The Elysium

Now it's all over, and it's largely been spoilered what happens in it, and there's the odd video here and there taken by someone with a camera hidden in their bag, and I just found out there was one day that Matt Smith turned up himself instead of on video (aaauuugh!)... it's probably safe enough to talk about The Crash Of The Elysium freely.

An interactive theatre event - like a "haunted house" attraction, or indeed a very railroaded LARP where you play yourself - it first cast the audience/participants/players as special guest visitors to a museum exhibit about a lost Victorian ship, before a future spaceship of the same name crashed right outside and an Army team drafted the audience/participants/players to help infiltrate and search, working on a partially decrypted warning from someone called "the Doctor" in the ship's black box recorder that something is loose...

Seems to be a pretty straightforward story, but the makings of a good Big One-Shot, and with its smallish cast, interactivity, and use of modern and period locations due to a time travel effect, the ideal model for a Whovian LARP if you have the necessary resources.

Especially if you can get Matt Smith to come. (aaauuugh!)

Celebrity Historical Micro-Idea

Inspired from here:

"Isaac Newton created scientific theory. He was also an alchemist. Obsessed with trying to turn base metal... into gold!"

As Newton throws the alchemical powder, the Cyberman barely has time to scream.

When scary things get scared, not good.

The Worf Effect doesn't hit the main characters in Doctor Who because they're generally capable but not "the best there is" apart from the Doctor, and even then he can occasionally be out-trickstered.

But it can apply to the monsters. Anything that kills Daleks one-on-one is clearly being built up as bad news. Most egregious example I can think of would be Skeletoids.

But presented with due care, it could really pack a punch...


Searching a seemingly abandoned town, the TARDIS crew are horrified to find a Weeping Angel in a hall. The light flickers - and the Angel has moved further away, looking over its shoulder with an expression of terror. The light flickers again and now there's just a pile of broken marble...

Friday, 12 August 2011

Five days... nobody dies... but lots of people "die".

So an update, from here, I'm now halfway through Miracle Day and still have no idea why this is happening and it's all gone a bit distastefully on-the-nose.

It would have been more unusual if the Miracle was an act of kindness rather than crazy-bastard-evil. (Maybe it was and it's been twisted around. But presumably it'll have to be cancelled at the end... right?)

The lots of people "die" bit is something of an issue as well. Someone who can turn that off would be an obvious threat...

Since Miracle Day is deliberately so divorced from Whoniverse connections beyond the main characters that it might be better served by being considered a separate setting, it presumably won't turn out to be Whovian monsters involved.

So who in the Doctor's rogue's gallery would do such a thing?

Toy rant, part I dunno how many

Character Building gets Rory, and a Vampire Girl, while the regular figure line doesn't.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Well, yes, of course.

Neil Gaiman is indirectly responsible for a Who fan film.

The Mighty 200-Odd Adventure Hooks

Siskoid presents The Retread Campaign - remake classic adventures, possibly entire seasons in order.

After all, it was good enough for Peter Cushing...

(Idle notion, the Cushing "Doctor Who" in colour remakes of non-Dalek stories. Doctor Who And THE CYBERMEN complete with Arctic base, half a dozen actors familiar from the Hammer rep company, and Moonbase-style Cybermen...)

And since I've looked at numbers 1 and 200, to mark Post 222, what's number 101 like?

The introduction of Adric!

Okay, let's see what we can do. (100 was The Crusade, which I've totally done.)

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Who Am I? WHO? AM? I?!

Who Am I? on the mysterious past as plot hook.

In order to blatantly trawl for readership over there, how might one apply mysterious pasts to Doctor Who?

Friday, 5 August 2011

Doctor Who And The Gen Con Schedule

Gen Con (which I'm not at) is the biggest damn RPG show on Earth. I've discussed some of the news over yonder but Who-specifically? Without a new Who product out, what is there to do?

On the official docket of games being listed to run, these and these. Dunno which system the latter are using.

So, we have an official demo:

That Old Box
"Ever since you can remember, there's been a blue telephone box at the corner of your street. Everyone ignored it - it was just an old phone box, dead and dusty and empty. Now, there's a light on inside the box. Something's changed. Everything's changed. And not a moment too soon."

An unofficial game which is definitely DWAITAS:

Apocalypse All-Nighter: Web of Light
"Following traces of the Doctor, a group of paranormal investigators stumbles into a nightmare."


The Four Doctors
"On his way to retrieve Amy and Rory from their honeymoon, the Doctor is surprised to find the TARDIS crowded with his Second, Fourth and Tenth incarnations. Alarmed by the implications, he becomes positively shaken when Romana and the Master next appear, bearing a message from the White Guardian; 'Equilibrium has fallen and the universe dies. The Doctor must seek the eyes which see no more, that a new eye might be opened.'"

And finally...

Time Storm
"The players find themselves pulled out of different places and times and are thrown together to stop one of the most dangerous threats to the universe. They've landed in a futuristic environment, and the only clue to where they might be is an old blue London Police Box..."

Of the four, the C7 demo game has the most intriguing premise, the other DWAITAS one the vaguest, the third game sounds like the most powerful PC group even though you can't play Rory, and the fourth... hmm, I wonder if they mean players or PCs, could go either way.

Not a bad selection. (Spare a thought for Adventure! which is represented by a comedy mystery set in the 1940s... and an actual Adventure! adventure alone in the Trinity category.)