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!