Monday, 30 January 2012

Revise That Currently Un-Rebooted Monster!

Perhaps of more general use, what to do with monsters that haven’t put in an appearance? Reviving a weird or obscure race, and bringing them up to Big Two-Parter status at least, is certainly tempting.

Sea Devils
Go a bit Deep One and a bit The Fog with them. Rising out of the water on foggy nights, draped in seaweed, attacking coastal towns and too-close oilrigs, armed with tridents, disguising themselves with sou’westers and the like. Yes, I’ve run this episode.

Ice Warriors
Big green lizard-men with a colony on Mars. Who are actually pretty sociable as long as they aren’t at war with you. I’d probably drop the thick pincers, and I’d naturally want to see what’s under the helmets. And maybe give them different weapons? Ice axes seem like a sensible start...

Rutans or Zygons
(Not counting The Gunpowder Plot for the sake of this lineup.)
Shapeshifters with an agenda which isn’t directly inimical but no interest in preserving human life. A Secret Invasion in a small, sleepy town perhaps. But with an added threat of taking it to the heart of the nation.

Greeting Earth neighbours! We are the Axon and we’re here to help! Oh, you’re not doing anything important with all that crude oil, are you?

(I’ll get to them one of these years.) Created with one driving purpose. They will destroy the Daleks. And they don’t care about who gets in their way. They could stay as androids, be humans or aliens, but androids suits their unstoppable Terminator attitude to things. (If the Movellans ever show up, you’ve got two problems. One, you’ll be bloody lucky if you can get on their good side, because if you can they’ll help you fight the Daleks. Two, if they’re here at all, that probably means DALEKS!)

Crystal intelligences building or taking over robot bodies, threatening a future Earth colony? Hey, why not? Heck, give them swords!

Reboot That Monster!

Since Kit asked, let’s throw some ideas into the pot.

The Time Lords
Do we need them? Russell T Davies got rid of them (and then brought them back and promptly got rid of them again) because The Last Of The Time Lords is more interesting than The Most Human-Friendly Of The Time Lords. Likewise, the Doctor doesn’t need to be a Time Lord - the original plan was that he be a human from a dystopian future trying to stop it happening.

We should probably keep these guys. Historicals would be a lot harder without them.

Merchandising would never forgive us. But we can certainly mangle their history. Maybe they aren’t from Skaro, or maybe we’re there at a new version of their Genesis. Maybe the Kaleds and Thals are still kicking around. As long as you keep the EXTERMINATE! attitude, anything goes. Maybe they hover by default, having round bases. Maybe they’re totally round, just folding out weapons and eyestalks as needed. Or they’re ten feet tall! And make more variants! Merchandising would love us!

It’s been done. But it could be done again. They could be former humans from a nightmare future, travelling back to make themselves possible. Mr. Davies had already had the idea for the Toclafane in case they couldn’t secure the rights to the Daleks, so that idea could fit the Cybermen. Or indeed the Daleks! Consider a puppet/CGI version in the style of The Flood. See BOTIS for modular Cybermen design ideas. But anyway, make more variants! Merchandising would love us!

The Master
Where to go with him that we haven’t before? Depends on the Doctor, really, as the Master is ever his shadowy reflection. One option noted waaaaaay back is to make him a professional but callous Time Lord agent who clashes with the Doctor over their methods. Or like one iteration of the Leekley series, he’s in charge of Gallifrey and only the Doctor opposes him. Or a great thief or assassin, but who is he working for if not his own amusement? Or he’s like a more vicious Meddling Monk, playing with time because who can stop him?

Let’s make them even shorter! Four foot two, about as wide, keen on charging at opponents and knocking them over like battering rams. Little Juggernauts with something to prove to the entire universe.

No more sneaking around and grabbing people - the invasion of the surface world is achieved with mole machines!

Russell T Davies on the state of children's TV

Including more on AvW, as I am already calling it.

The Eighth Doctor: Season One...

An episode guide that never was

I largely knew this already from Regenerations but it may be of interest to y'all.

As found while looking for something like it to respond to this thread on rebooting Who.

Friday, 27 January 2012

A rules issue!

Siskoid asks: Do we have too many Story Points?

As also asked here.

Possibly. Especially when there's more than a couple PCs with no point-eating powers at the table.

In The Door In Time Kai and Effie spend them so sparingly that I could probably replace "you have this many per session" with "per series" and they'd still go at the same rate, but if they decided to start burning through them how might I stop them?

Simplest trick would be to halve them. Or halve what they do, so they get you 1D6 instead of 2. Or put a group cap on them. Or a GM gets one for every one spent, although that would lead to the GM having an end-of-session Story Point hammer, which is suitable only for cliffhangers.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Steampunky fighter pilots, some more monster-y than others

And while looking around Retronaut, I wouldn't like to meet some of these guys in a dark alley. Or the cockpit of a space fighter.

Nor indeed the Jack Daniels swigging Viking from a 60s issue of Analog.

A Space-Age Christmas from before I was born

Space-Age Christmas, The Doctor Who Annual 1974

I wish I'd known about this before doing a Who Christmas Special set on a colony spaceship in the future.

"If pollution and the effects of the population explosion go on at the present rate, there will probably be very few trees left in the world, and any forests which do still exist will be protected by stringent laws." Yikes!

"But let’s hope that all that’s best about our traditional Christmas will stay, and that it will still be the same festival of happiness and goodwill that it is today." Ahh...

I went more than twice as far into the future to be on the safe side. And I don’t remember specifying if the tree on the colony ship was real or plastic - real could work considering the need for air cleaning and such, although they’d probably focus on more multi-purpose plants than fir trees.


Tonight is Burns Night. Celebrity Historical, trying to pull the companion, Tam O'Shanter, Sycorax. Have we seen any Doctors in kilts, or just Jamie and the Brigadier? And the Judoon.

It's also the first Tahrir Square anniversary. Struggling against dystopian tyranny, still an ongoing thing in this day and age.

They're Major Gadgets for PCs. Or something.

So as to not just be a miserable old sod, let's look at the new prop toys which are presumably (like the DIY Sonic screwdrivers) not actually going to be in the show. what could one do with them?

The Trans Temporal Sonic Screwdriver
is, well, a sonic screwdriver. In this case it's intended to blend in with 19th Century Europe, looking like it was cobbled together from bits of a Victorian bathroom suite. So perhaps it's an emergency replacement for a traveller stuck in the time.

The Dalek/Cyberman Anti-Time Device
"Use scavenged Dalek and Cyberman technology to wipe your enemies from time!" That doesn't sound like something the Doctor would approve of, not without offering them a chance to give up at least. So maybe it's in the hands of a survivor of a terrible Cyber-Dalek-Human war, fighting to stop it ever happening.

The App-Gear Blaster
Rebuilt without the Dalek eyestalk, making it a bit smaller, perhaps intended for a stealth operation. The designers have added a cradle for "leading smartphones" which connects to the alien device to let the carrier detect and target otherwise invisible aliens. It appears a Secret Invasion is afoot!

The Personal TARDIS
"Set the Time Coordinates, flip up the Time Rotor, then prepare for time travel!"
Most mysterious and powerful of all, a TARDIS worn on the arm, clearly salvaged from various sources including an 80s home computer, perhaps based around a rebuilt Vortex Manipulator? Compatible with the Trans Temporal Sonic, so very possibly the creation of the same stranded traveller trying to force his way home.

So who created these things? A brilliant technician, obviously, on a desperate mission across space and time.

Toys. Grrrr.

London Toy Fair, and naturally Character Options have a few things to show... and... well...

Summary, big photos, etc.

What appear to be prop replica toys of props that don't exist!

A personal TARDIS worn on the arm, a Dalek/Cybermen Anti-Time Device zap gun, an even-more-steampunk-than-usual "Trans Temporal Sonic Screwdriver"?

Yes, they all look really nice. But still.

Talking versions of existing and one new-ish Dalek 5" figures.

And more Character Building figures - racing ahead of the "main" 5" line with the Doctor in his green coat, Madame Kovarian, a Handbot and another Rory.

There had better be another table of action figures which we haven't seen pictures of yet...

Monday, 23 January 2012

Aliens Vs Wizards

More on Aliens Vs Wizards discussing its plot and characters and things.

Also, a big chunk of cheese.

The Eternity Clock preview

Well, we get one new story around Easter. In a video game. And not a free one.

The Eternity Clock video of monsters and gameplay and oh my it's a side-scrolling platform game.

Still, at least this time he's got River to shoot monsters instead of doing it himself.

Happy Chinese New Year

It's the Year of the Dragon. This means something to do with astrology, dividing people by the year they were born. The Sarah Jane Adventures managed to get a plot out of astrology already...

A visit to a Chinese-colonised planet, as seen briefly in Turn Left and obviously Firefly? Maybe patches and banners marking their positions in the traditional Chinese constellations? With people who look like this and maybe this.

And a plot that isn't actually connected to the Chinese antecedent of the setting, any more than The Impossible Planet is about the Britishness of the crew there.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Making Our Own Whoness: Because Someone Has To

With Doctor Who away till autumn (not even an Easter special!) and Torchwood inconsistent and The Sarah Jane Adventures sadly retired, there's a gap for something Whovian on the tellybox. Being Human is back in a few weeks, and we're still waiting on the rest of Primeval, so it's not like we're entirely lacking in genre stuff, but nothing where it might turn out to be Sontarans. And RTD's new Aliens Vs Wizards CBBC show is a long way off, and Sherlock's off too.

So what would we tune in for?

(Well, I'd tune in for Wilfred Mott Tells Off Alien Invaders but I acknowledge the concept might wear thin.)

Of course, I've been thinking about this since week one of this blog thingy.

And... who'd like A Series-Ful Of Spinoff Show?

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Thirteen Who monsters due another go

Note, it's out of date by two entries (I'm counting the Nimon) and the death of Michael Gough.

As referenced here.

No, I really do have an idea for the Movellans.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

"The time is always right to do what is right."

There was a Martin Luther King Jr. Google Doodle yesterday in the States.

A hero in a turbulent era of history, Dr. King's life makes obvious subject matter for a time-travelling series, albeit maybe too obvious and potentially not much fun. Political people are sidelined compared to artists (who meet monsters like their own work) and scientists because their life stories are more serious by default. King's most significant enemy was J. Edgar Hoover.

So maybe the travellers meet him in passing, or have a chance to hear the Dream speech for themselves, on the way to another adventure, maybe one where they take on oppressors and help those in need.

"We must use time creatively."

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Doctor Who: Nearly A Radio Series In The 60s Too

With Peter Cushing, no less, doing perhaps the first adventure of his Doctor, dropping himself and his granddaughter in the middle of the American Revolution. Lost now, alas, but they have just found the script.

The comic illustrating a key and titular scene from The Dark Dimension unmade script movie-video-special... thing is nice too. Being an unmade stories dork, the enormous article about it does make me rather tempted to get this.

Open the great book at random and...

Due to this I have now noticed that the TARDIS Index File has a "random page" button too.


The Harp Of Rassilon!

Erm. Something about...


Example: The Song Of Time

The finest orchestra in the four galaxies is to give a gala performance tonight, in aid of the survivors of the Red Nebula disaster. And rather than the pieces they had rehearsed, one of the guest players has a piece for the harp. A piece not hard since the First Days, said to have been composed by one of the legendary Time Lords. So where did she find it, and who wants it to be played...?


Okay, your challenge, skipping an actor and a cut scene, Atif. A journalist discredited by Torchwood One. What has he found now...?

Saturday, 14 January 2012

io9 talk to Caroline Skinner, new Doctor Who Executive Producer. Admittedly mostly about the Fades, but about the Yates rumour and 2013.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Who are these people?

Girl On The Moon's take on the NPCs from Worlds In Time, giving them hints of personality. Camille, the human girl and therefore most likely companion, looks like Jodie Whittaker, casting I approve of. The unflappable Catkind gent in the suit and tie would make a fun sidekick.

I am still puzzled by Darren the Silurian though.

And why no female Cheem?

Script-To-Screen 2

The Eleventh Doctor needs your help!

If you're a British kid aged between 9 and 11. Otherwise, he's just entertaining as he asks.

"Rescue Amy and me! ... And Rory."

(Where was this when I was between 9 and 11? I'd have given Colin Baker something good...)

Anyway, gives 'em a bit of a theme, the Olympics. And an aside about "killer spaghetti, from someone in Kettering". Which, y'know... could also work if you get Brian Bolland to design it.

The Mysterious Observer

Some discussion over Pandora, the Mysterious Woman in the new DC Universe, posits her as a hero trying to get a broken timeline to work, and someone mentioned the Eleventh Doctor and The Crack as a comparison point.

And my first thought was I’d pick up that comic.

And my second was that this is indeed what someone like the Doctor would look like from the outside, in an ongoing series about a different group of non-time-travelling characters.

Of course, having a boy in a fez run out of a police box and stop the world exploding at the last minute would undercut the importance of the PCs’ actions, but Mysterious People observing and influencing significant events could be woven into games more slyly.

Hmm. I shall expound further on TWH.


Example: The Walker

A group of investigators looking into a disappearance notice someone watching them, who leaves if they approach - and vanishes when he rounds a corner if they give chase. And then when they get stuck, someone slips a clue in their letterbox...

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Nicolas Steno

Nicolas Steno gets a Google Doodle for his 374th birthday. His work may be more immediately relevant to Primeval but the scientist turned bishop turned ascetic who defined stratigraphy and discovered fossils could make an interesting guest star.

Even if you don't have dinosaurs chasing him around an abbey.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

And The Door In Time Annual?

All new material, of course. Behind-the-scenes features on aspects of Who GMing and Door-specific ideas. So things like...

The Tarokka - a couple pages of extra background on these guys and the Vas Murb and their issues with one another.

How To Destroy The Universe - a guide to creating series-spanning threats.

Behind The Door - star and creator interviews (interviewed by, um, who exactly if not me?)

Not Necessarily Our Own Original Ideas - how to turn something into an adventure hook.

Doors The Door Has Been - because a one or two page silly fluff article is an essential.

Episode Guide - for a series-full of episodes that haven’t actually happened.

So what would a DWAITAS Annual look like?

A grab bag of stuff, obviously, some of it tied to the year's Doctor Who. Stats for new characters and monsters, adventures based on hooks the series dangled, GMing advice on interesting topics it brought up.

So for example, the DWAITAS Annual 2012 might include...

An introduction to RPGs, just in case. A short solo adventure, character sheets for the Doctor, Amy and Rory, just enough info that a new GM could pick this book up if they got it for Christmas instead of the boxed set.

The Silence - stats for the creatures and the cult, rules for EyeDrives, and an article on UFO lore and history and their place in it.

The Corsair - stats for all nine incarnations would be a bit much, but a page or two on him/her?

The Flesh - stats for their various mutations and advice on how to use doppelgangers in a game. With a sidebar about the Teselecta.

A Good Game Goes To War - stats for the Doctor's superhero teamup.

Adventures - a nice straightforward one relating to one of the asides from this year like the Doctor escaping from Colditz, and a Christmas Special because this is in shops in time for Christmas.

And thirteen half-page adventure hooks because that's a good tradition to keep up.

(And as suggested, I am now wondering what I'd put in The Door In Time Annual...)

The Doctor Who Annual 2012

It being after Christmas, time to get this for oneself. It’s very much the Doctor Who Adventures Annual, with The Brilliant Book being Doctor Who Magazine’s. So short features, big type, all meant to be read before lunch on Christmas morning, two stories (about Amy and Rory being separated while tangling with alien crooks) and two six-page comics (about light-sensitive alien hunters and... Attack Of The Fifty Foot Rory - if that doesn’t tempt you nothing will) and the short fairytale Snow White And The Seven Keys To Doomsday, set in the ancient days of Gallifrey when everything was a bit mad.

And this rather lovely turn of phrase to describe the travellers:

“Running for their lives - and the lives of everyone else.”

The Year 2000, As Of The Year 1900

According to the Ladies' Home Journal... which as the BBC noted (thanks to SteveD) did pretty well...

And German chocolate makers... which didn't but were charming...

And I always liked this Punch satire of Edison's endless stream of inventions. How wrongfooted would a group of travellers be, stepping into the National Gallery in 1879 and seeing visitors flying up to get a better look at the Turners?

Midnight... Live

With the serial numbers filed off and RTD's blessing, a nameless traveller boards the Crusader 50...

Of natural interest to anyone who's thought of a Who LARP.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Why Is That There?

One of the plot hooks tucked away in The Brilliant Book 2012 had Rory speculating that there's a reason Munch's The Scream keeps getting stolen.

But this sent me haring off in another direction...

A Renaissance group scene stolen from the National Gallery... revealed as the wall it's on turns towards us... on the outside of a satellite high above the Earth.

"And... is that the Mona Lisa?"
"One of the spares. ... Long story. Anyway, look closer, her hair's over one shoulder."
"So, what are they doing here?"
"Good question. Excellent question. For the benefit of passing spacecraft that can fly up and take a closer look? Nobody dedicates a museum to me for another eight hundred years..."