Saturday, January 09, 2010

The Flight of the Excalibur - Dr Who Adventures

So the first session of Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space has been executed and it was a success. The girls were thrilled and the story as I planned it rolled out in pretty much the way I imagined.

The Doctor and Donna were dragged onto Camelot Base, the staging platform on the moon for humanities first attempts at FTL travel in 2099. This is the first step for the Great Human Race as they spread out into the galaxy and fulfilled their destiny. A little psychic-paper fueled subterfuge gets our heroes to the main control centre where they meet the science team and generally find out about stuff and then things start going wrong. The medical doctor forgets all of her knowledge. The technician forgets what he is saying on the tannoy announcements. The sympathetic chubby engineer forgets the code to get out of the sealed radiation chamber and has an hour to live and then everyone forgets who each other is and why they are there. Chaos, one hour before mankind's great leap.

As it transpires the memories are being stolen by black shadowy creatures called Harvesters. They try to suck the memories from Donna but her 'Indomitable' trait saves the day. She flees from the monsters just as the Doctor realises what they are. They are the foot soldiers of The Hunger, one of the Pantheon of Discord (see The Trickster from Sarah Jane Adventures) who the Doctor trapped in limbo. If they can feed on the memories of a Time Lord he will gain the knowledge of how to escape his prison and feed on time.

So, how do they escape? The Doctor uses the station's computer to channel all of the massive bank of information about this most famous crew from the media streams from Earth to rebuild their memories. Meanwhile, Donna (!) stands off against the Harvesters and reminds them that they couldn't drain her, she has their number and this is the wrong place, wrong time! And then Emma rolled like a god powered by a fair whack of Story Points. The Harvesters disappeared on a 'Yes, But...' result.

The Doctor and Donna then watch as the renewed but rather confused scientists execute the launch of the Excalibur and humanity makes its first steps to interstellar flight. As they disappeared in the TARDIS, the 'but' occured as space began to fracture slightly and The Hunger whispered a dread warning to his nemesis.

The girls were thrilled. They managed to do a lot of Doctor Who-isms through the entire two hours of the game and they reveled in the situation. The mismatch between the characters was palpable in the game, but in the end it didn't mean much to the experience. The real downside in my view was the strange emphasis placed upon the character playing the Doctor.

We all know HOW the Doctor should be played and its not actually easy. In the show, the Doctor actually powers a lot of the exposition, so you need to have either a player who is very happy to power the setting with a lot of dramatic editing or a GM who can prepare a lot of cheat sheets - but that doesn't seem right. Similarly, if the players cannot come up with something suitably 'Who' as a way to get out of the problem that they are facing, it falls a little flat. I'm not a big one for the 'Spend a story point for the clue' method. It smells of authorised railroading to me.

The system delivered a great game, but I'm not quite convinced that having The Doctor there is necessarily a great thing. That said, the orders are already in for the next episode so I had better get my thinking cap on.


Metaresearchboi said...
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Metaresearchboi said...

One idea may be to make it a little pre-game with the Dr player in the run up to the game wherein you give them the main components of the adventure (but not the structure or plot) and allows them to come up with varoius interesting backstory and plot devices themselves.

The Doctors knowledge is what is powerful in the show as effectively it gives him great foresight and insight. But giving the player that before the game and engaging them you effectively give the Dr player greater insight and foresight.

Either that, or you make sure the player has read the cheat sheets well :-)!

civi said...

I'm so proud of them :)