Apr, 2010

The Eleventh Hour

I think that the problem with a new Doctor is that it challenges what we’ve grown comfortable with. I mean, who would have thought that anyone except William Shatner could play Kirk? Thing is, unlike ‘Star Trek’, Who challenges you with change every few years (or a couple if you’re unlucky, Colin). So, we, as fans, have to deal with meeting and greeting someone new, like turning away from old friends and meeting a whole bunch of new ones. Yes, you might recognise some of the old surroundings or the odd associate from the past, but otherwise you’re faced with the unknown.

Luckily, Matt Smith doesn’t stray too far from the grinning lanky Tenth Doctor we grew to love. Indeed, Matt’s character combines the odd element from more than one past incarnation. For all we know, there may be method in the madness and this could in fact tie into the plotline for the whole season; but, I could be getting ahead of myself here.

‘The Eleventh Hour’ introduced the new Doctor, a new outfit, a new TARDIS, a new companion, a new showrunner… All new, super newness. Yes, we have known Moffat of old, as a writer of considerable talent; but, running the show represents a whole new kettle of fish, I’m sure. Getting a whole series to point in a specific direction requires a certain skill, a certain mindset.

I enjoyed the first episode and willingly ignored the holes in the plot. Indeed, I filled them in. When I get an injection, no matter how small, my brain normally puts in a lot of effort to imagine extra discomfort. Well, here that same brain sought to do the opposite, cushioning a bumpy ride with a few leaps of faith. Why would Prisoner Zero hang out in a hidden room in Amy’s house for 12 years? The answer: because it was hurt. Escaping from prison through a rift in reality requires more than a little effort, and Prisoner Zero suffered for it’s freedom. Simples.

Amy has strength and balls as a companion, though I hope she’ll be more than fire, legs and a Scottish accent. The new TARDIS shows a complete change of style, but most importantly opens the potential for more internal exploration with those ever so tempting stairwells leading further into the heart of the mathematical construct. And the crack in reality – the Pandorium waiting to be opened… it sounds good to me. Not sure how a prisoner can know more about it than The Doctor… but, then again, having now seen three episodes in total I get the feeling that whatever’s afoot means there may be a lot The Doctor doesn’t know about.

You Might Have Noticed

Yes, I know. I haven’t had time to digest the last two episodes yet to allow me to field an opinion. Thus far, I enjoyed ‘Eleventh Hour’ and I’m still on the fence with my judgment on ‘The Beast Below’. I will post something more… substantial… soon.

In the meantime, one thing about the episodes that struck me from a game mechanic angle is the possible need for the re-introduction of the ‘Notice’ skill – which I understand got cut from the Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space rules set. The Doctor in the first and Amy in the second had a moment of clarity while looking for ‘an answer’ – and while the current system can fudge around it, an actual skill seems more and more… right. I admit this might not be Notice, but it needs to be something less than the Turn of the Universe trait (that might fit The Doctor, but not Amy).

The Eighth Creeking

The Easter Sunday special of ‘Jonathan Creek‘ – The Judas Tree – features the Doctor Who duo of Sheridan Smith and Paul McGann, previously only heard on BBC Radio 7 or via download as Lucie and the Eighth Doctor. Worth a look, I’m sure. Seems like perfect timing given the return of Who this weekend.

Planning the Season

Despite what feels like an endless term of planning followed by lashings of self-doubt, I move ever closer to running my own role-playing campaign using the new Doctor Who system. With that in mind, I have been concocting a story arc. So, given the common practice seems to be to have a season structured along the lines of thirteen episodes… What I have in mind thus far is:

  1. Arrowdown
    • A TARDIS crashes on the outskirts of a small seaside town faces an infinite time loop filled with Autons and a tortured fragment of the Nestene Consciousness, while a lost Torchwood operative only seeks to find her husband
  2. Future of the Cybermen
    • A scout ship on a deep space run to deliver vital medicine to an outlying colony faces scavenging Cybermen, misguided pirates and a temporal anomaly strong enough to trap everyone until the end of time
  3. Collision
    • A research team on the LHC have discovered a ground-breaking new particle, but also appear to have opened a channel to their beloved departed… and the hate-infused Gelth (I realise this is something of a riff on the Torchwood radio drama ‘Lost Souls’)
  4. Adventure #4 – part 1
  5. Adventure #4 – part 2
  6. The Tunnel
    • A train carrying a royal traveller from Paris to London comes under threat from clockwork soldiers that threaten to derail time and space itself
  7. The Sward and the Stone
    • In 14th century Wales, a small group of travellers transport a carved stone along the south coast to Pembroke, trailed by what appears to be a leper knight and a retinue of rebels intent on acquisition of the block and the power it contains to save the Pyrovile
  8. Adventure #7 – part 1
  9. Adventure #7 – part 2
  10. Adventure #8
  11. Adventure #9
  12. Doom of the Time Lords
    • Locked in the gaol of an ancient castle, the time travellers struggle to escape only to be faced with the revelation that the world around them is a construct of the Matrix, their captors are the Krillitane, and the adventures before now have been faced by doppelgängers.
  13. Triumph of the Krillitane
    • With the all the elements needed to restore the core to the Nightmare Child in place, the Krillitane intend to absorb the DNA of the Time Lords to access the Rassilon Imprimatur that will allow them to escape with mastery of Time, leaving the true Lords of Time and the Daleks trapped within the Time Lock, and the Universe at their mercy

Yes, several gaps remain – and I’m working on them. I have a feeling I may try for another Cybermen episode to follow-up on ‘Future of the Cybermen‘, a reworking of the old adventure module ‘Countdown‘.

The Krillitane sit at the heart of the arc and they have used the loophole in The Doctor’s time lock created by The Master to steal a TARDIS, insert agents of their own (namely the players) and set them off to find the components needed to steal one of the hideous meta-weapons of the Time War – the Nightmare Child. The real Time Lords, who will hopefully save the day in the final episodes, have been held within the Matrix – as per previous experiences in The Deadly Assassin and The Ultimate Foe – and manage to make their escape in time to foil the Krillitane plot.

A twist in the tale will leave the players faced with the prospect of imprisonment along with the rest of the Time Lords when The Doctor restores the lock following his confrontation with The Master and Rassilon. Each adventure in the sequence will give the players access to a piece of technology or knowledge that will combine to create the core of the Nightmare Child. The players will not actively perceive the act of ‘theft’ needed to acquire each item, though some foretelling may occur at the end of certain episodes where any physical items may be seen to disappear at the hands of an unseen enemy.