Last time I looked at centring a campaign around a group similar to LINDA but ‘Love & Monsters’ has plenty of material that is useful for a regular game. Your player characters will have an impact on others just as the Doctor does and who knows what the consequences might be.
They might attract a similar group as LINDA, dedicated to them. A loose organisation of people who look into their background and speculate on their nature. How will the player characters react if they meet a stranger who knows all about them or encounter someone who wants answers about their past that only the player characters can provide them?
Such a group can be annoyance for the player characters, getting in their way or asking questions they shouldn’t, but it can also be a boon. They can act as an information network, providing them with information much more quickly than if they’d look into it themselves.
Whether they are allies or enemies such groups are primarily amateurs. They aren’t experts and they’re not professionals. Passion and enthusiasm only go so far. At most they can provide a minor distraction or a little bit of help.
What they are useful for is giving a standard adventure more depth because such groups are formed as a consequence of the player characters actions. A simple monster hunt or investigation becomes more interesting if the player characters are also coping with people who are haunted by a previous adventure. Can they achieve their goal and help these people come to some resolution?
The reason why this is a good thing is that it prompts roleplaying. Most tasks needed to complete an adventure, such as sabotage equipment or wrestling with an Ogron, can be completed with a dice roll.
Explaining why someone’s mother died when they were a child requires the character to roleplay the interaction. It makes them think about what happens to the people they leave behind when they go off to their next adventure.
Which leads us to the portrayal of Jackie in this story. She is left alone in her flat, her daughter occasionally giving her a call between adventures throughout space and time. In her own words she has had to become hard.
Unless all of the player characters have no family and friends there will be people that wonder what has become on them, who are forced to continue on despite the hole in their life.
This is an area rich for character development and for an adventure to be based around. ‘Survival’ shows us an early examination of this, charting how people reacted to Ace’s sudden departure.
Coming home again can be a good way to illustrate how a player character’s adventures have changed them and also show how it has altered those close to them. Things can never be the same again and it is for the player characters to decide whether that is a good thing or not.
Jackie worries that Elton will use her to get at the Doctor and her daughter and later Victor Kennedy threatens to absorb her. This presents us with the idea of people using the people left behind by the player characters against them.
This works best in situations where the player character routinely return to the same time and place, allowing their relationship to NPCs to be noticed and exploited. Any one who is planning on targeting someone close to the player characters will have to know either that they have useful information or that the player characters will return frequently enough that a threat to a loved one will be noticed.
Putting an NPC important to the player characters in peril immediately involves them in the adventure, establishing what the stakes are. They then have the dilemma of either giving the villain what they want or working out how to rescue the NPC without them getting hurt.
Elton’s investigation into Rose is an illustration of how to push this part of the story along quickly so you can get to the meat of the story but do so in a convincing manner. In situations where investigating things would be very difficult or hard to achieve just have the characters get incredibly lucky.
Tasked with finding someone who knows Rose, a single girl in the whole of London, he immediately meets someone on the street who knows who she is, who her mother is and where she is.
Next Elton spots Jackie on the street having a loud conversation that establishes her identity. Before Elton can follow Victor Kennedy’s advice on espionage Jackie does all the work for him and invites him round to her flat.
All off these events are convincing. Jackie and Rose have enough of a reputation for the locals to know who they are, Jackie is loud and lonely. Using these facts we skip a lengthy search that might otherwise have occurred.
If the characters need to get into a secure building for the next scene to proceed don’t slow things down more than necessary. If you don’t want the adventure to be about a well organised infiltration then have a security guard drop the keys they need to get in or have someone leave the window open because the central heating stuck on high.
Jackie continues to make things easy for Elton, finding excuses to invite him round by engineering technical problems. Elton is completely unaware of this duplicity. He and the player characters should remember that NPCs have agendas of their own and might have things they want from them.
The change of heart Elton experiences during his interaction with Jackie is also worth noting. Like many players he is at first willing to use her to further his goal, tracking down the Doctor. Players can view NPCs as simply a means to an end.
He has second thoughts when she becomes depressed about her loneliness. He views her as a person and actually comes to like her. Unfortunately Jackie discovers why he wanted to meet her and reacts angrily. Any NPC who discovers they’ve been used should react similarly.
At the end of the episode Elton ponders how long it will be before Rose and Jackie pay the price for their interaction with the Doctor. As the games master it is your job to make sure that the adventures you provide them are worth the cost.