His absence is usually explained away by his narcolepsy, confining him to one of the distant bedrooms in the TARDIS while the others have adventures. He is the groups version of Kamelion.
I explained to them that they were already running, filling in the details of how they had found themselves in their current circumstances. A brief holiday in Beijing on June 13, 1900 had led to them being caught up in the middle of the Boxer uprising.
While some of the players were aware of the Boxer uprising none of them knew about the siege which the adventure would be based around. Instead they concentrated on spending story points so they could get as far a way from the Boxers chasing them.
Phillipa was clearly the fastest, sprinting ahead of the others and reach the gates of the Legation quarter in good time. The slowest of the group was the Inspector, the Boxers easily catching up with him due to their 6 in co-ordination giving them a strong edge on the player characters.
His life was only saved when a British soldier shot the Boxer behind him. Phillipa was the only player character who wasn’t still running and so was the only one to witness the bullet bounce of the Boxer with a flash of light. Although unharmed the Boxer was stunned long enough for Fred and the Inspector to get inside as the gates were closed.
Using his resourceful pockets (in the form of the tool box he carried around with him) Fred used a futuristic can of sealant to spray the gate shut. This act was witnessed by several soldiers and the player characters tried to explain it away by claiming it was an experimental can of shaving cream.
Philipa put her medical skills to good use, tending to a English tourist who had been cut by the Boxer’s blades. Fred and the Inspector attempted to help a soldier carry a machine gun up some stairs to the top of the gate but low strength and athletic scores meant that they could barely carry it between the two of them.
Just as they reached the top of the gate one of the Boxers flew up and attacked the soldier. While he fought the Boxer the Inspector and Fred got the machine gun set up. Noticing that whenever the Boxer struck the soldier there was crackle of electricity Fred through a belt of machine gun bullets at the Boxer, grounding him.
The plan worked although the electrical discharge caused the bullets to fire, one going through the soldiers leg. Temporarily depowered the Boxer fell of the gates. Soldiers arrived to reinforce the position and the time travellers were told to join the civilians at the British Embassy.
Trying to work out what was giving the Boxers their powers the Inspector and Fred tried to use their technical skills to see if there were any obvious cybernetics or other technological marvels. Finding that there wasn’t the Inspector guessed that it might be due to the shape shifting Rutans.
At the embassy an announcement was made, requesting for anyone who could speak multiple languages to take the minutes at an emergency meeting of the eight legation representatives. Thanks to the TARDIS gift for translation the time travellers volunteered.
During the meeting the player characters didn’t actually do anything but it was a good way to present the people in charge, provide an assessment of the situation and find out what they were planning to do.
After the meeting Fred was picked out by Sir Claude MacDonald, the British ambassador and person the council had decided should be Commander of defence during the crisis. Fred had been brought to his attention due to the way he’d sealed the gate shut and Sir MacDonald asked if he had anything else that could aide them. Sticking to his guns Fred again claimed to be a simple shaving cream salesman.
Phillipa joined forces with the missionaries, including their leader Frank Gamewell, to search for food and supplies. At the same time the Inspector and Fred helped recover a cannon from the palace of Fu, the Inspector using his sonic screwdriver to make it as good as new, again shocking the soldiers who were watching.
The group was realising that having most of their special abilities come from futuristic technology did make it very obvious that they were not from that time period. This led to them deciding to become less involved with the siege and start thinking about how to deal with the Boxers.
Learning that many felt that the whole uprising had been sparked by the German ambassador Clemens von Ketteler executing a young Boxer boy earlier that day after the child was found lurking around the National Library of China they decided to investigate.
Phillipa spoke to Clemens, barely hiding her contempt for his people, given that she had begun travelling with the Inspector during WWII. Clemens expressed regret for the execution but described an inexplicable feeling of hate when he encountered the boy, like he knew that he was evil.
The Inspector and Fred searched fruitlessly for any advanced technology in the library. Rejoining Phillipa they found that she had persuaded missionary Frank Gamewell to dig up the boys body. An examination revealed that his body still held an electrical charge.
They retired for the night and the next day Phillipa and Fred were kept busy dealing with the injured soldiers who were defending the quarter. From them they learnt that most of the Boxers had withdrawn, being replaced by the Chinese army.
That night alarm broke out as the library was on fire. Remembering that the Boxer boy had been caught there the group ignored the flames and ran in. They found a Boxer soldier in the north of the building, having smashed through the wall. In his hand he held an ancient book.
Again digging into his tool box Fred passed a canister of foam designed to deal with electrical fires to the Inspector. The Time Lord sprayed the Boxer, causing him to drop the book, dangerously close to the spreading flames.
Phillipa rushed forward and managed to grab it. She narrowly avoided having her head cut off by the Boxer and retreated as the ceiling began to collapse. The trio escaped with their prize as the soldiers began putting out the flames.
Reading the book they learnt about the Spirit Stone and realised that this must be the source of the Boxers power, although the Inspector was still struggling to work out what alien race could be behind it.
Noticing that Sugiyama Akira was about to leave via the underground water canal they persuaded him to let them join him. The Inspector borrowed clothes from the Chinese christians at the palace and used them to disguise himself and Phillipa.
Under the cover of darkness they made their way to the railway, their disguises fooling a military patrol that passed them. At the railway they found it was more heavily guarded but managed to persuade a passing merchant to let them hide in his cart full of hay and take them inside.
Unfortunately a search uncovered Akira and he was dragged from the cart. Fred wanted to save him but the others held on to him, keeping him hidden and silent. They listened in horror as Akira was dismembered by the soldiers.
Once they had gone the merchant explained how the soldiers had questioned Akira about whether anyone else was in the cart and how he’d refused to talk, even as they chopped his limbs off.
Not wanting his sacrifice to be in vain the time travellers boarded a train. Fred and Phillipa had the transport skills needed to drive the vehicle while the Inspector shovelled coal. They managed to escape the city, leaving the pursing soldiers in the dust.
Nearing the village that held the spirit stone they found that the railway tracks had been destroyed by the Boxers and were forced to jump off as the steam engine derailed. Only Fred landed poorly, getting badly bruised for his efforts.
Sneaking into cave near the village and avoiding the patrol of Boxers they found themselves in the central chamber that held the Spirit Stone. Keeping hidden they watched a young Boxer bonding with an electrical force emerging from the stone.
Once the Boxers had left they examined the stone and the Inspector and Fred were able to access the artificial intelligence, learning that it was a prison that held Vardan. After the Inspector had explained who the Vardan were they decided to use the incantation in the book.
I decided to give Phillipa, who had been reduced to keeping watch while the other two repaired the computer, something to do and had the computer say that the incantation had been spoken in the wrong pitch. When repeated by Phillipa the confinement field was increased.
This caused the still imprisoned Vardans to wail at this turn of events. The Boxers rushed in to investigate the noise only for the alien energy within them to be drained and pulled back into the prison.
The Inspector gave the Spirit Stone a command to relocate itself far from Earth. This triggered a countdown as the alien prison prepared to launch itself into space. This nicely mirrored the opening of the game as we used the chase rules to represent their dash away from the launch site.
As the countdown reached 0 they found the TARDIS and leapt inside, escaping the blast. Taking off they decided there was no reason for them to go back to the siege to help and just consulted the TARDIS database, allowing me to give them a run down how things turned out.
Again the players enjoyed the historical information from the game and appreciated the maps and photos I was able to show them of the events. The use of advanced technology used so blatantly in the past is something that will need watching, sooner or later people are going to react to their obvious alien nature.
Due to all the running about they’d done in this game I rewarded all the player characters with an extra point in athletics. If nothing else all these adventures are keeping them fit.