“Only a fool argues with his doctor.”

vlcsnap-2010-12-05-20h11m50s228‘Remembrance of Daleks’ plays on the idea of alliances. We learn that there are two groups of Daleks, the Imperial and Renegade factions. Throughout the 4 part story we’re introduced to a variety of characters and only as it progresses do we learn who is working for who.

One of the most effective uses of this is the spooky little girl. For the first half she seems to just be watching. We know that she is involved but we don’t yet know how. In these early scenes she is not seen to be interacting with either faction, or so we think.

The renegade Daleks have a spokesperson, who works with Ratcliffe, that many would assume was Davros. Both seem to be confined to a chair, speak in a similar voice and it certainly makes sense that he would be the head of the renegade faction, especially considering the events of ‘Revelation of the Daleks.’

It is therefore a surprise when we see that the person speaking is the little girl, turned into a human battle computer for the renegades. This twist is further exploited by revealing that the Emperor Dalek is actually Davros.

Hidden identities are quite common in the adventure genre, especially in the pulp novels of the 1930s, film serials and comic books. A masked figure could be anyone that the player characters know, revealing that their enemy has been in their midst the whole time.

The reveal of who they really are should have an impact on the plot. If the player characters unmask them, only to find it is someone they don’t recognise, then the whole mystery about who they were is pointless.

Once they have this information they need to re-evaluate everything that has gone before. What did they tell this person? What has that person had chance to do? If he aided them what was his aim and if he told them something can they believe it?

The other major plot development in this story is that Sgt Mike Smith was working with Ratcliffe and therefore, with the renegade Daleks. His actions threatened the security of the military operation and endangers the lives of those around them.

This brings us back to the motivation of NPCs. In furthering their own goals they can cause more problems for the player characters, deliberately or not. Player characters can never be entirely sure of a NPCs goals and so can leave themselves vulnerable.

In the simplest form the NPC could be working for the enemy. They can reveal the movements and goals of the player characters, pass along vital information and sabotage their efforts.

A more complex complication is if their alliances aren’t directly opposed to the player characters but still put them in conflict. An NPC who is secretly allied with a group obsessed with revealing information about aliens might steal something the characters need so he can deliver it to his group or a NPC might pass along confidential information in order to increase his standing with his organisation.

Just as in this story the group the NPC is working with could be working with or be part of another organisation. The NPCs actions start a chain reaction and they can’t control what these other parties do with the information they have passed along.

When these alliances are revealed the player characters can feel betrayed. This is the character arc that Ace travels. She is extremely pained to find out that Mike not only helped the Daleks but holds racist views.

Too many betrayals can make a character cynical. The best way to avoid this is just to stop trusting everyone. This can leave them cold and distant. On the other hand, if they trust everyone this makes them extremely gullible and leave them open to being exploited by others.

Players must determine how their character responds to betrayal. Other player characters can help them come to terms with these events and how it effects their own relationship within the group.

It is not just NPCs that can be secretly aligned with other organisations. Having player character covertly working for other groups adds a greater level of complexity to any game.

The roleplaying game ‘Paranoia’ is an example of how this can be done to create a fun game. In that setting most player characters will be a member of one of several different societies. In addition to their main mission goals each player character is assigned a task by their own group, often putting them into conflict with the other members of the group.

For example one player character might be tasked with stealing a valuable prototype, another might be assigned to destroy it, a third might have to swap it with a decoy and still a fourth might have to make sure it makes it to its intended recipient. Only one player character can achieve their goal and all of them must try to perform their task without alerting the others to their membership of a secret society.

Paranoia is played for laughs but a similar idea could work within a Doctor Who game. Members of the group could be working for the Celestial Intervention Agency, one of the Guardians or have secret orders for the High Council.

vlcsnap-2010-12-05-20h35m36s162In a game centred around UNIT, or any Earth based game,  player characters might be undercover Torchwood operatives, be reporting back to MI5 or, if you set it during the Cold War, even be a spy for the Soviets.

If you do intend to do this make sure that the players can handle this level of deceit from within their own group. Everyone has to be able to recognise that the actions of the player and the character they portray are different and being lied to by their player character is not the same as being lied to by the player.

The reason to do this is that it adds further depth to the game. Not only do the player characters have to work out how to achieve their main goal they must also find a way to further their own goals to improve their standing and achieve the aims of their organisation.

This entry was posted in 7th Doctor, Remembrance of the Daleks. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to “Only a fool argues with his doctor.”

  1. Pingback: Matt Shouts Back at the Dead, ‘Who’ saved my life, plus more news, WhoTubes, and reviews | Entertainment Blogs

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