‘Kinda’ begins much in the same way as the first Dalek story. With Nyssa having to take a nice long sleep to get over her headache the rest of the TARDIS crew have time to explore the planet of Deva Loka.
The Doctor tries to encourage the others by treating everything they come across as a piece of the puzzle, extracting as much information as he can from what they discover. Like Sherlock Holmes the smallest detail can speak volumes to a trained observer.
Finding the wind chimes the Doctor is able to determine that whoever made has a musical sense not unlike their own (which means that humans, gallifreyians and alzaians all share the same musical sense) and that whoever made it has a high level of technical skill yet the surrounding area shows little sign of civilisation.
The discovery of the Automated total survival suit also gives them plenty of information. They know the occupant is humanoid from the design and that it is controlled by the brain of the user.
This could be seen as a jigsaw plot, although a relatively short one. At this point the time travellers are unaware that these two items, the wind chimes and the suit, are the product of two different cultures. They also don’t know that the reason the suit has been abandoned in the jungle is that the user has gone missing.
These two items also start the plot moving. The wind chimes put Tegan to sleep, allowing the Mara to possess her while the automated suit forces the Doctor and Adric to the dome where they come face to face with the colonists. It isn’t just information that a items can provide. They can also further the plot, moving the player characters in the right direction, even if it is at gun point.
This might not seem important but if the TARDIS takes the player characters to a world they’re not familiar with they need as much information as they can to work out what type of place they are in.
The buildings and technology they encounter will let them know how advanced the locals are and what is important to them. Their design might give them an idea of what the climate of the planet is and statues and flags will clue them into the culture.
Upon meeting the colonists the Doctor and Adric find that Todd has already done some research into the Kinda. From her we learn more details about the natives, although she hasn’t got all the information and in some cases turns out to be completely wrong. As she admits to the Doctor, a lot of what she says is just guess work.
Right from the start the Kinda are intriguing. The men are mute yet they have the capacity to communicate, leading Todd to suspect that they are telepathic. The necklaces they wear appear to be double helixes, suggesting a more advanced understanding of the world than their simple clothing would indicate.
If the player characters meet an alien culture they should be similarly intriguing. Don’t worry about not revealing everything about them and their culture straight away. Leaving questions allows the player characters to move the plot forward as they search for answers.
The more they learn the more misconceptions they will dispell. For example Todd thinks that the Kinda only travel in small groups and so is surprised when she encounters a whole tribe.
She also learns more about their culture when they are met by a ‘jester’, a role that can be found in my cultures. This makes them more understandable and adds depth to their society.
The telepathic nature of the Kinda has shaped their culture, making them distinctly different from ourselves, despite their human appearance. In their case it would appear that their telepathic range is very short. We are frequently shown that in order to pass messages they must be very close, if not touching. Even then the communication would appear to consist of simple thoughts and emotions.
Hindle is able to take control of the captured Kinda. The reason given is that he has tricked them into thinking he has stolen their souls using a mirror. Given his unstable state of mind we can’t accept this to be the actual reason.
None the less not only is he able to command them he seems to be able to do this at range. They are linked directly to him and carry out his will before he has even completed the thought.
Karuna indicates that her brother is no longer in her mind once Hindle has taken control of the prisoners. Panna wasn’t aware of this, although she think the information is important, so I would suggest that the Kinda can link minds with those close to them, not allowing communication but at least allowing them to know that the other is alive.
The fact that Karuna can no longer sense his mind but he is alive would indicate that Hindle has severed the connection. His madness may very well have assumed complete control of the prisoners telepathic ability.
Game masters who wish to incorporate this into their adventures might allow anyone targeted by a character using telepathy to make an attack using their presence or resolve. Should they reduce their opponents resolve to 0 they can assume control of them for a short time.
The result of having telepathy is that having a voice is a sign of wisdom among the Kinda, one that only manifests itself in the women. Karuna and Panna are the only Kinda women who display this gift so we can interpret this as showing that only the female Kinda have the ability to be wise.
This shows that any special ability possessed by an alien race will also affect their culture. Think about what the ability allows them to do and work out what that means they don’t need to do and what advantages it gives them.
For example if a race could shapeshift would they need clothes? Would they have to express themselves with art if they their physical shape demonstrates their creativity? Would a species that could fly view the ground as abhorrent or a tempting taboo?
In other situations an aberration might inspire hate or fear rather than reverence. This could be a story in itself, showing how a culture reacts to those who are different. The mutant might stand out because they have an ability that other members of their species lack or because they are without something that everyone has.
All of this illustrates why sketching out the details of a culture is just as important as working out what they look like and what weapons they use.