A great place to get ideas for games is the ‘Suppressed Transmission’ books by Kenneth Hite. Originally written for the GURPS roleplaying site Pyramid he uses his encyclopaedic knowledge of the weirder parts of history to inspire roleplaying games.
With so much of history it helps if you have a guide that can point you towards the most interesting parts. Hite also has a talent for cross referencing a wide range of information, creating some very interesting connections.
Volume 1 has a chapter on the first English colony in America, Roanoke and the mystery of surrounding the disappearance of the colonists. There was no sign of conflict but some of the houses had been dismantled and belonging buried. The only clue was the word ‘Croatoan’ cut into a tree.
Kenneth Hite discusses how the colony could have been established according to an occult plan, set in motion by John Dee. Occult-scientists had favour in the Elizabethan court and the expedition that scouted the location of the colony the occultist Thomas Hariot, the ‘English Galileo’.
This was my starting point for writing my next Doctor Who adventure. The players would land at the colony in 1588 and witness first hand what had caused them to vanish. Building on the premise established by Hite the colony was only a stepping stone.
Roanoke is derived from Rowan-Oak, translated into the Celtic language it is Luis-Duir, meaning the gateway to kingship. They were to open the veil and establish the colony of Arcadia.
I decided that the converging leylines that led Thomas Hariot tracked to the island were actually dimension fault lines. By conducting a ceremony the psionic resonance could open a portal to another dimension.
When the portal opened I thought it would interesting to have an armada of ships arrive, ready to take the colonists through the portal. These would be the mysterious sea folk that plagued the ancient Egyptians, Romans and Greeks.
The final piece was to give meaning to the word ‘Croatoan’, the name inscribed on the trees. It was the name of an island nearby, and where the colonists probably went in reality. For this game I decided it was the name of an immortal demonic being, trapped at the centre of a pocket dimension.
Like Omega Croatoan had been a scientist. An experiment in artificial gravity destroyed his world as it was sucked into folded space. Croatoan became a living black hole, immensely powerful but trapped in a black tower, ancient technology the only thing that prevented the gravitation pull of Croatoan from destroying everything.
This pocket dimension was linked to other parts of space, allowing him to draw other species to him. Assembling a following they would sails the oceans, plundering and claiming land in his name. Eventually everything would belong to Croatoan.
It would be the player characters job to stop this from happening.
We started the game with the Inspector and Phillipa arriving on Roanoke island. From the look of the settlement and the lute music the Inspector correctly guessed that they were in the 16th century. In fact they were only 8 years after they had encountered Tycho Brahe.
They could tell they were some form of celebration going on. They entered and were immediately welcomed by Richard Black, the temporary leader of the colony while they waited for John White to return from England with supplies.
Richard Black mistook the time travellers for emissaries from beyond the veil to oversee the ceremony. The Inspector tried to get details of what the ceremony consisted of but Richard refused to divulge any information as it was supposed to be secret and as an emissary the Inspector should already know.
What they did learn was that four weddings were going to take place between the colonists and members of the Powhatan native Americans, who seemed the only ones at the festivities that didn’t seem happy. The men getting married were Richard Black, Joseph Red, Francis White and Benjamin Gold, each dressed in the colour of their name sake.
Getting nowhere with Richard Black the Inspector and Phillipa spoke with the brides to be. The learnt that they were only going through with the ceremony to ensure peace between their people. Phillipa was able to convince the women to speak openly and learnt that the Powhatans were suspicious of the colonists because they were acting as if they were planning to leave although their ship hadn’t arrived.
With the ceremonies about to start and the Inspector recalling that everyone was going to vanish he thought it was important to find out what was going to happen. The convinced John White’s daughter to let them look in his room and after studying the texts discovered the wedding would trigger the opening of the veil, the colours of those getting married having an occult significance.
Outside the weddings had taken place and a thick fog rolled in. A hunting horn echoed over the ocean waves, heralding the approach of Croaton’s armada, led by Commander Gog. The horn helmeted warrior and his men started to help the colonists move their things on to their boats while the native americans fled.
The Inspector convinced them to move the TARDIS on board and persuaded Phillipa that they had to see where these ships had come from. Travelling through the fog they found themselves approaching the coast of a large island. A black tower stood at its centre, lightening crackling at its summit.
The ships lurched and both the Inspector and Phillipa recognised it as the dimensional shift they routinely felt when entering the TARDIS. It was clear that they weren’t on Earth any more.
To Be Continued…