Continuing the epic storyline that had developed in our campaign I wanted to have another historical adventure. We’d had two science fiction settings in a row and I felt I needed to give the players some variety.
I decided to visit an idea I’d had when writing this very blog. One of the reasons I was examining the series was to gain ideas and it would be a shame to waste them. One of my favourite articles was ‘By now, the island was crawling with representatives of witch-lodges from across the globe.’
Among the various ideas for new cults, dedicated to the various aliens in the Doctor Who universe, were House Dalek. I sketched out a shadowy group lurking in the Paris catacombs, using a potion to create zombie ‘robo-men’.
This had the perfect combination of historical setting, gothic location and iconic Doctor Who villains. I just needed to flesh the idea out. How would the players get involved? What would the Daleks be doing to get their attention and what could be done to stop them?
To tie it into recent events in the campaign I decided that the Daleks would use a time corridor to flee their native time period when the stars and suns were extinguished. This idea has been used recently in Doctor Who, such as the races fleeing the cracks in time. It is a nice short hand to communicate that something big and terrible is happening.
Arriving in early 18th century Paris the Daleks knew that Earth didn’t yet have the technological capabilities they needed to prepare for the coming darkness. They would need to sleep until at least the late 20th century.
Hiding in the abandoned catacombs that ran beneath the city, they tasked a group of human followers to protect their resting place. One Dalek was left to give advice when needed but would remain dormant for the majority of the time, something for the cultists to worship.
In 1786 the government decided to make use of the supposedly empty catacombs to house the skeletons that were causing graveyards to overflow. By the final year of the project, in 1788, the workers were was just about to reach the sleeping Daleks.
The cultists had done the only thing they could do to protect their masters, they began to strike at the workers. The attacks would either occur within the catacombs themselves, as the workers filled the walls with bones, or in the city itself.
This would the event that got the player characters involved. Who was killing the workers and what lurked in the catacombs? It was a murder mystery that gave no indication that the Daleks were involved. It would be a nasty surprise for the player characters.
Following on from the events of last game I decided that Phillipa, using the Time Agency wrist bands to attempt to follow the TARDIS. Her path would cross that of the Time Corridor, knocking her off course.
I wouldn’t normally dictate the actions of player characters but when we last left Phillipa she was stranded on a space base in a bleak situation. Rather than starting the game by having the player try to discover a way out of a hopeless situation we’d skip to the logical conclusion and start in a new adventure.
She’d arrive near the murder site of the latest victim of the cult. In researching the catacombs I discovered that the bones would be stored at a property called ‘La maison de la Tombe Issoire’. This ghoulish location seemed the perfect site for the player characters to discover the dead body of the worker.
The discovery would summon the person in charge of the catacombs, Inspector General Charles-Axel Guillaumot. People calling for ‘The Inspector’ would hopefully get the player’s hopes up at finding their missing Time Lord.
Guillaumont is a ‘guide’ character. A figure of authority he has the power to give the player characters permission to investigate the murders, provide them any resources that he believes are reasonable and give them the information they need.
All paths would lead to the player characters descending into the catacombs. There they would be attacked by the zombie like robo-men. Either Phillipa would be dragged away or some of the workers would be, requiring a rescue mission.
This would mean that the player characters would ultimately arrive at the cultists section of the catacombs, where they’d discover the presence of the Daleks. As soon as the player characters confronted the alien it would explain what was happening in typical villain style.
What happened next would be up to the player characters. The cult and the Daleks are a deadly menace but left alone they would remain dormant until the late 20th century, giving the player characters time to arrange something. If the player characters could persuade Guillaumont to leave that portion of the catacombs alone peace might be restored.
Alternatively, once they knew what lay beneath Paris, they could alert Guillaumont and lead a mass attack. If it could be carried out before the rest of the Daleks were awakened then they might stand a chance. They could even engineer a cave-in in the Dalek’s resting place.
Having stranded Phillipa in the 18th century I had to put in place a way to continue the story. The Dalek’s time corridor would be the perfect vehicle for this. In theory this could take them any where in space and time but I wanted to direct them towards Gallifrey for the next part of the adventure.
To give them an extra push the Inspector hologram would be running low on power. I’d already established that they needed to recharge the hologram using a TARDIS and with their own time machine lost they’d need to go to Gallifrey or Phillipa would be left on her own.
Satisfied with the other all plot I spent a little time assembling material for the game. I put together a list of French names, something I could refer to when naming NPCs. I also checked wikipedia to get a taste of current events in 1788, which gave me a few scenes I could slip into the game to give it local colour.
Finally I assembled pictures of Paris in the 18th century and specifically the catacombs. The catacombs are an incredible sight, the walls lined with hundreds of bones and skulls. I made sure I had a selection to give the players a good feel of what it is like underground.
I could never have predicted what the player characters would do when confronted by the Daleks.
To be continued…