The Inspector Speaks! Part 1

I thought it would be interesting to get the players view of our Dr Who campaign. The Inspectors player kindly sent me an email giving me his feedback.

With my actual play articles I hope I’ve provided an overview of how I put adventures together but of course the players don’t see any of that. On the ground level things appear to be very different.

What follows is the Inspectors commentary which is very interesting to see how he experienced the adventures.

1. Secret of the Jaguar

In 900BC Mexico the Inspector, Phillipa and Fred discover a race of were-jaguars threaten the existence of the Omecs. Can two species exist together?

Inspector: This was an interesting first adventure. The GM had clearly done some nice research and the flavour of the story was set very well. The only problem I had initially was working out where the story was going. I felt that there weren’t enough clues to resolve it although we sort of lucked out when it came to finishing it off. The adventure was nicely handled though but I think GM had to lead us by the nose in order to resolve it.

GM: I think the players did freeze during this game, trying to work what Dr Who related thing could have caused the situation. Rather than accepting what was being presented they kept looking for a hidden reason for the events, which didn’t exist.

This delay caused the rather generous time limit to quickly whisk by, especially as they lost more time by resting in the TARDIS. As GM I had to give them a few nudges at the end to push them into doing the right thing, although they did pull things together at the climax.

Good to see the attention to historical detail was appreciated.

2. Fallen Angel

1937, Gardner Island. The time travellers discover just what happened to Amelia Earhart while also encountering the Japanese navy and a Draconian.

Inspector: This was a nice adventure. The setting felt authentic and the GM let it come alive by using established historical characters. Unfortunately I think I short circuited a section of the adventure by flying the TARDIS directly to the crashed Draconian ship which sort of left us flailing around for a short while.

I also felt that this forced the GM into railroading events at the end in order to leave Amelia where “He” needed her to be for story purposes. Her ultimate fate was indeed impressive as she was Tokyo Rose. However this left me feeling powerless within the adventure as nothing I did would have changed those events. A good solid story nonetheless.

GM: This comment is interesting because anyone who has read the article relating to this particular adventure will see that I plotted several different fates for Amelia, depending on what the players did.

From the players perspective it seemed as if I always planned Amelia to be Tokyo Rose. In fact it was just that this was the only option that seemed to work after the Inspector materialised the TARDIS amongst the Japanese soldiers.

I had warned them both that the soldiers had surrounded the ship and that the TARDIS couldn’t be accurately piloted such a short distance. When the Inspector did it any way they were stuck, unable to exit the TARDIS without being captured by the soldiers and unable to wait because the Japanese were taking the alien ship.

Again they froze, unable to think of a way out of the situation. In the end I had to have Amelia offer to sacrifice herself for the good of everyone else. It fit her character, met the needs of time and allowed the characters to get the Draconian home.

I’d hoped that the sad, down-beat ending would have taught them not to use the TARDIS in such a manner. No such luck.

3. The Nursery

In the distant future the Inspector and Phillipa find themselves on a ship carrying the last gene stock of humanity. When the ship is boarded by strange aliens they are the only ones who can determine mankind’s future.

Inspector: I really do like the Sci Fi adventures more than the historical ones. They feel less about fitting things to established events and more free form. Its very much discovering where/who/why? and for RPG purposes that feels a lot more eventful for the Players.

This had a grand sense of scale to it which I enjoyed but there were moments where story structure seemed to lose focus. Not because it was badly written (not a problem with the GM) but simply because there weren’t enough clues that specifically aimed us towards the resolution.

Sometimes a brief mention at the start of the game of something apparently unconnected can leave players grasping at straws. Especially if they weren’t paying attention. The one thing you can be certain of is that Players do not pay attention all the time.

That level of concentration would turn a fun game into a chore which is why things can side track themselves. However the denouement allowed me to use my innate knowledge of the show and its conventions to work out the resolution. With my companions help of course.

GM: The attention span of the players is something that can slow a game down. Ideally they should be paying attention, after all if they miss a clue how can they solve the puzzles?

From the Inspector’s comments it is clear that some players find concentrating a chore. As a GM what this shows me is that if there is an important clue I need to be attentive to how well the players have picked up on it.

If they are discussing things and clearly missed it then I need to either bring it to their attention again or drop another clue into their lap, to make sure they don’t miss things. This just needs to be balanced so that I don’t drop too many hints.

We can also see from this that Sci Fi adventure means ‘set in the future or on an alien world’. Historical adventures, meaning anything with an established outcome, makes this particular player feel restricted.

The questions “Where, who, why?” can easily fit a game set in the past. I suppose it comes down to how much information the player characters (and players) have to answer the questions.

There should be enough left open for the players to feel they can make a difference.

To Be Continued…

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