12. The Empty Men
The whole universe is in danger and the Inspector is nowhere to be found! Phillipa is assigned by the Time Lords to fill his shoes and given a holographic copy to help her. The search leads her to a human colony where a sinister cult is about to reveal a startling secret. The revelation brings about untold destruction that is but the first step in a far reaching evil plan.
Inspector: Now here we have some of the payoff from the Croatoan game. Nicely handled but ultimately the ending of the game is not really affected at all by our presence there. We are there to discover that The Inspector had arrived but has now left and that people are turning into living Black Holes just like our friend from the second part of the Croatoan game. That’s it.
I was unable to interact with anything except to think through the game and offer advice to Phillippa. This left me feeling a little bored until I made the best of it. This is supposed to be a game and I was unwilling to sour it for our other Player who was playing Phillippa.
GM: Again we see the perspective that events were predetermined and that the players couldn’t have changed anything. When all hell let loose they panicked and ran. This shows the drawback of the TARDIS, the ultimate getaway vehicle.
My intention was for them to realise that certain people weren’t transforming into black holes. Questioning why that was (the fact they were holding on to their identity) would have given them the solution to turning people back.
Ultimately the player characters in a Doctor Who adventure shouldn’t just have the goal of surviving. If that was the case they’d only have to get back in the TARDIS if it landed somewhere dangerous.
Their real aim should be helping those who can’t escape in a time machine. This means staying when things get bad and trying to find a solution.
13. The Darkest Sun
Is the promise of instant travel around the universe too good to be true? Why have the Guardians turned up at the launch of Dark Sun travel and why do they want Phillipa to make a decision that will affect the fate of the universe? A new dark age dawns and does this herald the end of the Inspector?
Inspector: I liked what was going on in this story. A lot of the shows Mythos was being used for something catastrophically big. The biggest problem is that what Phillippa and I needed to do was split up in this story in order to move it forward properly. Because I was “being taught a lesson” by the GM I feel that we only explored a fraction of the narrative on offer here.
The denouement at the end of the story was very nasty as the GM was using my bodily regenerations as a power source and effectively killing my physical form. Phillippa did however manage to save my life and my physical form was stolen by the TARDIS and taken to Gallifrey.
GM: Looking back over the Actual Play reports you’ll notice how often the Inspector and Phillipa stick together. Now that they have to stay in close proximity suddenly the Inspector feels the need to split off. Just shows you never know what you’ve got until its gone.
You’ll notice as well that the Inspector views me, the GM, as being nasty for using a Time Lord as a power source, not the villain. Had the Inspector changed his character sheet the Time Lord would just have been an agent sent by Gallifrey and the real Inspector would still be on board.
I tried to keep the identity of Time Lord being tortured vague, since his face is not clearly seen to be the Inspector, nor does he say who he is. The players just assumed that he was and I decided to run with that, especially as Phillipa gave him a new burst of life.
14. The Cult of the Daleks
1788, Paris. Something evil lurks in the bone filled catacombs beneath the city. While the Daleks sleep their cult protects them. With their safety threatened they are about to awake. To stop them Phillipa and the Inspector make a deal with the devil.
Inspector: This was another valid attempt to marry established historical events with the current ongoing arc. This story did feel however like there was plenty to do. Phillippa and I felt at many points in the game that there was nothing we could do to change events which is sometimes not a good idea.
However I formulated a reasonable plan to put some distance between us and the Daleks and remove them from such a sensitive period of human history. Overall a nice interesting adventure and it was nice to see the Robomen back.
GM: I think what the Inspector means to say here is ‘This story did feel however like there wasn’t plenty to do.’
A reoccurring theme during these comments has been whether the adventures are unfocused (to many options) or inevitable (a perceived lack of options). I think if you boiled an adventure down it could be described as something bad happening UNLESS the player characters can stop it.
Here the Daleks were going to wake up and attack Paris. This wasn’t set in stone as the hope was that the player characters would prevent it, either through diplomacy or through force. They could do it alone or get reinforcements. They could have collapsed the tunnels or used technology.
The players solution was actually a good one and immediately suggested how the plot arc could move forward.
Could the issue be the perceived challenge. If the odds are too great do players see it as something that they can’t alter? Players either need to be instilled with more confidence that they can make a difference or the challenge needs to be lowered.
15. The Fall of Gallifrey
Gallifrey is in ruins. Croatoan has made it the seat of his new empire, his powers allowing him to change space and time at will. Faced with such a threat the Inspector and Phillipa break every rule of time at the cost of their souls. Things will never be the same again!
Inspector: I liked this adventure a lot. Everything we did within the game felt like it had consequences. The GM also added some interesting layers to Gallifreyan prehistory and Rassilons abilities without changing anything already established.
Overall a successful adventure which ended on a very interesting cliffhanger. With Gallifreys past changed and only Phillippa and my hologram aware of it we were now hunted criminals. Hunted by myself. Nice one GM.
The story possibilities from here are endless. It also means we benefit from having some very interesting Timey Wimey plots just begging to be used. Looking forward to continuing.
To sum up. I have been brutally honest from my point of view. These are very much my gut feelings and reactions and don’t reflect at all on my personal relationship with the GM. He’s great just a very evil DM.
GM: Having a good understanding of the background of the show does help in weaving new elements into it. Simply because you don’t run the risk of introducing a part of established lore.
Here the player characters were given a great deal of resources and time. Croatoan had already taken over time and space and the Inspector was a safe distance away in the Capital.
I think this prevented them from either panicking or becoming paralysed with indecision. It is interesting that although they were given several options about how to proceed they chose their own course of action, regardless of how it affected the status quo of the campaign.
Once again if the Inspector had altered his character sheet they’d have been able to awake the real Inspector from his coma. This would have left the hologram free to pilot Omega’s ship on a suicide mission and avoid the need to reset the time line.
When I asked the Inspector why he didn’t consider this he said that even if they had defeated Croatoan he didn’t see how they could undo the damage he’d done. It seemed that he was simply unwilling to live with the consequences of what had happened.