In my last post I discussed player characters recruiting established Doctor Who characters. This doesn’t mean that they can’t do what the Doctor does in ‘A Good Man Goes to War’ and have previously unseen characters come to their aide.
When we meet these new characters we understand very quickly their history with the Doctor. Strax was humbled by the Doctor and forced to become a nurse, Lady Vastra was a Silurian who awoke during the Victorian era and the Doctor convinced her to stop eating the locals (although she makes exceptions).
Using this model games master could allow player character to invent past histories to allow them to introduce their allies. The important thing is that they have a useful skill and that they are in the player characters debt.
They should not be too powerful or have unlimited resources. Introducing an immortal warrior who can kill with a look or an emperor with resources of a star spanning fleet at his disposal would be completely unbalanced.
This does require the games master to react quickly. If the allies are going to be treated as NPCs the games master should discuss with the player just how they should be portrayed and get an idea of their abilities.
It isn’t necessary to give them a full write-up, that can come later if they are popular. Instead they can simply succeed at any skill they are supposed to be good at. Note how during the initial conflict everything goes well for the Doctor and his allies.
Doing it that way helps to establish the positive aspect of having allies. It is only when the tables are turned you can consider placing the allies in mortal danger. They are extraneous characters that let you show how powerful the opposition is without injuring or killing the player characters.
If the players are actually going to be running the allies as full characters then you can allow them to write them up as normal. If they are only intended as one off characters you can be more generous with their initial character points.
This would be a good opportunity to introduce new players. It allows them to be integrated into the group with both a purpose and past history. If the other player characters have advanced quite a bit then this is a good way to introduce a new member who is on their level.
After they have played their part there are plenty of reasons why they might remain with the group, such as a bond being formed through battle or the Time Lord simply can’t return the character home straight away.
A hand picked group of allies is also a great start for a campaign, explaining why a diverse group has formed. Here it is the Doctor (or another Time Lord) who is the NPC, giving the characters their mission.
The group could have a short term goal (such as capturing Demon’s Run) or they could have far reaching aims. With the TARDIS the Doctor can think about the big picture, setting his allies to work and then jumping forward several years to see the outcome.
For example he might set them to work bringing down an evil empire. Travelling from world to world the Doctor’s hand picked squad inspire rebellion, sabotage the empire’s war effort and after years of hard work finally bring down the Emperor just as the TARDIS materialises. From the Doctor’s perspective he just left them, what was years for the player characters was a blink of an eye for the Time Lord.
This also works for less combat intensive goals, such as a variation of the ‘Key to Time’ story arc. The Doctor needs an artefact whose components have been scattered across a sector of space. He could spend decades tracking them down but much easier to let his trusted allies go on the quest, allowing the Doctor to nip forward to when they have reassembled it.
In such a campaign the Doctor becomes the groups patron. In theory, without their own TARDIS, the group will be stuck in a single period of time. If you wish to explore more of space and time the Doctor could take them from place to place.
They aren’t companions, the Doctor is just putting them where they need to be and collecting them once the job is done. Not that he wouldn’t value them, indeed they would be his agents. He’d know that he didn’t need to keep looking over their shoulder or protecting them.
This can help to appease the player’s ego. The Doctor thinks that their characters are important enough that they don’t need his help. He trusts them to get the job done, encouraging them not to disappoint him.
It also allows for some fun interaction amongst the team, since they didn’t choose to be together. The only thing they have in common is that they owe the Doctor a debt. They might not like each other and even be reluctant to reveal just what their history with the Doctor is.
Care must be taken to gauge the players interest in this arrangement. A protracted mission for the Doctor can be tiresome. Handled correctly plot arcs can be created, giving them a major objective to achieve for the mission to be a success.
The Doctor can then collect them and return them to their own times. Years later he might reassemble the group again, for another important mission. This has the advantage of always putting them in the biggest moments in the Doctor’s life, when the odds never seemed bigger.
He may very well collect them after different periods of time, especially if the various members of the group age at different rates. This can affect the relationship between the player characters in interesting ways.
For one it could only have been weeks since he last saw the group. For another it could have been over a decade. They might have matured, had a family and seeing the group again brings back fond memories (even if they weren’t particularly pleasant at the time).
Here is a way to have large scale Doctor Who adventures in a single campaign that charts the entire lifetime of a small group of characters. Characters who hold incredible importance to the life of the Doctor.