Lungbarrow

Overview

lungbarrowSensing that he is nearing the end of his 7th incarnation the Doctor’s mind returns to the family he ran away from. Influenced by these thoughts the TARDIS materialises in his ancestral home of Lungbarrow.

Now the Doctor is confronted with the thing he has run away from his whole life. At last the ultimate question will be answered. “Doctor Who?”

This is the definitive New Adventures book, making a bold statements about the mythos of the shows, laying bare the Cartmel masterplan. There is a incredible sense of excitement when reading the book, each chapter bringing you closer to the secret of the Doctor’s origin.

It is a touching adventure, with the Doctor at his most vulnerable. Facing his own mortality he is wracked with guilt upon learning how his family have suffered due to his actions. Returned to the house he was born into he is child-like and vulnerable.

Luckily Ace, Chris, Romana, Leela and two K9s are on hand to save him. It feels fitting that the manipulative, almost god-like 7th Doctor is rescued by his companions, old and new. It is a great send off to a very memorable Doctor.

This book started life as a television episode which was eventually turned into ‘Ghost Light’. It is still possible to see the connection between the two, in particular a police officer kept in suspended animation.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Having read Lungbarrow you’ll always feel as if you know more about the Doctor than those who only watch the show. Even now it is truly a special story.

Remarkably, despite everything that is revealed, you are still left with a sense of mystery and wonder. You’re told just enough to give you insight without spelling everything out. One can only hope that as the tv series looks to answer the ultimate question they do it with the same skill.

The 7th Doctor presented in the books was one of my favourite depictions of the character and I was sad to see him go. Luckily this was an excellent final adventure which still has a special place within Doctor Who fiction.

Next we’re Eight Man bound!

Plot

This book reveals a lot about Gallifrey and Time Lord families. Here Time Lords are infertile and so reproduce via Looms. Looms weave genetic material, creating adult Time Lords to add to family.

All Loom family members are referred to as Cousins. Each family is allowed 45 Cousins. When a Cousin dies a new member is loomed. Families who exceed that number are ex-communicated from Gallifrey community. In this story we discover that Lungbarrow, the Doctor’s home, was buried in the mountain, with all of the Cousins trapped inside, for breaking this rule.

Gallifreyan houses are sentient, much like a TARDIS. They are even capable of limited movement, with Lungbarrow eventually committing suicide by throwing itself over a cliff. The scale is slightly too large, making the adult sized Cousins feel like children during their early years.

The head of the house has the title of Kithriach. This title is bequeathed upon death to another Cousin, effectively giving them control of the House. This is a prized enough position to kill over.

The House is maintained by highly intelligent robots known as Drudges. They act as everything from maids, to butlers to nannys. It is even possible for a dying Time Lord to place his consciousness within a Drudge.

A Gallifreyan House would make a great setting for an adventure or even an entire campaign. With a twisting corridors, ancient secrets and diverse terrain (one of the floors in Lungbarrow was flooded) there is plenty opportunity for exploration and discovery.

With 45 Cousins there of NPCs to form their own insular community. Having players take the roles of these family members allows them to share  a deep connection, in addition to have each play a Time Lord.

The Doctor’s own Cousins are very diverse, from the kind hearted Innocet, to the dim witted Owis to the treacherous Glospin. They illustrate that a family of 45 Cousins can be very different, providing lots of different sources of adventures.

Within the House Cousins could plot against each other to assume control of the House, discover forgotten family heirlooms and try to outdo each other by rising up the ranks of Time Lord society. Alliances can be forged and new Loom spun Cousins can be influenced.

Above all there is the matter of family honour. Increasing the standing of the House might be one of the rare occasions in which Cousins work together. This kind of plot can be emphasised by presenting a common enemy, such as a rival House.

By making the House and the Cousins the focus of a campaign it allows player characters to have a base of operations while they carry out adventures of Gallifrey. Even if they leave the Home World in a TARDIS they have something to return to, or run away from.

This story was written with full knowledge that it would lead into the 7th Doctor’s televised final adventure. This allowed the author to craft something that would be a perfect culmination of this incarnation of the Doctor.

In your own campaign, when you have planned for a Time Lord character to regenerate, it can be useful to craft an penultimate adventure. After all, the adventure in which he regenerates will be focused on that event. You want one final adventure where the Time Lord gets to be himself before he says goodbye.

The player should be involved in this process. Discover if there is anything he’d like resolved or something he has always wanted to do. This could be to encounter a monster or alien he’s never met before, confront his nemesis one last time or revisit an beloved companion.

There is some indication that Time Lords, especially the Doctor, can become aware that their incarnation is coming to an end. This can provide motivation for a Time Lord PC to make the most of his final adventure.

If done right it can be a sweet memory to hang on to when the darkness comes.

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