‘Peri and The Piscon Paradox’, written by Nev Fountain, is a very entertaining Companion Chronicle. The 5th Doctor and Peri arrive in LA, 2009 to deal with a fish like alien only to bump into an older Peri. Making great use of the 2 hours the first part is told from the perspective of the young Peri while the other half is from the older Peri’s point of view. While relating the same events nothing is as it seems and there are plenty of surprises the second time round.
I highly recommend this audio. Nicola Bryant gives a great performance playing not only the two Peris but some addition characters. There is also a special guest voice which is a real treat.
Once you’ve listened to it there are plenty of interesting sections you can incorporate into your own game.
SPOILERS FROM HERE ON IN!
THE FUTURE IS NOW
Peri is stunned by how different things are in 2009. When her older self claims to be from Homeland security the young Peri wonders what could have happened to the US that made them so afraid.
Looking at the adverts of models and movie actresses Peri considers them to be anorexic. She rationalises that there must have been a terrible disaster and these malnourished women are the best they can get.
These are all examples of how you can set an adventure in a semi-contemporary setting but still make it full of wonder for PCs that are native to the time period. This would work well with the majority of the classic Doctor Who companions.
CHANGE, CHANGE AND CHANGE AGAIN
One of the central mysteries is the nature of the older Peri who doesn’t remember anything about her adventures with the Doctor past their first encounter. The 6th Doctor knows she doesn’t end up on Earth and the blinovitich limitation effect doesn’t occur when the two Peris touch.
It is eventually explained by a Time Lord that Peri originally did change during ‘Mindwarp’ but history was altered so she ended up marrying King Yrcanos. A later administration changed this again, returning her to Earth and wiping her memories, as they had done with Jamie and Zoe. Due to the Doctor crossing his own timeline on more than one occasion this accidentally created duplicate Peris, so that there are currently 5 in existence.
This illustrates an extra wrinkle to time alteration. Presumably the plan was that the revisions to Peris timeline would leave only one version. It would appear that each time the Doctor crossed his timeline it created a temporary alternative timeline, which resulted in an additional Peri. Had she not been snatched away likely the original timelines would have merged back together.
PCs who have a similar fate befall them could encounter multiple future versions of themselves, each with a different history. Which one will become ‘their’ future, if any.
It also shows that the CIA will change events repeatedly, especially under new administration. PCs could find themselves affected by new changes or they could be part of the new administration, looking back through CIA files and trying to make amends.
THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES
Memory plays an important part in this story. Specifically the older Peri doesn’t remember her adventures with the Doctor and the 6th Doctor only has vague memories of the adventure.
When PCs cross their own timelines this can explain away inconsistences and keep the surprise. A similar tactic was used in ‘The Day Of The Doctor’, with the 11th Doctor failing to remember the adventure, despite having lived through it as the 10th.
PCs can be very perplexed when they meet their younger selves, having no memory of the encounter. They could doubt that their earlier incarnation is who they appear to be because of this. Memory wipes help make everything make sense.
The Doctor having trouble with his memories between regenerations can also be handy if you regularly switch between different incarnations of Time Lord PCs. Any continuity errors (such as the Time Lord meeting NPCs for the 1st time in one adventure only to meet them in an earlier incarnation in a later adventure) can be explained away by these gaps in their memory.
“THAT’S THE TROUBLE WITH REGENERATION. YOU NEVER QUITE KNOW WHAT YOU’RE GOING TO GET.”
The 5th Doctor reveals that he envies human’s ability to have a personality that grows and develops over their life. When he regenerates he has no control over the type of person he’ll become. He dreads the prospect of meeting future incarnations.
This reinforces that regeneration does have a huge downside. As the 10th & 11th Doctor indicated the person he is dies and a new man takes his place. The Doctor could spend all his life being a good man only for the next incarnation to be irredeemably evil or a raving lunatic.
Time Lord PCs should understand this and treat their own regeneration and future incarnations with similar dread. They have to make the most of their current life because who knows what the next version will be like?
CHANGE IN TONE
For the most part ‘Peri and Piscon Paradox’ is very amusing. That makes the dramatic moments have so much more impact. To suddenly some tragic moments of the older Peri’s life is all the more shocking because we’ve been laughing only moments before.
Handled well this can work well in any adventure. It can help remind the PCs that this isn’t a comedy. That the stakes are real and there is evil in the world that takes human form and leave scars that never heal.