Monday, 20 May 2013

DW Companions as PCs: Barbara Wright

Continuing from last time's look at Ian, let's turn to another of the original trio of companions: Barbara Wright.

Imagining that the first two seasons of the show had actually been an RPG, what can we say about Barbara? Knowing that the game is going to be about time travel, Barbara's player has decided that History skill will be particularly useful, and has built her character around this idea. However, clearly that won't be enough, since History is likely to be even less usable on alien planets than Ian's science skills will be in the past. So she saves plenty of points to round her character out with social skills.

As the campaign proceeds, this turns out to have been a good idea. They're particularly key in The Aztecs, in which she not only manages to carry off her masquerade as a goddess for most of the story, but, at one point, talks the bad guy out of revealing her secret when he sees through it. They also become more relevant when the show begins to focus more on the science fiction elements than on time-travelling into the past (as had been the original idea). From an RPG perspective, her History skill, good though it is, isn't always terribly helpful: it's fine for providing exposition in the TV show, and sometimes in working out what's going on, but, once the scene is set, it doesn't tend to move the plot along.

Monday, 6 May 2013

DW Companions as PCs: Ian Chesterton

Having recently begun re-watching some of the Hartnell era episodes of Doctor Who, reading a couple of books reviewing them (I recommend TARDIS Eruditorum as the more interesting of the pair) and, of course, the DWAITAS guide I reviewed in March, my mind has naturally been turning towards how the era would work in an RPG. Most of what needs to be said already has been in the sourcebook, and said better than I can do here. But it still leaves me pondering a few issues.

As I said in my review, a game based on this era would feel very different to one based on Nu-Who. That's not just because of the 50-year gap between then and now, but because that era told, on the whole, a quite different kind of story. In a way that, for example, Troughton's era didn't. So I'm not actually planning on running a campaign set there, interesting though it might be. A one-off game, though... yeah, that's a possibility. For a con, maybe. We'll see.

Still, one of the things that strikes me, re-watching these old episodes, is how much like a role-playing game they do feel. More so than the new shows, in fact. I think a lot of this has to do with the pacing. In more modern TV shows, a lot gets elided that doesn't if you're playing it out. That a lot this was kept in in the 1960s style of show does sometimes make it easier to view things through an RPG lens.

For instance, there's a scene in 'The Dead Planet' (that is, The Daleks #1) where our heroes come across a mysterious box, and cautiously prod it with a stick from a distance a few times before convincing themselves it won't go boom. This is the sort of thing that PCs do, but one expects Matt Smith would, at best, wave his sonic screwdriver over it for half a second, and probably wouldn't even do that. Heck, that entire episode basically consists of the characters wandering around trying to figure out where they are, something that PCs tend to do a fair bit of, but that would be rather out of place in a single 45-minute TV episode.