Monday, 24 June 2013

DW Companions as PCs: Dodo Chaplet

Vicki leaves early in the third season, not long after Steven's arrival. She's initially replaced by Katarina, a Trojan handmaiden who is utterly clueless about anything invented after about 1250 BC. She dies only a quarter of the way in to her first proper story, deliberately sacrificing herself to save the rest of the party. (Marking possibly the only time in Doctor Who history in which a cliffhanger is resolved by the character that's being threatened with death... dying). Which suggests she's either an NPC, or her player got bored with her really quickly.

Next up is Sara Kingdom, snappily dressed special agent of the Space Security Service. Sort of an Emma Peel with a uniform and a laser pistol. (Almost literally - in the real world, the character concept was inspired by Cathy Gale, Mrs Peel's predecessor). A combination of bad planning and lousy dice rolls ensure that she doesn't reach the end of her first story, either. Although dying in the same story that she appeared in hasn't entirely stopped her showing up in some licensed spin-off media, she, like Katarina, is difficult to fit into a campaign that sticks to 'official' continuity.

Monday, 17 June 2013

DW Companions as PCs: Steven Taylor

Ian and Barbara left the show almost at the end of the second season, firmly cementing the idea that, in Doctor Who, all companions are temporary. Indeed, the Doctor goes on to have a further six companions over the course of the next twelve stories. I'm going to deal with two of those quite briefly, because they're difficult to fit into a game that sticks to continuity, and I'm going to pass on Ben and Polly altogether for now, because I feel they more properly belong with the second Doctor.

And I'm going to ignore John and Gillian on the grounds that who the heck wouldn't?

That leaves me with two that deserve more discussion. In our imaginary TV-show-as-RPG-campaign, Barbara's player has decided to leave the group. The GM incorporates a method for her character and Ian to finally get back to their own time into his latest scenario, thus completing their plot arc. Ian's player agrees, because it fits the story, and the two metaphorically walk off hand in hand into the sunset.

Monday, 10 June 2013

DW Companions as PCs: Vicki

The Doctor's original companion, Susan, left the series early on in the second season, the first indication that the cast wasn't as fixed as it might have appeared from watching the first season alone. Unlike many other stories of the time, Susan's last episode doesn't end with the first few seconds of the one following it, giving a possible slot for continuity-minded GMs to insert stories with only Ian and Barbara as the companions. (On the flip side, the fact the Doctor temporarily forgets about Susan's absence at the start of 'The Powerful Enemy' suggests that it can't be a very long gap, if it exists at all).

At any rate, the very next episode introduces a new companion for the first time since the show started.

It's hard to come up with a role-playing analogy for what's going on here. That's because, having decided, for whatever reason, to ditch the Susan character, her player comes up with a new PC that's essentially the same idea. Perhaps she likes the character concept, but wants the chance to smooth off a few rough edges with a second attempt.

Monday, 3 June 2013

DW Companions as PCs: Susan

Of the initial set of characters in the first season of Doctor Who, it's Susan who is the hardest to see as a typical PC. That's because one of her key roles on the show is to be put in peril, to be the young, attractive, woman, menaced by the monsters. Equally important, from the show's original perspective, is that she's an audience identification figure, based on the intended age of the viewers. Neither of these functions makes much sense in an RPG context.

Precisely because she's an audience identification figure, however, she is often a viewpoint character on the show. Furthermore, unless there's only three players available (which, admittedly, is not impossible) it would seem odd to run a game based on this era of the show and not have her as a PC. But doing so, while trying to stay faithful to the ethos of the time, presents challenges that don't really crop up if you're only emulating Nu-Who.

If we look at her suggested character sheet in DWAITAS, though, she doesn't look all that bad. True, she is the weakest of the initial four characters, and the only one who is actually under-powered for a starting PC using the rules-as-written. But not, if we're honest, by much, and giving her the Inexperienced trait (and, thus, more story points) would bring her level with Barbara at least. In other systems, of course, trying to stat her up might have different results, but she's still unlikely to look rubbish.