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Doctor Who

Started by Curufea, November 12, 2006, 10:30:56 PM

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Something I was pondering on the bus to work this morning is how to use Capes to play a Doctor Who genre game.  There would be a few house rules for it-

1) The Doctor cannot be played by the same player in consecutive scenes.
2) Companions have 1 power and 1 powered style, but are otherwise skilled characters.
3) Companions are Exemplars of the Doctor.
4) The Tardis is a Non-Person Character with powers and powered styles (in a similar manner to superheroes or the Doctor)
5) The Master (and most mastermind level bad guys), like The Doctor and The Tardis, have powers as normal.
6) K9 is a Companion.

Pulp Space Fantasy Code-
1) The Doctor never dies unless it is the end of a season.
2) Companions never die.
3) The Doctor and Companions can never be maimed or mutilated in any permanent fashion.
4) The Master never dies unless it is the end of a season.
5) Masterminds (main bad guys) may only die in suitably dramatic fashion.  They may never permanently die (ie no-one sees the body, or they may be resurrected later).
6) The course of history cannot be changed
7) The Tardis never dies.


Oh MAN I want to do this!  I think the Tardis could probably be a Person Character, with attitudes, skills and styles, unless for some reason you wanted there to be a free event associated with it.  OR, it could be the Doctor's Pride exemplar. :) 

I don't think it would be necessary to alter the rules for the Companions as you mention.  Some companions (say Romana, K9, maybe Leela) would just be powered, while others (Sarah Jane, Jo Grant) would be non-powered.  Actually, its conceivable that ALL the companions should have drives, just to make them more interesting, and just have the equivalent of powered skills.

Is it true that no companion ever died?  I think it is a good thing to put in the code, but I'm just trying to remember.  I would change point 5 to say "Masterminds me only die after they have appeared in at least X scenes", or "Masterminds may only die as the result of a conflict that specifically mentions their death" or something similar.  Also, number 6 should be softened a bit; "Major elements in history (i.e. things you would read in a High School history textbook) cannot be changed."  That way the bad guys only get to gloat on BIG things, like killing Queen Elizabeth, and not little things, like what Queen Elizabeth had for breakfast.  That may have been your intent.

Again, I want to PLAY!
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I'm pretty sure Artec died, crashing a Cyberman spaceship into pre-historic Earth and triggering the dinosaur extinction.

Which totally feels like something that would happen in a Capes game.

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Adric was the only one to do it within an episode.  Earthshock was the ep.
But I always thought Adric was a git.

Of the 20+ companions, only one dies onscreen - so it's best to make it a Code rule.  Villains do seem to Gloat a lot in Doctor Who :)


I do think some Companions should have powered abilities -
Nyssa with her science.
Adric with his maths.
K9 with its gun.

Romana and other Timelords (and equivalents) would be the normal Superhero types.

Eric Sedlacek

Adric died in Earthshock as mentioned.

Peri originally died in Trial of a Timelord, but they retconned it to say that she was really alive...most lame.

Some people consider Sarah Kingdom in The Dalek Masterplan to be a companion and she dies.  She is often listed in companion lists.  One one hand, she was introduced and killed off all in the same story, so opponents say this disqualified her as a companion.  On the other hand, The Dalek Masterplan was a damn long story and she clearly joined the Doctor on his travels with the intention of staying, so proponents say that seals it.  I lean toward the proponents.


I'd heard about her too - but I haven't seen the Dalek Master Plan yet (just the Dalek Invasion of Earth and The Azteks of the Hartnell era).

On a side note -
Zoe and Mel are characters I'd also give a powered ability to (computers). 
Rose would have more than one (possibly adventurous explorer, and tenacious).
Mikey I'd give Serendipidous (right place, right time).
Harry - Doctor
Sarah Jane Smith - Reporter
Jaime - Brute
Turlough - Sneaky
Tegan - Stubborn


The Scarf is totally a non-powered style.  The sonic screwdriver is probably a power of some kind.

Also: certain eras and pieces of setting should be characters.  Like, 1950's America. 

You know, the newest series really needs the Master back.  That guy was awesome. 

(There was a pretty good RPGNet Actual Play post about a PTA game doing Dr. Who, which perfectly understood the ideas and philosophy of the show.  I'll have to dig it up sometime.)


The old series Doctor was more of an interloper.  The new series is more of a catalyst for heroism (and martyrdom) - moreso than the old series.


More companion powers-
Leela - Knife throw
Ace - Nitro 9

Mastermind level Bad Guys-
The Emperor Dalek
The Cyber Leader
Leader of the Ice Warriors
The Master (Timelord) - although he will occasionally be a neutral.
The Valiard (Timelord)
The Black Guardian
The Great One (spider)

Mastermind level Neutrals-
The Rani (Timelord)

Mastermind level Good Guys-
Romana  (Timelord)
Previous or future incarnations of The Doctor except for The Valiard  (Timelord)
The White Guardian

Significant objects-
The Blue Crystal
The Key to Time
The Key to the Tardis
The Robe/Staff/Crown of Rassilon
The Hand of Omega

Eric Sedlacek

Quote from: Curufea on November 13, 2006, 10:16:07 PM
I'd heard about her too - but I haven't seen the Dalek Master Plan yet (just the Dalek Invasion of Earth and The Azteks of the Hartnell era).

I've seen all the parts of the Dalek Master Plan which still exist, which is a scant 2 episodes out of 12.  The rest of it, like all too much of the Hartnell and Troughton years, is lost.


The Restoration Project is bringing out The Invasion with missing episodes replaced with animations - hopefully they will do the Dalek Master Plan as well.

Anyhow, back to my Capes modifications :)
I'm thinking Companions should be halfway between a Skilled Normal and a Superhero.
They should be Exemplars of a Superhero-level character, have one or two powered abilities - and have two or three drives (not the whole 5 drives of a superhero).  The Companions drives should total 5.

Captain Jack is an exception in that he starts as a Companion and becomes a Superhero level character in Torchwood.

Pre-Torchwood (How I would write him up)
Captain Jack-
Powers: Spaceship, Future Gadgets
Skills: Future History, Con Artist, Seduction
Styles: Showoff, Bravado, Fast-talk, Witty, Determined
Attitudes: Thrill Junky, Confident, Friendly, "You know you want to", Smile lights up the room

I won't write up the Torchwood version yet because it would contain spoilers for people who haven't seen it.


Captain Jack is in Torchwood?  SOLD!

Anyway ... Doctor Who is a damn hard series to emulate, in much the same way that the X-Files is hard to emulate (and, in many ways, for the same reasons).

For instance ... how would you deal with the fact that innocent bystanders must die?  I mean that seriously.  Always, always, always.  It's a big enough point that they explicitly allude to it with an episode ("The Doctor Dances") where for once they actually save the people they're trying to save.

I think that figuring out motivations for the TARDIS would be key to the whole thing.  The series makes a world more sense if you assume that the TARDIS has an almost authorial role, deliberately pushing the Doctor and companions into danger in order to hone (and occasionally break) them.

This is definitely something I'm going to have to think about now, though.  The "Nobody plays the Doctor twice in consecutive scenes" is brilliant, by the way.
Just published: Capes
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It can be a Code that someone dies.  The standard Code in the rule book is very 4-colour.  If you wanted Silver Age or Dark Knight or Kingdom Come style codes, you would have to modify it, just as you would for Doctor Who

I see it as two eras- the old series and the new.
In the old series-
1) Lackeys of the villain(s) may be made example of on a whim and killed by the villain(s).
2) Innocents may only die in large numbers off screen and only to demonstrate the evilness of the villain(s) - or as part of a natural disaster that was not preventable.
3) No one (including villain(s)) is to die on board the Tardis.
4) The James Bond betrayal rule is in effect - flunkeys of the villain(s) that betray the bad guy to help The Doctor will often martyr themselves to pay for their sins.
5) Innocents may die at the beginning of the story to set up the mystery and/or how evil the villain(s) is/are.  This death must be quick and not graphic.  There may be no more than 3.

Note on 3 - this rule was broken in the old series which really annoyed many of the the folk behind the production of the series.  If you watch the various "makings of" on the DVDs (especial the Lost Time pack with the partial early episodes) - they refer to the Tardis as a sanctuary area, and the controversy around the shooting of a Cyberman inside the Tardis.  This is not the case with the new series of course.

In the new series-
1) Innocents may be made example of on a whim and killed by the villain(s).   This death must be quick and not graphic.
2) If The Doctor inspires bystanders to help - some may die.  If they don't help, more will die.
3) Off-screen deaths may be massive.  Entire races may be genocided.
4) On-screen deaths must have meaning.  Usually the meaning is heroic sacrifice.

Note on 3- The Daleks were genocided on at least 3 separate occasions (as were the Cybermen).  With time travel, these kinds of massive loses can be overcome for the sake of a new story.


I should also add that from about the 5th Doctor onward, the stories have had more and more moral dilemmas involved.  The Doctor will angst about his decisions - he'll still make the decisions and realise he has to, but he won't like it.  It is not lightly that he avoids questions about how many people he has killed.