Just Passing Through: Doctor Who as Inspiration

>Once again, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking (and not enough playing!) about my game of choice, and I decided that it was about time that I started finding solutions instead of problems.

So. Let’s just dash through this for a moment.

Problem: not enough experience as a GM.
Solution: GM a lot. (DUH.)

Problem: I have a lot of ideas about weird and wonderful games and settings.
Solution: Find a setting where I can use all or any of them, or define characters who can travel between settings regularly so I have an excuse to throw lots of different things at them.

Problem: Such a setting may not exist!
Solution: Yes, it does. Just ask The Doctor.

I’m stepping out on a limb, here. I want a game like the ones I remember when I was a kid, the ones where I could go anywhere and do anything with just about anyone. I’m reasonably confident now that there’s an easy way to do that. See, I’ve grown up too much. I’ve become too accepting of rigid boundaries between things like fantasy and science fiction, between past and future and present; too accepting of the notion that time travel (or travel through the multiverse) is somehow hard to control.

And it is, sure. If you’re trying. What if you make it front and center instead?

Enter the TARDIS. (Time And Relative Dimension In Space). Well, maybe not exactly the TARDIS, but something very much like it. Something off the wall and innocuous that serves as a common thread between the players and . . . well, anywhere and everywhere. The point here is that the TARDIS is just about the most brilliant storytelling engine imaginable, because it gives you a built in excuse for everything from, say, meeting Charles Dickens and helping him solve a ghost story in Victorian England, bumping into Sherlock Holmes one universe over, changing history in one world, forcing it to go as expected in another, an encounter with the Borg next week, adventuring in the Old Republic (in a Galaxy Far, Far Away), or, say … meeting Arthurian knights with laser guns. IN SPAAAAAAAACE!!!! Anything and everything, right up to and including Godwin’s Law.

It shouldn’t be too hard to figure out how to give them one. Build it as a Headquarters using Mutants and Masterminds, and give it to the players as a free (shared) resource. Make it very very tough, (nearly) impossible to get into uninvited, and significantly bigger on the inside than the outside. Make it able to travel through space, time, and between dimensions . . . with one little catch, again, borrowed from The Doctor. When the players stop anywhere, they become (potentially) part of events. And once they become part of events, they can’t leave until events play out. I’d call that a good enough limit to time travel in this case. . . Oh, and a general rule against lethal force wouldn’t hurt matters too much either. Just in case. I don’t think my players are severely trigger happy, but you never know.

Right now, I’m torn between giving them a blue police box, straight out of Doctor Who, or something out of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: The Infinite Improbability Drive, perhaps, or something running on Bistromathics (the principle that math operates differently within a restaurant than it does anywhere else in the universe). Something off the wall that doesn’t really fit in anywhere, but that most people will pass over and say, “oh, how ordinary.”

The idea from my perspective is that I’ll wind up with flexible characters who can drop into a wide array of settings and situations, providing a common thread to a number of… well, one-shots, basically. Episodic structure rather than a linear campaign with a massive end goal.

So, right then! Campaign notes:

Just Passing Through: Travels in the Greater Multiverse
PL 6-8, for 2 or more players.
Setting: Anywhere I can imagine (and some places I haven’t yet) from dungeons to skyscrapers to the stars and beyond; better known as The Greater Multiverse itself.
Headquarters: The TARDIS (probably; or at least something very much like it).

I’ll try and put together some stats for a TARDIS later, when I have a few minutes to spare. Sounds like fun, and Zod willing I’ll actually get to run this one.

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2 responses to “Just Passing Through: Doctor Who as Inspiration

  • ScorpiusDM

    >I actually have a player whose pc is The Doctor in my current DnD Campaign. It's made for some interesting options. He's working to get his TARDIS back, and once he does, I don't think he trusts the party with it. It'll be the Doctor's exit and time for a new PC.However, this has a very similar feel as spelljammer. You may not need to cook too much up.

  • Jonathan

    >That sounds absolutely awesome. I think you've just described the coolest game of D&D ever.I have a soft spot for Spelljammer, anyway… I like getting my sci-fi all up in my fantasy. Hopefully one of these days I'll get a chance to play in a game like that.Kudos to your player for being bold enough to ask, and kudos to you for being awesome enough to allow it. 😀

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