Welcome back to Card Catalog! This time around, we will be working on a set of companions for the Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space game from Cubicle 7! I love Doctor Who! I grew up watching Doctor Who with my parents on our local public network tv station and it remains one of my abiding loves.
If you are not familiar with Doctor Who, it is a television show with over 50 years of history about an eccentric alien with a TARDIS (a ship that can travel anywhere in space and anywhen in time stuck disguised as a mid-century Police Box). When the original actor who played The Doctor left the show, they decided that his race could regenerate into new forms, allowing a new actor to take on the role while continuing the show. From there, a deep mythology spun out of Doctor Who and I could scarcely do it justice even briefly here. The old shows were pleasantly campy, with special effects that were often easy to discern but still told stories in the best traditions of science fiction. Just last month, Peter Capaldi’s final episode as The Doctor aired and we got our first glimpse of Jodie Whittaker as the new Doctor.
Part of the appeal of Doctor Who is also in The Doctor’s companions – a collection of humans and aliens that share in the Doctor’s travels, changing from time to time to create a rotating cast that brings out the stories of this wizard and his magical box. For this round of the Card Catalog, I’ve created a trio of companions to accompany The Doctor using the most recent Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space ruleset from Cubicle 7.
Because the Doctor is a time travelling alien, there is an immense amount of possibility for settings, characters, and creativity. I’m referring to this trio as “The Lost Companions” because they are not any of the specific companions we’ve seen on the show – but never fear! There are stretches of the Doctor’s adventures that have not been publicized including most of the Eighth Doctor’s time as well as hundreds of years for the Eleventh Doctor. They could easily fit in with either of those time periods, or they could be caught along for a temporal ride with another Time Lord, through Torchwood, or some other manner of your devising but I will focus on the idea that they came in the lead up to The Time War between the Eighth Doctor and The War Doctor for you fellow Whovians out there.
This trio of companions is made with the DW:AITAS rules from Cubicle 7. The Cubicle 7 Rules System is based on the Helix system and is a straightforward combination of character generation and play that evokes the best of Doctor Who in a rule set. You have a limited number of points for Attributes and Special Abilities which are different from your pool of points for skills. Negative qualities can provide additional points for abilities and possibly a special gadget or two. Take the attribute + appropriate skill and add 2d6 to determine how well you succeed. The game itself allows you to influence the narrative through the use of Story Points as well throughout the play, but certain Special Abilities or Qualities are so powerful that they reduce how many Story Points you have available in each adventure, such as being a Time Lord.
There are only 6 attributes – Awareness, Coordination, Ingenuity, Presence, Resolve, and Strength with 6 being a normal human maximum. To get beyond that, you best be an alien, cyborg, or a robot. There are only 12 skills as well, though you can choose to take specializations called Areas of Expertise to increase your competence with those. In good Doctor Who design, all of Science is covered in one skill as this is the sort of setting where a Scientist is likely expected to know a bit of all Science with the Storyteller able to impose penalties the further away from their area of study as appropriate. Similarly, a single rank of Transport means you have a shot at doing everything from driving a jeep, to flying a helicopter, to piloting a spaceship, though with potential penalties as you go further and further afield. Remember that Doctor Who is, in many ways, a pulp adventure but with less of an emphasis on violence and combat.
Speaking of combat, one specific mechanical decision that evokes the world of Doctor Who is that people who want to fight always go last in the initiative order. Talkers always go first followed by Doers then Runners, and finally fighters. If you’ve ever watched Doctor Who, either the classic or modern series, you know that more often than not The Doctor manages to start talking before punches or bullets start flying. This is important because combat can be exceedingly deadly in this system with many weapons, especially from the enemies you expect to see just causing out and out death rather than a specific amount of wounds or hits. There does seem to be a lot of running in those Doctor Who adventures and this game encourages you to take advantage of that option.
As we mentioned in Episode 33, the successes encourage narrative involvement by being ranked from Yes, And; Yes; Yes, But; No, but; No; to No, And! It is a streamlined system well suited for narrative play and cooperative gaming. With that brief introduction out of the way, let’s take a look an an example trio caught up in the TARDIS with a Doctor somewhere in between all of the published stories.
The Lost Companions
Every Doctor, that is the Time Lord called The Doctor, has travelling companions. Who knows why. These travelling companions, friends, or hitchhikers across the galaxy get to share some truly unusual adventures and can find themselves challenged as people (or aliens) as much as they may challenge The Doctor’s. Most likely, these three came along in the lead up to or the midst of The Time War with the Eighth Doctor before he became the War Doctor, but a time traveller means it could be anywhen. These three are built around challenging the Doctor’s growing involvement into the Time War with the power of prophecy.
Keith Armstrong – UNIT Sergeant .
UNIT (Unified Intelligence Task Force) Sergeant Armstrong never quite got the respect of his peers, like Sergeant Benton. Maybe it is because he didn’t know when or how to bend the rules and tried to bluster forward with the strength of the rule book behind him. Either way, Sergeant Armstrong ended up on a TARDIS with a Doctor who already knew UNIT even if UNIT didn’t know this Doctor. He’s trying to get back to Earth, and his time period especially, with a sheaf of reports that can form the basis for UNIT’s procedures going forward. He is quick to shoot and want to solve problems with violence which can put him at odds with Fen and the Doctor. The former because she is trying to protect the Doctor for his destined Fate and the latter because he still isn’t comfortable with that level of violence.
Fen – Sister of Karn seer
After the Fourth Doctor’s meeting with the Sisterhood of Karn in the Moebius debacle, the Sisterhood realized that this Timelord would help shape the future of the entire Universe. Trying to ensure that the future the sisterhood saw would be ensured, the Sisterhood took the bold step of placing one of their own in the path and orbit of The Doctor. Fen has the gift of prophecy and in many ways seems more aware of the future than The Doctor, trying to guide him to be who will need to be for Karn, for Gallifrey, and for the Universe. Thus far, the Doctor is unaware that he has a member of the Sisterhood of Karn on his TARDIS, but who knows what his reaction will be once he does find out. She certainly avoids violence and encourages The Doctor to show mercy but knows of the darker turns that The Doctor will have take
Klatulmayter – Charming Equine Alien
Somewhere along the way, Klatulmayter ended up in the TARDIS. As one of the Peraxia, she looks not unlike an anthropomorphic horse complete with hooved feet and what we would call the head of a horse … but she is a beautiful filly. People are drawn to her and her charming ways, and she seems to always make new friends wherever she goes. As a member of the noble families from the Peraxia, she has been well trained in the art of interacting with people. Of the Lost Companions, she is the one least comfortable with time travel and is still trying to find her footing between the military Sgt. Armstrong and the esoteric Fen. Somewhere along the way, Klatulmayter ended up in the TARDIS. In fact, despite sticking her nose where often times it may not belong, she is also the first to end up running away!
Fillable Character sheet by Michael Lewis available at RPGGeek.com (Registration required)
BBC Logo © BBC 1996. Doctor Who logo © BBC 2004. Tardis image © BBC 1963. Dalek image © BBC/Terry Nation 1963. Cyberman image © BBC/Kit Pedlar/Gerry Davis 1963. Doctor Who: Adventures in Time & Space produced by Cubicle 7 under license by BBC Worldwide Limited. Seize the GM is a fan production. No claim of ownership or challenge to the copyrighted work is intended or implied.