Friday, July 12, 2019

Season 13, Episodes 8-10

Season 13 of Lady Penelope's Odyssey continues, with three new episodes:

Episode 8: The Gilded Age
New York, 1883. Following the departure of her travelling companion, Lady Penelope is taking a vacation in history, enjoying a glorious Indian summer in Manhattan, attending the inauguration of the Metropolitan Opera and mingling with the Whartonesque locals. And then Time Agent Cyrus Ward appeared out of nowhere, before being shot by a mysterious staser-totting assassin… The holidays are over – and the (temporal) game is afoot. 

Episode 9: Passing Ship
On her way back to Avalon, Lady Penelope intercepts a distress call from another TARDIS caught in the eye of a vortex storm created by the elusive, ubiquitous Dissonance. Rushing to the rescue, she manages to save the Corsair from certain annihilation – only to discover that the renegade Time Lord was actually chasing her on behalf of the new masters of Gallifrey. And then the Corsair starts to die, spinning the regeneration roulette once again…

Episode 10: Trial of a Time Lady
As the conflict between the two Eyes of Harmony escalates, Lady Penelope arrives on Gallifrey to face the Tribunal Supreme of the Time Lords on charges of Grand Conspiracy and Generally Being a Temporal Nuisance. Will the Time Lady and the disembodied Professor Chronotis uncover the identity of the mysterious Black Eminence before the final verdict? With the fate of Avalon hanging in the balance, it’s time for some serious courtroom drama…

(To be continued...)

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Season 13, Episode 7

Episode 7: Starvox
Welcome to Simak 9 space station and to the 3988 AD edition of the great interstellar Starvox song contest! As thousands of billions of hyperlinked viewers prepare to sing along, cheer, applaud and vote for their favorite contestant, the Earth Alliance candidate has just pulled out!  Enter the Time Lady - and her travelling companion, Dorian aka Miranda. The rest is (or will be) history. A tale of rivalry, empathy and fame (with some disco songs).

So, Lady Penelope's Odyssey is back for the second part of our thirteenth season!  

I borrowed the setting idea (Eurovision... in space!) from the Big Finish audiobook Bang-bang-a-boom featuring the Seventh Doctor and Mel - but with a completely different plot and cast of characters.

It was quite a tricky episode to run - and proved a joy to play. On one hand, it was deliberately kitsch (Eurovision in space...), with quite a lot of cheesy moments - and on the other hand, it had an extremely emotional ending, with the departure of Penelope's companion Dorian / Miranda (her only real companion in the classic DW sense since her early travels with Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart- those were the days and all that...). So the young nightclubbing guy-girl from 1982 left the TARDIS to become the new Hyperstar of the Earth Alliance, exchanging a life of adventure for interstellar fame - a dream come true, as well as a bittersweet (and very moving) farewell with Penelope. 

A bientôt !

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Season 13, Episode 6 / January Special

Episode 6: Wintertime
January 2019. The UK is caught in an unprecedented wave of cold, with snowfalls, ice storms, frozen rivers and the whole gamut of wintry weather phenomena, leaving experts baffled. Only the Torchwood Cardiff team knows the truth behind this aberrant climate shift: it came through the Rift, from a long, long time ago. Winter is coming - time to call the Time Lady!

So, despite what I announced last time (about “taking a break for a few months”), I couldn’t resist the lure of running my own New Year’s Day special (well, sort of, since this was played on the 5th of January) for Lady Penelope – an episode with some nostalgic echoes from the Russell T. Davies era (Torchwood, Cardiff, the Rift…).

And despite what the above blurb may suggest, most of the action took place in 1895 (but still in Cardiff), during another of Britain’s “great winters” – at a time where the Cardiff Rift already existed… but NOT the all-too convenient Rift Manipulator!

The main antagonist for this story was directly inspired by Kim Newman’s “Time and Relative” Telos novella: primeval, prehistoric Cold as a sentient entity trying to reclaim its lost dominion on our post-Ice Age planet. At first, I had contemplated using the Great Intelligence as my main villain (see HERE) but as I was working with this idea, I kept on ending up with something that felt like a remake of Steven Moffat’s “The Snowmen”, with no real extra element of interest. This episode also gave me a wonderful opportunity to reunite Penelope with her present-day friends at the Cardiff Torchwood Hub, including Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, one of her very first time-travelling companions…

The basic idea behind the whole Cold / Rift thing was as follows: the Cardiff Rift allowed the Cold from Earth’s Ice Age to “travel” (or disseminate itself) to various times in our history (including, for instance, the great winter of 1962-63), with January 1895 acting as its most potent “open window through time”. There, the Cold entity managed to possess and manipulate a naïve, pious Psychic, using her as an entry point and interface with reality. Of course, being blinded by faith, the poor soul thought that the visions and commands sent to her “from beyond” by some seemingly eternal, disembodied “whiteness” could only come from God, heralding His new divine reign on Earth. Through the powers invested in her, she even created the Angel of Frost, a terrifying, immaterial being embodying her “righteous wrath” against unbelievers and sinners… 

In the end, Penelope could only defeat / banish the Cold by calling on the supreme power of the Sun - yes, in our campaign, suns are actually sentient beings, as Penelope discovered a few lives ago, in the reign of pharaoh Akhenaten (back in Season 5)… 

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Season 13, Episode 5

Episode 5: Hope Ultima
A long time ago, Lady Penelope and Jack Harkness exchanged farewells on the lonely dunes of Boeshane Peninsula. As they parted, he shared with her the Face of Boe’s secret prediction: the Time Lady and the immortal Captain would meet again, one last time, for one last case of cosmic force majeure, for one last, desperate stand. And now this time has come.  

The farewells on the dunes of Boeshane Peninsula occurred at the end of season five’s seventh episode (The Face of the Future) – or, in other terms, eight seasons and three regenerations ago. And more than five years ago for us in the real world. 

I always knew that this “one last stand” would come but I was waiting for the ideal moment – and for enough game time and real time to pass, so that it would really feel like “a long time ago, in another life”. 

Of course, Captain Jack’s ultimate return has everything to do with the threat of the Dissonance, the current’s season recurring meme / theme / gimmick. As a unique, living Fixed Point in Time, surely he will be of use when the Web of Time comes crashing down…

But for now, we are taking a break. The thirteenth season of Lady Penelope’s Odyssey will resume in a few months, for its second tier. See you then!

Monday, December 10, 2018

Season 13, Episode 4

Episode 4: Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out
Dorian takes Penelope on a trip to 1967 San Francisco, right in the middle of the Summer of Love. As her companion indulges in the ambient zeitgeist of peace, sex, drugs and rock’n’roll, the Time Lady finds herself transported to another reality, where JFK’s Camelot never fell and psychics are hunted down by the FBI. Welcome to the Altered States of America!

Obviously, this episode had a very strong Philip K. Dick vibe, with elements borrowed from The Man in the High Castle (well, without the Nazis, obviously) and various other PKD novels and stories involving alternate realities, twisted perceptions, psycho-active drugs and hidden conspiracies (and then some). 

Other sources of inspiration included the DW episode Inferno and Steven Moffat’s Silence, who were re-imagined here as the Unseen, the results of a secret US government experiment on psychic powers gone terribly wrong… 

This scenario also allowed me to reveal a bit more about the Dissonance (a.k.a. the Multiplicity), the temporal phenomenon which will be this season’s main continuity gimmick /meme.

Last but not least, this episode included cameos by JFK, Jackie Kennedy, J. Edgar Hoover and Philip K. Dick himself.

And now for something completely different...

I've updated the TOYBOX, my PDF compilation of house rules for Doctor Who, now in its fourth incarnation. No new stuff this time but some tweaks and fine-tuning of existing articles, including an even simpler and quicker variant combat system and some (decidedly inescapable) clarifications on Story points... 

The new, streamlined TOYBOX can be found HERE

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Season 13, Episodes 1-3

Hello everyone and welcome back to Lady Penelope's Odyssey!

Our one-on-one campaign has just entered its thirteenth season, starting with a triad of Roman Mysteries. The Time Lady has decided to continue her new companion’s time-travelling education by taking Dorian to Rome in 82 AD for some holidays in ancient history. It’s been so long (three incarnations and eight seasons to be precise) since she has visited the Eternal City… What could possibly go wrong this time?

Episode 1: Tempus Rerum Imperator (Time, Master of All Things)
Since she is in the right place at the right time, the Doctor has asked Penelope to bring his greetings to the Caecilius family, who escaped the Fires of Pompeii three years ago and went on to live happily ever after in Rome, leaving behind them the nightmare of the Pyrovile. But as the Time Lady will soon discover, even aborted empires can cast long, burning shadows…

Episode 2: Acta Est Fabula (The Play is Over)
Drawn into a web of intrigue and conspiracy at the heart of Emperor Domitian’s entourage, Penelope soon finds herself caught between the plans of various historical personages and the repercussions of her own actions. Now she must find a way to escape the deadly games of the imperial court, while preserving the future of the Empire – and of the Caecilius family…

Episode 3: Terra Incognita (Unknown Territory)
Britannia, 82 AD. As Roman general Julius Agricola prepares for another campaign against the savage barbarians of Caledonia, Penelope arrives just in time to foil his assassination and save History-as-we-know-it. But even History-as-we-know-it has some unwritten pages, where unsung heroes, time travellers and the Dark Powers of the Earth come into play…

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Season 12, Episodes 13-15

Episode 13: The Red Queen
Back in Lord Christopher Marlowe’s alternate timeline*, History has twisted yet again with the wedding of King James of Scotland to the mysterious Red Queen – the new guise of Penelope’s shadow nemesis from the Dark Dimension**. As the black clouds of war (literally) gather overhead, the Time Lady has no choice but to walk into her evil double’s deathtrap…

* Last visited in episodes 9.9 (Should Old Acquaintances be Forgot) and 9.10 (The Banquet of Ashes)

** See episode 12.4 (Heir Apparent) for more details

Episode 14: Bad Penny
Her hunt for her Dark Dimension shadow clone leads Penelope to an alternate 1978*, in a timeline where the Doctor’s TARDIS has been destroyed, UNIT and Torchwood have been merged into a single entity (M.I.7), a big space-time Rift has opened in the heart of London and (for some obscure reason) punk rock never happened. Joining forces with an alternate, earthbound Doctor**, the Time Lady prepares for her final duel with her nemesis…

* Last visited during her quest for the Segments of the Key to Time (see episode 11.3, Time Oddity)

** Who looks, of course, like Richard E. Grant in “Curse of the Fatal Death”

Episode 15: Loose Ends
London, 1978, in an alternate reality. Following her final battle with her Dark Dimension shadow double, the Time Lady must now face the consequences of her victory. How long will her disembodied nemesis stay trapped into the deepest recesses of Penelope’s own mind?  And how exactly is she going to heal her companion Dorian, whose soul has been ravaged by her now-captive enemy?  A story of farewells and returns, of closures and new beginnings!

These episodes formed the final trilogy of our twelfth season, which we have called Adventures & Avatars – “Avatars” being a reference to various characters encountered over its course, from Penelope’s Dark Dimension shadow double to alternate versions of the Doctor and Kate Lethbridge-Stewart (as a Susan-like teenage companion).

The final episode itself gave me the opportunity to indulge in some “Easter-egging” by including a hint or reference to every setting visited during this season – be they in the form of personal memories, material souvenirs or brief returns by way of TARDIS. It also was a very personal episode for Lady Penelope, focusing on her habitual reluctance to take travelling companions (for fear of putting their lives in danger) and the reasons why she chose to make an exception in the case of Dorian-Miranda, her current companion – who WILL be at her side when we start Season 13 in a few months…