Sunday, March 22, 2020

Season 14, Episodes 7-8

Yes! We’re back – already!  Season 14 of Lady Penelope’s Odyssey was supposed to be on a break for a few months – but we’ve decided to go on. To cut a long story short: covid-19 lockdown, necessary dose of escapism, change of plans. 

Here are the blurbs of the two latest episodes, which took our Time Lady to 17th century France, in the time of Cardinal Mazarin…

Episode 7: The Ravens of Despair
In 1648 France, Lady Penelope, the Count of Saint-Germain and the musketeers Taillefer and Bellegarde find themselves investigating the mysteries of a demon-riddled nunnery - but the devils tormenting the local sisters are of a most unusual type: no mass hysteria, debauched orgies or spectacular possessions. Only despair – dark, bottomless and all-engulfing…

Episode 8: The Marquis de Carabas
Paris, 1648. Following the events of the previous episode, Lady Penelope and her companions Saint-Germain, Taillefer and Bellegarde decide to investigate the enigmatic, eccentric and extravagant Marquis de Carabas… Yes, it’s the same name as the imaginary character from Puss in Boots – a fairy tale dating from 1695 or so… But what is chronology to an Eternal?

Episode 7 marked a long-awaited return to the era of the French Musketeers – for quite some time now, Penelope had wanted to pay a visit to the characters of Taillefer and Bellegarde, whom she first met in Episode 10.2. The plot was loosely based on the infamous Loudun and Louviers cases of demonic possessions, which occurred respectively during the reigns of Louis XIII and Louis XIV – but the “devils” involved here were (obviously) the Ravens of Despair, which proved a perfect fit for the atmosphere of the adventure. As I often do, I had tweaked a few things here and there – e.g. my Ravens had not come in a “rookery” spaceship but had been summoned through dimensional “wizardry” by a revenge-driven would-be sorceress – thanks to the arcane secrets of the Book of Eibon / Liber Ivonis, an eldritch tome which had already featured in the very first season of our campaign! It worked really well, with Saint-Germain proving a very useful companion (as a social chameleon, hypnotist and master of imposture). Penelope managed to counter the Ravens’ soul-crushing influence by engineering a fake (but miraculous) apparition of the Virgin Mary herself (actually a holographic projection of her TARDIS’ persona).

The link between episodes 7 and 8 was provided by the Book of Eibon, which had been given to the vengeful dabbler in the dark arts by a mysterious gentleman known as the Marquis de Carabas – a name which immediately rang an alarm bell in Penelope’s mind. Her investigations quickly led her to a regal parisian hotel particulier, during (of course) a masked ball. De Carabas proved to be a rogue Eternal, who had escaped from Eternity because of the Dissonance (last season’s timey-wimey McGuffin) and was busy playing games with  Ephemerals (i.e. toying with insects), leaving a trail of broken dreams and twisted destinies. And of course the Marquis had a Game in mind for Penelope – a Game she (of course) refused to play, managing to banish the creepily suave Marquis back to the nothingness of Eternity, thanks to her particular link with the aforementioned Dissonance. Penelope’s encounter with De Carabas also allowed me to present her with quite a few fascinating factoids about the Eternals, the Chronovores and the (now retired) Guardians, mixing some established elements of Whovian lore with my own personal interpretations. It was not a gratuitous info-dump, since Penelope had a harrowing near-encounter with the great Chronovore Kronos a few episodes ago and – sorry, SPOILERS!

See you soon for some new episode blurbs. Bon courage à tous!

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Season 14, Episodes 5-6

Episode 5: Secrets of Atlantis
Taking a touristic break, Lady Penelope and the Count of Saint-Germain decide to visit ancient Atlantis at the time of its splendor, in the mythic age of pax atlantea and orichalcum, well before its fatal destruction. But soon, the two travelers draw the attention of the hidden force at the heart of the Atlantean empire – Kronos, the imprisoned god of Time…

Episode 6: Hidden Agenda
After her narrow escape from the temporal clutches of Kronos, Penelope crash-lands the TARDIS in 2020 – in one of the safest places in the universe: Ashworth Manor, her stately family home in Kent (UK, Earth). While her ship is self-repairing, important guests start arriving. Torchwood. UNIT. The British Army. And, of course, the Prime Minister himself.

Episode 5 drew heavily on The Time Monster Atlantean background, mixed with various elements of my own creation about Atlantean culture, the influence of Kronos on the very reality of Atlantis and how the power of the crystal-imprisoned entity was exploited by its so-called “Eyes”, a group of time-sensitive seers acting as the power behind the throne (a bit like the Euphors in 300). The ending was particularly dramatic and stressful for Penelope, who had to cross the Minotaur’s labyrinth to rescue her abducted TARDIS from the clutches of Kronos himself!   Her departure from Atlantis was very chaotic and resulted in an emergency re-materialisation at a safe, familiar location (Ashworth Manor!), providing me with the setting for the next (very different) story.

Episode 6 took place entirely within the confines of Penelope’s stately family manor – used by Torchwood to host a very important conference regarding the future of UNIT in the UK; in our campaign (which follows an alternate continuity after the 10th Doctor era), UNIT has not already been mothballed and the episode focused on this very idea… which was actually a devious “soft invasion” plan devised by the Zygons to get rid of the only force able to prevent their intended takeover of the country, with the Prime Minister as the top-level infiltrated Zygon. For this pro-Brexit, anti-Harriet Jones PM, I used a NPC of my own invention (the honorable Rupert Dorrington), who could be described as a mix of Boris Johnson (of course) and Jools Siviter (Hugh Laurie’s character in the early seasons of Spooks).

Season 14 is now taking a break and will be back in a few months!  See you then!