Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Character Archetypes or: what is your D&D doing in my DWAITAS?

While I definitely don’t intend to convert from my own heavily house-ruled brand of 1st edition DWAITAS to any other system, I must say that several features of the new DOCTORS & DALEKS rulebook published by Cubicle 7 have struck me as particularly well thought-out, with a very strong accent on genre emulation. 

One of these features is the list of six basic character classes – reminiscent of the old D20 Modern ones (IIRC) but re-designed DW-style. The idea is simple: each of the six basic D&D attributes (Strength, Wisdom, etc.) is tied to a specific character class, which is clearly defined more as a heroic archetype than as, say, a profession or career, which is, IMHO, the perfect way to go. 

The six classes are: the Charmer (Charisma), the Thinker (Intelligence), the Empath (Wisdom), the Trickster (Dexterity), the Protector (Strength) and the Stalwart (Constitution). The names are self-explanatory and if you want more details on these classes, well, I direct you to the Doctors & Daleks players book. 

Each class provides a wide array of special talents and other signature abilities which (this being, basically, D&D) are acquired as the character gains levels (and which, incidentally, take this iteration of DW in RPG form in a completely opposite direction to the one followed by DW 2nd Edition, which took all our beloved traits out of the equation but I won’t elaborate on this).

As I was thinking about these six classes (let’s call them ‘archetypes’), I realized that they could be readily translated into Doctor Who RPG 1st edition terms, since the six attributes of the Vortex system are almost identical to the classic D&D six (with a few variations – Wisdom being replaced with Awareness and Constitution with Resolve… but these actually make things even more logical, e.g. Stalwarts being defined by their high Resolve). 

These six archetypes could simply be used as simple and elegant templates for beginning player-characters (especially with new players, I’d say), with their associated special abilities and talents being represented by (wait for it…) a list of possible good traits – YES!

 So here is the result of my little conversion work – and I must say I find it quite interesting. (BTW, for simplicity’s sake, I’ve limited the listed possible good traits to the ones listed in the 12th Doctor rulebook, leaving special traits out).

Let’s start with the ‘prime requisite’ attribute – the one which should be at least equal to 4:

Charmer = Presence

Empath = Awareness

Protector = Strength

Stalwart = Resolve

Thinker = Ingenuity

Trickster = Coordination

And now, on to the typical/recommended good traits:

Charmer: Attractive, Charming, Friends, Lucky, Noble, Owed Favour, Voice of Authority

Empath: Animal Friendship, Charming, Empathic, Friends, Hypnosis, Psychic Training, Sense of Direction

Protector: Brave, Indomitable, Military Rank, Noble, Quick Reflexes, Tough, Voice of Authority

Stalwart: Brave, Face in the Crowd, Fast Healing, Indomitable, Military Rank, Sense of Direction, Tough

Thinker: Biochemical Genius, Boffin, Percussive Maintenance, Photographic Memory, Resourceful Pockets, Reverse the Polarity of the Neutron Flow, Technically Adept

Trickster: Face in the Crowd, Keen Senses, Lucky, Owed Favour, Quick Reflexes, Resourceful Pockets, Technically Adept

Yes, by some quirk of fate, each list has the same number of typical traits (seven). These lists are not exclusive lists; they simply show which good traits would go well with each archetype; if you really want to make a rule about this, you could say that the character must purchase at least 2 points worth of these recommended traits.

I was amazed by how easy this little conversion work was – and, if anything, it shows that the underlying idea behind the six Doctors & Daleks classes is a very sound and apt one in terms of genre emulation, since it translates so nicely and easily to TOSTIL (That Other System That I Love J).

Sunday, July 17, 2022

The Key to Space (2/3)

Second Fragment: The Secret City

I. The Cursed House

Lady Penelope’s search for the second fragment of the Key to Space takes her to Prague, a city full of stories and secrets, memories and mysteries. Her steps soon lead her to the Jewish Ghetto, where the shadows of the past and the threats of the future lurk at the threshold of a troubled present. There, in a forsaken house, a dying man of wisdom is waiting for her…

II. The Hidden Legend

Now in possession of the second fragment of the Key, Penelope must confront a man who should have been dead for 75 years – former charlatan Edward Kelley, now known as Doctor K, hidden master of the Imperial Secret Cabinet. Meanwhile, a religious pogrom is brewing and a well-kept secret is about to step out of the shadows, into the streets of the Ghetto…

Of course, the Golem of Prague made a spectacular appearance - but it was a reinterpreted golem, made of the very stones of the Ghetto and given life by the combined powers of telluric energy (the 'signature shtick' of Penelope 7 - see our last season) and the collective unconscious of an entire community. Part two was extremely moving, with some very emotional scenes dealing with the trail left in Prague by Morrolan, Penelope's long-dead Time Lord father... Also, that scoundrel Edward Kelley finally met a fitting end - yes, it was the Third Defenestration of Prague!

Next stop: Paris!

Saturday, July 2, 2022

The Key to Space (1/3)

In this six-chapter mini-series, Lady Penelope goes on a quest all around 1668 Europe to retrieve the three fragments of the Key to Space, a prodigious (and quite hazardous) device crafted by her late father, the Time Lord Morrolan, also known as the Architect… Who knows what hidden perils, mysteries and revelations await her?

First Fragment: The Shining City

I. The Hollow Court

Lady Penelope’s quest for the Key to Space first takes her to Whitehall Palace in London, the seat of King Charles II’s decadent and intrigue-riddled court. Her search soon brings her to join forces with England’s rising star architect, Christopher Wren, to whom her father had entrusted the first fragment of the Key – which has just been stolen by an unknown party…  

II. The Invisible College

Penelope’s search for the stolen fragment of the Key takes her to Oxford, where she quickly draws the attention of the Invisible College, an ancient secret institution fallen under the influence of the mysterious Twilight People. But what is the true agenda of these elusive entities?  And why are they so interested in Christopher Wren’s dream of a new London?

Aside from Christopher Wren himself, this first two-parter featured quite a few historical guest stars and cameos, including Charles II, his various mistresses (well, as far as 1668 was concerned: Barbara Palmer née Villiers, Moll Davis and Nell Gwynn), his wife and his brother James, the inevitable Samuel Pepys, John Denham (reinvented here as a truly tragic figure), the polymath genius Robert Boyle and Lady Margaret Cavendish, duchess of Newcastle and author of that strangest of utopias, The Blazing World

Next stop: Prague!