Roleplaying with Doctor Who!

Teaser: “Ghost Town”

One tradition we’ve established with the launch of our new Doctor Who role-playing campaign calls for the creation of story specific teaser sequences. Prior to each game, the game master provides one of the players with a storytelling prompt. It’s then up to the player to write a brief descriptive scene that will open the game. The exercise allows us to stretch our creative writing skills and do some character building. The finished piece then sets the tone for the gameplay that follows. They’re fun to write and fun to hear on game day. We’ll be posting these teaser sequences along with the details of each game. Here’s the opening scene to our inaugural adventure, “Ghost Town.”

Fiction001THE VORTEX brought him peace. Selene had observed this ever since she had first stepped inside his astonishing box. He would inevitably find discontent planetside—some quibble or niggle would swell into a lecture on the inelegance of the local architecture or alien cuisine—and ventures into deep space always left him mournfully lamenting the cruel inevitability of entropy and death. In transit, however, there was a freedom that transformed the Doctor and left him blissfully unburdened. With La Traviata echoing throughout the vast chamber of the control room, his voice joining with the tenor’s for the arias, no one could deny it. The familiar wheezing of the central column that had been providing such surprisingly harmonious accompaniment ceased unexpectedly, however, punctuated by an abrupt and unceremonious thwump quite at odds with the Doctor’s playlist.

Selene grasped for the rail to steady herself. “We’ve landed.”

“Obviously,” the Doctor snapped, whirling to the other side of the console, madly flipping switches, his accusatory eyes interrogating the readouts. Verdi was silenced.

“I thought you said we needed a bit of a wander. The opportunity to listen to music and… How did you put it? Muse?”

“That’s what I said,” he answered, “not that they have any appreciation for Verdi.”

Selene cast her gaze to the deck. She had come to learn that his outbursts at such moments had nothing to do with her inexperience as a time traveler. The Doctor was prone to solitary arguments, open discussions with the open air. Selene felt as though the TARDIS was filled with figures she would never see, voices she would never hear.

Taking out his frustration with a last brutal slap to the console, the Doctor threw out his arm and took up his cape in a gesture so familiar that it brought a grin to her face. It was time to step out! Though she’d come to an appreciation of opera, Selene didn’t much care for musing. She paused only to throw on her jacket and then giddily followed him across the threshold of the dimensional doors.

They were standing at the edge of some forgotten lot, tucked under a cluster of trees casting a wide shadow. Selene was immediately glad to have brought her coat. In the distance, somewhere in the rolling mist that filled the air, a shrill bird cried out.

“England,” the Doctor declared confidently. “Twenty-third of November. Quite the day in history. Twenty-five hundred years and a little closer to Greece and we’d have had something. Thespis of Icaria became the first actor to portray a character onstage on this day. Mind you, his Pentheus was just plain over-the-top.”

“It’s quiet,” Selene remarked. “Beautiful.”

“No. It’s not.” The Doctor took a long, deep breath of the autumn air, puffing up his chest, and when he had finished the left hand side of his face twitched as if he had caught wind of something that might knock him off his feet. “There’s a funfair. Saltwater, candy floss, deep fried fish and chips, and a funfair.” He threw back his head and coughed.

“Oooh,” Selene cooed. “Can we go?”

The Doctor spun on his heels and turned to face her. “No.”

“Come on. You might like it. Why else would they call it a funfair?”

His dark, heavy eyelids snapped shut and the Doctor let loose a weary sigh. “It’s the twenty-first century, Selene. Fun, natural, low fat, free—all lies! The words mean nothing in this place, and there’s nothing the translation matrix can do to sort that.”

“Then why are we here?”

His left eye popped open and he scanned the perimeter. “Nascent temporal flux in a geometrically unstable pattern. The TARDIS picked it up as soon as we’d landed.” Then his right eye popped open too and he stared up at the sky, startling her by bellowing to the heavens, “That’s why we’re here, isn’t it?!”

The wind stirred. Dead leaves rattled against the police box. Selene pulled her coat a bit tighter across her shoulders. “Is it safe? Should I go back inside?”

“Well, now,” the Doctor said, pausing dramatically, and at last his colorless face curled with a wide and reckless grin. “That depends on your definition of fun.”


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