It seems like only yesterday that the Doctor and Selene were stepping out of the TARDIS and onto the beach at Arrowdown, ready to face an uncertain future and terrors untold. That was “Ghost Town,” the inaugural module in our ongoing campaign based on the Doctor Who Roleplaying Game from Cubicle 7. It launched an unforgettable run of adventures that has taken our players from the battlefields of Roman Britain to the flowering jungles of Vortis to the depths of the Atlantic Ocean in the belly of the Titanic. The Doctor and his companions—the robot Master, Selene, Mohana, and Alison—have toppled madmen and undead gods and alien killing machines. The Daleks and the Divinity came closest to ending their journey, but with carefully chosen traits and a few well-played story points, our heroes triumphed over evil time and again. The Doctor and the TARDIS are eternal. On television and at the gaming table, their story will never end.
That’s important to remember, as change is coming. The Dark Dimension is about to be renewed. The incarnation of the Doctor brought so memorably to life by Richard E Grant in “Scream of the Shalka,” star of our campaign, has dark days ahead as our game narrative is jumping forward to depict his defiant last stand. The time has come for an historic first in our campaign, the first regeneration—and the moment has been prepared for. Players and game masters will be switching roles, and there will be a shake-up in the status quo.
A regeneration is imminent, but that doesn’t mean we’re done telling stories with the Nth Doctor. Though we’ll be introducing the Doctor’s next incarnation and a new take on the ongoing story arc, there will be plenty of opportunities to play out the untold stories of the Nth Doctor’s era in the future. Going forward, the Dark Dimension will feature twice the Doctors. This will expand our ongoing original narrative and add some variety to the proceedings. Ultimately, each player in the campaign will have the opportunity to create their own Doctor. It’s been great fun developing an original take on the mythology of Doctor Who using “Scream of the Shalka” as a starting point. That mythology is going to take on a greater richness and vibrancy as our cast of Doctors begins to expand.
Who is the companion destined to board the TARDIS during its time of peril? Will the Doctor at last break free of the oppressive control of the Time Lords? Can the Master resist his hideous true nature? What is to be the Doctor’s final fate, and what sort of man will emerge from the ashes of his regeneration? Time, and a roll of the 2D6, will tell.
In a fortnight’s time, Doctor Who will return to television for what looks to be a stunning new series on BBC One. Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor continues to prove full of surprises. (And the new series is accompanied, of course, by a brand new edition of the Doctor Who Roleplaying Game released by Cubicle 7!) Shortly after the show’s return, our own tabletop version of Doctor Who will have its latest series premiere, although there are some changes in the cards for these dice-driven misadventures in time and space.
The Dark Dimension campaign represents an alternate timeline to the new series of Doctor Who. Diverging from the established television continuity has allowed us to develop an original mythology, and the exciting second series of our role-playing game advanced that mythology by leaps and bounds. (Consider the image posted here as the box set cover for Series Two. Behold the manic grin that has greeted—and terrified—so many of the NPCs in our adventures!)
After failing in his desperate effort to eliminate the corrupting influence of the Divinity from the timestream, incurring their wrath as well as the judgment of the Time Lords, the Doctor found himself face-to-face with with his mortal enemies once more in “Divine Retribution.” His greatest fears were rendered reality. The resulting confrontation precipitated a seemingly inevitable betrayal as Selene pledged her loyalty to the Master, earning the Doctor’s ire and nearly costing him the TARDIS. The decisive “Planet of Ghosts” ended on a somber note as Mohana bid farewell to her predecessor in the Doctor’s stead, leaving Selene frozen in cryogenic stasis, bound for Earth, unaware of her fate.
When our campaign continues next month, we’ll fast-forward into a new era. One of the ways in which we hope to keep our campaign fresh is by regularly rotating roles. Each player will have the opportunity to serve as game master, and our campaign’s characters and mythology will sometime shift as a result. Soon a new game master will take charge, sharing a fresh take on these stories and introducing fresh player dynamics as well.
The upcoming series of adventures will focus on the Doctor (Richard E Grant), the Master (Derek Jacobi), and Alison Cheney (Sophie Okonedo) as they travel through time and space, their destinies dictated by the mysterious mandate of the Time Lords. While the events of our first two series serve as a prelude to “Scream of the Shalka” (2003), our next few stories will take place after the events of the animated BBCi webcast. The Episodes page here on the blog outlines the order of adventures and campaign continuity and will always be up-to-date with the latest installment.
If you’re looking for something to tide you over during the countdown to “The Magician’s Apprentice,” now is a fine time to pick up that copy of “Scream of the Shalka” on DVD. Spend an evening revisiting a memorable reinvention of our hero and have a glimpse at what might have been if the history of Doctor Who had jumped a time track and taken a different course. The story of that sophisticated, saturnine Doctor and his ominous trials and tribulations continues, right here, in the weeks to come.
Game Master: Adam Players: Brian, Erin
Game Date: 23 August 2015
Characters: The Doctor, The Master, Selene, Mohana
Adversaries: The Daleks
Time: 13-19 October 6382 CE
Space: Arkheon, Kappa Galanga Sector
Continuity: The final adventure featuring Selene.
Synopsis: As war rages with the Dalek Empire, the Galactic Union’s border worlds fall one-by-one. Rescued from a Dalek death trap by a motley band of bounty hunters, the Doctor, Selene, and Mohana witness the devastation of the fighting first hand as refugee fleets burn and whole planets are incinerated. A violent clash aboard the mercenary starship itself leaves Selene frozen in cryonic suspension, her life hanging in the balance, as the bounty hunters who saved her ruthlessly secure a captured Dalek. Though subjected to cruel torture, the mutant captive responds only to the voice of its most hated enemy: the Doctor.
Dalek military movements in the sector, it reveals, centre around a single strategic point in space and time. Following this lead, the Doctor and companions both new and old soon find themselves deep beneath the surface of Arkheon, the fabled Planet of Ghosts, where the Daleks have begun construction on a device of staggering scope and power. If activated, it has the potential to alter the very timeline of the war. The Doctor and his allies must risk all in a desperate bid to free the prisoners of the Daleks and end their dangerous operations on Arkheon, or the human race will be exterminated once and for all.
Game Master: Adam Players: Brian, Erin
Game Date: 1 August 2015
Characters: The Doctor, The Master, Selene, Mohana
Adversaries: The Divinity, The Rhumon Empire, The Rhumon Republic
Allies: The Menoptera
Time: 26 October 2306 CE
Space: Vortis, Constellation of Arbus
Continuity: The first adventure featuring the Divinity.
Synopsis: The Divinity. Since the dawn of time, these ethereal heralds have spread evil and chaos across the stars with their promise of religious salvation. An attempt by the Doctor to erase their malign influence from history served only to bring about eternal vengeance. For his sins, there will be retribution.
On the planet Vortis, flowering jungles have become a battlefield for the warring alien armies of a bitter interplanetary conflict—the war between Rhumon Prime and New Rhumos. The fighting has led to the enslavement of the peaceful insectoid peoples of the planet, the Menoptera and the Zarbi. As Vortis is stripped of its remarkable resources and hope dwindles among its indigenous inhabitants, the Menoptera seek a prophet who fell from the stars to save their world during a time of peril long ago: the Doctor.
Fate has returned the TARDIS to Vortis, for the Doctor knows the origin of the religious zealotry and primal superstitions fuelling this war. The Divinity have taken this fertile world as their own and all are powerless to resist their influence. After facing them, even the Doctor’s closest allies find their faith put to the test. How much does Mohana really know about the shadowy figure known as the Doctor? How deep-seated is Selene’s misguided dedication to the Master? The fate of Vortis and the rebirth of the Divinity hinge upon the resolution of a power struggle that has long been brewing behind the battered blue doors of the TARDIS.
A courtesan from twenty-third century Jodhpur in India, Mohana Sundraju has lived most of her life as a companion in a gilded cage, enjoying great luxury whilst confined within palace walls. When a temporal disruption left her stranded in time, she embraced the opportunity to escape and found her salvation behind the doors of a battered old police box. Mohana is a passionate woman possessing seductive charms, well-educated in matters of music, dancing, culture, and the arts. She is also adept at reading others, able to discern the deep-seated feelings and desires of men and women alike. In attributes, Mohana’s presence is overwhelming. In skills, her ability to convince and deceive overshadow her weaknesses as a warrior or technician. Possessing a selfish streak and an insatiable curiosity, Mohana is captivated by the enigma of the Doctor—the most powerful and puzzling man that she has ever encountered, a man with dark secrets and an impenetrable facade—and she is determined to share in his bold exploration of new and exciting cultures as he travels through time and space.