This week, I just finished playing an introductory Doctor Who scenario using Fate Accelerated Edition with my teenage kids. We had a blast, and I just had to share our actual play experience. Note: This post is an edited version of a forum post made on Google+, in case you saw it there.
Using the utilitarian rules I posted earlier, my son chose to create his own Time Lord named The Protector. The most common aspects he invoked were Savior of the Universe, Thinks of Others Before Himself, and I Have a Trustworthy Face, though Protector of My Feelings got compelled some. His main attribute is Quick, and he really lived up to that.
My daughter chose to play a modern-day British woman named Hannah Holmes, who lives in L.A. and is an avid hunter. Her favorite aspects were Hunter: The Weirder, The Better and Younger than Most, but Good. Being Clever, she got good mileage out of her stunt, “Because I grew up hunting with the Winchesters, I get +2 when Cleverly attacking when I’ve just been attacked.”
The scenario Setting the World on Fire starts with an attack on a young George Washington. The Protector and Hannah Holmes dashed after the attacker. As they ran across a stream in pursuit, a set of soldiers engaged them to allow the assassin to escape.
When danger beckoned, she declared that as a hunter, she probably had a knife on her and use it to neutralize a set of mooks. Being Doctor Who, there wasn’t much blood. The fight ended when The Protectors knocked the last couple of mooks into the nearby stream. Meanwhile, the villain got away.
They were in over their heads due to some poor rolling, so they decided to get the Doctor to help them. My son insisted this scenario happened before the Time War, but they couldn’t decide which incarnation to pay a visit to. The Protector landed the TARDIS at the ending of the Five Doctors, which was a clever way to get me to decide. I ended up having the Second Doctor help them overcome the hurdle they were stuck on before the Doctor had to get back to his own situation.
In the end, the Protector and Hannah figured out a way to get history back on track and almost took on a historical personage as a Companion. It really felt like a Doctor Who episode.
I’m being vague about the scenario itself because I hope to play it another time or two – probably via Hangout – before I release it into the wild.
Episode 2, Session 1
The next night’s session got off to a slow and shaky start. Since I didn’t have an adventure planned, I helped the kids do some brainstorming. My son took the lead last time, so I asked my daughter her opinion. We ended up with quite a few elements to work with. We discussed several more, but these are the ones I honed in on:
- Clockwork Men (from Girl in the Fireplace)
- the French Revolution
- her character’s best friend Dean Winchester, a modern-day ghost hunter who always carries salt, the one she is travelling to search for
I took a quick break and did a little research. I decided to set the story in Mende, France around the year 1794, during the height of the French Revolution.
With some simple internet searches, I found the ghost story of Lady Pennyman, which:
- is set in the French Revolution
- involves the exchange of money for a large lump of “silver”
- a rumor of “the Haunting House”
I thought to myself, that’s a perfect Doctor Who episode set-up. For setting and feel, I drew some inspiration from two films, Brotherhood of the Wolf and Chocolat. Whereas I thought that Le Pacte des Loupes – as it’s known in French – would be the primary atmosphere, it turns out that Chocolat was more informative.
The players weren’t as engaged today and seemed a little lost, so we didn’t get very far, but there were a couple fun exchanges, so a good time was had. I need to remember that I need to provide them more structure, that they thrive better in more guided adventures like last night.
So it was that our Time Lord, The Protector, and his Companion, Hannah Holmes, who were travelling in the TARDIS after having saved the day last episode. An alarm sounds, telling of unusual artron energy readings, a side effect of time travel.
Lots of artron energy can mean unsafe time travel and could create a rift in space-time. (One that could bring a modern-day ghost hunter into the past, say. Or destroy the universe, something that’s keenly interesting to the self-proclaimed “Savior of the Universe”.)
The Protector used a once-per-session stunt on his TARDIS to declare that he had some kind of artron energy meter. Detector in hand, they landed. (My son says his “New Age” TARDIS makes the sound of an elevator bell when landing. Reign of Terror, rural France, 1794! Ding!)
They left the TARDIS and started walking through the village of Mende, but their steps echoed on the cobblestones. There weren’t many people about. The Protector decided that it must be Sunday, so they headed to the cathedral to see what was going on.
The only one they found there was a priest taking care of the sanctuary. For some reason, they were keen on getting some period clothes, so with a little rolling, I gave the travellers period garb.
The priest told them most of the people were by the riverbank at a gypsy fair. (Think Chocolat.) There was a man who was happy to let them in for two francs. They had no money, so they wondered what to do.
As they discussed it, the Protector said, “I have 16 PhD’s. I’ve got this.” Hannah Holmes retorted, “Well, I’m from L.A., so shush.”
The Protector tried to invoke his “I’m not human” aspect and asked whether there was a gallows nearby. He got Hannah to help him hang himself, but because of his bypass respiratory tract, he was able to breathe normally. While impressive, the gate attendant was unnerved by the display and didn’t want to have anything to do with the Protector.
In the end, Hannah Holmes managed to traded her salt for admission, and they got in. They looked around and saw various vendors, food, minstrels, and the like. I described it as being akin to the local Renaissance Festival, although there were only a dozen or so wagons of wares. They reached the end of the fair, and found the gypsy’s living quarters.
The Protector decided he had to see inside the tents, because there could be a time machine there. He tried to push his way past a burly guard named Pierre, but that started a shoving match. Hannah Holmes pulled the Protector off, but not before Madame Marie came and spoke to them.
This led them to come to her tent later, ostensibly to have their fortune read. They immediately got a different feeling in the tent, although it was just velvet curtains and candlelight. Madame Marie only wanted one franc for Hannah’s fortune, but they still had no money. The Protector told Madame Marie, “I have a cloth – FROM THE FUTURE.” We all just laughed out loud at that point.
Hannah Holmes once again came to the rescue and gave Madame Marie a gold bracelet. When she started handling the bracelet, Madame Marie started getting a name… Dee, D-something. Dean. And that’s where I ended tonight’s session.
It’s unlikely we’ll play again until the kids come back from their mom’ parenting time, so the next episode will likely be in early to mid-October.