Tuesday, 15 June 2010

The First Doctors Era (1963 - 1966)

At the very beginning of the series the Doctor was a mysterious stranger, with very little known about him except the fact that he had a granddaughter - Susan Foreman - and that they were from another time and another world.

He had a time machine - the TARDIS, which was disguised as a police box and was bigger on the inside than on the outside.

He and Susan were exiles for unkown reasons - which just added to the starkness and alienation of the earliest episodes.

(It would not be until the last adventure of the Doctor's second incarnation that the name of the Doctor's people {the Time Lords} would be revealed, and the third Doctor's tenure before the name of his home planet {Gallifrey} was first uttered on screen).

There was a darkness to the first Doctor initially, he was capable of very nasty behaviour - in the Tribe of Gum for example, he was more than willing to kill the injured Caveman rather than have the group slowed down by carrying him.

When running scenarios set in the 1st Doctor era three "rules" should apply -

1 - Everything should seem "new" to the group, don't let them create characters from the 51st Century initially. As the story progresses its fine to add new Characters from Alien Worlds and Future Times - but to begin with ALL the Characters (outside the Doctor and Susan - should you decide to include her) should be from Earth and should have no knowledge of Aliens, Space, or Time-Travel.

This might seem harsh and restrictive, but its going to make telling the sort of stories you need to for this era more effective and enjoyable for your group.

2 - Make sure they realize they can't always rely on the Doctor to get them out of trouble. As I pointed out in the early stories the Doctor was very self centered, he cared about himself and Susan - he simply would NOT put himself or his Grandaughter in danger for anyone else - often Susan interposes on other characters behalf, as Susan is the reliable and trustworthy one - not the Doctor, who is prone to being abrasive, patronising, ad cantankerous and decidedly random behaviour.

Over time, as they share adventures together - he should start to bond more closely with his travelling companions - but it should not happen overnight,

3 - Treat the plot/story even more like an Onion than usual - in the early stories everything was a mystery untill the big reveal that usually came at the end of an episode (its fun to do it RIGHT at the end of a session).

If you are using a Classic Doctor Who Monster/Villain it should NOT be revealed who (or what) your main protagonist is untill the end of the first session (at the very least) for a Scenario that will last multiple evenings or towards the end of the evening if its a one-shot game.

All these rules might seem very restrictive, and I suppose considering how DWAITAS is setup they are - but sticking to them will help maintain the illusion of the earlier shows - it doesn't mean you have to run games set in the 1st Doctors era like this forever - far from it, by the time of The Time Meddler the format was very much recognizable as Doctor Who. There were characters from different times, the Doctor was much friendlier and worried about his companions - HOWEVER rule Number 3 should always apply.

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