Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Psychic : Companions



I've been wanting to run this game for years.  And thankfully, I did owe Karen a Dr. Who game and on International Tabletop day, we scheduled a session.  The opportunity arose to run Companions, I struggled to think of a storyline that felt appropriate to the Dr. Who universe.  Admittedly, my earlier attempt with Spam wasn't that well mapped out.    I cleared the summary with Rocky who felt it was "Very Dr. Who".

In Companions, the Doctor is dead.  And the TARDIS emerges to ask former Companions to save the Universe.  For this session, the Companions were the following:

Captain Drake, played by Jose
Torchwood Agent: Male, striking looks, formal wear, and weary eyes.
COOL : You don't stand a chance : Silver Tongued
Damaged Vortex Manipulator, Trenchcoat, suit +armor
Sonic screwdriver/cattle prod
Modern sub-machinegun
Dydra knows something about you (+1)
I once left Falling Star to die (+3)
Tried to recruit Kane (+1)

Dydra, played by Jovan
Whiz : Female, casual clothes, soft face, wiry body, clever eyes, Ramona Flowers type
CLEVER : Aggressive Improvisation : Machine Culture
High tech scrap
Multi-tool with Aimed pulse stun
Falling Star is a cipher. (+1)
I saved Kane's life with one of your devices (+1)
Capt. Drake is seen as a new equal (+3)

Falling Star, played by Karen
Warrior-Poet, humanoid (pearl iridiscent eyes) : weathered face, sad eyes, compact body, mismatched armor, been through battles.
Tribe of warriors. Gone for 75 years.
BOLD : Favor of the Gods : Keen Eyes
Wicked weapon (Glass Ripper, AP)
Elegant weapon (Baroque Laser Rifle, hi tech auto reload)
Nightmare weapon (Psychic Drill, stun loud)
Dydra is my Elder, taught me much (+2)
Holds Capt. Drake in contempt for past actions (+1)
Sworn to protect Kane (+2)

Kane, played by Paolo
Touchstone : Male, urban fashion, strong face, tense eyes, stylish hair, gym body (Fassbender)
APPEAL : Something about you : Vortex Kiss (Doctor was an odd ball regular, forgot change, so chased after him and saw the TARDIS as he left)
Dydra saved my life (+2)
Has a crush on Falling Star (+1)
Drake once totally stabbed me in the back. (+1)

The story opens with Falling Star standing inside the ladies room. She could hear the laughter of the others outside. Falling Star finds herself remembering the Doctor she once had adventures with and him telling her how she always had sad, sad eyes. Part of her is wondering what he means by her having sad eyes - as far as she knew she always had the eyes of a warrior. Coming from a tribe of warriors, they protect the citizens of the planet from other alien forces and threats. She had been gone from her own people for 75 years and she wonders how her mirror eyes can ever be said to look "sad."

Dydra wonders what is taking Falling Star so long in the restroom. Drake is flirting with the waitress as usual. None of the other Companions have showed up to join them in this "impromptu memoriam" for the Doctor who has long passed on. She stands up, walks to the restroom and knocks at the door. The adjoining door opens and Kane steps inside, and she remembers the time she saved his very life. They wave at each other.

Captain Drake flirts with the waitress, talking to her about how many times he had saved the world in the past. She giggles a few times, not sure when to believe him and when to think he's just trying to impress her.

The group has a table with small mementos representing their time with the Doctor: a rock from Falling Star, a screw from Dydra, and a small piece of metal from a destroyed Cyberman.  None of them were present to witness the Doctor's death.  However as they were all touched by the Vortex, they all felt the undeniable sadness that swelled in their hearts on the day he died.  As the group regathers at the table to toast to the Doctor, a sudden sound erupts and announces the arrival of the TARDIS!  As the waitress begins to shriek, Drake tries to shush her.  Dydra, impatient for any noise, zaps her unconscious with her multi-tool's pulse stun.  Falling Star is the first to approach it, and the door slides open.  Dydra squeezes past Falling Star to see what is inside.  Drake turns to Kane, grins and tells him, "Let's do this?"  Kane mutters a sure.  All the screens inside the TARDIS are flashing the faces of the Companions.   They all then display a single object: a leather flap containing the Psychic Paper.  Dydra rushes to where it would normally be and opens it to see what is inside.  While usually Psychic Paper shows what the viewer expects to see, they all instead see the words form: Please Help Me.   Pain.  Please Come.  "Is it the words of the Doctor or the Tardis?" Falling Star asks aloud.  Kane pulls out his cellular phone, the device which the Doctor once altered for him when he was in a brief stint with him.  He feels confused and decides to check the phone's calendar device for a horoscope reading:  Today is a day to go on an Adventure!  Who knows you might even save a life.  Strangers are strange but you will find they are worth your trust.  Do not hesitate.  Geronimo!
The other Companions all turn to Kane, recognizing the catchphrase.  Dydra rushes to the console to try and track where the Psychic Paper is tapping into.  Drake, anticipating an adventure, hurries off to find where he left his equipment before.  Dydra successfully tracks the psychic traces and locks onto the source.  She asks the others, despite her mind is made up, "I'm pretty sure you guys want to find out what this is about?"  They all nod a yes.  "Lets rock!" Drake grins.  Dydra pulls the lever and the title sequence of the show appears with Pink Floyd's One of these Days as the opening track.


The group travels to the future.  The location is Russia.  And as the group lands, they discover that the city outside looks war torn and in ruins.  Drake opens the door, confident given he has weapons in hand.  Dydra calibrates the TARDIS for an easy exit if there is any emergency.  Kane wishes he had a gun, but Drake teases him there is only one.  There is snow outside.  While the others grab clothes to wear, Drake and Falling Star step outside, confident with their weapons.   Dydra surveys the surroundings and notices the following points of interest:  the place seems generally quiet now, with no clear ongoing signs of violence, and seemingly in charge of the place are the owners of the cloth banner with a golden swastika, some kind of United Nations of Nazis?    On the ground, the shattered remains of a Dalek.   Kane stares at the same things and mutters, "I guess we didn't win?"   Dydra inspects the broken Dalek, but Falling Star warns her to wait as she inspects how the Dalek was defeated.  "What kind of beam can shatter a Dalek?"  She forces some strength on the metal and watches as it snaps off easily.

Kane reemerges with a fur parka and Dydra realizes she needs one too.  She hurries back into the TARDIS to grab one.   Emerging from the nearby building with the swastika, armed soldiers march out in formation and head straight for them.  Dydra grabs the key to the TARDIS while Falling Star rushes forward, ready to face the soldiers if need be.   Falling Star pulls out the Psychic Drill, the dreaded weapon the Doctor told her never to use on another living being, and yells at everyone else to "Duck!"  Dydra pulls out her Pulse Stun and prepares to fire.  Kane ducks to the ground.  Drake raises both hands and tries to tell everyone to calm down.    The soldiers call out to the group to identify themselves since, "Clearly you were all with the TARDIS!"  The group counters, asking how they'd be aware of the TARDIS.  In response, a man comes out to command the soldiers to back down.  He reminds them the Companions are probably allies of the Doctor.  He mistakes Falling Star as the leader and asks her if the Doctor is dead.  They aren't sure if they should admit it.  Drake claims he's "Somewhere out in the Galaxy as usual."   Dydra hisses at them to not tell them anything.  She does not trust the nazis.  The man is clearly dressed in a Nazi uniform, however, he has an eyepatch over one eye and scars on his face.  He identifies Falling Star's weapon and admits normally when shown such a weapon of great power, they open fire immediately.  His name is Storm Leader Zero and tells them this is "the New Motherland."  He tells them that they had come a bit too late as they had finally defeated the Daleks after 200 years of war.  Dydra asks where they had come from, given she knows the Doctor had already defeated them a long time ago.   Storm Leader Zero was about to answer, but then he looks at Dydra's face more and asks, "Dydra?"

"Who is asking?" she replies, wondering how he would know of her.

He invites them inside for hot tea and the soldiers disperse.  Agent Drake opts to go to the soldiers to ask them questions.  Dydra keeps her Pulse Stun ready and walks with Storm Leader Zero.  Falling Star accompanies her.  Kane looks around, realizing everyone seems to have forgotten he's still there.  He decides to follow Storm Leader Zero to ask some questions.  They are celebrating D-Day it seems.

Outside, Agent Drake befriends the soldiers.  He talks to them about his exploits as a Companion and they proudly show off their technology.  They ask if he's a member of Torchwood and talk about how much they admire the group.  He asks how they defeated the Daleks, and they begin sharing how humanity was able to fight back thanks to their access to Dydratech weaponry.  The name captures Drake's interest.

Inside, Dydra and Falling Star notice the many tables, records, crisis maps of the world and more that have been set up all around.  There are also a lot of injured people still in recovery.  As well as a lot of alien tech nearby. Seeing the War Room in the side, Dydra takes mental note of it but opts to focus on Storm Lord Zero.   Falling Star opts to peek inside the War Room.

Kane walks up to Storm Leader Zero and hears him talking about "Dydra... Dydra herself.. is here."  He seems to find Dydra to be of some major import, and he seems to be confused that the Doctor is not with them.  Kane asks about Dydra and how they know her.  Storm Leader Zero admits he is related to her, and that he never thought he'd experience someone from his past.  "If it were not for her, we would have lost this War."

In the room, Dydra sees there are four Daleks that have been dissected, disassembled and inspected.  The signs of wear and tear are apparent.  Storm Leader Zero offers Dydra the exact type of tea she wants.  Kane quietly accepts a cup as well.  Dydra slides her multitool to test the tea and finds it clear of any poisons.  Kane tries asking the Storm Leader Zero, "Can you give me a brief description of what happened between the 21st Century and now?"  He turns to Dydra, asking if Kane is the new Companion.  He suggests Dydra helped them win the war, and when Dydra asks  how, his eyes wander upon the four Daleks.

Back in the War Room, Falling Star is staring at the world map.  It is filled with markers suggesting different Dalek colors.  All are marked with crosses to show they have been destroyed.  A woman present gasps upon seeing Falling Star and asks if she is a "Pearl Fisher?"  Falling Star learns the war was declared won just yesterday after they defeated the Mothership.  Falling Star however wonders who is still in trouble asking for their help.  The woman shows off the tech such as the Dydra2000 which allowed them to fight the aliens.

The Daleks descended on Earth, causing worldwide panic. The nations try to contact Torchwood, who launches an assault and is defeated in the first day.  As they try to unify, the Daleks do a terrible act to divide the planet: They send a Dalek of a specific color to each continent, and promise the people sanctuary if they attack the others.  The Daleks convinced people to attack each other, thinking the others would do the same.  Missiles were launched.  Countries were decimated.  Eventually, from the survivors, most gave up and had no hopes of winning the war.  That was when the first Storm Leader started inspiring the people with stories of his great, great, great, grand mother.  The stories of Dydra's time with the Doctor, of her carrying on in his absence, inspired the survivors to band together and fight back.   Dydra's technology was used to cause the Daleks to become brittle enough to be vulnerable to normal firearms.

"It is your stories that gave the remainder of Humanity hope.  But it was someone else's stories that gave them Discipine.  To unite the people, someone had to be scarier than the Daleks."

They embraced the ideas and imagery of the Nazis to frighten the people to fall in line and gather under one banner.    A unified army, lead with the same discipline and tactics of the Nazis emerged, they would terrify the populace enough to want to fight to survive.

Falling Star wonders what happened to those who were unwilling to support this new Nazi regime.  The scientist, who unlocks the War Room with her breath and palm print, escorts her inside to see the various Dydratech devices already there - including the DydraPacifer.  Falling Star stares at the gathered technology.  The DydraPacifer is able to affect up to 50 people in a single dose.   There were even the DydraPlatforms which allowed up to fifty troops to be maneuvered and dropped into locations almost instantaneously.  As well as DydraShields which could take a single blast, no mater how powerful, and disperse it harmlessly.  The Shields were very few in number but allowed them to turn the tide against the Daleks.  "We became Benevolent Dictators to save the Human Race."   And now that the war is over, the scientist admits the dismantlement procedures have begun and all the tech is being destroyed.  She is puzzled however that the Doctor did not send the group.  Falling Star admits the TARDIS was the one who brought them over, after receiving a warning on the Psychic Paper.

"You guys are so doomed if your future relies on me becoming the hero who created these weapons," Dydra admits, "I cannot believe I was the one who created all of this destruction."

"You did not create destruction, you created hope. You showed us that we... we didn't need the Doctor," Storm Leader Zero.  The Storm Leader Zero then introduces them too the lead scientist, Dee, who happens to be his daughter.  Dydra realizes Dee was named after her own name.

The group gathers to talk about what they've learned so far.   Dydra denies knowing anything about the place despite the group teasing her to create the weapons they were presented.  They inspect the Psychic Paper once more and find it saying:

Please. Make pain stop.

They get a visit from Dee, whom Agent Drake begins to flirt with very quickly.  She offers to show them around.  As the group tries looking around to inspect the area, they discover that a massive wealth of alien tech and knowledge is currently being destroyed by the soldiers, called the Grand Library.    The Dalek Mothership, it turns out, contained all the culture and books of the various worlds they had conquered in the last 200 years.  And now that it had crashed, the soldiers are burning the debris to ensure no one ends up getting their hands on any alien tech.  The Companions feel bothered at such a waste of knowledge and culture and decide to inspect the crash site to see if they can find anything of note.  Given the size of the ship, the group splits up to look around.

Agent Drake quickly starts looking at the closet stack of books.  Kane and Falling Star stick together and inspect the higher floors.  Dydra is amused at Kane and Falling Star's flirtations and tells them to find a room.  She heads to the closest burning stack.

Heading upstairs, Falling Star and Kane searches for anything of interest.   Kane asks more about her planet and she shares how her planet was peaceful thanks to warriors like her.  She starts sharing about how she met the Doctor then.  How she considered going back, but she was too busy being his Companion.    Falling Star finds some artifacts of her own people, and this gives her a moment of pause worrying if her own planet has fallen to Dalek hands as well.  She stares at the Totem, a forcefield shield device as well as the Scroll, which contains the stories of her people.

By the entrance, Dydra decide to start looking at the nearby shelves and collections that are on the verge of burning up from the remnants of the crash.   The growing glow of the bonfire is being fed by the tons of books and publications that have been shelved together and fallen onto the broken parts.  She pulls out her Multi-tool and uses the tech she had carried with her to put the fire out.  The makeshift flame retardant smothers the fire for the moment, although the flickering suggests it will reignite.  Probably fueled by something more than just fire.  She stares at the shelf that she had saved and reaches for one of the books on the shelf.  Flipping it open to satisfy her curiosity, she is surprised to find it filled with the same words on the Psychic Paper:

Please. Help Me. Please-  

The words suddenly change instead to...

It has Stopped.  It has Stopped.  It has Stopped

Agent Drake and Dee talk about the crash of the Ultranet (information used to be shot directly to another's brain) but now with the war over they're all excited to get the old books back into places for others to read.  The two share a drink, relishing the moment.  The decide to go back to the Tech room since Agent Drake is curious to see her technology.

Dydra starts to realize the book is Psychic Paper.   She starts pulling at the other books and finds them all saying the same thing.  But then, the words shift once more and all are talking about Pain once again.

Pain. Pain. Please make it Stop.

She tries asking the page, "Who are you?" and Dydra sees the words now attempting to communicate with her.  She begins speaking aloud to communicate and reads the pages each time to see the response.  She starts calling for the others to join her.  She notices the fire has erupted once more and the books are starting to burn again. She can't see Agent Drake, but she has an idea where Falling Star and Kane might be.    She runs in that direction.

A panel on the wall slides open.  A Dalek, hiding all this time, slides out of its hiding spot.  Its red eye follows Dydra as she runs and it whispers, "Exterminate."

And in a dark alley, Agent Drake fails to notice the still damaged Dalek that is slowly returning back to full functionality.  As he walks with the scientist, Dee, the Storm Leader Zero's daughter, the two talk about Drake's guilt and Dee's determination to success.  Both are unaware of the Dalek looming closer behind them.  It opens fire.

Back at the ship, Falling Star and Kane hear Dydra calling out for them claiming she had found something.  The three turn to see the Dalek in all its menacing glory, with its wicked eye stalk staring at them.  Falling Star tells Kane to stay behind him.   Dydra looks at the Psychic Paper and its now begging for her to return:

Please. Come back. Voice. Come Back.

"What the hell is that?" Kane calls out, confused a the robot's appearance.  Falling Star uses her Baroque Laser Rifle to shoot at the thing.  The blue beam launches had hits and forces it back.   Dydra tells them to retreat, and find shelter behind shelves.  "Split up?" Kane asks.

"No! We never split up!" Dydra yells out, "What kind of foolish move is that?"   As they move to run, however, Dydra and Kane run into each other!   As they hit the ground, Falling Star fires a few more times at the Dalek with her rifle.  The Dalek declares systems are damaged and begins to withdraw.  It fires blindly to protect itself.    As it opens fire with its death ray, Falling Star activates the Totem in the nick of time to block the devastating ray and protect both Kane and Dydra.  Falling Star smiles, proud for her people that she is a Pearl Fisher who did not run away.

Back down below, Agent Drake hears the terrible sound of a Dalek deathray.  But before he could move, Dee shoves him to the side.  She screams as the ray disintegrates her arm away!  As they run, he asks her to tell him what way they should keep running.   The Dalek fires a second time at them.  Agent Drake pulls Dee close to him to protect her.  The blast strikes him squarely in the back!  Drake feels the ever-present touch of the Vortex envelop around him.  Gold light streaks around him, vortex energies, similar to what surrounds the Doctor when he Regenerates!

Dydra and Kane talk about what Daleks are and she tells him, "You don't ask what a Dalek is, you just RUN AWAY!"  Falling Star begins to walk towards it, drawing out her Glass Ripper and keeping the Totem alive.  Dydra looks down at her Pulse Stun and wonders if it can work against it.  She remembers the soldiers of this era talking about how she developed tech to defeat the Daleks.  Kane crawls close to Falling Star, terrified out of his wits.  As Falling Star swings at the Dalek, however, the Dalek's counter-measures kick in.  Her blade fails to penetrate the force field!     Kane sees the Psychic Paper on the ground.  Dydra must have dropped it by accident.  He leans out of the cover to grab it as Dalek starts firing a volley of ray blasts around it.  Dydra uses her Stun Pulse and to her surprise, the Stun disrupts the Dalek's force field!  Falling Star rushes to Dydra, worrying for her safety, and pulls her to the safely of the side by the bookshelves.  Kane stays within the Totem's shield, protected.  Kane sees the cries on the Psychic Paper, however, and wonders if he can find the being needing help while the others are busy.   Dydra and Falling Star consider how to act in concert to get close enough to disrupt the force field and shut the monstrosity down.  

Back outside, Agent Drake feels the gold light swirl around him.  He feels the pain fade, and discovers what it feels like to Regenerate.  He feels numb, emotionally dead, but alive.  He stands up and sees Dee on the run.  The Dalek stops is shocked to see Agent Drake is still alive!  Drake mutters, "They call me the immortal for a reason."  He runs around the Dalek's blindspot to escape it.  The Dalek scans him as he run:  Timelord.  Uncertain.

Kane runs, searching for any signs of a person who needs help.  He remembers Dydra mentioned the person might be near the pile of burning books.  He runs to the burning stack closest to the entrance.  He turns the wrong way and realizes he is falling!  He hits the ground, breaking his leg, and realizes he has landed on the ground level.  The shelf he had slammed into has books all fallen around him.   The books are open and their exposed pages are filled with words:

Help. Someone feel. Near. Help. Pain. Someone Stop Pain.

Kane yells out, "Where are you?" and the pages all suddenly show:

Here.  Here.  Hear.  I can.  Hear.  I can.  I.

He picks up the books and wonders how the books can show him where the speaker is.  To Kane's surprise, the books instead start showing the words:

You Are Care.  Caring.  Carrying.  Me.

The one asking for help are the books themselves!

Falling Star and Dydra devise a plan to distract the Dalek.  Dydra devised a simple trap to toss the books in one direction, giving Falling Star and Dydra an opening to close in unnoticed, buying Dydra time to use the Pulse Stun, and for Falling Star to strike.  Dydra pulls the closest book and it reads: Distractions and Other Things.  "Perfect!" she smiles, loads it on the timed stack she prepared as a distraction and hurries to the side.

The Dalek turns to the sound, distracted.  Dydra realizes she has to be Bold this moment, and she finds herself remembering that first night with the 9th Doctor.  He tells her he has to climb and activate the Satellite dish.  "I believe in you," he tells her.  Dydra succeeded.  And today, she knows it is time to be bold once more.  But as she closes in, she realizes it isn't working and she yells at Falling Star to look out.  Dydra quickly tries to stay behind the Dalek, moving in pace with it to keep it from seeing her.    Falling Star realizes she needs to help Dydra.  Angered by Dydra's antics, the Dalek begins to hover as it calls out, "Unacceptable!"

Dydra sees the opportunity and stabs her Pulse Stun into the area underneath the Dalek!  The Pulse Stun erupts, surging through the Dalek's armor.  Dydra's Pulse Stun explodes from the overcharge, but the Dalek is stunned.  Falling Star strikes!
Outside, Agent Drake reaches Armory and finds Dee atop the platform.  She apologizes to Drake and activates it.  Before Drake could act, the DydraPlatform activates and Dee is gone.  Drake isn't sure where she has gone!
Falling and Dydra disable the Dalek, but they soon hear news of a second one attacking the streets.  They hurry down to look for Kane.

Kane starts conversing with the Psychic Paper to ask how he can help it.  The Paper calls itself Psychic.  He hears Falling Star and Dydra calling out for him.  The can see the second Dalek looking for a new target.  The Dalek that nearly killed Agent Drake approach.  Dee reemerges with the Platform, and on it, the Dydra2000 is armed.  "We defeated you already!  I am a Dydra!"  Dee activates the device and it strikes the Dalek, rendering it vulnerable.  Falling Star whips out her Baroque Laser Rifle as Dydra yells at Dee to duck for cover.  Falling Star takes aim.  She fires once more.  Kane acts boldly and runs for Dee.  The Dalek's shots narrowing miss him.  But then it turns to strike at Dee.  Her skeleton glows vibrantly visible as she falls into Kane's arms.  "I... I did good, right?"  Kane hugs her tight.  Falling Star fires, and the blast rips through the air and into the Dalek.    The Dalek explodes.

The group gathers.  There are tears for Dee's death, and kind words for her loss.  But there is also a commitment to bring humanity back to its feet and to treasure every cultural and artistic gift that can be salvaged from the fallen mothership.    Dydra decides instead of destroying her tech, to keep it under lock and code.  Only she can open it.  And that if they ever needed it, they can try to reach her.  The bigger question, however, is what to do with Psychic.  As it turns out, the woods from which the Psychic Paper was being made from turned out to be psychic by nature.  The Paper was technology used by the Time Agents, but not because it was made to be psychic.  It was made to reflect things better.  But with the Dalek war, the large gathered quantity of psychic paper found itself gaining sentience. Like sparks of neurons of a massive brain, the psychic paper gained self-awareness and communicated with the Doctor's Psychic Paper through time and space.  The Psychic Paper is now part of the new born collective unconscious.  

The Psychic is now alive.

Dydra wishes she could keep a page with her, but realizes if she were to separate a page from the collective, it would be like severing a part of someone's brain.  Falling Star argues that Dydra shouldn't force it apart, now that its practically a living thing.  Kane, however, counters that they shouldn't leave it locked up with no room to grow.  If it experiences more, it can understand the world more.  Kane checks his horoscope on his phone, his cellphone was upgraded by the Doctor in the past to receive odd insight whenever he checked it and it reads: The freedom of every sentient being is the right to make their own choice.

The group votes and they hit an impasse, a stalemate with two thinking they should take back the Psychic Paper, and two others thinking it should stay together.  Storm Leader Zero comes up to Dydra and asks to see the Psychic Paper.  The Paper shows the words:

Yes. I wish to Go with Dydra.

Zero bids them farewell and tells them today was "D-Day indeed."  The group returns to the TARDIS, ready to head off back to another adventure.   Agent Drake begins flipping switches to start the time machine.  The group hurries inside and prepare to go.  Kane stares at a nearby screen and asks, "So who is the Doctor?"  And to everyone's surprise, the TARDIS replies by showing the image of all four of them.

The credits roll.

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