Doctor Who – Dungeon Crawl of the Daleks

Doctor Who Story 072 – Death to the Daleks

Gypsy gets ready to beat down a Dalek. (Source: screen capture. Copyright 1974 by BBC.)
Gypsy gets ready to beat down a Dalek. (Source: screen capture. Copyright 1974 by BBC.)

Who Wrote It: Terry Nation

What’s It About:

I’ve become a Role Playing Public Radio Actual Play junkie.

Role Playing Public Radio is a podcast devoted to pen and paper role playing games. They have a second podcast that is devoted to actual play, which means they record gaming sessions. When I first found out about it, I wondered how anyone could find an actual play interesting. A few months ago I was sick, so I had to stay in bed for a couple of days. Having nothing else to do but listen to podcasts, I finally check out one of RPPR’s actual plays and was instantly hooked. Honestly, it got me interested in pen and paper RPGs. I’ve always enjoyed PC or console RPG video games, but I never gave the original incarnation much to a try. Since getting hooked, I’ve run a couple of sessions with a friend and my wife as players. I’m hoping to find a few more people to add to our gaming sessions. My goal is to do some Doctor Who RPG sessions. As such, I’ve started analyzing the episodes I’ve been watching from a game plot perspective.

Death to the Daleks works extremely well as a dungeon crawl. A dungeon crawl is when a group of players (typically Dungeons and Dragons, but other fantasy-based games work just as well) explore a dungeon. They must fight monsters and disarm traps. The ultimate goal is to find treasure and gain experience points. Survival is probably a distant third, where goals are concerned. In episode three of Death to the Daleks, the story becomes a dungeon crawl. First, The Doctor and Sarah escape The Daleks and the city-worshiping Exillons, they enter a cave that has a monster. They must find a way to avoid the monster, with the help of the exiled Exillons. Later, The Doctor and Bellal enter the ancient Exillon city, which consists of room after room of traps. They must get through the city before The Daleks catch them. Sounds like a dungeon crawl to me.

Apart from the RPG elements, Death to the Daleks is your typical Terry Nation b-movie silliness. It is good fun and has some directorial flourishes in the first episode (and I particularly like the idea of Daleks using projectile weapons), but it recycles elements from previous Dalek stories and the plot never quite achieves any depth. Great design (the caverns, the Exillons) goes side-by-side with poor design (the “root,” the interior of the city, the logic puzzles). Honestly, I enjoyed the story, but at just four episodes, I never felt like I was wasting my time. If it had been longer, it would have been dreadful. And, visual effects aside, it is more along the lines of what I would expect from a mediocre episode of new Who.

My Rating: 3/5

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