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

RPGs

RPG books.I could blame our internet provider; I could blame the cold I’ve been fighting. But the real reason I have been lax in posting for the last couple of weeks is that I’ve become obsessed with gaming. I don’t mean video games, per se, but tabletop role playing games. I’ve always been intrigued by role playing games but usually from a distance. I love console and computer RPGs, however. The table-top versions seemed interesting but required things like preparation, forethought, and social skills. It is much easier to sit at my laptop and play Baldur’s Gate or Final Fantasy.

I think Role Playing Public Radio finally did me in. It is a NSFW podcast that deals with the ins and outs of gaming and they even provide downloads of actual play recordings. And that’s what ultimately addicted me. I became fascinated by the interactive narrative potential of RPGs. I’ve mentioned before my interest in how technology is causing storytelling to change. I’m starting to suspect that I have a lot to learn—as a storyteller—from RPGs. To that end, I have picked up rule books for both The Star Wars Role Playing Game (Second Edition) and The World of Darkness. I am writing a game scenario using some research I have done for a novel I’ve been writing. It has been time consuming, but it is a lot of fun. I’m hoping to get a few people to play the game once I get things written. I’d even like to write up some Doctor Who scenarios.

Any gamers out there? What are your favorite systems and titles?