Eclipse – The Time Lord Template

   Doctor Who has been popular for many, many, years. Popular enough to spawn several different games, and to inspire numerous adventures. In a way, Doctor Who encapsulates the basic RPG adventure – a few highly skilled adventurers and a few less-skilled ones arrive in a strange area, where they encounter strange creatures, eccentric locals, and some sort of challenging problem that they must investigate and resolve before they either can, or feel that they can, leave. Given that they are in some isolated corner of time and space, they must do so using their own wits and resources. Once they solve the problem, they depart – occasionally picking up some mostly-symbolic present or a new character who replaces one of the (rare) casualties or departures from the group.

   That sounds pretty familiar to me. The same general formula has appeared in adventure modules, other television shows (Stargate anyone?), and dozens of other places.

   About the only basic difference between the Doctor and his Companions and a standard party of adventurers is that the Doctor (Gandalf?) is of considerably higher level than his companions and gets to come back if killed, while most of the others don’t get to come back if they’re killed. Once you start translating into game terms you’ll find that Doctor Who is lighter on special abilities than most parties of d20 adventurers (if only due to the lack of a special effects budget in the earlier episodes and not wanting to overshadow the Doctor) and the characters don’t improve nearly as quickly as d20 characters do. On the other hand, that’s a normal part of RPG adaptions: you give the characters interesting special abilities and let them improve their abilities relatively quickly so as to help keep the players interested and to give them new options and challenges. Of course, having one character in the group who’s far more competent than the others tends to irritate the other players, ergo, we’ll need a template for a young and inexperienced time lord – one who can participate in adventures on more-or-less equal terms. The feel won’t be quite the same, but that’s the price of giving everyone in the group equal time rather than focusing on one dominant character.

   If we set them in a more-or-less typical d20 world we won’t even have to worry about the Time Lord being the only one to get special powers; everyone else will be getting them too – and in a RPG, there’s no limit to the special effects budget save the limitations of the groups descriptive powers.

   So here’s an Eclipse-Style Classless d20 +1 ECL Time Lord Template. That gives us up to 63 character points to build our template on…

  • Attribute Shift/+2 Int, -2 Str (6 CP): Like it or not, Timelords are inclined towards skill, intelligence, and talking their way out of things, rather than beating them up. Their actual strength may not actually be lower than a baseline humans – but they generally have so little practice in using it that it is effectively lower.
  • Occult Sense/Temporal Perception (6 CP). A timelord can sense disturbances in time and space, movement through either, and various odd items about time – such as whether an event can be changed or not. They can sometimes sense other Time Lords, but this depends on whether or not the Time Lord in question has been meddling with time and space recently. They can sometimes tell where and when they are with a perception check, but this is anything but reliable.
  • Energy Infusion/Dimensional Energies (6 CP): Time Lords are immune to paradox, can meet themselves without trouble as long as they indulge in a little caution, can resist the effects of having their pasts interfered with – and are immune to minor annoyances such as Slow, Time Stop, and similar manipulations. On the other hand, they take double damage from Cosmological Energies, and may be harmed or affected by the strange forces released by weird dimensional-destruction weapons that other characters will not even notice.
  • Immunity/Aging (Uncommon, Major, Major, 6 CP): Time lords can expect to live for many millennia, although they may eventually become frail and be forced to regenerate.
  • Returning with Minor Rewrite (4 CP): Timelords will regenerate, returning from death, unless special precautions – such as using a special weapon, incinerating the body in a furnace, or using certain special drugs or poisons to shut down the process, are taken (come to think of it, there are a lot of ways to stop this; fortunately, most enemies in the original setting don’t consider people coming back to life as a serious possibility – unlike most d20 universes). Secondarily, this tends to be confusing for a time, and to disrupt social relationships, since the character returns in a new form and may have some new skills and have lost old ones entirely. Between this, and the major limitations on the process, this is a Specialized and Corrupted power.
  • Grant of Aid, with the Mighty, Regenerative/regrowth option (necessary to take care of things like teeth in a millennia-long lifespan), and Spark of Life Modifiers with +2 Bonus Uses, all Specialized/the healing process is relatively slow, and may require several minutes to do more than limit damage or may take special measures to “jump start” – ingesting particular substances or some other form of medical treatment (10 CP). Timelords are very difficult to kill, and often seem to pull through injuries, diseases, and doses of radiation or poison which would kill any ordinary being – although it often takes them a few minutes of near-coma or frantic effort to do so.
  • Basic Witchcraft I and II with Mana/corrupted to provide +2d6 Power only, providing a total of (Str+Dex+Con)/3 +2d6 Power and access to the ability to resist telepathy, detection, and mental manipulation (The Adamant Will), Heightened Senses (Witchsight), and Receptive Telepathy (The Inner Eye) abilities (16 CP). Timelords are strongly psychic, and show occasional flashes of superhuman senses, telepathy, and resistance to mental powers. Individual Timelords show erratic access to other low-level psychic abilities, including Astral Projection (Dreamfaring), Projective Telepathy (Glamor), Telekinesis (The Hand of Shadows), Healing (mostly personal), and Personal Biophysical Manipulation (Hyloka), but this tends to be erratic – possibly the result of using Action Hero/Stunts (or relying on script writers) rather than just spending a few more character points upgrading their abilities to full-blown witchcraft (something player characters will almost always do at first level).
  • Action Hero/Stunts Option (6 CP): Timelords often pull off unique tricks (courtesy of lazy script writers and continuity errors) that they have never managed before and often never will again – all thanks to their ability to occasionally warp the laws of nature around themselves.
  • Reflex Training/three extra actions per day variant (6 CP): Timelords often seem to be able to “borrow” a bit of personal time for themselves, occasionally acting with astounding speed.
  • Immunity/Natural Sleep (Common, Minor, Trivial, Specialized/need is only reduced, not eliminated, 1 CP): Timelords need considerably less sleep than normal humans, and can go several days without sleeping if they must.
  • Enthusiast/Specialized in Skills for half cost (1 CP): Timelords are quick studies, and can pick up the basics of a skill for a time with very little effort – often forgetting it again just as quickly.
  • Immunity/Study Time (Common, Minor, Trivial, Specialized/only reduces study time, does not eliminate it, 1 CP): Timelords are very quick studies, capable of reading or absorbing large amounts of information much more quickly than a human – although this does not necessarily guarantee any deeper comprehension than a human would get.
  • Template Disadvantages: All Time Lords have a History and must be either Hunted or Outcast (-6).

8 Responses

  1. In retrospect, The doctor also kind of makes sense as a Hexcrafter with a deck themed around dimensional effects, Psychic powers and Computers, which might explain why the doctor tends to range from just going around talking to people, to ‘constantly pulling off odd effects’, which might be something like just drawing unhelpful cards.

    • I think I’d make it “gadgets” or “technology” instead of just “computers”. He did use that Sonic Screwdriver of his for all kinds of things – and he’s been known to haul out various plot-device items such as the “Chameleon Arch”. It would be a pretty good way to build The Doctor though – although he’s a lot higher level than a starting-off Timelord is likely to be and so has a lot more tricks (“Cards up his sleeve”? Hexcrafting lends itself to so MANY such jokes).

      • Honestly, seeing an actual build for the doctor would be fascinating. I suspect that he has at least a touch of development of the racial powers, a modified version of the action hero template, and probably a few skill modification abilities (actual knowledge / local for the universe, and maybe a few others relating to using gadgets and interfaces).
        Also, I think the temporal energy infusion ability is technically just a side effect of repeated time travel, and the connection to time seems to be mediated through seeing the untempered schism for the first time, so you could plausibly just call it unique training or a world law.

      • Kind of tricky, if only because there have been so many versions of the Doctor – with such wildly varying skills, powers, and one-off abilities that are never heard of again – that it’s almost impossible to build anything at all consistent.

        I may give it a try if I think of something, but the Pony of Shadows and a character or two for current games are probably going up next. It can go on the list though!

  2. Actually, now that I think about it, it would probably make more sense to just have time lords have the ‘valuable’ disadvantage, since innumerable times people have referred to the bodies of time lords as being an incredibly valuable trove of biotech knowledge, not to mention the value of people with there tech level for capturing and such, and that it lets you play a normal time lord who isn’t an outcast.

    • That would work too! After all, these are just my takes on things; tailoring stuff to fit into your own vision is one of the things that Eclipse is all about!

      And sorry for the delay, I’ve been a bit busy recently.

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