Curse of The Conqueror

by Marcus L. Rowland

A Time Lord Adventure

This material is copyright © Marcus L. Rowland, and was originally published in British and American magazines in 1992. I have not attempted to update it, apart for some minor grammatical corrections and conversion to HTML. It may NOT be published commercially or in fanzines etc. without my explicit permission. You are welcome to link to it.

See my web site for details of my Forgotten Futures and Diana: Warrior Princess role playing games.

Introduction
This is a short adventure for Time Lord, Virgin's Doctor Who role-playing game. It should be playable in an evening. Any Doctor and companions may be used, but at least one character should be familiar with twentieth century Earth. The Doctor must have a fully functional TARDIS, within the normal limits of TARDIS reliability. Use with FASA's Doctor Who RPG and some other systems is discussed at the end of the scenario.

Referee's Information - Overview
History can be distorted, but it is almost impossible to make long-term changes. Unfortunately there are moments of unusual sensitivity, eddies and loops in the time stream, and the TARDIS is about to hit one.

In 1955 John Wayne promised to make a film directed by Dick Powell, and called in at the RKO studios to discuss possible projects. He arrived early, and happened to pick up a screenplay called The Conqueror, which was accidentally left on Powell's desk. He liked it so much that he insisted on taking the starring role as Genghis Khan. During filming in the Utah desert the cast and crew were exposed to fallout left by atomic tests at Yucca Flats. Eventually ninety-one members of the cast contracted cancer, and forty-six died; the victims including Wayne.

That's what should have happened. In the time loop the TARDIS has entered, Wayne reached Powell's office in a bad mood, and barely looked at the script before rejecting it as "garbage". He didn't appear in the film, and was never exposed to radiation. The role of Genghis Khan eventually went to Ronald Reagan, who suffered the fate that should have been Wayne's. Meanwhile Wayne became interested in politics, wasn't handicapped by repeated illness, and went on to become the 40th President of the United States. Wayne was in most ways an exemplary President, but wasn't prepared to leave "our boys" at a disadvantage in the SALT disarmament talks. America retained its full arsenal of nuclear weaponry, and started to develop "Star Wars" weapons. The obvious threat of American military dominance unified the Warsaw Pact, which never showed any sign of collapsing. In 1988, with tensions running high, a Russian submarine shadowing a NATO exercise was harried by American destroyers, and retaliated by torpedoing the carrier Nimitz. Within an hour the third World War had begun.

By 1991 all animals larger than rats are extinct. The world is shrouded in nuclear winter, and the ozone layer has been destroyed. The ruins of London are buried in radioactive snow, illuminated by the eerie flicker of the Northern Lights.

The team should eventually learn that Wayne's dislike of the script changed history, but the exact reason will be a mystery. When they go to 1955 to find out, the jaws of a major paradox will close; on that crucial day, Wayne arrived at the RKO studios and found a peculiar blue box in his usual parking space. By the time he found another space, parked, and reached Powell's office he was in a bad mood, and rejected the script.

To prevent disaster the team must somehow ensure that he'll be in a good mood when he reaches Powell's office, or stop him seeing the script that day. If all goes well he'll go on to make The Conqueror, and will later be too ill for serious involvement in politics. This may seem callous, since it eventually results in Wayne's death, but that was fated to happen anyway.

Despite this gloomy premise, this adventure can and should be played as a light-hearted romp. Imagine John Wayne meeting The Doctor. Imagine K9 meeting Lassie. If players seem to be too weighed down by the seriousness of their mission, there are ample opportunities for the referee to cause endless confusion and silliness, and keep things moving to a rapid climax.

An Optional Complication
This adventure sets up a situation in which time has gone horribly wrong. Why not take advantage of that fact by having time go slightly wrong inside the TARDIS, and let companions from different eras meet and enjoy each-other's company.

The TV series has established that the TARDIS is multi-dimensional, with a vast and extremely complicated interior which sometimes changes shape. If time has gone wrong, corridors from different eras could link and lead an odd assortment of characters to the control room. In play-testing the team used was as follows:

These characters formed an uneasy alliance after a good deal of initial confusion. You might prefer a different mix, but extensive trials have shown that with good role players this group can cause more chaos than any referee can easily imagine, and will usually save the world fairly easily.

After the adventure, characters return to their own eras the first time they leave the TARDIS control room. Optionally they get lost and end up somewhere even stranger, a useful springboard for your next adventure.

Players Information
Alarms ring and chime as the TARDIS spins through trans-dimensional space. Running to the control room is difficult, and as you get closer you feel as though you're swimming through treacle. [If you are using the "optional complication" above, this is a good moment for the referee to introduce characters]

The Doctor yells "We've hit a time vortex!"; his voice sounds deep and slow, as he stretches out his arms in a desperate attempt to reach the controls before it's too late. With agonising slowness his hand creeps across the panel, and presses a switch. The TARDIS spins, blurringly fast, and you're thrown back to the control room walls as it gives a last lurch and materialises.

The scanner shows a ruined city, crumbling walls covered in snow. The sky is black, streaked with flickers of electric blue, and the TARDIS control console clicks loudly. You know that the noise means that the radiation out there would kill you in hours. Someone says "Where are we?"

The Doctor presses some switches, pulls tape from one of the consoles, then moves to another panel to check more instruments. "Apparently this is Earth. London, in the year nineteen ninety-one AD. I think we have a problem."

Cue theme music, and cue action.

The Morning After
The adventurers should soon guess that something changed history. Recorders reveal that the TARDIS hit the time vortex while passing 1955, and that it is still powerful in 1991. This may be a coincidence, or it may pinpoint the date that history was changed; more information is needed first.

There aren't any radiation-proof suits aboard the TARDIS, but there are Skaro anti-radiation drugs; each dose gives full protection for several hours, and the TARDIS carries several doses per character. If adventurers don't take them before venturing outside, start injuring them (as a slow-acting 1-wound poison that doesn't stop causing damage until characters are dead) after 20 research rounds. A dose of the drug at any point before death will repair all damage. The TARDIS environmental systems will keep out radiation, even while the doors are open, and will automatically decontaminate any object bought in from outside. If K-9 is a character, he doesn't need drugs but will need recharging after a few hours, less time if he uses his weapon.

Gallifreyan instruments can easily establish that London was hit by several multi-megaton warheads sometime between May and August 1988. They will also show that conditions are extremely unfavourable for any sort of controlled time jump; don't reveal the difficulty, but imply that it would be very high. In fact all rolls must fail, and the TARDIS will always end up when and where you want it!

The TARDIS has materialised to one side of a large London square. Most of London has been reduced to rubble, but to one side a steel-railed entrance and the remains of a smashed red sign indicate the entrance to a station below the square. There are some other openings, the rest rather less obvious. All are choked with snow and wreckage, but something about them seems to suggest that they might bear closer investigation.

The Underground Station
Stations of the London Underground have often appeared as sets in Doctor Who. They can be eerie, and this one is no exception. The plan shows the ticket hall and escalators down to the tunnels. All the staircases are littered with debris, including the remains of skeletons, but they are usable with care. The skeletons are stripped clean of flesh, and close examination suggests that something has gnawed the bones. If you are using K-9 as a character, someone must carry him (it?) on the stairs. The station is completely dark, apart from glimmers from the entrance corridors, and any lights the adventurers are carrying. Snow drifts and rubble (from parts of the ceiling that have collapsed) cover the floor in several areas, and more bones protrude from the drifts. If anyone crosses any of the areas of rubble, dirt and small shards of concrete shower down from the weakened ceiling. If the area isn't left within one round a large chunk of concrete breaks loose, causing 1D4 wounds if it isn't dodged (difficulty 3 to dodge). This only happens once. The escalators aren't working, and are littered with skeletons. Anyone venturing down will find that the tunnels are awash with water, and marks on the walls suggest that they are sometimes completely filled. Flood defences were destroyed in the war, and much of Central London and all the deep tunnels are flooded at high tide.

There are a ticket office and four kiosks in the station. There is nothing useful in the office, apart from a few hundred pounds in coins and badly rotted notes.

Kiosk 1 is a heel bar, and skeletons are sprawled beside the stools and behind the counter. The leather and heels behind the counter are ragged, and look chewed.

Kiosk 2 was a florist, and there are still a few dried stems in some of the pots. There is another skeleton behind the counter.

Kiosk 3 was a sandwich bar. It is occupied by several hundred rats, which stream out and attack intruders if the door is opened. Companions with the Screaming skill may want to take this opportunity for practice.

RATS: Hordes of rats look like a horrible threat, but only 1-3 animals in the pack will try to bite each character each round. The pack will retreat if 10 or more rats are hurt. Bite damage 1 wound, but rats should be played for their horrific effect, not to cause serious damage. Their bites can't penetrate leather boots or thick trousers.
Strength 1, Control 0, Size 6, Weight 1, Move 2, Knowledge 0, Determination 0

If the adventurers leave this kiosk alone, you may still want to treat them to a rat attack elsewhere in the station.

Kiosk 4 sold books and newpapers. An old newspaper sign reads "WAYNE: TIME TO TALK TURKEY". This shouldn't mean much to anyone, even adventurers with some knowledge of the 1980s, which suggests that it might relate to the change in history.

Most of the shop is a mess, a tangle of unreadable decayed papers and rat litter, but some publications in the back room are intact, stored in tough shrink-wrapped polythene packages. They include novels, cook books, astrological yearbooks, and film books. The most important discovery is a bundle of copies of the European edition of Newsweek, for 4th July 1988, which have a cover picture of John Wayne in a hard hat, captioned "President Wayne: Home On The (Missile) Range". The story describes a visit to the White Sands missile testing grounds, and emphasises Wayne's robust good health and commitment to nuclear defence and SDI, the Star Wars programme. In passing it mentions "...this week's NATO exercises, which the President will monitor from the NORAD missile tracking facility under Cheyenne Mountain." A small information box accompanying this story compares American and Soviet missile capabilities, and makes it clear that there has been no nuclear disarmament.

The books include a copy of Western Movies, a huge coffee-table volume which has a picture of Ronald Reagan, with a black eye-patch, on the front cover. Anyone with a knowledge of 20th-century cinema will soon realise that Reagan starred in many of the films they associate with Wayne, including "True Grit" and "The Alamo". It should be obvious that Reagan and Wayne somehow swapped careers. The snag is that neither clue explains when and why it happened.

Characters may assume that the cause of the disaster must be in 1955, when the time vortex began, and decide to travel back to the fifties immediately. If so, run the 1955 sequence that follows, with the optional "they blew it" ending(s) if they aren't VERY lucky.

If the team want more information, there is one substantial clue; the reference to NORAD in the Newsweek story. This will be noted by anyone looking for clues in the story. Wayne was in a deep shelter when the war began, and is still alive.

Optionally, if the team have a radio (as carried by Ace, and built in to K-9), they might hear a message transmitted by a search party which is looking for survivors in a city near the NORAD complex. By an atmospheric fluke it's receivable in Britain: "Search party 9 to NORAD control. No survivors in area G-10, moving on to H-1. Message ends." There will be no other messages, and no reply to any messages sent on this frequency.

All The President's Men

President Wayne and a few hundred other Americans are still alive in the NORAD communications complex, a "hardened" site capable of withstanding near-miss missile strikes. They are sure they won the war; since no-one else is alive, they are possibly right. The Newsweek story is the clue that suggests that Wayne might have been there when the war started.

The TARDIS instruments can home in on the complex, if someone thinks of it, and a spatial jump with no time change is comparatively simple; it will succeed on a TARDIS roll overcoming difficulty 1.

NORAD is a huge tunnel complex, run with grim military efficiency. For three years it has been occupied by the last survivors of the human race, who have been living on stockpiled rations and know that it will be decades before it is safe to leave the mountain. Parts of the complex are dark and deserted, evacuated to save energy. The TARDIS materialises in one of these areas, near a series of gigantic crates labelled "A-10 Anti-Tank Aircraft - Some Assembly Required".

The team can spend as much time exploring as you like. The first exit they'll find is a huge tunnel, fifty feet wide and thirty high, leading several hundred feet to a gigantic steel door and a switch box with buttons marked "OPEN" and "SHUT". If the "Open" button is pressed motors hum loudly and the steel door slowly rises, with a gust of cold air and snow blowing in as it clears the lower frame. Simultaneously a klaxon starts to beep and a mechanical voice shouts "Radiation Alert! Radiation Alert! External door four open!". Repeat this as loudly as you can, and make whooping noises, until someone presses the "Shut" button; the tunnel does indeed lead outdoors, and there's nothing outside but more radioactive devastation.

There are several other smaller tunnels; all of them lead to long dark corridors, strangely like the cellars of the BBC's larger studios, occasional deactivated computer terminals, and more huge rooms filled with sealed crates (mostly electronic components and spares). The air is dry and cold, and is not radioactive. There is no noise, apart from sounds made by the team.

At a suitably dramatic moment the team start hearing furtive rustling sounds. Try to screw up the tension, then pin the characters in several spotlight beams. Even though this part of the complex is evacuated, the security systems are still active, and notice little things like a two hundred ton door opening. Additionally, the characters have crossed dozens of alarm beams and pressure pads, and have appeared on numerous monitors, so guards have been sent to capture them.

The guards are typical modern soldiers (with strong American accents), four squads of six armed with sub-machine guns and TASER pistols. They ride near-silent electric carts, equivalent to Land Rovers, and will corner the team from either end of a tunnel, or in a dead-end corridor. The carts are equipped with searchlights, loud-hailers (try shouting "Resistance is useless!" if you want a cheap laugh), and other useful items. The guards are naturally eager to capture the intruders, and find out how they got in. They will assume that the adventuers are Russian agents, since no-one else had the really deep shelters needed to survive the war. Acting and Con skills may appear to be useful here but no story, however good, will convince the guards that the characters should be released. Practise lines like "Freeze, Commie!", "Up against the wall!" and "Hold it right there, creep!", and don't take any lip from Godless Commie saboteurs.

TASER Pistols: Special one-shot guns, range 2, firing a fine electrified wire at their targets for Wounds 4. If you use the optional Safe Combat rules (Time Lord Appendix 2) they cause Shock 8 instead.

The characters may be tempted to fight or run, but capture is actually the easiest way to reach President Wayne. Eventually, after a full search and screening, prolonged probing with radiation detectors and other instruments (X-rays of The Doctor and any other aliens will puzzle the guards considerably), decontamination, and confiscation of any weapons or unidentifiable equipment (such as K-9), a heavy guard escorts the team to President Wayne. The route is a bewildering maze of curving corridors, ramps, and branching tunnels; the adventurers will soon be thoroughly lost, and won't be allowed to make notes or draw a map.

Wayne was once leader of the most powerful nation on Earth, and is now effective ruler of what's left of the human race. Unfortunately he's over eighty, short-sighted, and just becoming a little senile.

President Wayne: Age 84, Human, Earth
Equipment: None carried
Strength:      3, Pain resistance 3
Control:       3, Brawling 1, Marksmanship 1
Size:          3
Weight:        4
Move:          2, Riding 2
Knowledge:     3, Wilderness lore (Wild West) 3, Law 3
Determination: 4, Indomitable will 4, Command 4
Awareness:     2, Bureaucracy 5

Wayne speaks with a slow deliberate drawl and has a habit of calling everyone he meets "pilgrim" or "little lady", depending on gender. This is likely to annoy some of The Doctor's more flamboyant female companions, for example:
"I am Leela, warrior of the Sevateem!"
"Well hi there, little lady."

"So...... where do you hail from, pilgrims?"
Let the characters say what they like. Wayne doesn't seem to be paying much attention, but stares intently at the Doctor or a companion, eventually saying "I've seen you somewhere before, pilgrim" [or "little lady"].

This should encourage the characters to find out more. Wayne will eventually decide that he played poker with someone who looked just like the character "In 'Frisco in forty-three." It should soon become apparent that Wayne has never really met any of the characters, and doesn't believe any nonsense about time travel or alternate histories. He will not agree to detailed questioning or hypnosis, and the guards will stop anyone who tries to capture or harm him.

If anyone mentions Reagan, or Wayne sees the cover of the film book, he says "Shucks, I remember poor Ron. Died in seventy-nine. The big C got him. They called it the curse of The Conqueror." Hopefully someone will ask what "The Conqueror" was. Wayne tells them anyway.

"A film about what's-his-name, Attila the Hun. No, it was Genghis Khan. A real stinker. RKO made it back in fifty-five, filmed it on some patch of desert that was loaded with fallout. They even brought sand back to the studio for continuity shots. Cancer got poor Ron and half the crew eventually. Lucky it wasn't me."

Someone should ask why; if not, Wayne seems to be in a reminiscing mood:

"The script was on Dick Powell's desk, and I had a contract to make a film with him. Good thing I hated it when I read it."

If the team don't follow up on this, try holding up a large neon sign saying "This is an important clue!". If they still aren't interested, try finding some new players. If they do ask the obvious question, Wayne just says "It was a lousy script, and I was in a bad mood that day. Can't remember why." No amount of questioning will drag out any more, and he can't remember the exact date of the incident, except that it was "February or March". He will soon lose interest and tell the guards to take the characters away.

Meanwhile the guards have decided to trick the team into revealing their real route into the complex. On the way back their escort will be small, and the guards' guns will be loaded with blanks. They expect the team to make a break, steal weapons, and head for their "tunnel", or whatever other route they used to get into NORAD.

If the characters don't try to escape, the guards escort The Doctor and companions to captivity. Eventually they pass through the room where they were searched; their equipment is still laid out on a bench, and if someone stages a diversion, the other characters can each pocket any one small device or weapon, such as a sonic screwdriver or a can of Nitro Nine. Attempts to take several items will fail; the guards will notice the action and confiscate the equipment, then search the party again. If K-9 was confiscated he will be in this room; this may be a good moment for him to use his stun gun.

If they reach a cell, it has a ventilation grille just large enough for the smallest Companion to escape; naturally this should involve a long squirm through claustrophobic ducts, which lead to the corridor outside the cell area, and a "dozing" guard who has conveniently propped his gun (also loaded with blanks) against a wall.

If another escape route is wanted, some shouting and acting should trick one of the guards into opening the door and turning his back for a few seconds. Remember that the guards want the team to escape!

Once out, adventurers will probably recover the rest of their property and head back to the TARDIS. Whichever route they take ends up back in the warehouse, even if they just choose corridors randomly; this is in the best tradition of the TV series. Don't let the adventurers reach Wayne again; he will be defended to the death, and in any case he doesn't have any more useful information. If possible, run this as a prolonged chase through the tunnels. Just as the team reach the TARDIS and think that they're safe, guards with real guns step out from behind one of the crates and demand that they show how "this box thing" works. A view of the inside of the TARDIS should confuse the guards long enough for the characters to jump in and slam the doors. Bullets ricochet off the TARDIS doors as it dematerialises; if there is much delay, the guards start to use bazookas and other heavy weapons, also without effect.

If the characters don't try to escape, the guards eventually take the team to the TARDIS and insist that someone opens the door. If your players can't find some way to turn this to their advantage, they don't deserve to own a TARDIS. Leave them stranded in 1991, while a group of heavily armed security guards set off on a totally uncontrolled journey through space and time. The Timelords will eventually note the problem and deal with it; see "They Blew It", below.

The Observer Effect
Characters should be en route to 1955. If they have other ideas, such as heading for Andromeda and leaving the Earth to rot, it's time to hit them with the effects of an unresolved paradox. They'll start to age extremely rapidly, then time will run backwards until they're back at the moment when they made the wrong decision.

The players will probably prepare some elaborate plans to find out what happened. It's likely that these plans will involve the TARDIS materialising early, and in some quiet location. You can safely ignore such plans, since the TARDIS isn't renowned for accurate navigation, and there's a time vortex to foul things up even more than usual.

The TARDIS materialises in the RKO studio parking lot. Seconds later, before the adventurers have time to take any action, a Pontiac station wagon driven by John Wayne tries to park in a space that is now occupied by a large blue police box. He blows his horn twice then reverses out, smashing his rear light against another car, and screeches off to look for a parking space further away from the studio buildings. Wayne is seriously annoyed by the damage to his custom-built car.

The Doctor and Companions have approximately twenty minutes to intercept Wayne and improve his mood; in the first five minutes he'll park, walk back to the studio building, and tell a studio guard that "Some low-down hombre from the props department" has left a heap of [expletive deleted] in his parking space. The next five minutes will be spent inside the building en route to Powell's office, in a warren-like maze of twisty corridors and sets strangely like the interior of a BBC studio complex. Some of the sets are in use, and if any action develops at any stage it can be fun to take it in front of the cameras. Think of Blazing Saddles and you'll get the idea. Some possibilities for sets include a big Busby Berkeley style musical, the saloon from a cowboy film in the middle of a fight scene, and Doctor Frankenstein's lab complete with Frankenstein's monster, a werewolf, Dracula, a mummy, and Abbot and Costello.

If nothing happens before Wayne reaches Powell's office, the remaining ten minutes will be spent in conversation, then Wayne looks at the script while Powell completes some other business.

At this point the kindly author bows out and leaves matters to the ingenuity of your players. They are certain to come up with a plan, and if it is remotely plausible it should be allowed to work. Whatever scheme is used will probably include some interaction with Wayne, and his statistics are provided accordingly.

John "Duke" Wayne (1955 version): Age 48, Human, Earth
Equipment:      Ten gallon hat
Strength:       5, Pain resistance 4
Control:        4, Brawling 4, Marksmanship 4
Size:           4
Weight:         4
Move:           2, Riding 4
Knowledge:      2, Wilderness lore (Wild West) 4
Determination:  4, Indomitable will 2
Awareness:      2

Wayne is an active adult in excellent health. He speaks with a slow deliberate drawl and has a habit of calling everyone he meets "pilgrim" or "little lady", depending on gender, as described above. He drives a customised Pontiac station wagon with the roof raised to make room for a ten-gallon hat (vehicle performance as Land Rover).

Now Here's My Plan...
Here are a few sample plans; players will probably have their own ideas.

  1. Beat Wayne to Powell's office (which is conveniently empty at that moment) and hide the script of The Conqueror. Wayne doesn't see it that day, and turns down another idea. He eventually sees the screenplay later in the week, when he's in a better mood.
  2. Hypnotise Wayne and put him into a better mood. Difficult in a busy building, but characters can catch Wayne in a lift or an empty corridor.
  3. Entertain him with street theatre, mime, juggling, etc., to put him into a better mood. Make the players act this out!
  4. Stop him, apologise for leaving the "prop" in his space, and offer to buy him a drink. Get him so drunk he misses the meeting. You can resolve drinking contests by treating booze as quick-acting poison causing shock instead of normal damage. Wine, beer, and lager are treated as 2 shock poison, spirits as 3 shock poison. Note that Wayne's Strength and Iron Constitution mean that there is little or no chance of drinking him under the table, but trying should be fun.
  5. Stage some sort of diversion, such as a fight, and hope that it distracts Wayne. If it's a fight there's a good chance that Wayne will join in, which is likely to be painful for everyone else involved, but will keep him from the meeting.
  6. Persuade Wayne to make the film. In play-testing, the Doctor pretended that he was Leela's agent, and that Leela was a foreign actress auditioning for the role of a barbarian princess in the film. For some reason Wayne liked the idea of appearing with "the little lady", and looked at the script more favourably.

Any plan which delays Wayne by five or more minutes will work; he won't have time to look at the script, will reject something else, and will eventually see the script for The Conqueror at a later meeting.

Any plan which involves the team doubling back on their own movements, so that the TARDIS never takes Wayne's parking space, should fail. The TARDIS was built to prevent this sort of tampering, and that part of its circuitry still works well. If someone can suggest a way of beating these problems, the characters must then meet themselves - this causes more paradoxes, and the time storm will get so violent that it rips reality apart, and destroys the game universe! Time to get out your Monopoly set again...

Assuming that the characters do somehow switch history back on course, there is one minor problem to resolve. While they are away from the TARDIS a crew from the props department arrives to recover their "property". By the time the team returns the props men have put a chain around the TARDIS, and are winching it onto a truck. As the characters duck under the chain and step inside the TARDIS, the workmen's puzzled faces should be their last glimpses of 1955, and the end of this adventure.

They Blew It
If the team don't find a way to return history to its original course, it isn't necessarily the end of the world.

One way to restore history with minimal changes would be to stop The Conqueror being made at all. Howard Hughes owns RKO, and can stop it with the flick of a pen, if the characters can find a way to persuade him to help. Reagan isn't handicapped by years of illness, and eventually becomes President, filling the historical niche which might have otherwise been taken by Wayne. The results aren't ideal, because hundreds of lives will be changed, but the long-term historical effects are minor; the lives of a few actors and actresses are extended, and some younger performers fail to make their mark because there are fewer roles available. There is no war, and Wayne retires with three Oscars.

If the players don't think of this, perhaps they'd like to make Wayne a better President. If he moderated his views slightly Wayne's career might resemble that of Reagan, and in a few hundred years only a few historians would know (or care) which film actor spent time in the White House. The easiest way to persuade him to co-operate would be to take him to 1991 and show him the remains of America, then prove that the war was at least partially America's fault. Give him the details of "real" history and he can change his behaviour to be more like Reagan. The Doctor Who TV series has never named the American President; perhaps time is already irreversibly changed by the activities of the Time Lords.

Players may think of other solutions, such as feeding Reagan some Skaro anti-radiation drugs to ensure that he survives The Conqueror; he'll have one more bad movie on his record, and Wayne will live to a ripe old age, but Reagan will still be politically active, and Wayne will never take his place.

Finally, if all else fails, the Time Lords have the technology to put matters right, but will exact stiff penalties for the team's carelessness. The Doctor can expect to spend more time exiled on Earth, with his knowledge of the science of time travel removed, while his companions will be returned to their origins, with all memories of time travel erased. Optionally his companions are exiled to Earth too.

Use With Other Role-Playing Games
Where possible this adventure avoids the use of game-specific details. It should work reasonably well with any system that uses time travelling vehicles, and has some flexibility in its approach to historical reality.

The Doctor Who RPG (FASA): All skills mentioned above, apart from screaming, have parallels in FASA's system. FASA's "Celestial Intervention Agency" should NOT be used; the "CIA" was originally a casual joke in one episode, has no real place in the continuity of Doctor Who, and makes it far too easy for players to receive powerful help.

GURPS Time Travel (Steve Jackson): This adventure works best in a universe in which time changes are possible but difficult, and in which the "Observer Effect" (GTT pg47) is a major limitation on time travel. In other words, players should not be able to change their own actions, or anything that they have seen, except by intervention in prior or subsequent events.

Paranoia (West End): The supplement "Vulture Warriors Of Dimension X" contains the grammatically correct Time Laird Dr. Whom, who should fit into this adventure extremely well. Given the normal behaviour of troubleshooters, it seems unlikely that they will be able to prevent World War 3, but this just means that history switches to a time track in which the Alpha Complex was originally NORAD. This might even be an improvement!

Dream Park (R. Talsorian): Simply run this as The Conqueror Game, substituting crotchety Professor Thrintwhistle (from The Key Of Time) for The Doctor.

It Came From The Late Late Show (Stellar): For this and other cinematic RPGs run the adventure as an episode in a TV series. Emphasise details like the props man scuttling out of camera shot to move the robot, the polystyrene snow, actors running from side to side and technicians rocking the camera to simulate the motion of the TARDIS, and so forth. John Wayne doesn't really appear; a stand-in is seen from behind, with suitably matted clips from Wayne's films and dubbed-in dialogue creating a rather shaky illusion.

Acknowledgements And Disclaimer
This adventure is a work of fiction, and the behaviour ascribed to various historical characters is not meant to reflect their real personalities.

Thanks to Roz Kaveney, Alex Stewart (Sgt. Benton), Mary Gentle (Leela), and others for their help with cinematic details, to Ian Marsh for his help with Doctor Who lore and Time Lord game details, and to play testers at the 1992 Gamesfair, Illumination, and Contraption conventions.

Sources and Recommended Reading
The Golden Turkey Awards - Medved & Medved
The Hollywood Hall Of Shame - Medved & Medved
The Software Toolworks Electronic Encyclopaedia - Grolier Inc
The Shield Of Time - Poul Anderson
Guardians Of Time - Poul Anderson
Time Patrolman - Poul Anderson

Marcus L. Rowland

2005 Afterword
Since this adventure was written the Dr. Who universe has changed considerably. If you're using the current version of The Doctor there will be no intervention by the Time Lords, and the results of a time paradox will be extremely nasty - see the episode "Father's Day" for details.