[Scions of Time] The Web Spun Through Time Part 1

The Doctor, a Dalek and the TARDIS rendered in Lego.

Photo by Josh Burker.

We’ll be traveling non-linearly through the Scions of Time campaign for a couple weeks as I need to backtrack on a couple sessions that went undocumented in my recent blogging lethargy. They happened so long ago, I need to dig out my notes — some of which are as vague as “waffle wagon.”

Merrily careening through the vortex with no particular destination in sight, Challenger and his companions Airfor and Caradoc[1] are thrown to the ground when the ship abruptly lurches to a halt. Challenger peers outside to see the breathtaking vistas of deep space before him, with a brilliant purple nebula filling much of the starscape — until the view is slowly obscured by silvery tendrils of a web-like substance.

Meanwhile, Airfor discovers from the TARDIS console read-outs that the engines are straining at maximum capacity, yet getting nowhere. Challenger shuts them down while she repairs damaged linkages. Caradoc experiments on the webbing with a laser torch, finding that the web repairs itself nearly as fast as he can cut it.[2] Using the chameleon circuit to transform the ship’s exterior into a sphere bristling with blades, Challenger cuts their way free of the web and the ship hurtles off into the void.

The flight is short-lived, however. The brake lever drops into the “parked” position seemingly of its own accord and to everyone’s surprise. Peeking outside, the travelers find themselves in an apple orchard in autumn. They promptly begin scrumping.

This, too, is swiftly interrupted by inhuman growling in the underbrush bordering the orchard. Caradoc hucks a half-chewed apple at the source of the sound, resulting in a cry of pain, the sound of someone falling and then rending flesh and more inhuman utterances. The disturbance eventually recedes and fades. Airfor pushes through the brush to investigator and comes face to face with a severed hand, then the remainder of a human man, brutally savaged by claws. She is unsettled by the grisly sight; it promises to stick in her mind’s eye for some time to come.

Just then, the travelers are disturbed by a young boy shouting “Over here!” They are joined by the boy, leading an elderly gentleman wielding a revolver. He accuses them of killing Jacobs, his hired man, and marches them back to his colonial-style mansion to wait for the sheriff. Braving the thorny thicket of a cranky old man who’s not motivated to talk to trespassers, the travelers learn they have landed in 1931, somewhere in New England, and this is the home of Doctor Eldridge.[3]

Sheriff Bean eventually arrives and being a reasonable man, recognizes that three unarmed people couldn’t possibly have caused the injury done to poor Jacobs. He takes details from the witnesses. Challenger kicks off a habit of giving everyone a different origin, as well as lying about staying at the boarding house in town.

On being cautioned not to leave town while the sheriff’s investigation is underway, the travelers walk into town, which they learn to be Martinsbury, Vermont.[4] They take rooms at the boarding house on the village green. While Airfor naps[5], Challenger goes out for a meal and Caradoc assembles a detector array to triangulate the position of whatever it was in the brush, as it emitted an energy of some kind. After tromping through some farmers’ fields, he learns its general location in the hills to the east of town and that it’s inorganic in nature.

Meanwhile at the local restaurant, Challenger is confronted by a dark-haired woman whom he glimpsed being received by Doctor Eldridge as the travelers left the house earlier that day. She pegs him as also pursuing the same thing as herself and demands to know for which institution he works for. When Challenger says he’s from New York, she concludes he must be there on behalf of “the Met.”[6] The woman cautions him not to pursue Doctor Eldridge anymore, as this is her turf and she has the deal all wrapped up. Challenger remains neutral to the warning.

The travelers reconvene in the boarding house, where Caradoc fills them in on his sensor findings. They decide to set out in pursuit of the energy signature under cover of darkness. As they leave the boarding house, the church bell begins tolling as a crowd wielding torches, pitchforks and firearms gathers at the steps. Airfor makes a beeline for the nascent mob while Caradoc and Challenger continue on their way to the eastern hills.

The crowd readies itself to go hunting for the monster that attacked Jacques Broussard’s wife, Bessie. Airfor follows the party to the Broussards’ hillside farm, where then follows a trail of high viscosity nanofluid from the barn out into the wooded hills. She, Challenger and Caradoc all manage to meet up under the trees and then track the energy signature to a cave in the hillside. While the villagers “stand guard” at the entrance, the three venture into the cave, rapidly descending into the interior of the hill, their way lit by bobbing electric lights. What sounds like labored, scratchy breathing reaches their ears. Suddenly, a furry eight foot tall beast with segmented compound eyes rears above their heads, roaring fiercely as it lashes out with sharp claws.

In the fray that follows, Airfor is badly hurt by the creature’s claws. Caradoc neatly places blaster bolts as Challenger hurls rocks, neatly covering the whole spectrum of offensive technology. A brave villager rushes in wielding a shotgun, but before he can act, Airfor opts to go nuclear, setting her backpack-mounted junk cannon to overload and rushing everyone out of the cave.[7] The resulting blast wave knocks everyone waiting in front of the cave right over as Airfor goes flying overhead and a whole section of hillside collapses in on itself.

The hunting party lauds Airfor as “the crazy bitch with a bag full of dynamite.” She and Challenger peel off from the party in the darkness, heading north to the Eldridge house to return to the ship while Caradoc detours to the boarding house to retrieve his sensor rig. In the apple orchard, they find the ship completely cocooned in the same web-like substance.

An eerie green light distracts the group from the problem of cutting through the web to reenter the ship. It shines from an upper floor window of Doctor Eldridge’s mansion. Caradoc catches up with the pair in time to climb the stairs to the second story, following the light to its source in the library, where Doctor Eldridge is hunched over a reading table.

The doctor greets them in a strained, high-pitched voice. He stands and turns to the travelers, revealing an ashen-faced complexion underlit by green lit emanating from a silver sphere. Unnervingly, Eldridge appears to be asleep; his face slack and eyes closed. The voice issues from his mouth, chiding Challenger for destroying his servitor while claiming Challenger will make an excellent new host. The old man’s hands, still clutching the silver sphere, reach out to touch it to Challenger’s forehead . . .

To be continued!


[1] Guest-played by Alex, whose Draketooth character sheet I somehow managed to mislay in the month-long interim between sessions.

[2] Alex made a point of taking advantage of Caradoc’s advanced technical skills and trying to decipher some crabbed handwriting on Caradoc’s sheet. I decided in the previous session the characters could take advantage of some items Caradoc collected once they could pronounce them properly, signaling the equipment had been identified and understood by the characters. Amusing attempts on one object included “mnemonic accentuator” and “mimetype accelerator.”

[3] My bad habit of introducing grumpy, recalcitrant non-player characters continues. I am becoming more cognizant of the fact, as I realized it mid-uninformative sentence during the game. I did my best to lighten up Eldridge and present other characters as more accommodating. And it is a hallmark of Doctor Who that the main characters quickly break down walls of suspicion without really trying.

[4] Munk jokingly cautioned that bringing the game to Vermont would be the end of the game. I disagree, but I love mashing the familiarity of real life with the fantastic.

[5] Demonstrating why player characters should always have Reduced Sleep: they miss all the action.

[6] The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

[7] Jon decided to take the junk cannon out of play on his own, having recognized it tended to swing interactions rather heavily in the player characters’ favor. He also spent a heap of drama points to instakill the monster and ensure everyone got out with a minimum of cosmetic mussing.

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