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Doctor Dolittle among animals

Doctor Dolittle

(Hugh Lofting novels)


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

Context

The Doctor Doolittle stories are a 1920+ series of American novels for small children. They are influential classics in this genre.

The protagonist is a naturalist who can talk to animals, and has many animal friends.


Background

  • Real Name: John Dolittle, M.D..
  • Marital Status: Single.
  • Known Relatives: Sarah (sister).
  • Group Affiliation: None.
  • Base Of Operations: Puddleby-on-the-Marsh.
  • Height: 5’3” Weight: 150lbs. Age: 40+
  • Eyes: Unrevealed Hair: Unrevealed, probably Graying brown.
  • Note: Vitals are rough estimates, at best. Feel free to present superior numbers.


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Powers and Abilities

Doctor John Dolittle was originally “just” a brilliant physician. But even back then, animals and children were consistently drawn to him (Animal Summoning).

After being taught to speak the languages of the animal kingdom by his parrot, Dolittle became a brilliant veterinarian. He’s known and respected by animals throughout the world (in DC Heroes RPG terms, Omni-Connection).


History

Read the book. It’s well worth the few hours it’ll take. However…

A very long time ago, John Dolittle, M.D., loved animals. He allowed all manner of strays to live in his home. When this began to impact the comfort of his clientele, he chose to go hungry, rather than loose the uncared-for animals onto the streets.

Gift of tongues

It was then that Dolittle’s parrot, Polynesia, taught the good doctor how to speak to various types of animals. The doctor leveraged this newfound skill to become the top veterinarian for many miles around, which became as much of a curse as a boon. For now, animals from far and wide came to stay at Dolittle’s tiny house, draining his resources beyond their straining point.


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Then, a message came from distant Africa, informing Dolittle that his help was needed in the Land of the Monkeys. Without a thought for himself, he set out for Africa. After a run-in with the king of the Jolliginki, he arrived in time to save a great many of the monkeys, as well as their primate brethren.

Dolittle stayed with the apes for quite some time. But he eventually left Africa to repay the debts he amassed to fund the expedition. In return for his help, the African animals convinced a unique animal, the two-headed pushmi-pullyu, to accompany the doctor back to Puddleby. Thus, he would have a source of income in showing the animal.

Journeys

The trip home was not to be simple, though. The worst of the Pirates of Barbary, the Barbary Dragon, himself, Ben Ali, began ransacking the ship while the doctor and the animals were exploring an island for food. With the help of some luck, rats, and sharks, though, Dolittle managed to convince the pirate to give up his ways. He even claimed the pirate’s more seaworthy vessel.

In a final adventure, a young child was discovered trapped on the new ship. With the help of many animals across the world (though Jip in particular), the boy’s uncle was located. Then the two were returned home.

From there, Dolittle and his band of animals left for home. They spent some months working with a traveling circus for the experience and money. Upon returning to Puddleby, the doctor repaid his debts, and retired to his home to take care of the animals.


Description

John Dolittle is mostly undescribed. We know he is a short, strong, older Caucasian man with an extremely kindly, personable, and avuncular face.

He tends to dress conservatively, including a fairly tall hat.


Personality

Dolittle is a kind, gentle sort. He will do anything to protect the downtrodden, particularly animals. He is also a man of his word, and will uphold any bargain he has made, even if it should take years for him to be able to follow through.

When confronted, however, the good doctor also knows when right is on his side (which is always). Thus, he will not back down, and will not negotiate. If necessary, he will threaten. And he will make certain that he can and will follow through on his threats, should his opponent renege on his end of the bargain.

To quote Hugh Walpole on the book: “And then when you read a little further you will discover that the Doctor is not merely a peg on whom to hang exciting and various adventures. He is himself a man of original and lively character. It is not only that he is quaint but that he is wise and knows what he is about.

The reader, however young, who meets him gets very soon a sense that if he were in trouble, not necessarily medical, he would go to Dolittle and ask his advice about it. Dolittle seems to extend his hand from the page and grasp that of his reader, and I can see him going down the centuries a kind of Pied Piper with thousands of children at his heels.”


Quotes

“But, I like animals better than people !”

“Tell me some more.”

“Money is a nuisance. We’d all be much better off if it had never been invented. What does money matter, so long as we are happy ?”

“We must have run into Africa ! Dear me, dear me ! Well, we must all swim to land.”

“Never lift your foot ’til you come to the stile.”


DC Universe History

By the numbers… Since many fully-intelligent primates came to the Land of the Monkeys to be helped by Dolittle, it seems rather obvious that the founders of Gorilla City were inspired by Dolittle, and began researching science and technology.

Either that, or the hyperintelligent gorillas were simply among the creatures healed by Dolittle during his stay. Perhaps they even originated the plan for the “Bridge of Apes.”

Likewise, his adventures with the Barbary Dragon might have lead to a run-in with one or more of DC’s rich pirate characters.

Additionally

As it is implied that Dolittle might be able to learn other special abilities of animals, particularly Jip’s phenomenal sense of smell, there might be a connection between John Dolittle and the Morphogenetic Field. Perhaps he was manipulated by the same aliens that may have manipulated Buddy Baker many years later.

Oh. What’s that ? OK; sure. And, of course, the pushmi-pullyu was Mopee in disguise.


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

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Doctor Doolittle

Dex: 03 Str: 04 Bod: 04 Motivation: Upholding the Good
Int: 09 Wil: 06 Min: 06 Occupation: Physician, Veterinarian
Inf: 08 Aur: 09 Spi: 08 Resources {or Wealth}: 000
Init: 018 HP: 015

Powers:
Animal Summoning: 00, Speak with Animals: 08

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Animal Summoning is Always On.
  • Speak with Animals is a Skilled Power.

Skills:
Artist (Gardening): 03, Gadgetry (Organic): 03, Medicine*: 09, Scientist (Biochemistry): 06

Advantages:
Confined H.Q., Iron Nerves, Leadership, Luck, Omni-Connection, Popularity, Scholar (Animal Psychology, Zoology).

Connections:
Puddleby-on-the-Marsh (Low), Cat’s-meat-Man (High), Land of the Monkeys (High), Unnamed Fishing Village (High).

Drawbacks:
Age (Old), SIA (Helping Animals), MIA (Pipe Smoking).

Equipment:

  • Telescope [BODY 03, Telescopic Vision: 04].
  • Pocket-knife [BODY 03, Enhance (EV): 01 (cap is 03), Miniaturisation: 01, Descriptor: Piercing].
  • Medicine bag [BODY 02, Lab: 06].

Pets:
Doctor Dolittle had many “pets,” though a more modern storyteller might dub them “animal companions.” Regardless, each had the standard Attributes of an animal of its type, with the noted additions:

  • Polynesia, the parrot [Artist/Actor: 12, Area Knowledge (Africa)].
  • Jip, the dog [Analytical Smell/Tracking Scent: 10, Telescopic Vision: 20; Telescopic Vision actually represents the ability to note distant happenings through scent. It requires a strong wind to carry the smell].
  • Chee-Chee (“Ginger”), the monkey [Area Knowledge (Africa)].
  • Too-Too, the owl [Super-Hearing: 10, X-Ray Vision: 4; X-Ray Vision represents Too-Too’s ability to interpret sounds through solid objects].
  • Dab-Dab, the duck.
  • Gub-Gub, the pig.
  • The crocodile.
  • The mouse.
  • The pushmi-pullyu.

Design notes

In a typical campaign, Dolittle should also have the Enchantment Power at 10 APs or so (Always On), such that the animals he speaks to are reasonably intelligent and eloquent. I chose to ignore this.

Another possible variation is to add a few APs of Animal Control and to remove the various animal-related Connections. This is because all animals Dolittle encounters are willing to do anything for him without question or hesitation. That’s counter to the story concept, though, in my opinion.


Previous Statistics

Dolittle originally had no Connections, and only the Animal Summoning Power.

By the end of the book, Dolittle is quite wealthy, having traveled around, showing the pushmi-pullyu, and probably has far in excess of 15APs of Wealth.

… What? You don’t have a pushmi-pullyu writeup…? Sigh…

Pushmi-pullyu

Dex: 03 Str: 02 Bod: 03
Int: 03 Wil: 02 Min: 02
Inf: 02 Aur: 02 Spi: 02
Init: 007 HP: 005

Powers:
Full Vision: 03

Skills:
Military Science (Camouflage): 03, Thief (Stealth): 02

Drawbacks:
SIA (avoiding detection).

By John Colagioia.

Source of Character: The Story Of Doctor Dolittle, Being The History Parts Never Before Printed, by Hugh Lofting.

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