Monday, May 17, 2010

Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space Review (Part 2)

The first part of this review about the new(-ish) game can be found lurking here. Now, down to business. The rules:

Let’s start with the Player’s guide. There’s an index on the back cover, which is a good start. You’d be surprised how many RPGs don’t actually include an index, even for games which are much larger than this. Then we have quite a nice introduction into what roleplaying is and the background to the game, before delving into character creation. If you don’t want to use one of the pre-generated characters included in the box, this section tells you exactly how to create your own Timelord and companions.

Basically, you start with a set number of points that you assign to particular areas. In this game, that’s Attributes, Skills and Traits. There are six Attributes which give your character a rough idea of their overall capabilities. Then there are your Skills, which make it all a bit more specific. I freely admit that this is the point at which I often give up on RPGs; the background might be amazing, but endless lists of abilities usually kills my enthusiasm stone dead. There are quite a few skill descriptions in here, and although for me it was a bit of a slog, I made it through unscathed thanks to some nicely judged comments relating back to the TV show.

Possibly the most interesting of these three areas are the Traits, which show a genuine knowledge and affection for the setting. The best examples of this are “Resourceful Pockets” (a Doctor staple) and “Screamer!” which made me laugh a great deal at memories of Sarah Jane and her powerful lungs. There are also bad Traits, which gain you extra points to spend elsewhere, a fairly common idea in gaming but again containing a nice nod to the show’s history, particularly in the form of “Unadventurous”. This Trait can be used to “retire” a character from the story by giving the companion a reason to leave when they are fed up of being cold and wet, hypnotised left, right and centre, shot at, savaged by bug eyed monsters or not knowing whether they’re coming or going or been. There are also some fairly special Traits for aliens and Timelords, should you wish to play such high powered characters. There's a sample character sheet here to give you a bit more of an idea, along with one for the Tenth Doctor.

The next chapter deals with the actual rules for running a story. There are quite a few tables and loads of examples, some from familiar episodes and some new. A rather cool feature is the order in which events will happen during any given encounter: those who wish to talk go first (so they can do the whole Tennant Shouty Man thing if they want), then those who wish to run (all very in-keeping with the show). Those who wish to do something, like build a gadget, go next and finally those wishing to resort to violence have to wait until the end. The anti-gun message is perhaps a little strident given the Doctor’s previous history regarding fire-arms (and UNIT), but it does fit with Tennant’s holier-than-thou attitude on the matter.

There’s a whole load of stuff on damage and how to use story points to avoid getting moshed (and how to get more of them if you’re running a bit low), which all leads in to a final chapter of hints and tips for the new player. Needless to say, they’re rather more useful than the one from Timelord…

Next up, a review of the Gamesmaster's Guide.


Post a Comment

WebMaster: Terry Lightfoot
WebDoctor: Oolon Sputnik
Blog by Terry Lightfoot
Back to TOP