Sunday, July 4, 2010

Monster Mash

The new “Aliens And Creatures” sourcebook for Cubicle 7’s Dr Who: Adventures in Time and Space RPG is now available from DriveThru RPG’s website. Sadly, it’s only available as a downloadable pdf, although the shiny, shiny boxed set should be available sometime in August.

The reason is pretty simple and I feel quite a bit of sympathy for Cubicle 7 over this. It takes a long time to write a game of this size, test it fully, correct it, do the layouts, proof it, get it all ready to be printed and develop the supporting material, right in time to discover that the current production crew is leaving and so is the main actor. So, what do you do? Bring out a box of source material that is potentially out of date (at the very least in terms of imagery), or shift the release date back until you can redo the layout, all the while risking your game slipping out of the public’s attention?

Cubicle 7 have, quite sensibly in this Pixie’s opinion, gone for the middle ground: make the product available now in a cheaper, electronic format for the die-hards whilst aiming to release the print version later for those who are happy to wait, “reclothed” to fit with the new production team’s graphics and characters.

So what do you get with the pdf? As with the core game set, the production quality is very high indeed, full colour, lots of pictures and some crunchy stuff on the side. My personal favourite is the inclusion of creature cards, so you can quickly keep track of those dastardly little rascals during a game by looking them up in your card index. My only concern here is that its going to be a bugger getting the fronts and backs to line up when trying to print them out your self, but they’ll be a gorgeous addition to the boxed set. Helpfully, there are some blanks included for you own creations as well.

The main book concerns itself with a variety of alien races that the Doctor has encountered, as well as including alien and planet creation rules. It made me quite nostalgic looking at the random generator tables for planetary stats, and they’d certainly be useful for sparking the old brain cells should inspiration fail at some point in your gaming shenanigans.

The aliens are organised into alphabetical order, for the most part, although any slave races or creatures associated with a particular, more dominant race can be found with their overlords. Predominantly this is New Who, although there are some exceptions with the more long-standing villains. The sections on Daleks and Sontarans are good, and the one on Cybermen is excellent (pardon the pun), finally bringing the Mondasians in on the action.

Some of the alien descriptions contain information that I don’t remember being covered in the actual episodes they appeared in, leading me to suspect that the writers were privy to extra production notes to flesh the characters out fully. Notable individuals from a species are also given their own descriptions and stats, except for Blon Fel-Fotch Passameer-Day Slitheen, quite an odd omission given that she appears in a couple of episodes and there’s actually a picture of her above the general Slitheen stats. Also, slightly naughtily, there is a reference to the Wirrn with no other information on them, which is really going to confuse people who haven’t seen or read any of the old series’ material.

These really are minor niggles considering all of the excellent information that is present. Some material has been reproduced from the original core set to make the book’s usage that much simpler, but in terms of creating alien characters, I would have preferred a little more repetition or at least a summary of key stages, instead of having to refer back so much to the core player and GM guides.

To test out the alien creation rules, we decided to mock up a New Who Silurian warrior, which took us about 30 minutes, including all the arguing about whether to include old versus new series material and just how alien a Silurian was, as well as lots of flicking between books. It will be interesting to see how these compare to the actual game version, which I suspect will be in the November updates.

Silurian Warrior:
Awareness 4, Co-ordination 5, Ingenuity 3, Presence 2, Resolve 3, Strength 4
Traits: Alien, Alien Appearance (minor, reptilian), Armour (minor, tough scales), Fast (minor), Fear Factor (+1), Gadget (Silurian mask, major; alien senses - infrared vision +1, fear factor +1), Natural weapons (minor, claws), Natural weapons (major, poison tongue), Obligation (major, protection of species), Weakness (major, hexachromite gas)
Skills: Athletics 4, Fighting 5, Marksman 4, Subterfuge 3 (area of expertise: sneaking +1)

There is also another adventure book, containing two full scenarios (one written by Steve Lyons, who has written quite a few Big Finish stories and novels) and a whole load of story seeds. Obviously, we don’t want spoilers so I won’t tell you what any of them are about. There’s also a printed handout map of a spaceship, which caused much retro squeeing, some more gadget cards and a rather pretty sheet of story point tokens that will be an entertaining evening of paper cutting seeing as the little hex outlines haven’t been included for the spacially challenged.

Is it worth your $25? Yes. It’s pretty and informative and of the same quality as the core game and its always good to support gaming companies who are brave enough to take on this sort of franchise. Will I be buying it again as a boxed set? Yes, I probably will because I’m desperately old-fashioned and like books (and that little joke about the Vashta Nerada will be way more creepy with the printed version…)


Nik Hewitt July 4, 2010 at 10:29 PM  

Good call Cubicle 7, waiting to add new information and bringing the package up-to-date. I'll wait for the box-set me thinks, but it sounds like it's going to be pearler. Looking forward to it.

Nik Hewitt May 19, 2011 at 2:46 AM  

Good call Cubicle 7, waiting to add new information and bringing the package up-to-date. I'll wait for the box-set me thinks, but it sounds like it's going to be pearler. Looking forward to it.

Post a Comment

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