Doctor Who RPG

Since it’s now on the shelves, I’m fairly sure the NDA I signed has lapsed, so I’m going to blog about it…

I was lucky enough to get to playtest Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space a few months ago (all thanks to Jac Rayner), and I’ve been biting my lip ever since. There are detailed reviews elsewhere (Try rpg.net), so I’ll keep it short: the game is utterly inspired.

Cubicle 7 have created a simple system with a built-in bias against violent solutions, which really captures the essence of the show. Some reviewers have interpreted the minimalist rules as a sign that it’s targeted at younger novice players; which it is, but that shouldn’t put off experienced roleplayers. My favourite systems are those with the fewest rules; Amber and Nobilis in particular.

But the best thing was that I got to play the Doctor. And it was amazing.

I’ve been a Who fan since I was about 4, so I am steeped in that universe. The Doctor was my first and strongest role model. The system is designed to promote dialogue and problem-solving over fighting, and as the Doctor I honestly felt like I could march into ANY situation, hold court and solve everything – but if not, I could always run away and try something else. Over a decade of ground-in roleplayer’s paranoia evaporated in minutes. It was like flying.

The only flaw we detected in our playtest was that the companions can have little to do (or perhaps I just monopolised the GM and ordered them around). The simplest solution seems to be to split up the party so that the Doctor can’t do everything himself, but careful character design could also alleviate that problem – making sure the party have complementary skills, and that everyone has at least one specialist skill they can do better than the Doctor. Also, we used characters we’d generated that afternoon, so the group didn’t have much chance to build up relationships between the Doctor and companions. A few more sessions and I think we’d have settled into a comfortable partnership.

Character creation is astonishingly versatile, allowing you to create humans, aliens, robots, even Time Lords. And the game encourages alternative party setups such as a group of Time Lords or Unit agents. They really have made anything possible. I can’t wait for Cubicle 7’s expansion books…

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