As well as covering board games, I really want to show different ways to play here on The Little Metal Dog Show. With that in mind, here’s a look at the Doctor Who: Adventures In Time And Space RPG, released in 2009 by Cubicle 7. Following the recent rebranding of the show after Matt Smith took over as the Eleventh Doctor the whole thing is due for a reprint, probably in the summer as that’s when the current series will end. However, this is only going to be a cosmetic thing and won’t be any different to the edition already available (which, being based on the Tenth Doctor, has David Tennant adorning the front of it).
So, what do you get in the (rather expensive, at least here in the UK) box? Well, thankfully, a fair bit. Two books – the Players Guide and a huge Gamemaster Guide – plus various pre-made and blank character sheets, a set of six d6 and a pile of other bits and bobs explaining stuff like what an RPG actually is, a sheet of Score Points (more in a bit) and Object Cards. When you open the box, you can immediately see two things; first, the production values are really high. It’s very pretty indeed, filled with loads of photos, and printed on high quality paper. Second, this isn’t really for the hardcore RPG player – flicking through either of the books reveals that it’s an accessible game that is aimed at fans of the show, the majority of which will be young kids who want to have fun pretending to be the Doctor and their assistants while trying to defeat the Big Bad Guys.
As with most standard role playing games, the action is all controlled by one person (the GM – they totally fluffed the opportunity to call that role The Master), who in turn aids and hinders the players as they make their way through a set adventure. Players can either choose one of the pre-made characters from the series (of which there are many) or create their own using a simple points system which can be spent on Skills, Attributes and Traits. After everyone has settled on their character, away they go into a timey-wimey rollercoaster of… well, whatever the GM has dreamed up. There are two pre-made adventures included in the package, along with a decent selection of ideas for the GM to produce other stories with – and as the game is based in the Whoniverse, players can not only travel anywhere through the galaxy, they can also play anywhen in time.
Adventures In Time And Space is based on a simple rule; roll two dice, then add Attributes, Skills (and Traits if needed) and try to beat the target set by the GM. As the game is dependent on good narrative skills, results give you a bit of leeway in storytelling. Straight answers are infrequent – there’s a lot of “X happens, but Y follows as a consequence”… all the better to move the story on! If something does go badly, you can spend the previously mentioned Story Points that you’re allocated at the start of the game to improve your situation, helping things go that little more smoothly. Actions performed by characters are divided into four types and always happen in the same order; Talking happens first, followed by Running (invariably down corridors), Doing and Fighting. Of course, there isn’t a huge amount of combat in the whole Doctor Who genre – the emphasis is on using your intelligence to solve the situation. As such, this is an RPG that is suitable for any age group, but definitely not for those who think the show is just for kids.
Doctor Who: Adventures In Time And Space is a little on the expensive side. If you pick it up make sure you’ve got some fans of the show around to play with and that you’ve all got plenty of imagination. Everything you need to play the game is included in this single package, but it’ll help if everyone has had a read through of the player guide so pass it round before you start – even if you’re using the pre-rolled characters from the series. It’s an easy to use RPG system that will be accessible to even younger players, and the game universe is so wide ranging you’ll never run dry on ideas. There’s also a thriving online community that is full of ideas and new storylines for you to try. If you’re a fan of the show and fancy throwing yourself into the mythos a little more, you won’t go far wrong with this excellent pack.
Doctor Who: Adventures In Time And Space is published by Cubicle 7, is priced around £35-40 in the UK and is probably best played by four to six people. Cubicle 7 will also be printing expansions covering companions, alien races and UNIT – all are due to be released by summer 2010.