I have managed to read all of the rules and play two quick games of Doctor Who Adventures in Time and Space. I haven’t rolled up a character yet, but I’m ready to write my review of the game. I picked up the rules at Origins and I’m glad I did.
The limited edition book is filled with great art. There are several to page pieces that often take your breath away. It is about 250 pages that is filled with background info and mechanics. I would say the the book is balanced for player and GM. For a stand a lone core book I would say Cubicle 7 did an excellent job compiling everything into a tight space. This book is not the Tardis – it’s not bigger on the inside.
While I haven’t made a character yet the process looks fairly simple. It’s point based with no random element. Characters have six attributes and 12 skills. Traits to help define the character that are both good and bad. Until I do more with it that’s all I can say.
The Rpg has done a very good job of following the spirit of the television show. It tells a story that often involves conflict but that doesn’t require the hack and slash of other RPG’s. That doesn’t mean that you won’t get into a fist fight; just that the game emphasizes brains over brawn.
With that in mind let’s take a look at how things work. When taking an action the player will roll 2d6 add the attribute and skill then apply the appropriate bonus or penalty. The result determines a varying degree of success. You can have a very disastrous effect with some awful consequences or thing can really go your way. I should note that this result can be used to hit a target number or it can be an opposed roll.
Combat is a different game all together. It starts with initiative which is really another way of saying you get one more chance to talk your way out of a bad situation. It happens all the time on the show. I’m sure that’s why you want to avoid combat, because they almost always end in injury.
Injuries aren’t good. They can result in death, ability score loss, or some effect like being stunned. Their are no hit points of any sort. So you can imagine what it’s like to have your intelligence sapped away when trying to save the world. If you play this game I suggest you avoid combat.
Where Doctor Who excels is it’s room for story telling. You already have years of information to convert to the game from the television series. While I’ve never seen a novel I’m sure they exist. Plus you have supplements and your imagination. The potential is absolutely endless – I mean your’e a time traveller for goodness sake.
Besides Story points make it so the players can basically create or I mean narrate miracles. Players can earn them by basically role playing well. Then they can use them for a variety of things, like lucking out, and increasing your chances to escape. But in the end they are a valuable mechanic that grants an enormous amount of narrative power to the players which balances the lack of combat in my opinion.
There are two more key elemnts to the game that I have barely touched upon, gadgets and timey whimey stuff. Both of which have a role in the game that is greater than combat. On the surface, which is where I’m at, they appear to be way to round out your character or have a lot more story. I’m really at the tip of the iceberg with them and I suspect there is a lot more that will present itself as I gain more experience.
While two games isn’t a lot of experience in this sytsem it is enough to give you a good idea of how the gem will play. Doctor Who is a great role-playing experience that unfolds a story rich with player and GM interaction that will transcend time. If your’e looking for a game that is almost all story telling this is the game for you.