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Doctor Who RPG – First Impression

If you haven’t read my other post, Cubicle 7 is celebrating their 2 year anniversary this month and coincidentally I finally got around to playing Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space.  I am an avid Doctor Who fan and bought the game almost two months ago but just haven’t found the time to unbox it and take it for a spin, until now!

The idea to play came late in the evening when my 9 year old son, bored near the end of his spring break, asked about playing a game before he needed to go to bed.  I didn’t want to break out Monopoly or Sorry! and I had missed my weekly D&D game so I was craving a chance to play an RPG.  Since I’d introduced him to Doctor Who earlier in the year by letting him watch a few of the Tom Baker era episodes, he was excited at the idea.  I warned him that since it was already near his bedtime we may not get a chance to actually play, but lets open the box and take a look.

Doctor Who - Unboxed

Contents of Doctor Who: Adventures In Time And Space RPG

The box is packed to the rim with game material and, for its size, has some weight to it.  In addition to the Player’s Guide, Game Master’s Guide, Adventure Book and pre-generated characters there is a friendly Quick Start Guide.  I glanced over the Quick Start Guide and it promises us the ability to start playing one of the provided adventures almost immediately, without needing to read the bigger manuals.  My son bounced with joy and hunted down “Mom” to join us on our adventure.  I gathered up the contents and headed for the dining room table, we were about to embark on an Adventure in Time and Space!

Once the wife and son had gathered around the table, I quickly went through the short Quick Start Guide with them which gives a general explanation of game play mechanics and expectations of an RPG.  My son quickly nabbed K-9 as his character and my wife chose the Doctor (or maybe he chose it for her?).  Now I should mention neither have ever played a Role Playing Game and this would definitely be a stretch for my wife.

The game mechanics are straightforward. Each character has Attributes (awareness, coordination, ingenuity, presence, resolve and strength) and Skills, and when a task is to be resolved a target difficulty is set which you try to exceed by rolling a couple of d6 and adding in the most appropriate Attribute and Skill. Players can ‘tweak’ the outcome by using Story Points (they can also be used in character creation as a buy up/down system for attributes and traits), which they earn for character achievements and good role-playing. To help prevent the constant write/erase scenario, some little cardboard counters are provided to help track Story Points.

So as the GM I opened the Adventure Book which contains two short adventures, “Arrowdown” and “Judoon!” and then 24 adventure ideas – which are actually described in a column (or more) each, so that you’ve got a lot of material to work with.  I chose to start with the Judoon adventure since it is described as the shorter adventure (1 to 2 hours) and requires only the Doctor and a companion.

I won’t go in depth into our game play in this article but I will say the opening scenarios went well and everyone immediately got into the swing of the game and its mechanics.  My son shined in his roleplaying debut by asking npc’s questions, investigating things I described to him and repeatedly asking if he can shoot something.  I was impressed.  Unfortunately my wife wasn’t feeling well and we had to stop after only about 40 minutes of game play.  The seed has been planted and we are definitely completing the game shortly.

Based on our short session I see this game has great potential as a family friendly, beginner RPG.  I haven’t had enough experience yet to see how the story point and other mechanics are going to work out, but I should be able to comment on that in my next article.  I will say that while I found the game material very friendly, there was a lot of repetition and half the Game Master’s Guide was a reprint of the Player’s Guide.  As the GM, trying to run the provided Adventures was a little confusing (understand I hadn’t pre-read anything) as to what I can tell the players and what I should keep to myself.  I found myself stuttering and trying to pick through text to see what I should share with them.  It would have been much nicer if it had been formatted in such a way as to provide a “narrative” for the players and “GM Notes” for me to read through.

Overall, great first experience and I’m excited to give it another go this weekend.  Before our next game I will read through both guides and adventure to hopefully help me provide a better adventure for my players.  I will cover more of the game play, details of this first adventure, “Judoon” and get some feedback from my wife as a first time RPGer in Part 2 of this article.  Coming soon!

I welcome your comments.

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