Thursday, February 21, 2013

Adventures in Time and Space: the Doctor Who RPG - Review

 So, this weekend was really, really, really long.  I’m taking a break from my standard book reviews and reviewing…a book. Namely, the Sourcebook(s) for the Doctor Who RPG, Adventures in Time and Space.  I picked up the Eleventh Doctor Edition, because, I mean, Eleven.

"I wear a bow-tie now.  Bow ties are cool."
I came downstairs to sit at the dining room table and write and roll dice, a clump of Doctor Who RPG Sourcebooks under my arm.  My housemate Jay, sitting on the couch looked up from his laptop, noticing my armload.  “So how is it?”

I marshaled my thoughts.  “It’s…actually really good, to be honest.  In the right setting.  It doesn’t really work for playing magical characters or finessed swordfighters or…time travelers, but for simple, non-complex games it works really well.

I like the Stats here much better than the ones for D&D to be honest.
Like, you’ve got the six attributes1 and twelve skills, you add your flat attribute and skill and roll 2d6 and boom, that’s what you get for everything.  But it’s kinda cool, like, if you beat the Difficulty by enough you get bonuses (you’re able to hack the computer AND the files are organized easily).  But if you fail by a little, it’s not too bad (You don’t hack it, but you can try again).  But if you fail by a lot, it’s bad AND it gets worse.  (You don’t hack the computer, and it activates a silent alarm that alerts the guards to your location.)”

“That’s…pretty cool.”

“Right?  Like I said, it works really well for simple things.  I mean, look at this character sheet.”

Click me to go to a PDF of this.
The back has more or less all the actions you can do, which
is really useful for quick play.
Jay squinted at it.  “Kinda sparse.”

“Yeah. There’s only twelve skills.  Which is cool, I mean, I love D&D, but…there’s a lot to keep track of.  Here there’s like, just Attributes and Skills.  Oh and gadgets and stuff.  But yeah, with the skills, you can specialize if you have enough ranks.  So, at Knowledge<4>2 I can Specialize in History and Literature, and I get bonuses to any Knowledge check involving books or history.  Same for Convince, I can Specialize in Bluff or Intimidate or things.

Wouldn't it be cool to see Medusa vs. The Weeping Angels?
So say I’m hacking a computer on a Spaceship piloted by Not!Medusa3, I just add Ingenuity + Technology + 2d6, and I add +2 because Medusa’s all mythological and shit, and I’ve read enough books to know how Medusa works. Say the DC’s 15. Rolled 6. So 4+2+6+24.  14.  Not good enough.  But, it’s not all bad.”

“You wouldn’t get in, but you could see file names and things and learn something?”

“Exactly.  The Dungeon Master…Storyteller, whatever, could give you enough info to get on with the story.  Wait, damn, I’d probably take negs because Space Medusa is from a different technology level.  There’s negs for using tech not from your general time-period.  So I can’t use things as easily from beyond Space-Faring Tech Level, since that’s the modern day, you take a -2 per tech level.  It’s less for things before now, only -1 per tech level, because history, we kinda know it.”

“Are there feats?”

“Traits.  That’s kinda a problem, actually.  There need to be a few more of them, they’re kinda sparse and either don’t do much (like, they only give ±2 to skills) or they give you Telekinesis.  You can substitute Telekinesis for any physical challenge, so if your Resolve is high enough you basically you get to win at everything.  Fighting, running, lock-picking…”

“Arson, Weddings, Art…”

“Shush you.”

Miriah, on the couch, chimed in, “I mean, weddings could be physical challenges…”

Madame Vastra resents your implication of Impropriety.
They are Married.
Jay smiled.  “You know, a Silurian wedding without at least three deaths is deemed a dull affair.” 5

“Anyway, it’s kinda ridiculous.  I’d make people spend story-points to activate it, balance things out.”

“Story Points?”

“Basically move-the-plot-along coupons.  You can spend them to make things happen in your favor or, oh this is the cool thing, make things go wrong for you to gain storypoints for later use.  Like, getting captured so you can get the plot going would net you some storypoints to use to make one of the Guards susceptible to your diplomacy.

“I like that.”

"I was dressed for GURPS!"
“Right?  I was kinda sad it doesn’t give some mystical secrets of how to make Time Travel work in an RPG.  I figured it should.  I mean, it’s Doctor Who.  It kinda brings it up, but then it diverts to Time Travel Theory and then rushes it back offscreen.  Oh well.  But yeah, for a simple game, for the right kind of game, it’s pretty brilliant.  It places a lot of weight and trust on the Players and the DM, with the story-points, but I mean, it’s not too heavy.  It’s more about storytelling than winning.  Although, the sourcebook’s kinda annoying, it's all like "HI I’M AMY POND LET ME TAKE UP HALF A PAGE."  So yeah, I kinda want a non picture-having version of this, with less in-jokes.6 Because without those it’s just fine.  I’d run a game with it.  I mean, if you use the online tool making a character takes 10 minutes, tops.”

"Sounds neat.  You should leave it on the counter so I can read through it.  Oh, also, I think you'd like this Kickstarter.  It’s called Odin’s Ravens and it’s –”

“Wait, hang on, Facebook it to me.  I’m gonna go write down the conversation so that I can turn it into a blog.”7  

“Okay.  And after that you should teach me how to make footnotes appear when you talk.”

“Witchcraft.”  I winked and rushed to type everything up before I forgot it.

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