With the Xmas season finally behind us and a new year beginning, my gaming group has finally begun to reconvene on a regular basis. Unfortunately, our first attempt to continue with an on-going 4e D&D game met with an unexpected mental roadblock. Mainly my seemingly unlikely forgetting of my laptop (It’s a beast so I still am not sure how I missed it) which had the evenings adventure notes on it.
Eager for something to do (And desperate to save myself from a gaming-withdrawl induced lynching), I called up the only gaming store that may have been open (Thank you Netherworld Games for staying open past your close time for me!) and picked myself up a copy of Cubicle 7’s latest release, Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space (Also chosen because we were watching The End of Time on BBC America after we got there and the Who bug bit us).
And I must say, this is full of all kinds of enjoyable wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey goodness.
Packaging and Contents
I love Box Sets. I enjoyed collecting them back when 2nd Ed D&D Forgotten Realms materials were being released. There’s something to be said about cracking open a cardboard treasure chest to find all kinds of goodies inside. And the DW:AITAS set is no different. The set comes with not only the Players and Gamemaster’s Guides, but also:
* An Adventure Booklet with several intro adventures and hooks
* Several blank, full color character sheets
* Pre-gen stats for generic character templates (Like Scientist and soldier)
* Stats for all your favorite main characters from Who (From the Doctor himself to Sarah Jane Smith)
* Punchout cards for the Gadgets mentioned in the main book and several blank cards for custom made gadgets
* A sheet of Story Point Counters (Nice durable cardboard)
* Six dice
* A 4 page How To Play insert which boils down the rules of the game for new players
* An Advert for their two upcoming releases.
However, the cost reflects the contents as a boxset of full color materials will run you about $60 at your local FLGS. but IMO, having tried the game out, it’s worth the price. My only concerns were that:
1. The box’s design is a Book-like flip open top. My concern is that eventually that may wear out and not close properly.
2. The Story Point conters sheet was fairly fragile and gave me no choice but to punch them out. Unfortunately, the box leaves no room to hold the counters themselves. However, someone on the Unofficial DW:AITAS Forums pointed out this handly little tin that supposedly holds all 6 dice and the counters.
My order’s in the mail.
Since my thoughts are becoming all wibbly-wobbly as I try to write this review (Not too good at writing reviews yet), let’s just hit the Pros and Cons of the books themselves:
* Great Read, enough bits of humor to not be overwhelming but still be entertaining
* Any style of game can be run right out of the box, though the books seem a little more geared towards a Doctor/Companion style game
* The Gamemaster’s Guide re-prints the character generation rules (albeit, a little more simplified when describing traits) so the GM has a reference while the players pass the Player’s Guide around
* Though minor, the Table of Contents for both books is printed on the back cover of both books. Awkward, but not too annoying
‘Easy and intuitive’ is a great way to describe the rules of the game. Within an hour and a half of buying the set and making characters, my group and I were on our way, running one of the pre-fab adventures that came with the set. The system is quite simple; Roll 2d6, add some numbers, meet/beat a target number. That’s the basic and pretty much main rule to the game.
Character Creation runs fairly quick. It’s point-buy system giving you two pools to spend on Attributes/Traits and skills. Traits are the Advantages/Disadvantages of the game. They’ve catagorized them into Good, Bad, and Special. And it’s the special Traits that allow you to make characters like Time Lords.
I’ve heard that in the past versions of Dr Who RPGs, anyone who plays the doctor is pretty much unbeatable, overpowering anyone playing companions. Fortunately, C7 introduces a system that helps to balance that out in the form of Story Points. story Points can be used in a number of ways to influence rolls, save a person from dying, and even affect the story itself to a degree. A character starts with a pre-determined pool of Story Points, reducing their maximum point pool permenantly if certain Special Traits are taken (Such as Time Lord). this gives Companions more SPs to play with to try and keep players on an even footing.
What I like about SPs is that you can also regain them by either being heroic, having bad traits come up, or even by intentionally failing an action that would have a bearing on the story itself. While the first two options are commonplace in games that have something similar (Like 7th Seas’s Drama Dice), the last option gives a nice, small degree of control to the players in how the story progresses.
Conflicts are the game’s main source of action and are handled in a unique way, veering from the normal initiative system common in most RPGs. The type of action being taken determines who actually acts first in a conflict: Talkers, Movers, Doers, Fighters. Given that Dr Who is not a game of gun fights and killing (not mainly anyway, unless you’re play UNIT or Torchwood I presume), I love the way the actual Conflict system captus that feel. Allowing people to negotiate or surrender (Or just talk things out) before opening fire.
Damage is unique as well as rather than having a Health stat, Conflicts (be they mental, physical, social, or otherwise) reduce Attributes appropriate to the type of conflict. Reduced stats incure penalties and may or may not lead to death. Story Points may also be spent to reduce penalties and regain lost stat points during the story.
My group’s first foray into the game is through the Adventure Book’s pre-written Scenario, Arrowdown. They’re running a group of Torchwood agents investigating the stramge goings-on in a New England style town (More on that in my next post). So far, the game has run fairly open and loose, yet not uncontrollable and over-powering. While we spent parts of the session geting to know the rules as we ran with them, the system itself was easy for them to pick up on with little difficulty on my part learning the rules I needed to make it all work.
All in all, I highly recommend this game, despite the cost, to anyone who’s a Who fan and looking for a great system to play with in the Who universe.