August 17th, 2018


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doctor who

Time Lord, by Ian Marsh and Peter Darville-Evans

Second paragraph of Part Three:
Players and the referee should read this chapter carefully, or have it explained to them by someone who knows the rules. Rules in subsequent chapters can be skimmed by players to glean some knowledge of the game's workings; the referee needs to set aside time to read the rules at least once.
My role-playing game days are very far behind me now, but in my late teens I was pretty absorbed in the linked fandoms of postal diplomacy and RPG design. One of the major figures of the latter was Ian Marsh, co-editor of the famous zine Dragonlords, solo editor of the less famous Year of the Rat, and briefly the professional editor of White Dwarf, which is of course still going. Ian himself now runs a tabletop miniatures business in the Isle of Wight. I only recently realised that he and Peter Darville-Evans, the original editor of Virgin’s New Adventures, had collaborated on this role-playing game. I am no longer enough of an RPG fan to really evaluate it; the points that struck me were:
  • No time needed for players to roll up characters, because character sheets for the (then) seven Doctors and their companions are already provided and players are expected to use them.
  • An interesting mechanism for invoking chance: the referee establishes the difficulty of a particular task on a scale of 0-5, and the player must then “beat the difference”, by rolling two dice and seeing if the difference between the two numbers exceeds the difficulty of the task.
  • Quite a strong time element, in terms of how long particular activities will take mattering a lot to the outcome of your scenario, perhaps deliberately echoing the time pressure of a 25-minute TV episode.
There are also two skeleton stories provided, one of the Doctor and Ace intervening in high politics of a spacefaring planet, the other an alien mystery in a contemporary shopping centre. I think for completists only, whether Whovians or RPGers, but interesting enough. (Not so sure about Colin Howard’s art here though. He has improved in the meantime.) I got mine in hard copy, but you can download it here, and I believe that more adventures are available if you hunt around.


1943 Retro Hugos: the detail

The full results of the 1943 Retro Hugos have been released. As usual, below I am reporting the margin of victory for the winner, and the other placings, giving margins of victory where they were less than 20 votes. For the nominations stage, I am reporting the top vote-getters and the nearest misses.

Highlights: the closest result of the Retro Hugos was Best Fanzine, where Le Zombie won by only ten votes, and The Phantagraph won second place by only nine votes. The only closer races were Arthur Wilson “Bob” Tucker winning second place in Best Fan Writer by three votes, and Donovan’s Brain Darkness and the Light winning third place in Best Novel by a single vote.

At nominations, Best Editor Short Form, Best Professional Artist and Best Fanzine all had several candidates in contention for the final places, and a single vote more or a single vote less would have made the difference between being on or off the final ballot

The Screwtape Letters was disqualified for Best Novel due to the original publication date. “The Twonky” got enough votes to qualify in Best Novelette as well as Best Short Story (it won the latter category).

Detail below.

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