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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.

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
redfiona99
Aug. 17th, 2018 08:27 pm (UTC)
I have a copy of this bought in a tiny secondhand books shop in Evesham. It's one of the two books I thought had been lost forever several house moves ago and am ever so happy I was wrong.
sjwright
Aug. 20th, 2018 10:30 am (UTC)
I lost my copy of this one, but still remember it with qualified fondness. The main area of silliness, I remember, came from its insistence that everything should fit into its 1-to-10 scale, including the rather odd Size statistic; this led to certain anomalies. It's possible, for example (though presumably time-consuming) for Leela to fight off an alien infection by stabbing individual bacilli with her knife (she only has to beat a difference of three, if I'm remembering right.) At the other end of the scale - and, admittedly, using some of the optional rules for group effort - while the Daleks may have to go to all the trouble of hollowing out the magnetic core of the planet and installing engines to steal the Earth, any group of six or more Cybermen can steal the planet just by picking it up and carrying it away.
(Anonymous)
Aug. 21st, 2018 03:45 pm (UTC)
Oh, and Nyssa has a slightly better than evens chance of understanding the entire universe, if I recall correctly.

But if you don't try to break the system, and agree to fudge over any results that are too stupid (and frankly why would you be playing with anyone who would be so appallingly gauche as to try to minmax or rules-lawyer in a Doctor Who story), then you can run some good games with it. I certainly did.

It does rather demand a lot of whoever's playing the Doctor, though, as they have to improvise quite wildly to keep up the impression that they know far more about what's going on than the companions, when really they are just as much in the dark as anyone else. Hm… is that what the Doctor is generally doing, I wonder?
sjwright
Aug. 21st, 2018 09:50 pm (UTC)
Is that why Nyssa has that permanently stoned look about her, I wonder?

Oh, I agree really - I take the usual perverse delight in broken rules (I used to love the FASA Star Trek RPG's shotguns), but, yes, you can't let the rules break the actual story, can you?

As for the Doctor, I fear the only answer there is the usual one: it depends which Doctor you're talking about. It's very likely true of the blustering Sixth Doctor, who was out of his depth in a paddling pool... and the Fourth had a positively magnificent way of sweeping in and taking control of a situation before he knew what it was. On the other hand, for the Seventh Doctor in his Machiavellian phase, well, his whole schtick was that he had a plan, he knew more than anyone else, and he wasn't telling....
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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