Diary of the Doctor Who Role-Playing Games #3 - Companions Issue

The gaming 'zine's first theme issue caters to that theme, but also continues what it started in numbers 1 and 2, i.e. its primer for new role-players. I don't think I'm the target audience for some of these articles, but I do appreciate the effort to teach these concepts to younger players and GameMasters. The following review should help gamers of all experience levels find the items useful to their particular group.Issue 3 PDF - October 5th 2010

The Diary continues to offer a mix of advice and testimonials to help players and GMs alike make their role-playing experience the best it can be. With the focus on Companions this issue, it seems a natural to turn towards the question of female players and characters. After all, the classic Companion IS female. There's an article that speaks to everyone but the female player, and one that speaks directly to her. All good advice, though there's a bit of a focus on personal hygiene for some reason (it's also mentioned in an etiquette column about how to behave before a game), and some of the advice makes me think there are a lot of boorish role-players out there to inspire some of the advice. Still, good advice for integrating not just female players, but really any person less familiar with role-playing or your group specifically. Some redundancies, so a couple of these articles might have been combined into one. The same goes for two articles on playing off-type. Stan Miller II has a nice testimonial about a playing a black female character and what he learned from crossing into the perceptions of two minorities, while John Curtis offers suggestions and encouragement for playing a character outside your comfort zone. Again, I might have combined these, the first acting as an example of the second. It may be that given an imposed theme, writers will come up with some of the same ideas, and it's hardly a big complaint.

But there's more! Should Companions have access to the TARDIS' controls? The GM Tips column goes into detail, referencing the times they did on the show, and how such scenes might be incorporated into games. The story about how the Time Lord in the Diarists' campaign hid the console from his Companions is a hoot, and I found the whole thing rather inspiring. There's also a list and description of the gear Companions may want to carry with them outside the TARDIS, and some very sound advice about giving your characters some characterization (stuff in there I'd recommend to my players). And finally, there's a weird little article about mapping multi-dimensional spaces that's at once very loose with the word "dimension", and extremely nerdy and techy. Good for some kinds of GM, less for others. Worth a look for the TARDIS bowling alley.
The Diary's Retro-Review covers the Time Lord role-playing game, and goes over its pros and cons very well (I'd only disagree with its assessment of the art). It's one of the three RPGs the 'zine caters to, so it's an important review. There are also reviews of books that could be used by Whovian gamers, though weren't written for the games specifically: The TARDIS Handbook, and Confessions of a Part-Time Sorceress (plugging into on the issue's themes).

The issue has two adventure scenarios, the first of which takes its inspiration from a classic Companion.
-I Am a Slitheen, Hunting a Sevateem: A short adventure that seems to spin out of a simple rhyme, it combines Leela of the Sevateem (if you like, you don't have to play with her obviously) and the Slitheen, and acts as an excuse for the Diary to provide Slitheen stats for the FASA and Time Lord games, or and for some fart noises around the table.
-The Lost Expedition: This one's MUCH longer (10 pages) and lavishly illustrated with pictures from the Fallout 3 Russian LARP that inspired it. At the very least, it's a fine lesson in how ANYTHING can be used to inspire an adventure. This "save the princess" scenario has court intrigue, wilderness exploration, computer hacking, and the potential for action. It feels very old school and sandbox to me, but if that' your style (as opposed to fast-paced one-off "episodes"), you'll find an area and culture for your players to explore.

And more
The issue also has a list of Doctor Who stories that are especially good at featuring Companions - food for thought when thinking about how to craft stories around the more human members of your cast - pictures of the 11th Doctor's TARDIS that weren't used, but that could inspire your players' own TARDIS design; and not one UNIT cartoon, but FIVE!

As usual, you can find the entire collection HERE, but I'll be back later with a review of issue 4.



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