Your RPG Shelf Converts to Doctor Who Gaming

While it's theoretically possible to convert ANY setting or adventure scenario to your Doctor Who role-playing needs, some would be a lot more work than others. Filing off super-powers and magic could destroy what makes some adventures interesting in the first place, or leave the characters with little in the way of tools to succeed. In many cases, however, you can update the location to another planet, a much farther future, or play the Clarke card that any sufficiently advanced technology will look like magic. I've done a LOT of converting from one system/setting to another over the decades for two distinct reasons: 1) There was a time in my life when I bought far more RPG material than I could ever hope to run. And 2) I've run games that had little to no published adventures for the longest time. Conversion means I can make the most of my RPG collection, plain and simple.

The Doctor Who RPG (formerly FASA and Timelord, now DWAITAS) provides the unique opportunity for players to visit any time period and location, so those scenarios on your shelf or pdf folder could find a home there even if you're not currently playing MegaTraveller, Dark Conspiracy or Warhammer. Inspired by the lengthy list of adventures worthy of Whovian conversion in the second issue of Diary of the Doctor Who RPGs, I've built my own list from the stuff on my shelf. Please enjoy this unofficial SBG/Diary crossover event!

Blood Brothers 1 and 2 (Call of Cthulhu, 1990 and 1992)
A pair of non-Mythos books, between them they feature 22 scenarios based on different horror movie tropes, everything from the traditional zombies, vampires and evil dolls to the wacky, like luchadore pictures, cursed guns and my favorite, Ancient Midget Nazi Shamans. Doctor Who has a strong tradition of poaching Hammer Horror films and the like, so you'll feel like you're gaming in the Hinchcliffe/Holmes era. I've adapted many of these over the years, and it was reasonably easy to do so, and each can be run in a single session/episode.

Dr. No (James Bond 007, 1984)
While the Diarists recommended a Top Secret adventure, I think the James Bond 007 RPG is much closer to what Doctor Who is like, and the scenarios that involve a mad scientist (like Dr. No) seem perfect for gamers who want to recreate the UNIT era. JB007's adventures all come in a slim box full of full-color hand-outs and are just gorgeous products well worth looking for. And don't worry about their being based on famous movies, Victory Games were very good about making changes to confound the players while keeping the general idea behind the exciting set pieces. Once you throw your Whovian filter on it (changing names and so on), they might not even realize what they're playing.


GURPS Almost Anything
The 3rd edition collection, spanning more than a hundred books, could be your own-stop-shop to Whovian gaming. There are dozens of books about historical settings, dozens more based on science fiction settings, and an important focus on different types of horror as well. Each setting book has adventure hooks aplenty, and ways to cross the various genres made available by GURPS, including some good books on Time Travel and parallel Earths. Genre/setting books of particular interest to Whovians include Atomic Horror (B-movie mayhem), Cliffhangers (duh!), Warehouse 23 (think Warehouse 13 before that was a thing), and monster books like Monsters and Creatures of the Night (I've taken some of the crazier ones and built whole episodes around them). GURPS can take you anywhere in history from the time of the dinosaurs to far-ranging futures, and those futures include whatever's to your taste, from Cyberpunk to Transhumanism to straight space opera to postapocalyptic. A huge resource.

Kafer Dawn (2300 A.D., 1987)
In 2300 A.D., humanity is in a bitter war with the Kafers, a race of bloodthirsty aliens that could be transplanted into the Whoniverse and become as big as the Cybermen or Ice Warriors. Just figuring out their culture, strengths and weaknesses could be an adventure in itself. Are they intelligent tacticians, or brutish monsters? How can they be both? Kafer Dawn is a mini-campaign with four scenarios about defending a colony from these creatures, which could be condensed into a two-parter, or a place where the TARDIS keeps bringing the characters to deal once again with the Kafer threat.

The Myth of Self (Over the Edge, 1995)
An insect group mind. Divine rapture overtaking a city. The Doppelganger Plague. A subculture of personality-switchers. Four scenarios that explore threats to one's identity, one of Doctor Who's core themes. Over the Edge stories can be taken out of the fictional island of Al Amarja and transplanted almost anywhere on Earth (i.e. London or Cardiff) and would make, in my opinion, some really groovy Doctor Who adventures, dark and disturbing, eccentric and thoughtful.

Storm Riders (AD&D, 1990)
Though you'll of course have to take out the more obvious magic, Doctor Who has dabbled in Buddhist mysticism in the past and can again. This module explores a Tibetan-like culture in the Forgotten Realms which can easily pass itself off as Ancient Tibet and still work. Enslaved in the opening chapter, the PCs will get a chance to regain their freedom (and their TARDIS) by escorting a spoiled princess and a sacred horse to stop a war with a neighboring kingdom as Mongol warrior try to stop them. The wealth of cultural texture is what makes this one interesting, and the climax does dip into the kind of mysticism Who has done in the past. What's a TARDIS if not a zen construct? (I have not played the series two sequels, Black Courser and Blood Charge, but they explore fantasy versions of India and China, if you care to stay longer.)

Strange Aeons (Call of Cthulhu, 1995)
Three Mythos scenarios in different times and places, you could easily tap into the Whoniverse's connection with Lovecraftian gods and monsters to make these your own. The best of the three is King of Shreds and Patches, which includes a meeting with Shakespeare in Elizabethan London. Blood Moon takes place, where else, on the moon, where base personnel are going insane and trying to free SOMETHING from the satellite's core. The weakest is The Garden of Earthly Delights, but it's still full of worthy ideas like the Spanish Inquisition, a giant fly invasion, and events that inspire Bosch's famous painting of that name (a personal favorite).


Tales from the Ether (Space 1889, 1989)
Sure, the solar system wasn't a steampunk paradise in the 1880s, but Space 1889 scenarios can be readily adapted to a far future with ether ships, rampant colonialism, and habitable planets with the necessary climes. Tales from the Ether is one place to start, with stories involving Mercury's hot/cold border, diplomacy between rival colonies on Venus, the subterranean rivers of Luna, a space station in danger, and a sewer beast on Mars. Staging them elsewhere and elsewhen removes the need for a lot of suspension of disbelief about breathable atmospheres and such. Maybe 1889 Mars can be the much more ancient Mars of the Ice Warriors.

Time Capsules (TimeLords, 1990)
BTRC's TimeLords sounds like a Doctor Who game, even if it's not. Though its adventure collection Time Capsules (and there's a sequel, I've just never seen it) has a couple of "Time Cops"-type scenarios, the other 14 basically build on the game's "lost in time and space" premise, and could be used as your own campaign's thru-line. Each destination is explored in 1 to 4 pages, and runs the gamut from straight environmental survival to historicals, and to cyberpunk and satirical futures. You may want to add some Whovian monsters here and there, or just play it as is, Hartnell-style.

Time Master
For the GM who doesn't mind doing a little more work, or indeed, for any Time Agency series, Time Master has a number of solid scenarios about threats to the timeline. The Demoreans from a parallel future trying to make their world happen instead of ours could be used as a recurring foe, or in more TARDIS-related series, be replaced by known temporal interlopers like the Daleks or the Master. Some of these do tend to be rather complicated and involve multiple jumps to stop attacks on linked events across time. I've only played Clash of Kings, and while it was a fun visit to different parts of the Arthurian legend, it did make the players' heads reel at times. I might also suggest The Cleopatra Gambit (Ancient Rome), The Assassin's Queen (Thugees in India), and Temples of Blood (protect Cortez!). Some Time Master adventures fly off into parallel worlds where magic and myth are possible and real, but I don't think that would stop a Doctor Who GM.

But perhaps you have EVEN MORE adaptable adventures to suggest. The Comments section is at the ready.


Craig Oxbrow said...

I posited similarly here but I reckon you've been more thorough.

Siskoid said...

That's a bit the point: Every Whovian GM could draft a list and we wouldn't get very much duplication.

chiasaur11 said...

Is it just me, or does "Myth of Self" use the same font as the Faction Paradox novel "This Town Will Never Let Us Go"?

Another tie in?

Siskoid said...

What I call the Planescape font?

It was pretty popular there for a while.


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