Doctor Who - Player's Guide Preview: 8 Observations

Yesterday, while I was discussing the new Doctor Who RPG's character sheet, Hero Press was once again one step ahead, featuring the even more recently released Player's Guide Preview.This pdf basically includes pages 4 though 10 of the Player's Guide - sorry, no Table of Contents! - and is thus an introduction to role-playing and to the Doctor Who universe. But there IS an example of game play and other bits here and there that reveal things about the game itself.

1) It really is for beginners. Not only does the system seem quick and simple, it attempts to explain role-playing and each concept clearly. I think this is the way to go when it comes to licensed RPGs that conceivably could have crossover appeal. After all, the game is bound to attract Doctor Who fans, especially the completists. In my own neck of the woods, as soon as I started talking about starting a Who campaign, a number of people who've never gamed before asked to be a part of it, just because they liked/were obsessed with the show.

2) The presentation: Same eye candy as the character sheet, of course, but promises to color code its boxed text (red for NPCs, blue for charts) and has a cute bit with the psychic paper.
3) Chapter Titles: Just the idea that Chapter 3 is called Allons-y! makes me smile. The prose is cheeky and fun on the whole, and fun inside jokes about the show make the game its own thing and not just a straight translation from Unisystem. Chapter 2 is Children of Time, which appears to be a collection of pre-fab characters, I imagine mostly from the show.

4) Unisystem confirmed! The example of play uses Unisystem's Attribute+Skill+2d6 scheme, so that's as predicted. No other element has been spoiled, including Story Points or Traits.

5) Also confirmed: The basic set only includes New Who material. In my opinion, that's the most marketable way to go and it doesn't preclude Classic Who products down the line. The preview says you don't need to know about Rassilon yet, and it's correct, but "yet" implies we may YET hear about him. In any case, as soon as the game hits, so will fan material covering the Classic eras. If Cubicle 7's hands are legally tied on that point, the Internet's certainly won't be.

6) The boxed set will include a handful of special Doctor Who dice. Squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

7) Story points are tracked using counters, and some are included in the box. That's great since I already used a cinematic point system managed with poker chips in my previous campaign. Not only are my players used to it, they loved throwing their chips around. The idea that others would be included in future products seems to indicate they have particular effects written on them (good for beginners) and that new drama effects might creep into the game as time goes on. Then again, it may just be an ongoing support thing.

8) The box will include pre-fab character sheets with the Doctor and his companions as well as "archetypes" that only really require you to add their name. Again, this is good for newbies, though also good as a baseline for quick-start characters. I intend to have "guests" at my games (the equivalent of Lynda with a Y or Sally Sparrow), so that's going to be useful.

So while I was writing this, was anything else revealed?


aaron said...

So, at what point to I get to sell my blog and/or soul (I'm really open to either) in order to get a review copy of this? Because pretty much every part of this box set screams epic win to me.

And the dice. The only downside is that there are only d6s, I can't get Doctor Who dEverythings.

chiasaur11 said...

"No, you can't play as Death's Head, stop asking" should be in the notes for every RPG.

Kudos, Hero press.

The Irredeemable Shag said...

I simply can't wait any longer for this. I think I'm going to explo... BOOM!

David F. Chapman said...

Hey there, just a couple of clarifications - it's Cubicle 7 who's produced this, and it's NOT Unisystem. You could probably use Unisystem if you like with little effort, but the system for Doctor Who has been created especially for the game, tailored to reflect the feeling of Doctor Who as a series.

Other than that, it's awesome. Had my advance author copy through yesterday and it's huge, heavy and really cool. You'll love it!

Dave Chapman
Developer-Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space
Cubicle 7

Siskoid said...

Didn't mean to imply that, Dave. Just that the basic mechanic is Unisystem-like.

I can't wait to see how it actually differs from US.

GeekBob said...

I'm very anxious to see how this game works, being a big DW fan. i'm concerned though about how they use the Doctor in this. According to the play example, he's someone a player uses, but i wonder how they balance that.


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