Get in loser, we’re going time travelling!
As a long time fan of all things Doctor Who, I was needless to say more than a little excited when I found out that there was a tabletop RPG based off of it as well and when Dames became a reality, insisted immediately that we all play it. Because what are friends for if not inflicting your hobbies upon?
One thing that did surprise me about the Doctor Who game was that it not only allows but tends to operate under the expectation that someone in the group will be playing the Doctor and the others will be companions. While I can understand that’s one of the biggest draws for the game – because who doesn’t want to play the Doctor? – it did worry me that it might be a touch unbalanced as the Doctor does tend to be rather more powerful than other characters. Deciding against tangling with that particular problem at this stage, my fellow Dames made a rather eclectic trio of Time Ladies whom I explained are students being sent on their final test to join the Celestial Intervention Agency of the Time Lord and needed to investigate and hopefully fix a temporal anomaly that had been detected on, you guessed it, Earth.
Given a loaner TARDIS and sent on their way, the three of them – consisting of a Time Lady who’s essentially a Disney Princess, one who’s a revhead, and another who looks like they regenerated in Hot Topic and had to grab whatever clothing was available – went to Earth in the early 2000’s to investigate this anomaly.
Similar to 7th Sea, the Doctor Who RPG allows players to combine which abilities, traits, and skills they think might fit the situation, while it also has similarities to D&D in that there are DCs to hit in order to learn specific information. It meant that the gameplay itself was similar enough to what we were familiar with that everyone picked it up quickly, although from a GM perspective having only run D&D for the most part in the past, it was a little strange not to have as many rolls for players to make. But one big difference the Doctor Who RPG has going for it is that the focus of the gameplay shifts away from combat situations almost entirely. You can run combat if you wish, and if you have a player who makes a combat oriented character I’d highly recommend you add some in so they don’t feel left out, but it’s just as easy to run a game without any combat at all and have the focus entirely on finding other solutions to problems, encouraging players to problem solve and think their way out of situations, much as Doctor Who adventures tend to go.
One concern I do have as both a GM and a player is that the game does have a lot of skills and it can be a bit troublesome to keep all of them straight and remember what they mean and what bonuses or negative effects they might give. For the most part a lot of them are simply a description of what a character is good or bad at and don’t have any specific detailed effect, but it’s a lot to go through, particularly for new players, and can be intimidating or confusing.
While the Dames didn’t manage to solve the anomaly in one session, they did discover what was going on in town and have an idea of what to do next, and most importantly everyone had fun and would like to find out what happens next to the little group of strange Time Ladies. Either way, I know I’m eager to throw more at the group and see if I can come up with puzzles and stories that surprise even Dame R.
Want to give it a try? Head on over to Amazon or your local FLGS and let us know how it goes!