Jun, 2010

Open The Box

Less than an hour until the first part of the Doctor Who finale, it occurred to me a couple of days ago that this feels like Lawrence Miles Alien Bodies. Sam and the Ninth Doctor stumble on an auction for some ultimate artefact that everyone seems to want to get their hands on, whatever the cost. The Pandorica seems to be comparable with this, an artefact that aliens from across the galaxy want to get into their grasp. Mind you, that time ship from the last episode got me in mind of other time travelling adversaries from the past… then ‘Next Time’ with Roman Centurions. Could this be the return of the War Lords?

I watched the clip from the first episode of the finale and saw River Song reading off the types of ship in orbit around Earth… Daleks, Sontarans, Cybermen – and Zygons! Brilliant. I suspect we won’t get to see a Zygon, but I think it’s bloody brilliant that they get a mention.

I’m looking forward to it and hope that the explanation for the events of this season all hang together and provide a satisfying conclusion.

Cracks in the Internet

Never mind cracks in the Universe or amnesiac Time Lords abandoned on the edge of the Silver Devastation – I’m almost loathe to link to it, but angelshavethephonebox.com is a singular waste of an entirely usable web address. Admittedly the owner took the time to stick a picture on it with appropriate Doctor Who quote, but what a massive waste of a perfectly good opportunity to do so much more with it. I hate to say it, but a link farm would be better than this static page. The owner registered the site in 2007 and it recently renewed in May – and I suspect it has looked like this the whole time. Damned waste!

In Safe Hands

I attended the Birmingham UK Games Expo at the weekend. Cubicle 7 had a stand, so I invariably needed to go ask the big question.

So, “What’s happening with the Doctor Who game? When can we expect the next supplement?”

Okay, so that’s two questions – but, I can’t remember exactly what I asked. I’m hazy on a lot of things. I admit (unfortunately) this has nothing to do with alcohol. I just have a poor memory – especially for names.

Anyway, I was talking to this guy on the stand (long, dark hair and glasses, facial hair… maybe).

The response, a positive one. I won’t try to map out the details, but Cubicle 7 have all the enthusiasm for this game that you’d expect. For them, Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space represents their number one best selling game, a license of massive potential. Do you charge ahead creating stuff in a great gush and run the risk of falling foul of the license holder? I mean, that’s what pretty much happened with FASA, Star Trek and Paramount. Get too carried away and, before you know it, you’re producing supplements without full approval… and then you’re producing no supplements at all.

Having to wait for approval for stuff from the BBC does complicate things – I know that from previous experiences with other licenced holdings that if you need to have everything checked with the owner of the subject matter, expect to see your production time double. To add to the complications, with Doctor Who you also have a series in transition, with a regeneration meaning a need for a bit of a change – both in characters and branding.

The alien supplement remains incoming and should be ready for GenCon, which means an August release. After that, we have a Matt Smith makeover for the core rules, with the inclusion of both the 11th Doctor and Amy Pond as characters, and then future supplements will all have the new look of the current series.

Personally, I think the slow progress means those playing the game have had an opportunity to shine. The DWAITAS board I frequent has enough character, alien, adventure, gadget and skill/trait related material to create a supplement in it’s own right.

The guy on the stand referenced customers who make it sound like without more supplements they simply don’t have what they need to run a game – but, in my honest opinion, the simplicity of the game system, the wealth of background from the TV, and the support of other fans means that there’s a lot you can pick up and use without needing anything else official. You have no excuse not to be running DWAITAS right now.

I planned to run a game at the weekend, and all I took was the official DWAITAS screen, the ‘Start Here’-type booklet from the boxset and the pre-generated character sheets – and for a simple game I think that’s all you need. Once the players understand the basic rule and the principle of Story Points, what more do they need to know. Roll them dice, improvise some Story Point tokens and get on with the action.

So, when new stuff comes, that will be great – but no one should be putting the game into storage thinking they can’t play in the meantime. I appreciate what Cubicle 7 have provided so far and while I’d love to see more soon, I also think the delay makes for a positive experience for every potential Doctor Who GM.

Real Expo-tential

Well, I’m off to the UK Games Expo in Birmingham this weekend, attending both Saturday and Sunday (which we did in 2008, but not 2009). Having the night there means the day can be more relaxed, providing more chances to play and the chance to get involved in stuff starting in the afternoon. I would like to play Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space, but right now it looks like it won’t be running until the end of Sunday – just when I’m going to be heading along home (long drive).

I’m kind of wishing I had the chutzpah to run a game of my own, but I’m such a damned wimp. I’m enamoured by the potential of running a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy game using the DWAITAS system, which seems like a perfect fit. I could use the sample player character sheets right out of the box without any effort, running a game part-adventure, part-knockabout. I can see it being a bit like classic PARANOIA or Tales From The Floating Vagabond, a chance to play and have fun, but with a lower death toll than the former and a little less slapstick than the latter. We’ll see, you never know…

Maybe I’ll be consigned to playing – and getting annihilated in – a game or two of Agricola or Dominion; but. here’s hoping, that I’ll get a chance to play a RPG session (or two).