As if posting Renegade wasn’t sufficient for minimalist time travel gaming, I present Electric Schemes. Intended to emulate TV series like Stranger Things or stories like Tales from the Loop, it could probably handle Sarah Jane Adventures-style games where Sane Jane happens to be out of the picture for the length of the investigation.
Recently I have got into the simple side of roleplaying, keen to spend more time playing games than learning them. In the first quarter of 2018, I discovered minimald6 by Norbert G. Matausch – and I created a simple version of my favourite dark fantasy game Symbaroum in the PocketMod form of Davokar.
On the same basis, I plan to do the same for Doctor Who with the release of Renegade.
It isn’t polished, it’s a work in progress. And, for that reason, it will sit here on this web site for a while in text format before I turn it into something more permanent and portable.
I’ll open access to the base document as a Page on this site (soon after the posting of this update). I welcome comments and feedback.
For me, attending UK Games Expo in the past has meant preparing and running five or six games – and probably misjudging that prep until the last moment.
This year I chose to run only three games and opted to focus on adventures – or, at least, set-ups – that I have run before.
For Doctor Who, that meant that I rolled out my handy reference cards, quick pre-gen Time Lord character cards, my GM screen and the ‘War Doctor’ Special Edition rulebook.
On top of that, I wanted to try a little experiment, but more on that later.
As you can see from the picture, we had cookies. I think they were a bribe. It didn’t work.
Quick Session Overview
Three of the players were a mother, father, and son group – which actually had no impact at all. At one point, Kelly (the mum) had a choice to save one character from three knocked unconscious by blow darts — and to my surprise she didn’t opt for her husband but rolled a die instead!
I opted to use an old FASA adventure – The City of Gold, which finds the time travellers discovering the Earth of 2030AD ruled by reptiles. After an encounter with a T-Rex and the discovery of a worrisome (but stable) time bubble, they have to head off into history to prevent this alternate timeline from solidifying.
Favourite moment — the characters arrive in the Venezuelan jungle in 1543AD and, having travelled away from the TARDIS, fall for an ambush by Spanish conquistadors. The young lad’s character pulls his Psychic Paper and he seamlessly declares “I am a messenger of King Charles!”.
Seriously! I had to look that up during prep…
I noted from running the system before that I keep forgetting Story Points – which allow you to retool, reduce damage, tweak the plot, etc. This time, I came up with the idea of co-opting Dread’s Jenga mechanic as a means of providing a team Story Point pool with an added layer of tension.
I used the Doctor Who Tumbling Tardis Tower Game I picked up from Amazon. I originally purchased the set to simply us as counters – but after I got the tower the Dread-style use struck me. And it worked beautifully. Stable tables permitting, I’ll use it again.
Whenever the players failed to make a roll, suffered a grievous wound, or wanted to use a skill they didn’t have – they could opt, instead, to pull a block from the tumbling tower. Sometimes that meant that more than one player would pull blocks consecutively.
The tower dropped twice during the course of the game – once close to the end, which led to an extra complication for them to resolve before concluding. Sounds of dismay and calls of guidance would follow in quick succession when a player declared they would draw a block.
Great fun. Thoroughly recommended.
The family enjoyed the game so much that they went off and picked up the game from Cubicle 7, along with the 8th Doctor sourcebook, on my recommendation because at heart the volume provides you with a great selection of adventures.
They asked about the Quick Character Gen Cards – and I said that I’d put the link up on the website – so here’s that link to the print-and-play card sheets.
As covered in my earlier article on the Quick Gen cards, you have enough cards to create up to seven Time Lord characters and the abilities offer a good spread. The fewer players (and therefore characters) you have, the more likely they’ll need to spend Story Points to account for missing skills.
I recommend lamination, but you could just print them on a piece of stiff card or use paper and card sleeves. I prefer lamination because the players can then scribble on them with a dry-wipe pen.
The Doctor Who RPG needs to be played.
I need to run it more often – and take the time to get into the nuances of Cubicle 7‘s Vortex system.
Simple post really.
While the reception to the last series might be mixed – and I can’t think of a single creative realisation in any media that won’t raise an argument amongst fans – I enjoyed it a great deal.
Indeed, I think I’m enjoying thinking back on it now than when I watched it the first time.
For example, the Degradations of Skaro – I so want to investigate that concept more and the horrific experiements actualised by the Dalek Command upon their own forces in the battle against the Time Lords.
I want to delve more into Gallifrey as well.
When I ran a couple of games at conventions this year, I offered a Shobogan as an option amongst the characters. I don’t consider these Outsiders in Gallifreyan society so distanced from the common citizenry that they can’t interact.
In the New Adventure All Consuming Fire, the Seventh Doctor refers to the Shobogan as New Age Time Lord dropouts. In the recent Hell Bent, the Doctor starts the episode living amongst the simple and peaceful Shobogan in the outback of the Gallifreyan wilds. They seem interesting enough to make more of, to understand how they have taken to a simpler lifestyle and cast aside all the pomp of “High Gallifrey”.
When Cubicle 7 originally released the boxed set of the Doctor Who game I attacked it with gusto and set about creating stats for all the various characters of the new series. I think my first attempt was in statting up Charles Dickens from The Unquiet Dead. I could do with recapturing some of that vigour for invention while I have the recent series fresh in my mind.
While I’m at it I could do with reviewing a few of the more recent books also, as I’ve really enjoyed reading them and scribbling notes about what I’d like to use out of them. It seems a long while since I last wrote something – and All Time and Space is the answer to all my calls for morer adventures that I might have mentioned in the reviews for one-shots like Cat’s Eye, Medicine Man and The Ravens of Despair.
I introduced the base game mechanic (2d6 + two character scores) and got going with the adventure.
When the time came for some action, I laid out the college cards – which show the Attirbutes and a Trait or two – and asked the players who wanted to meet a challenge which card they wanted. At that point, most of the players committed to taking a card. I had the roll based on two Attributes at that point.
Next challenge, I revealed the bottom row of cards, which display Skills and an Attribute adjustment, with a Gadget thrown in for good measure. The players all opted to take something straight away this time – probably because the unfolding adventure put them in immediate peril.
The final card followed before the scene closed and the theme music cut in.
I Don’t Have That…
Over the course of the game, I did find once the characters split up some found having the right skill an issue. When I declared a combination of Attribute and Skill, the response was they’d have one and not the other. With a full character, this would simply be a Skill with a low or zero value.
I think I’ll plug that gap with Story Points. In a short convention game, Story Points don’t actually get spent as quickly as you might like as a GM. At a push, characters in a bind can get a Skill in something – as a one off – by spending a Story Point like the “Like This, Doctor” ability. A straight +3 modifier for a single Point should suffice and make the difference where there’s a shortfall.
That should keep the story moving and the Story Points flowing, so by the end of the adventure the players might get the sense of impending doom that comes with a Story Point overdraft…
Link to card sheets:
Doctor Who RPG Vortex Quick Characters