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.

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