PDA

View Full Version : "Doctor Who" in RPGs



fmitchell
06-13-2008, 03:40 PM
I know there have been multiple Doctor Who RPGs, including the FASA version and another called "Time Lord". However, is there really a need for a specialized system?

As David Tennant has finally admitted (http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/bbc7/doctorwho/doctorwho_20080607-1857.mp3), the Doctor basically has a handfull of skills: Use Sonic Screwdriver, Run, Science!, Spout Exposition, and his highest skills, Bluff and Fast-Talk.

Any system that can handle eras from the ancient past to the distant future can handle the Doctor's companions. The Master is like the Doctor, with the addition of Mind Control and Sinister Laugh. Working up stats for Daleks, Cybermen, Sontarans, and other nasties might be a challenge, but not overmuch.

So, anyone want to prove me wrong? Or work up a Dalek in SWSE?

nedpatrick
06-13-2008, 04:33 PM
I agree, Dr. Who could be run with a number of systems. I would like to see a conversion to Forgotten Futures.

On the AFMBE forums there is a thread where they convert Dr. Who monsters to unisystem stats. In fact, I found this website were someone is using the unisystem rules (Conspiracy X to be exact) to run his Dr. Who game.

http://www.grey-elf.com/who/

ronpyatt
06-14-2008, 12:25 AM
I would think a generic system would work best. Any time period could turn up, and the system would have to adapt instantly.

I could see PDQ working very well to handle the varied degree of expertise in character abilities that found in a typical Dr. Who show. PDQ could adapt instantly to different time periods as well.

What is involved in playing a Dr. Who game? Does everyone play a Time Lord?

amardolem
06-14-2008, 09:05 AM
I have the Dr Who fasa game some where...let me dig it ot and I'll give you there spin

amardolem
06-14-2008, 12:15 PM
Haven't looked at this in ages...it's like an archeological dig, the copyright is 1985! there's just 3 slim staple bound books but there is alot of good info in them..in this game you can play a Gallifreyan time lord apprentice or a companion to one. there's a goood section on quickly generating new world systems and species as well as stats for all the classic villains (Daleks, Cybermen, The master, Silurians etc.) but they're in a fasa skill check based system I couldn't easily explain without a good read through-the font is real small and there's alot in these 3 slim volumes..the part about the time streams and the TARDIS seems well written too...you may want to track this down even if using a different system also this system seems to discourage combat and encourage humor (much like the series)

fmitchell
06-14-2008, 03:01 PM
What is involved in playing a Dr. Who game? Does everyone play a Time Lord?

Gary McBride (I think) came up with an alternative in which the Time Lord was very happy to stay in the TARDIS, thank you, and sent his companions off to actually do things.

I like the idea, although I think I'd give a good reason why the Time Lord stayed behind ... he was permanently crippled, infirm, at the very end of his last regeneration, etc. Also, some sort of remote link would give the players some hints and information, especially since most Doctor Who plots revolve around the Doctor giving some non-obvious exposition. "Ah, yes, the Golkafretorians, who've been at war with the Frekagoltorians since the Second Pangolian Migration ..."

P.S. The full FASA game is $75 on NobleKnight.com, and a quick Google search only turned up higher prices.

amardolem
06-14-2008, 04:47 PM
wow! I have it in the original (slightly squashed) box too. A veritable gold mine of ancient rpgness. It'll probably sit on my shelf for another 25 yrs
as I definately don't have time to read it's tiny font right now

amardolem
06-14-2008, 06:04 PM
I was curious so I searched around and found this site which has alot of info http://homepages.bw.edu/~jcurtis/home.htm coincedentally Dr Who just came on...it's an old one with Rose (well, an old "new" one)

nijineko
06-14-2008, 09:34 PM
i always wanted to play the timelord class that showed up in one of the older dragon mags. ^^ dr. who for d&d. i'm not sure that most people could handle the time travel bit well though. not without really good notes.

fmitchell
06-15-2008, 12:39 PM
i'm not sure that most people could handle the time travel bit well though. not without really good notes.

Doctor Who the series uses time travel mainly to set up a situation, and sometimes to add a ticking clock. ("If we don't stop the Tragonian invasion during the Battle of Agincourt, all history is at risk!")

Only in Steven Moffet's scripts for the new series do you see the time paradoxes that make gaming time travel so fiendishly difficult, especially if PCs start crossing their own timelines. As a GM you want to allow players freedom of choice, but in order to make history itself consistent you have to revert to some sort of railroading. Most games instead use a "multiple worlds" structure (e.g. GURPS Infinite Adventures), where changing the past only makes one alternate future or another more likely ... or changing the past itself creates alternate timelines.

One odd idea I had for a campaign was to have each player have two characters, one in two distinct time periods (e.g. 1920s and modern). The trick was juggling the adventures so that the modern team learned what happened in the 1920s only by playing it out. Maybe that approach would work.

nijineko
06-21-2008, 06:42 PM
a friend of mine and i invented a version of monopoly with time travel. basically all you have to do is keep track of who bought what property when, and any keeper cards, and any increases to properties. a single sheet of paper is good. anytime someone passes go, the year increments. once you meet the requirements for timetravel, going back in time costs x amount of money per year. stealing someone's property by purchasing it ahead of time refunds the amount of money to them, as they never spent it. for simplicity's sake, we just assumed that as time-travellers, our resources (money) were kept outside of time. pretty fun and the rules were simplistic enough to give the feel of time travel without getting more complicated than note-taking.

with good enough notes, one can still play paradox prone time travel. the fun part comes in when the pc's then have to go forward in time and 'fix' the results of their past actions. for example: pcs get an important piece of info from a particular npc. back in time that npc gets affected such that they are no longer there to give that info. depending on how 'named' the npc was, the pc's now have to go forward in time and figure out a way to preserve the timeline. such as substituting one of themselves disguised as said npc. as an added bonus, you can now metagame legitimately within the context of the game! ^^

tesral
06-21-2008, 09:41 PM
Time paradoxes are a bear. I avoid them myself with a law of the
conservation of time. BUT, hardly germane to a Dr. Who game where time
travel is the bread and butter.

Any system fixable enough to handle multiple tech levels. GURPS, several d20 sources, Hero.

I'm not familiar with the FASA Dr. who game. Does it use the same engine as the FASA Star Trek?

fmitchell
06-22-2008, 01:24 AM
Time paradoxes are a bear. I avoid them myself with a law of the conservation of time.

I presume this means that an event, once observed, cannot be changed. That's one way of doing it, but it does preclude a few plotlines ... and in some interpretations you still have to contend with a character going back in time to ensure an event happens. (E.g. the father of John Connor)

If the timelines get too tangled, of course, you can always bring in killer flying time monkeys (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Father's_Day_(Doctor_Who))


I'm not familiar with the FASA Dr. who game. Does it use the same engine as the FASA Star Trek?

According to Wikipedia, yes. As you say, though, any "generic" system should handle it. Then again, I don't fancy making up new NPCs in HERO every week, or trawling through GURPS Ultra-Tech to assemble yet another set of future/alien technologies. Something like PDQ might be better suited for the freewheeling nature of Doctor Who, which is more about drama and problem-solving than combat or technology. (The Science of Doctor Who would probably be a short pamphlet, mostly filled with lots of "we got that bit wrong, too".)

tesral
06-22-2008, 08:31 AM
I presume this means that an event, once observed, cannot be changed. That's one way of doing it, but it does preclude a few plotlines ... and in some interpretations you still have to contend with a character going back in time to ensure an event happens. (E.g. the father of John Connor)
The Law of the Conservation of time: The further into the past you proceed on a linear scale, the greater is the energy required to alter an event on a geometric scale.
First Corollary: The further into the future you go on a linear scale the less energy it takes to alter an event on a geometric scale.

This law does two thing in game. One; it stops time travel and using wishes to alter events more than a few minutes old. Even the godly alter reality has limits here. It also makes predicting the future pointless. By the very act of doing so you change it.

Now, such a law crumples up a Dr. Who game and tosses it out the window. So while it is fine for my fantasy setting I an not suggesting it for Dr. Who.

Yes until the recent iteration of Dr. Who the Tardis served mainly as a means of getting the characters to an adventure. What I call the Sindbad Method.

In ancient times to tell tales of faraway places the story teller invoked a ship to carry the protagonists to strange lands. Well we eventually filled up the map of the world, so the tellers of strange world tales used rocket ships to visit the planets and moons. Science caught up with that and while the reality is strange and wonderful indeed, it has a lack of places ot tell adventure tales. So the tellers of tales went FTL and you get story telling vehicles like Star Trek, Farscape, and Firefly.

Dr Who's Tardis is primarily of the same type. A means to move the adventurers around. It serves the same purpose as Kirk's Enterprise or Sindbad's ship.


According to Wikipedia, yes. As you say, though, any "generic" system should handle it. Then again, I don't fancy making up new NPCs in HERO every week, or trawling through GURPS Ultra-Tech to assemble yet another set of future/alien technologies. Something like PDQ might be better suited for the freewheeling nature of Doctor Who, which is more about drama and problem-solving than combat or technology. (The Science of Doctor Who would probably be a short pamphlet, mostly filled with lots of "we got that bit wrong, too".)

A point, Dr. Who involves very little combat, at least among the principles of the show. Guns get pointed once in a while and Daleks like to Exerminate. Or try to that is. But no, shooting is the smallest part of the process.

Moritz
06-25-2008, 07:49 AM
But who is going to play the Doctor, and who is going to play the companion(s)?

tesral
06-25-2008, 10:53 AM
There is no reason the setting cannot be played with original characters. You can set up any circumstances you wish.

I prefer to avoid canon characters where possible for the simple reason it avoids the "You're not playing them right" problem.

fmitchell
06-25-2008, 12:23 PM
But who is going to play the Doctor, and who is going to play the companion(s)?

That is a definite problem: the Doctor is brilliant, brave, and undefeatable, and his companions exist mainly for him to show off in front of. They've tried to correct that in the new series -- Rose looks like she's heading toward godhood (again), Jack is immortal, Martha's the new UNIT scientific advisor, and good old Sarah Jane has become a Doctor Lite -- but still, the Doctor is THE MAN.

Then again, who plays Indiana Jones, and who plays Short Round?

FASA decided to use just-out-of-the-Academy Time Lords and Ladies who are agents of the Celestial Intervention Agency. An idea I mentioned above is to make the Companions do all the work while the Time Lord acts as ground control. You can also adopt the "troupe play" technique of having each player take turns between being the Doctor and playing their own Companion. (Or hey, maybe the Doctor has passed on but left his mind in a psychographic circlet ... so players literally pass around the Doctor Hat.)

What makes good fiction isn't necessarily what makes a fun game for everyone, but there are ways around the problem if you're willing to bend canon a bit.

nijineko
06-28-2008, 04:22 PM
hey, if they can kill off the daleks and then bring them back in two different ways.... why not others of the doctor's race, ne? or, since they made such a big deal of not breaching alternate universe barriers, sneak a few in through there. or figure a way to convert a few of the mechanical men back to being what they were before... lots of ways to circumvent the idea that the doctor is the 'last' of his kind. which, as i recall, has happened before within the series.

fmitchell
06-28-2008, 06:02 PM
hey, if they can kill off the daleks and then bring them back in two different ways.... why not others of the doctor's race, ne?

True, but remember the Doctor was always special among Time Lords ... the only one driven enough to go out in the universe and make it better, rather than simply observe. Theoretically, the Celestial Intervention Agency would tweak history to avoid catastrophes ... but they drafted the Doctor at least once in Genesis of the Daleks, and look how well that turned out.

Of the other "renegade" Time Lords, the Master was the Doctor's Chaotic Evil opposite, the Rani used "lesser species" for her experiments, the Meddling Monk was an idiot version of the Doctor, the War Lord abducted "lesser species" as his toy soldiers, and Drax was a hobo using advanced technical knowledge. (I'm probably missing a few there ... although Romana doesn't count, since she started off as a "good little Time Lady" and ended up as another Doctor Lite.)

At any rate, it's your game, so you can ignore the Great Time War entirely. There's also rumors that this current season will reverse effects of the Great Time War by its end. I know the previews for ep. 12 show a whole lotta Daleks ...

nijineko
07-04-2008, 06:59 PM
well, sure. gm is in charge and all that. ^^ but i think it would be more fun to have some temporally plausible if convoluted reasoning as to why and how.