I do have to apologize up front. No one should ever have let me near the Doctor Who RPG in physical form. I have been feeling the book, and peeking at its full colour pages. I have been day dreaming about Tom Baker and my favourite episodes. I have been looking longingly at some character costumes that may make me like a fourth or a fifth Doctor. It is also that it is just at this time that I want to return to the types of game that avoid combat where they can and this is one of those games that totally supports it.
Guns are bad
Mmmmmmkay? This is the title in the rules section of chapter 3 in the book. Sure, the baddies are going to have guns galore (what is a Dalek without a toilet plunger laser?) but the key to the Doctor and his allies is that they rarely ever face violence with violence. For some of the companions it is a learning arc for them, a character growth where they learn to see the universe through the Doctor’s mind. The Doctor outsmarts and offers ultimatums. How many times in the Doctor’s history has he said that the Earth is under protection. He sends the aliens packing with that warning. Sometimes it works, sometimes it does not but it makes the story. Even the series that just went had Danny Pink, the soldier that was more human than anyone. The Doctor abhorred the Soldier but in the end he saves the world and a boy that he killed as a soldier. If anything, he is the anti-soldier.
The stories of the Doctor are really an affirmation of life and living with one another. To each thing a place. Even to the Dalek’s or the Master, the Doctor struggles to do anything that would bring a finality to their long standing relationship.
The aim in a game like this is for the players to be always looking for a way out. To be planning what to do if they are confronted with the worst case scenario. Sometimes it is stealth, sometimes it is bluff, sometimes it is pure genius, sometimes it is surrendering, sometimes it is getting the authorities or UNIT and sometimes it is just running. The Doctor is always looking for a distraction or a delaying tactic. Getting close to his enemies allows him to find out their plan and distracting them gives him time to come up with a clever solution.
Failing with style
As a GM there is a duty in managing a game of being ready to offer alternatives. The Dalek’s advance on the Doctor’s companion and there is a laser blast. The GM cuts to the Doctor but in reality decides that the Dalek was actually shooting a vicious creature of the planet that was about to attack the companion because the Dalek wants to use the companion as bait.
A spectre like creature that has been sucking the life out of creatures grips a hold of the Doctor and he fails to get away on his action. The GM decides that the spectre sees visions of the Doctor’s life as it drains him and releases him as it realises that this may be the person that can release it from its eternal torment.
It can be hard to think of stuff like this on the spot though. It might help to think about it before the game as the GM and come up with some good “fails with style” before hand. This is one of those games that really should avoid killing a player character due to bad dice rolls. The game really does push for players to take the long way around, walk the high road and find a solution that does not involve being murder hobos. If a death makes sense in a circumstance, use it – but do not abuse the player just for making a bad roll.
Even if you do kill a player, perhaps it is not the end. Danny Pink was “dead” when he saved the world. Rory dropped out of existence too. It can be used to make the story very interesting! Anyhow, thought I would just share (gush) about my new book and the thing that is really resonating with me. You can of course use these ideas in any game you know 🙂 Keep rolling!