Doctor Who RPG – Aliens and Creatures Review

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Analysis of Cubicle 7’s Doctor Who – Adventures in Time and Space continues with the first supplement released in PDF format and soon to be in print, Aliens and Creatures.  The first review can be seen by clicking HERE, I recommend it as a start to get a baseline of how I feel about the system before you dig into this one.

Effectively creating a monstrous compendium of Who villains, this expansion set seeks to add to the already considerable list in the core game.  As with the base set, the creatures and artwork are designed to recreate what are primarily the 9th and 10th Doctors’ list of antagonists.

The product I reviewed is a collection of PDFs, which the publisher breaks down as the following:

  • 138 page rulebook detailing many of the creatures faced in the Doctor’s adventures, including the Cybermen, Cult of Skaro, Davros, the Weeping Angels and the Hath, additional rules for creating your own creatures both as enemies or as playable characters, and a system for creating new worlds for your adventures to take place on
  • 32 page Adventure book, featuring a whole new ready-to-play adventure and many ideas for additional stories
  • New gadget cards
  • Additional Story Point Counters
  • Detailed Creature Cards for easy reference

The Rulebook

Of that, it is clear that the obvious value is in the first bullet item, which is what the product is made for.  Science Fiction has played host to some bizarre rogues galleries, but Doctor Who has claimed many of the best (and worst) of them.  While I do appreciate the high quality images and design used in this particular booklet, I wish we could have seen some older creatures to make the book stand apart from its Game Master’s Guide equivalent section.  Instead, we actually end up with a few reprints of species we have already seen put into stats coupled with one or in some cases several individual specimens or characters taken directly from the show.  This happens to be one of the down points for established properties translating to role playing games.  When I write a story to run for my group, or play in one, I want something fresh that feels as if the entire group created it.  Often, I feel as if these books are written to give me the tools to play an existing episode of the television show, but little else.

I can’t say that more Doctor Who isn’t a good thing; plenty of the new aliens that were not in the original set will arrive at my table to challenge or interact with my players.  Also, because the system is so simple I can foresee plenty of renaming to make my own necessary characters.  I may never have a need for the Catkind named Thomas Kinkade Brannigan from the episode Gridlock, but if I did want to have a Catkind Pilot named Boots Zephyr who flies the Indomitable Hindenburg III in the year 29Apple4134, the former’s stats would substitute well.

Finally, the rulebook features a slew of new special abilities and gadgets throughout that would be very handy to the game master who is building his own allies or monsters.

The Adventures

I was pleased to see that this set included two new adventures and a handful of plot hooks, much like the base game.  This time around we are treated to a story featuring false god aliens and a far future run-in with a Torchwood facility.  Both are fun premises, but to save any potential spoilers I’ll leave it simply that I enjoyed reading through these stories more than I had the plot lines from the base set’s adventures.  Somehow these simply felt more like a proper Doctor Who story.

The Rest

What we are left with after is an unfortunate portion to rule on when reviewing a PDF.  More tokens, gadget cards, and Creature Card GM aides are great when you get to pop them out of their perforated sheet, but much less so in printing and cutting.  Luckily, the PDF comes at a discounted value, so if you decide that these features are not “must-have” components, you can reasonably choose to save yourself the worry.  However, as someone who loves goodies, I did feel like I was missing out a bit.

Final Verdict

In the end, I can’t say this book is necessary to enjoy what stands alone as a solidly fun and well written RPG, but it has its merits.  If you are the sort of game master that disagrees with what I mentioned earlier regarding recreating episodes of the show or simply don’t want to take the time to create new adventures because of a busy schedule, the pair of adventures and pre-worked stats of so many creatures should make this a worthy buy.  Otherwise, you might skip it.  If you don’t, I might just recommend that you wait for the print edition to make full use of everything offered.

Brannigan and Dalek

[tags]Doctor Who, BBC, Cubicle 7, rpg, role playing, games, reviews,[/tags]


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