posted by Syrg Sapphire Original SA post

Doctor Who RPG (1985)

So FrozenGoldfishGod took this on earlier and left it, and then one of my D&D group bugged me to finish writing it up for a month or two. Not only do I have copies of this around, I'll probably follow up and compare it to the recently-released set of rules too, because I bought those on a drunken bender. Now then, I'm going to steal the intro bits from FGG and save myself some typing.

FrozenGoldfishGod posted:

The introduction section is entitled 'Introduction for Field Agents', and it offers a fairly decent overview of what a role-playing game is, and how it works relative to other forms of game. And no, the GM isn't called the 'Game Operations Manager' or anything like that - they're just called the 'gamemaster'.

Then it goes on to explain that in this game, you can play either a human Companion, or a Time Lord. Want to play the only Sontaran who isn't a shithead? Too bad, play a human. Want to play some other non-hostile race? Fuck you, play a human. According to the book, the Time Lord characters are all agents of the Celestial Intervention Agency (or CIA - get it, you guys? CIA? Eh? EH? :tardisuicide:). These CIA agents are all renegade Time Lords, violating the Time Lord rule against doing anything but sitting on your hands, and for some reason all the various hostile aliens and so on are obsessed with conquering Earth because, in the book's own words, "humans are the greatest force for good or evil".

In all fairness, this section does also include some useful information: namely, that non-violent solutions to problems are likely to be more appropriate for the setting, and that if a player isn't familiar with the setting or the rules, they might want to just play a human for a while.

The only difference the game gives between the races is age (Gallifreyans can live to a five-digit age or thereabouts while humans can hit... 100?) and non-humans can regenerate. We'll get to actual gameplay effects from that later on.

The game uses 6 statistics. They're effectively, like so many RPGs, the D&D basic six. CON is "Endurance", INT is "Mentality", and WIS is "Intuition", the rest are the same in name and effect. Scores range from 1-30, and an average man/time-man would have 6-10 in things, but player characters are not average men/time-men by any means. Aim for 10-15, minimum is 6, max still 30. It will be 20 of our 50 pages after this before we're told how to get our character attributes, but I'm just gonna cover it now anyway: roll 2d6, add your result to 36, and that's your pool of points to spend. All your stats begin at 6, so go from there.

Statistics and skills both use a second chart as well, your overall "rank" in stats/skills:

The "gives a bonus" is stats-only, you get X bonus points in any skill reliant on that stat.

Next time we'll make up a character and I'll show you around the skills/special abilities!

Still The Worst (or, Character Creation)

posted by Syrg Sapphire Original SA post

Doctor Who RPG (1985): Still The Worst (or, Character Creation)

So when we last left off I mentioned two things about the game: the layout of information is atrocious, and the rules are not really written out in an easy-to-use fashion. We're going to make two star-travelling hobos, one from Earth, one from Gallifrey (thanks, Plaz, for the idea), and show you just how different the two races are in the end... and just how badly these rules are collected.

You get your stat points by rolling 2d6 and adding this to 36 for your points pool. Stats begin at 6 across the board, so add up from there. I got the exact same 4+2+36 for each of them, so the statistics came out like this:

Kevin Donovan (Gallifreyan)

Strength: 11 (rank IV)
Endurance: 12 (rank IV)
Dexterity: 10 (rank IV)
Charisma: 15 (rank V)
Mentality: 15 (rank V)
Intuition: 15 (rank V)

John Lydon (Human)

Strength: 15 (rank V)
Endurance: 15 (rank V)
Dexterity: 16 (rank V)
Charisma: 10 (rank IV)
Mentality: 10 (rank IV)
Intuition: 12 (rank IV)

After this, we roll for a Special Ability. Roll 3d6, get the ability given. Getting an 18 means your Game Master can actually make one up for you and/or have you reroll. Another 18 means roll twice on the table and take two... but this can fuck you, because the dead-middle options are both "No Ability". Neither of our characters ended up with this, however. Donovan is going to have Empathy (it's telepathy, but with emotions instead of thoughts), and Lydon gains Unusual Dexterity, giving him a 5 point boost (and knocking him up to Rank VI).

A side-note: there's an Unusual (stat) ability for every statistic but Intuition, which is kind of strange. Also, let me just point out Layout Gaffe #1: the descriptions for all these abilities are back on page 8. We actually create characters on page 26, and all the information on what you're dealing with is at the beginning of the book, divorced from all rules for doing so. On said page the Unusual Stat skills are "Enhanced (stat)". They work in bizarre ways: three of them grant us "some proficiency" in skills relating to those stats, and make them "easier to learn" (this is not explained anywhere I can find in mechanical terms, all that's written down is "+5" near the 3d6 table), Mentality gives us a free MNT-powered skill, and Endurance gives us a booster to HP/makes it harder to fall unconscious, but this is actually written down near the table as well as a bonus to one of our saves (we'll get there).

Now. Skills. This is where shit gets insane. You see, throughout the book there are little example vignettes which show you how mechanics work, how a game should play out, etc. and near this part of the book one of them goes into the sample character getting Unusual DEX and ranking up to Rank VII in the stat. Then it goes on to say that as a result of this, she gets a free rank VII skill that relies on Dexterity.

Nowhere outside of this example is this rule ever mentioned or expanded upon. Is it just rank VII that gets this bonus? Dexterity-only? Do characters get a free rank (whatever) skill for each attribute? Was this from some prior version of the game that never got edited out of the finished copy? This is the kind of shit that hampered my writing this, trying to figure out how much of the sample information I was supposed to be working with.

Also after every one of the character-creation sections it tells us to go back 10+ pages to the massive play example. I guess I was supposed to be flipping to each part of character creation in the middle of that instead of reading it all as one solid narrative. Oops!

Next time we'll actually set down the skills because they're a headache in and of themselves, and my writeups are dry as hell already.