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The One Ring - The Darkening of Mirkwood
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/04/2016 11:51:37

In the original Loremaster's Book an epic campaign called The Darkening of Mirkwood was outline: here it is presented with a wealth of detail, year by year events to enable you to have a coherent time-line of events running irrespective if you want your campaign plot to interact with them or not - a fine way to ensure that your players feel that their characters exist within a living, breathing, real alternate reality!


The Introduction provides a lot of useful material, including notes on how news travels across Middle Earth (slowly...), and how this timeline has been established to set the scene for the events in The Lord of the Rings - remember, this game is set between events in The Hobbit and those of The Lord of the Rings. The focus here is on how the sweep of events affects those caught up in them, in particular the player-characters and those they care about, putting a human (or hobbit, dwarven, elven...) face on world-shaping events. Yet it may be that the histories are wrong. Maybe things didn't quite happen as it is said that they did. Perhaps some heroes stood up and by their actions changed things. Don't be afraid to alter the course of history as appropriate to the actions of your company of adventurers or indeed the needs of the stories you want to tell. The company are, after all, the heroes of your game, the stars at centre stage whatever else might be going on in the world.


There are rules for establishing and running a holding - something many character might wish to do... and this also provides them a place to defend when darkness comes a-knocking. For those living in the Wilderland, it's a real and present threat that is only going to get worse as time progresses. So encourage the characters to embed themselves in the community, build up networks of friends and relatives, trading partners and associates... all the more will they feel the threat as events unfold.


And then we move on to the tale of years, which is broken down into five phases beginning with the last good years. The timeline runs from the year 2947 for a full thirty years. For each year you get a selection of events, noteworthy things that happen in Mirkwood and the lands immediately surrounding it... or even further away, but which influence life there or at least will have been heard about by those living there. It's up to you whether or not you want to incorporate them into your plotline or use them as side-adventures, or merely leave them as topics to be discussed over a pot of ale.


Next there's a complete sample adventure. As the years progress, it is likely that these adventures will need to be customised, as things your company has done in the past may be already altering the timeline from that published here. There's also information that may influence the course of the year-end Fellowship Phase, although this gets harder to predict as time passes and adventurers' actions affect the timeline, for better or for worse.


The overall idea is that you and your company will build a solid history of your own, one that encompasses the feel of a real life being led, a life that has adventure in it to be sure, but one which is rooted in its surroundings and the ordinary lives led by most of the people who live there. As such this work is an admirable resource and should help you build a lasting campaign that will be fun to play and memorable for years after.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The One Ring - The Darkening of Mirkwood
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The One Ring™: Adventures over the Edge of the Wild 2011 Edition
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/02/2016 13:14:01

This product consist of two books and maps in a slip case (or a slew of PDFs if you purchase it that way). The books are The Adventurer's Book and The Loremaster's Book, and the maps come in Adventurer's and Loremaster's versions as well.


We'll begin with The Adventurer's Book, which opens with an Introduction that covers the usual explanation of what a role-playing game is before talking about the setting of Middle-Earth as depicted in The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings and assorted other material by J.R.R. Tolkien. Even the what is role-playing bit is interesting, as it takes the standpoint of common knowledge of video games and explaining that role-playing is a bit like that, but without the computer! We then find out that the game is set specifically in the time between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, a period of some seventy years, and starts off in the Wilderland - this being the lands extending from the Misty Mountains as far as the Running River. A lot of this area is covered by Mirkwood and there are plenty of monsters and other perils to contend with, ideal for adventuring. There's plenty of background here, worth reading however familiar you are with the novels as it extends on that material to bring the wider setting to life.


We then move on to a section called How to Play. In a way this extends the material that describes what role-playing is, as it covers the concept of player-characters as adventurers roaming the land. As you'll have guessed, in this game the Game Master (GM) is called a Loremaster, and his role is also explained. Now it gets interesting. To promote interaction, each adventure is made up of two parts: the Adventuring Phase (the main part) and the Fellowship Phase. The Adventuring Phase is like any adventure, the Loremaster sets the scene and the characters react, but in the Fellowship Phase the characters take the lead, describing what they do after the adventure. In many games, after an adventure you sort out experience points, level up and so on, this is just a means to make it an explicit part of the game rather than stopping play to 'book keep'. You may do this already, but it provides a measured structure for such activities.


This section ends with a note on dice. The One Ring is designed with custom dice in mind but if you don't have access to them you can play with ordinary dice - you'll need d6s and d12s - just remembering that on a d12, the 11 is the Eye of Sauron and the 12 is the Gandalf rune, likewise on the d6, the 6 counts as the tengwar rune. Where these symbols appear in the text, you just use the appropriate number on your dice. Die rolls are quite uncommon, characters are assumed to be reasonably competent, but when they are required you roll a Feat die (a d12) and perhaps Success Dice (d6s) depending on how skilled the character is. Special effects come into play if you roll one of the symbols: basically the Gandalf rune confers automatic success whilst the Eye of Sauron counts as zero and can lead to really bad things happening! To suceed at something, the player needs to roll in excess of a Target Number based on the difficulty of the task being undertaken.


Next, Part 2: Characters explains the process of character creation. Your characters are assumed to be ordinary folk who have, for whatever reason, stepped out of their regular lives to become adventurers. The process begins by deciding which Heroic Culture you come from (and there's a promise that succeeding books will provide more options based on the lands that they describe). Then you define why he's gone adventuring and work out what skills and knowledge he has. The idea is to create a rounded character, rooted in his origins and heritage yet ready to face the unknown. There's a wealth of background material to help you accomplish this here. Once individual characters are ready, the group as a whole should create a Company, a party of adventurers, working out how and why they came together in the first place, and why they have chosen to travel together.


Then Part 3: Fundamental Characteristics puts numbers to the concepts you've been tossing around during the previous chapter. It's a quite masterful effort to separate 'fluff' and 'crunch', empowering players to think about who their characters are as people without needing to worry about game mechanics yet able to slot them in seamlessly to describe the character you have developed in game terms. It also explains how the system works in detail, how to use your skills and other abilities, so it is advisable to study this well. It's all quite straightforward and keeps the number-crunching to a minimum. Here we also read about the weapons and armour that's available, along with their in-game effects.


This is followed by Part 4: Character Development. Here the various ways in which characters - and the group as a whole - grow and develop over time. It's not just mundane things like skills and abilities that increase with your exploits over time - wisdom, valour, virture, rewards and more also feature here, many mixed in with the culture from which that character comes or reflecting how he is regarded by those in whose lands he has travelled. It all tends to the development of rich and varied characters embedded in the lands that surround them - a lot more than totting up your XP and gaining a 'level'! This section also looks at life and death, getting wounded or catching a disease, healing and recovery.


Next comes Part 5: Adventuring Mechanics. This gets down to the bare bones of task resolution, drawing on the material already covered and bringing it all together. It takes you through the process from deciding what you want to do, then determining the appropriate skills etc. to bring to bear, assigning a difficulty and, once the dice have rolled, working out what actually happened. It all sounds a bit laborious, but if you think about it, this is how any game works... it's just been spelled out in detail here. It becomes instinctive with practice so don't be off-put by the clunky feel. Given the nature of the game, one of exploration and travel, the role of maps is important. Even more civilised areas are not well-mapped and most folk do not travel far from home, so adventurers may well find that the only maps they have are those that they make themselves as they travel. Not only travel is covered here, but combat - pretty deadly and not to be engaged in lightly.


Finally, Part 6: Fellowship Phase looks at what you can do once the adventure is done. A party is assumed to undertake one adventure a year, and then to rest for a season or so, often returning home to gather once more when they are ready to venture forth once more. There are opportunities for characters to develop themselves, make stuff and carry out all manner of non-adventuring activities. They can also catch up with the news and events within the known world whilst they've been off adventuring. It makes for a civilised and balanced approach, a more realistic way of viewing the life of an adventurer than occurs in many role-playing games. As an Appendix, some pre-generated characters are provided, as examples or if you are eager to get going.


The Loremaster's Book begins with Part 1: The Role of the Loremaster, which defines what the person taking that part has let themselves in for. It then, in Part 2: Game Mechanics, goes into considerable detail about how to make the game work at the rules level, including such matters as running Loremaster characters, awarding advancement points and so on.


Part 3: The Shadow looks at adversaries, from the nebulous 'corruption' to actual physical monsters that beset the land. Then Part 4: The Campaign helps you devise and structure one, using the sweep of years across the setting as your guide, embedding your game solidly into Middle Earth, and in particular Mirkwood and the surrounding area. There's a wealth of detail here.


Finally in Part 5 there's an introductory adventure, The Marsh Bell. Treat it as an example or use it to kickstart your own campaign. You should have plenty of ideas by now as to the sort of things that you can do.


Overall, this game has captured the flavour of Tolkien's tales well, with a gentle and measured approach that is quite distinctive yet very appropriate. Epic tales can be told, but it is the complexity and richness of the setting and game working hand in hand that really appeals.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The One Ring™: Adventures over the Edge of the Wild 2011 Edition
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The One Ring - Horse-lords of Rohan
by matthew p. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/27/2016 00:21:28

Not much to say here, its virtually perfect. One of the best additions to and already great RPG, I cant wait for the hardcopy to bo on my shelf!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The One Ring - Horse-lords of Rohan
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The One Ring - Horse-lords of Rohan
by Bryan B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/26/2016 13:20:07

Another solid title for TOR. This book has everything as promised and more. Rules for horsemanship, new cultures, and even a look at cultures and locations outside of Rohan proper (Isengard, Fangorn, Dunland). Beautifully illustrated with top notch content.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The One Ring - Horse-lords of Rohan
by Andrew A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/20/2016 20:19:40

I so totally love these Cubicle 7 TOR things. I am not sure I will ever get to play this, but the pleasure of reading these is worth every penny. And the art is beautiful. Years ago I played MERP using the Pendragon rules - I was trying to get the mythopoiec feel to the thing. But it never quite worked as well as I wanted. This system however is pretty much perfect.


This one is even better than the two more recent ones (Rivendell and Ruins of the North) and has the advantage of being less constrained by the "cannon". Its just great, and has good hooks to the earlier modules.


I literally cannot wait for the companion volume!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space - Arrowdown
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/03/2016 10:30:27

Intended as an introductory scenario - and released as a free download - this is a fast-paced adventure that can be run in a single session designed to give 'screen time' to as many different character concepts as possible, yet give a true flavour of what the universe inhabited by the Doctor is really like. Incidentally, if you have the original Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space box set (the one with the Tenth Doctor played by David Tennant on the cover), this is one of the adventures that came with it, also released in one of the scenarios in the Tenth Doctor Adventure Book.


Firstly, a section called What's Going On gives the GM the lowdown on what is really happening, then we're off with a Prologue that assumes the characters have met the Doctor and already seen him in action. It also assumes that Amy Pond is there. If your group are not the Doctor's companions (or potential ones) you'll need to devise something of your own although a few guidelines are given for a UNIT party or even people who as yet have not begun to travel in time and space. Then there are lots of notes about the town of Arrowdown itself, complete with a photo of the Eleventh Doctor capering around on a rocky beach called Macross in South Wales - slightly disconcerting as I can think of at least two or three other seaside towns in South Wales that would fit Arrowdown much better - Porthcawl or Penarth, for example. But I digress...


As the party explores the town they will (hopefully) begin to notice that everything's just a little bit off. Incongruities abound. Their investigations will lead them to discover what's going on and suggest a possible solution. Several possible solutions are given, making it easy for you to run with whatever the party comes up with... or make suggestions, should they prove baffled by the whole situation. This makes for a dynamic, fluid feel to the adventure... and one that's great fun to run (I cannot answer as to what's it's like to play!).



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space - Arrowdown
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Doctor Who:Adventures in Time and Space - The Ravens of Despair
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/02/2016 07:54:53

This isn't an adventure. Instead, it introduces an ancient group called the Ravens of Despair who follow, or are drawn to, sorrow, despair and defeat wherever it takes place in the universe. Understanding their origins, nature and capabilities, you can then incorporate them into your own adventures - and to get you started, there are some ideas, some plot seeds, to build upon or draw inspiration from.


The creatures known as the Ravens of Despair were made by an even more ancient bunch called the Alturons, creatures of pure thought who needed to have some physical alter-egos or avatars to interact with the real world. Specifically, they made the Ravens because they found the universe to be a troubled place. Their intention was to make creatures that could absorb sorrow and despair... unfortunately, they botched it and although the Ravens can feed on such feelings, they intensify them for whoever was feeling them in the first place.


We read about their nature and how they function, what they look like and plenty more. There's a character sheet for them and notes on how they can be detected and perhaps even dealt with... maybe. You can also find out which races particularly dislike them, and which ones they tend to avoid (Daleks, for example, as they prefer to destroy rather than causing distress to their opponents!).


Finally there are three adventure outlines and notes for a two-part story arc than involves the Ravens. They are quite ingenious and include a mysterious retreat patronised by celebrities who want to shake off the blues or additions, a far future successor of New York where the annual Founders Day celebration is now a somber Day of Mourning, and a prison ship drifting in space full of panicking prisoners... and finally a rogue Alturon shows up, causing chaos for the Incas and others. Plenty to get to grips with here.


It's an interesting concept with a strange race that could serve as recurring opponents, or just the basis of a single adventure.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Doctor Who:Adventures in Time and Space - The Ravens of Despair
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Doctor Who:Adventures in Time and Space - Medicine Man
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/01/2016 07:27:01

Set in the Old West, this adventure is fast-paced and ought to play out in one or at most two sessions. The introduction lays out all the background detail of what actually is going on (just in case the cover picture hasn't given it all away!), enabling the GM to run this as a sandbox investigation: here's a town, here are some problems, go find out what's happening and fix it! The adventure seems ideal for any Doctor and companions - or other exploring time travellers - party (apart from the photos there's no reason to set it in the Eleventh Doctor era!), but would work less well with games involving UNIT or Torchwood.


The adventure opens with the TARDIS arriving in the small township of Prosperity in the early evening, and provides plenty of descriptive material should the party wish to wander around exploring and meeting people. A good range of options are provided, with the relevant outcomes, you might need to suggest one or two to your players if they are not sure of what to do. They do provide plenty of avenues to discover firstly that there's something odd going on and then to find out what that might be and do something about it, and the nice thing is that the order in which things are done does not matter.


Another neat touch is that there are various groups all with their own plans and purposes, who are in the main getting on with them regardless - this is not a static scene awaiting the arrival of player-characters, but a dynamic situation with which they can intereact.


This should provide your group with an exciting adventure, and captures the essence of a Doctor Who adventure well!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Doctor Who:Adventures in Time and Space - Medicine Man
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Doctor Who:Adventures in Time and Space - Cat's Eye
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/28/2016 08:26:20

This adventure, which is set loosely in the era of the Eleventh Doctor (at least, that's which Doctor is depicted on the cover), involves a visit to an abandoned and derelict hotel in 1980s Earth. It's suitable for just about any form of game, and suggestions are made for various groups - classic Doctor and companions, UNIT, or Torchwood - as to how they might get involved, with the delightful addition that if there's an Earth human of appropriate age in the group (extremely likely) a vulnerable youngster that they know and care about might have somehow ended up amongst the squatters who live there now.


The Introduction gives a brief overview of what is actually going on here. Next there's a description of the setting, quite atmospheric with quite a lot of the sort of detail that will help you set the scene for your players. Although abandoned there are some inhabitants, chiefly a bunch of feral cats - there are plenty of suggestions as to how to use their presence to effect - and a band of squatters who have moved in.


There's a big focus in this adventure on atmosphere, so even as the notes move on to what takes place when the party arrives there is still more commentary on things to highlight (drumming rain, darkness, the smell from the feral cats) as you tell your players what their characters are experiencing. The whole thing is very free-form: a situation has been defined and you, as Game Master, know what's going on whilst the party are free to poke around and talk to anyone they wish. Ideas for how people (and cats!) will respond to them are provided, along with the way that they will react to likely character actions. A couple of squatters are ill, and their comrades are likely to ask for assistance - this is the main way that the party will be able to begin investigating what's really going on... although there are other less obvious routes if they do not seem inclined to play ministering angels. Eventually all is revealed, as well as the way to deal with it... and put it this way, the party will probably end up herding cats! This should prove quite amusing, and may be played for a few laughs or seriously depending on your group's style.


A plan of the hotel is provided, and there's a single, brief mention of how the adventure could continue. One thing that occurs is how portable the core underpinning concept is. If for some reason a 1980s abandoned hotel on Earth doesn't appeal, you could take the concept and run it on a spacestation, in the past, on a different planet without much difficulty, it's clear which elements will need to be retained, even though you'll have to come up with your own atmosphere... the resources and descriptions provided here are excellent for making the setting atmospheric.


It's a neat little adventure suitable for a single session of play. Interaction and investigation are at the fore, with little if any combat - there again, the Doctor does not often use violence - and overall this one is fun to play. Enjoy herding cats!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Doctor Who:Adventures in Time and Space - Cat's Eye
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Doctor Who - The Tenth Doctor Sourcebook
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/19/2016 07:54:43

Charting the adventures and background to the Tenth Doctor (played by David Tennant), this book provides loads of resources and ideas for anyone wanting to run their game in this era of the show's history. It also includes material on Torchwood which - as it did on TV - could prove an interesting 'spin off' if you do not want to run a Doctor-based campaign.


Chapter 1: The Children of Time discusses a very mercurial and almost manic Doctor, filled with a sense of justice and pride and, still, remorse for the Time War although he's getting over that a bit. There's a character sheet for him, and also copious details and character sheets for his companions and some important allies - Rose Tyler (a carry-over from the last regeneration), Mickey Smith (Rose's boyfriend and rather neglected), Martha Jones (a doctor of the medical variety and very determined with it), Captain Jack Harkness, Donna Noble (who brought some of the actor's other abrasive comic characteristics to this role), Sarah Jane Smith (a true blast from the past, who was a companion to the Third and Fourth Doctors before being reunited with this regeneration), Wilfrid Mott (Donna's grandfather), Astrid Peth (a companion who might have been but never was), Sally Sparrow ... and many more. This Doctor certainly had a lot of friends, even if many only participated in one or two adventures with him. There's also a wealth of detail about the Ood, a gentle and peaceful alien race, and of course a TARDIS update.


Next, Chapter 2: Playing in the Doctor's Era gets down to actually running your game in the Tenth Doctor's time. Key to this is breakneck, almost frantic, speed. There's also change - the Doctor has an indelible effect on everyone who associates with him, however briefly. There's advice on creating and running story arcs and much, much more. Alien and gadget traits round off the chapter.


Then, Chapter 3: Torchwood explores this fascinating organisation, dedicated to protecting the British Empire from alien influences since 1879. It's a ready-made setting for alternative adventures, and there are plenty of ideas here (who knows, maybe there will be a complete Torchwood supplement one day!). You can find out how to create a Torchwood operative, read the organisation's history and contemplate a handful of adventure ideas. There are also two character sheets, for two of the individuals from the spin-off Torchwood TV series (Gwen Cooper and Ianto Jones) although neither are discussed in the text and even their Torchwood base (the one in Cardiff) only gets a passing mention.


Chapter 4: The Doctor's Enemies gives details of Cybermen, Daleks, the Master and... oddly enough... the Time Lords themselves, who end up in opposition to the Doctor. Plenty of detail, background material and character sheets enable you to run any of them with confidence.


The final chapter contains all 44 of the Tenth Doctor's adventures. Each comes with a synopsis of the adventure, notes on running it (including ideas for taking that plotline and running it in a different Doctor's era), follow up adventures and material about any monsters, NPCs or gadgets that have not already been discussed earlier in the book. All fertile ground for the imagination, however you choose to use it!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Doctor Who - The Tenth Doctor Sourcebook
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Doctor Who - The Ninth Doctor Sourcebook
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/18/2016 10:55:35

The Ninth Doctor (played by Christopher Eccleston) was particularly exciting to old hands and new, as this was the beginning of the 'reboot' of the show in 2005. This new regeneration was a ruthless, edgy fellow, forged by his experiences in the Great Time War and believing himself to be the last Time Lord in existence. Emotionally-scarred, he mellowed over time due mostly to his interactions with his companion Rose, a London shop assistant. Eventually he realised that, whatever he might have had to do, he was a good guy, a force for good in the universe once more.


Chapter 1: The Ninth Doctor and Companions looks at both the Doctor and those who travelled with him, starting of course with a very psychological analysis of the Doctor himself, complete with character sheet. He started alone, but soon met up with Rose Tyler, and her effect on him is charted here. There's also Adam Mitchell, who last but for one adventure, and Captain Jack Harkness - not a companion, more of a kindred spirit. Rose's boyfriend, Mikey Smith, and her mother Jackie also feature here. Each gets a description, backstory and character sheet. Finally there are some notes on the current TARDIS, markedly different in appearance - at least inside - than previous ones, even if it is still a battered police call box on the outside.


Next, Chapter 2: Playing in the Ninth Doctor's Era provides a lot of information to support running adventures in this time, if not with these characters as well. Earth has gone the better part of 15 years without seeing much of the Doctor - things were quite different for him and Earth was unaccustomed to him as well! The universe as a whole, meanwhile, is still reeling from the Great Time War whose ripples affect memory and what actually happened, which make various discrepancies arise. Have fun with those! A lot of the discussion assumes that you will be using the adventures discussed later in your own game, but even if you are not, there's plenty of use here.


The remainder of the book presents the adventures the Ninth Doctor had, thirteen of them (including a couple of double episodes). This set of adventures is the first of the Doctor's adventures to have a distinct series arc, called Bad Wolf, over and above recurring individuals, situations or even villains. In each case, there's an adventure synopsis, notes on running the adventure as is, details of notable enemies and allies (and tech), and ideas for adventures spawned by whatever was going on. Plenty to get your teeth into here, however you intend to use this material. Wider concepts are discussed as well, so it is well worth reading through the lot at least once, whatever your intended use. Definitely worth adding to your bookshelf!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Doctor Who - The Ninth Doctor Sourcebook
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Doctor Who - The Fifth Doctor Sourcebook
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/15/2016 08:08:45

Covering the exploits of the Fifth Doctor (played by Peter Davison), this book begins with his regeneration - caused by the near-demise of the preceding regeneration at the hands of the Master - and covers his turbulent adventures where saving the universe features several times along with moments of high drama, athleticism, and intense emotion.


Chapter 1: Playing in the Fifth Doctor's Era contains a wealth of information to help get the right feel for this part of the Doctor's adventures, as well as a lot of detail to help you make it all come alive for your players. It starts by describing the nature of this version of the Doctor, who was curious and delighted in travelling space and time to see the sights and help the people that he encountered. He wasn't so good at navigating through time and space and often didn't end up remotely near where he wanted to be. This section ends with a character sheet.


Then we move on to companions. He tended to gather multiple companions, as opposed to other regenerations who generally had but one or two at a time. Sounds a bit more like a conventional role-playing group, doesn't it? Starting with Nyssa of Traken, we learn about Adric, Tegan Jovanka, and Vislor Turlough. Interestingly, they're nearly all aliens (apart from Tegan, who does come from Earth). Background notes and character sheets are provided. We also get character sheets (but no notes) for the metamorphic robot Kamelion and Peri Brown.


The remainder of the chapter concerns itself with the TARDIS and with the nuts and bolts of running games in this era - when the 'present day' was the 1980s. The universe seems to be a darker, colder place with more than one companion death during the course of the adventures, and some outright hostility with Adric tending to the argumentative, Tegan convinced she was the Doctor's equal and Turlough actually trying to kill him - albeit at the command of the Black Guardian (he eventually rebelled and refused the mission).


The remainder of the book, one giant chapter, consists of the adventures from the show, some twenty of them. Each is presented in the same way beginning with a synopsis of the adventure as it played out on TV. Then there's a section on 'Continuity' which puts the adventure in context, then notes on running the adventure 'as is' for your group. Here you will also find details on races or individuals that are encountered, notes on interesting technology and so on. Finally, there are suggestions for further adventures based on matters arising in the original. This provides a wealth of material which you can weave into your game in any way you like, a splendid resource.


Along with other books in this series, this book provides a delightful insight into one of the Doctor's regenerations, complete with detailed episode guides that should enthrall fans of the show as well as provide plenty of material for role-playing. It also shares the lack of photo captions common to all of Cubicle 7's Doctor Who books, as well as no indication of who any of the actors are - now I'm always more interested in characters than the actors playing them, but a lot of people are interested in actors so it's probably worth mentioning! Overall, however, another worthy resource to add to your collection!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Doctor Who - The Fifth Doctor Sourcebook
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Doctor Who - The Eleventh Doctor Sourcebook
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/14/2016 08:05:56

Like the preceding volumes in this series, The Eleventh Doctor Sourcebook provides virtually everything you might possibly want to know about this particular part of the Doctor's history, that covering the (real-world) years 2010-2013 when Matt Smith played the Doctor. He started off a bit mad and only got better with time...


In the first chapter, we find out about this regeneration of the Doctor and about his companions. Presenting a character sheet from towards the end of his era, rather than the 'early eleventh Doctor' one that's in the Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space Eleventh Doctor Edition box, there's an interesting discussion of his nature and how it is different from all the Doctors we've enjoyed before. It seems that his past is catching up with him, appropriate since it was originally established that Time Lords ran out of regenerations and he was coming to the end of his allowance. Yet there was the paradox of the young body coupled with the weight of the ages from his past... a fascinating version of the Doctor indeed. The companions start with Amy Pond, who witnessed the regeneration as a young child and fantasised about the strange man with a blue box for years before he returned. Later an older Amy got to become a 'proper' companion, joining the Doctor in his travels, and bringing her boyfriend and later husband Rory along as well. The other companion, continuing on to the Thirteenth Doctor, was Clara Oswald, whose relationship was strange indeed. We also read about River Song, whose tangled timeline weaves in and out of the Doctor's... and rarely going in the same direction. It's enough to give you a headache! Then we meet the Paternoster Gang, an oddball group who live in 1880s and 1890s London, but comprise an elegant Silurian, a human maidservant (and lover) and a Sontaran butler/bodyguard. Strangely they seem to fit in very well, and spend their time solving mysteries - when not looking after the Doctor, that is. There are other folk as well: Brian Williams (Rory's dad), Idris (briefly, a body in which the TARDIS matrix came to life), Canton Everett Delaware III (an FBI agent), Craig Owens, and Kate Stewart (UNIT head of scientific research). Each has a brief note about them and where they fit in, and all get character sheets should you want to have the party meet them, or if someone wants to play them. There are also character sheets for the pirate Henry Avery and the War Doctor, although there are no biographical notes here for them. Finally there's a note on the TARDIS itself.


Next, Chapter 2: Playing in the Eleventh Doctor's Era explores everything that you need to know if you want to set your adventures here (or use the ones we read about later on), starting with the style and tone that includes elements of fairy tales and the need to be very, very careful about what you look at. There is also an undercurrent of processes which don't work quite how their designers expected them to with, ah, interesting results. Suggestions on how to use these themes and several more are scattered around for you to pick up and run with. There are also ideas for whole campaign arcs, including one based around the intriguing question 'is the Gamemaster allowed to keep secrets about player characters?' - the idea being that the Gamemaster may write plots that involve things that said player-characters don't know about themselves. It's something to be handled with caution, not all players like to be messed around in this way, but it can make for some memorable adventures. There are also notes about messing with the timeline and having duplicates of existing characters turn up, along with the inevitable new traits and gadgets.


Then comes Chapter 3: The Eleventh Doctor's Enemies. There's quite an array of them, starting off with the future Church... complete with Papal Mainframe in a spaceship which travels to wherever faith is needed! Then there's the Silents and the Great Intelligence and the Cyberiad (a collective of cyber-minds working with the Cybermen) and the Justice Department and of course the Daleks. Each comes with extensive notes and a plethora of ideas about adventures you can have using them.


Finally, there are a full forty-one complete adventures, as presented in the TV show, for you to delve through. Mine them for ideas, run them 'as is' or use the follow-up adventures provided, it's up to you. Each comes with a synopsis of the adventure itself, continuity notes showing where it fits into the overall story, notes on running the adventure as presented and ideas for further adventures that spring from it. A true wealth of resources to revel in, and a fine episode guide for anyone who enjoys the show.


There's enough here to keep your group occupied for ages, a worthy addition to the series.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Doctor Who - The Eleventh Doctor Sourcebook
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Doctor Who - The Time Traveller's Companion
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/12/2016 08:21:02

Fun as it may seem on the surface, when you start thinking about it time travel can make your head hurt. So here's a primer to get all you budding Time Lords sorted before you leap into a TARDIS and make a complete mess of time and space.


Launching straight in to Chapter 1: Into The Vortex, there's an overview of the contents of the book chapter-by-chapter and various comments on things like die-rolling conventions and other rules mechanics. There are plenty of extra rules here, which you - as the GM or in agreement with the group - will need to decide if you want to implement. The ruleset as given in the original box set work fine, these are refinements which you may or may not want to include. There's also a note that a big portion of the book is best left to the GM alone, on the assumption that only one member of the group will GM Doctor Who games. If you don't plan on being the GM, you might want to wait until your GM has had a look at this book before you decide to buy it.


Next, Chapter 2: The Shining World of the Seven Systems takes a look at Time Lords and their homeworld of Gallifrey. Any player who wants to be the Doctor (or another Time Lord) really ought to read this, it's background information any Time Lord would have. It's fascinating stuff... but likely only known to Time Lords so if you're playing a companion, stay out or at least forget it - unless your Doctor likes giving history lessons. We have the history of the Time Lords from way back in the mists of time until now, the 'Laws' relating to time travel and so much more. Time Lords are a political bunch, and there'd be scope for creating a unique game with several Time Lords engaging in the sorts of power games that they enjoy if you want a game something out of the ordinary. Or you may want to get involved in the Time War. It's all here. You also find out about life on Gallifrey and the Academy programme that forges new Time Lords - there's enough detail that you could even run an Academy game if you wanted to! It ends with notes on how to create a Gallifreyan character - not all are Time Lords, only those who graduate from the Academy, you see.


Then comes Chapter 3: I Walk in Eternity. This discusses the creation of original Time Lord characters, rather than resorting to playing the Doctor. There's a more advanced process for generating the character, and even more ideas about what sort of adventures he could have. Did the Doctor actually exist in this reality, or does your Time Lord have the opportunity to do the things the Doctor did? There are new traits and all manner of other goodies too, like detailed rules for regeneration.


Now we have a Time Lord, it's time to travel in time so on to Chapter 4: Temporal Mechanics 101. This talks about the things that can go wrong time travelling, and how to avoid them. It's complex and scary and is almost enough to persuade you to trade in your TARDIS... almost. Fear not, after scaring the would-be time traveller half to death, the chapter settles down to explain the game mechanics to travel safely through time and space, and maybe even end up where and when you intended to go!


Of course, to travel in time you need a TARDIS, and Chapter 5 provides a detailed run-down of what a TARDIS is and what it is capable of doing. There's loads of detail about different systems and modes of operation, and you can even have a go at designing your own TARDIS. Like the rest of the book, this chapter is copiously illustrated with shots from the show... alas, all uncaptioned so if you don't have photographic recall of the entire history of the TV show you can be left wondering just what a particular person, place or item might happen to be.


Next, Chapter 6: Master of Time and Space heralds the 'GM only' section - which occupies the second half of the book in terms of number of pages. The main elements are Chapter 7: Dark Secrets of the Time Lords, Chapter 8: Last of the Time Lords? and finally Chapter 9: Advanced Temporal Mechanics. The Dark Secrets takes Chapter 2 and lifts the lid on the true history of the Time Lords, and makes fascinating reading. Quite a few useful NPCs are included. Plenty of ideas for adventures and even entire campaign arcs are scattered throughout as well. Last of the Time Lords looks at the belief held by the Doctor - at least during the initial years of the 2005 'reboot' of the TV series - that he is the last surviving Time Lord. There are ideas for using this, and others for things to do if this is indeed not the case and there are plenty of other Time Lords scampering around. Advanced Temporal Mechanics is an opportunity to mess with everybody's head...


Essential reading for Gamemasters, and probably for any aspiring Time Lord, but of limited use to other players. A thoroughly good read, though!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Doctor Who - Defending the Earth: The UNIT Sourcebook
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/11/2016 08:29:50

This book provides all that you need to run adventures using UNIT, the Unified Intelligence Taskforce (originally United Nations Intelligence Taskforce, back in the days of the Third Doctor when we first encountered them). UNIT is Earth's front line of defence against alien incursion, and can be a potent source of adventures with or without the Doctor being involved, especially for groups who enjoy a more military, combative approach than the Doctor's likely to tolerate! UNIT also hires researchers and scientists along with investigators, so there's plenty for characters who do not wish to be soldiers to do as well. If you are playing a game with the Doctor and his companions (or another group of time-travellers with or without Time Lord) UNIT may be encountered as allies or even adversaries during your travels, or like the Third Doctor, your group may work with them on a more regular basis. Or a single UNIT member may join the companions... Whatever you choose to do, this sourcebook will provide the basis for doing it.


All this explained, Chapter 2: UNIT History deals with the history not just of UNIT itself but of precursor attempts to defend Earth (or at least the UK) against alien invasions. UNIT itself was formed when the British Army struggled to repulse Daleks, War Machines and Robotic Yeti. Although the Second Doctor met them occasionally, a long-term relationship was formed with the Third Doctor, and more recent regenerations have interacted with UNIT upon occasion. This history is quite detailed and illustrated with some magnificent (but alas uncaptioned) stills from the TV show, and gives an excellent account of UNIT from its inception to the present day.


Next, Chapter 3: Modern UNIT describes how the organisation functions in the 21st century. This covers its organisation and goes into considerable detail on what you'd find in a typical UNIT base - if you are running a game based on UNIT it's likely that you'll need one to serve as a home for the group. Mechanically, a base - just like a character - has a series of Traits, good and bad, that define its general nature. As an example the UNIT HQ in the UK is described in detail. Next is a discussion of security clearances, for people and for documents, so you can give everything the appropriate feel... there are also some brief uniform notes for those characters who want to know what they'll be wearing. A few gadgets round this chapter out.


Chapter 4: UNIT Personnel provides details necessary to create a UNIT character from scratch. This includes ideas on the various sorts of teams that you might set up in a UNIT-focussed game, depending on the nature of adventures you want to have. Some archetypes are provided for those occasions when you need a UNIT operator in a hurry, or to use as a basic outline on which to construct your own character. There are also biographic notes and full character sheets for several notable UNIT characters who have turned up in the TV show.


Then Chapter 5: UNIT Tactics provides some expanded combat rules. The core rules regard combat very much as a last resort (much as does the Doctor), but UNIT gives an opportunity to have a few brawls... so here's how. So there's a fair bit about firearms and a few other things, and a piece on how to handle mass battles including how to involve individual characters, laying siege to bases and more.


Next is Chapter 6: Covering Up. UNIT would be much happier if the rest of us didn't even know about aliens, let alone what they are trying to get up to (like invading Earth), so here we learn how they keep a wrap on things... or at least try to. An Exposure system is included to cope with the times when the cover-up fails, with the assumption that knowledge of aliens is going to cause mass panic.


This is followed by Chapter 7: Gamemastering UNIT which covers everything from the sort of themes you might employ - loyalty, morality, fear - to the likely nature of a UNIT-based campaign. That can be defending the Earth or it might take a more exotic twist - perhaps the UNIT team has acces to a TARDIS or other time-travel device and goes out exploring. They could even provide protective details to important individuals, or guard alien captives. There is a wealth of ideas here, well worth reading if you intend UNIT to turn up at all in your game never mind be the centre of it. Then the chapter gets down to the nitty-gritty of designing and running UNIT-based adventures, addressing issues like having a military hierarchy which never sits easily in the context of a role-playing game.


Finally, Chapter 8: UNIT Adventures provides masses of material to get you going, with two complete adventures and several adventure outlines/seeds which you can develop further. Armed with this book, you'll be ready to bring UNIT to life in your Doctor Who game, whether you want them as a central part with the party as UNIT operatives, or just have them turn up occasionally in a convention Doctor and companions campaign. Pretty much essential reading...



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Doctor Who - Defending the Earth: The UNIT Sourcebook
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