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Doctor Who - Defending the Earth: The UNIT Sourcebook
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/25/2023 13:50:55

Updated review here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2023/05/reviews-doctor-who-rpg-supplements.html

The latest Doctor Who source book is out for the "Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space Game". This book is the UNIT source book, "Defending the Earth".

Like all the Who books this one is full color. While it skews more to the new Who series, there in a lot of Classic Who material here including stats for the 3rd Doctor (Jon Pertwee).

The UNIT (United Intelligence Taskforce) is tasked by the UN with protecting the Earth from Alien threats. This book allows you to create UNIT bases, personal and comes with two sample adventures.

In many ways a UNIT based game can be more interesting that a Doctor-based one. In this everyone can have a nicely defined role. You have field scientists, soldiers of all sorts and even civilians.

Among the features of this book are the expanded firearms and mass combat rules. The History of UNIT. Personnel, which includes plenty of new traits for military, science and civilians. And two UNIT based adventures.

This is one of my favorite sourcebooks for DW so far. Not just because of the limitless possibilities, but also because there is more attention paid to the older series than other books (note I am not saying this is a flaw of the other books, but it is a nice feature of this one).

I also see this as one of the more flexible books. You can set up a small UNIT command base and let the wackiness ensue. In fact, my own playtests adventures with DW could easily be converted into a UNIT game. Think back to the 3rd Doctor's adventures, these were mostly Earth based with UNIT. All of those are great ideas for a game. Or even the Sarah Jane Adventures.

I would be remiss if I didn't point out the cross-game compatibility with this and Primeval. While such a thing is never stated in either book and I am certain that it was not design consideration, there is nothing the ARC can't do that UNIT can't also do and visa-versa. By adding them together you get something very cool AND adventures to last for a couple of campaigns.

As with all books in this line, it is full color, well laid out and full of stills from the show.

A great addition to the collections of gamers or Who fans.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Doctor Who - Defending the Earth: The UNIT Sourcebook
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Doctor Who - Paternoster Investigations
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/25/2023 11:50:37

Originally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2016/10/review-special-edition-paternoster.html

I imagine that one day in the not too distant past, like 2015 or some exotic time like that Andrew Peregrine (Victoriana 2nd ed) and Walt Ciechanowski (Victoriana 3rd ed) were sitting on tops of the mounds of money that Cubicle 7 makes and discussing how they could get in on some of the Doctor Who fun. They spoke to Dave Chapman (who was sitting on top of an equally obscene pile of cash) and convinced him to let them do a Victorian era book for the Doctor Who game.

The result is Doctor Who - Paternoster Investigations.

This book is a source guide to the Doctor Who universe's Victorian England. The Doctor has been here many times and he is seriously running the risk of running into himself more often here than in 21st Century England.

The book is 128 pages, full color and done in the new "12th Doctor" trade dress. The main conceit of the book revolves around the Paternoster Gang which includes Silurian warrior, Madame Vastra, her maid turned lover turned wife Jenny Flint, and Sontaran Commander turned nurse turned man-servant Strax. I have featured Vastra and Jenny many times on my blog and worked out my own stats for them for the Doctor Who RPG and for Ghosts of Albion. I have not bothered to see if my stats and the official stats are similar though.

This is a GREAT book, not just for the Doctor Who game but for Victorian games in general. You will not see the depth of talking about Victorian times here as you would with the author's Victoriana books, but there is still plenty here.

The book breaks down into expected sections. First, we have a chapter on the Victorian world and how it works. This includes a bit of history, culture and important happenings. There is also a section on how this all exist in the Doctor Who universe.

The second chapter/section is devoted to the specifics of the Doctor Who version of this time. This features a "driving" geography of London (useful for anygame) and some personalities that can be interacted with. A pause while I point out how pleased I am to see "Alice Shield" AKA Ashildr AKA "Me" from the ninth season of Doctor Who. No, we never saw her in Victorian times, but we know from her accounts that she was there. We even get a first generation version of Torchwood. A++ to both Gentlemen Authors for putting together such a fun chapter for the game.

Third, we get to Victorian Adventures which is exactly what is says on the tin. So many great ideas here. I could not help but feel a little Victoriana entering here. The jewels in this chapter are of course the descriptions of the PPaternoster Investigations Gang, the "Further Adventures of Jackson Lake" (the Man Who Would Be Lord) and my absolute favorite, Jago and Litefoot Investigations. Right there is worth the price of the book alone.

The fourth section moves into what they call the Paternoster Campaign. Ok let's push pause for a sec. One of the big issues of Doctor Who, any Doctor Who RPG, is playing without the Doctor or Other Timelords. UNIT helps this a little, Torchwood does it a little better, but the Paternoster Gang does it the best. With this structure you may never need, or even may never want, to use a Time Lord in your game again. This details setting up and running your investigative teams or using one of the ones from the book.

The final chapter, "A Study in Flax" is an adventure for your Victorian investigative team.

The final pages are various characters from different Victorian episodes of Doctor Who. Included are Vastra, Jenny, Strax, Jackson Lake, Rosita "Rose" Farisi, Henry Gordon Jago (!), Prof. Litefoot (!), another version of Clara, and Victoria Waterfield.

Who should get this? Everyone! Seriously though, if you enjoyed the Vastra/Jenny episodes of the 11th and 12th Doctors, the 4th Doctor classic "Talons of Weng-Chiang" or it's spin off "Jago and Litefoot", then this is for you. If you love Victorian games, then this is for you. If you love the Doctor Who game, then this is for you.

Just buy it. You'll love it.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Doctor Who - Paternoster Investigations
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Doctor Who Roleplaying Game
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/25/2023 10:46:27

Originally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2023/05/review-doctor-who-roleplaying-game-12th.html

A new cycle of regenerations, and we get a new Doctor! By now you know that means we get a new Doctor Who RPG book. This time it is still a hardcover. Much like the Doctor himself, appearances have changed, but what matters on the inside has stayed the same.

Doctor Who Roleplaying Game 12th Doctor Hardcover Edition

256 pages, full color.

A few things to note about this version of the game.

First, "Adventures in Time and Space" is gone from the title. That is fine; by this point people should know what Doctor Who is all about.

Secondly, this edition/variation is the same as the Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space Limited Edition Hardcover Edition I discussed already. So everything that is true for this is true here save that the artwork is predominantly from the Peter Capaldi era of the 12th Doctor.

The Characters in this one the 12th Doctor, Clara Oswald, Danny Pink, Madame Vastra, Jenny, Strax, Kate Stewart, Osgood, Saibra, Psi, Courtney Woods, Rigsby, Robin Hood, and Journey Blue. No Bill Pots or Nardole however. The extra characters come in at the expense of a page or two of ads. No loss.

The Chapter titles are different, but otherwise, this is the same book.

I did not grab this as a hardcover, but I did get the PDF.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Doctor Who Roleplaying Game
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Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space Limited Edition Hardcover Edition
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/24/2023 12:21:06

Updated and posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2023/05/review-doctor-who-adventures-in-time_24.html

The year is 2013 and the place is TNP (oops, sorry wrong RPG) Earth. Doctor Who is celebrating it's 50th anniversary and there is a big to do to be had. We see the 8th Doctor regenerate, not into the 9th Doctor, but the War Doctor. We see the final days of the Time War. We get to see ALL the Doctors (some via archival footage) come back to save Gallifrey. And we even get a special sneak peak at something that has not paid off till now, 10 years later. In the RPG scene, Cubicle 7 releases a new Doctor Who RPG limited edition printing. This time it is a full-color hardcover rule book. Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space Limited Edition Hardcover Edition

Hardcover and PDF. 256 pages, full-color covers and art with color and black & white photographs.

For this review, I am considering my hardcover version and the PDF from DriveThruRPG.

Ok. I want to state outright that the rules in this game are really no different than the previous two boxed sets that I have covered. If you have either or both of those there is not a lot of new you will find here. That is ok. Let me explain why.

Prior to this volume, the rule books were focused mostly on the current Doctor. This is a trend that will continue on to and likely past the Second Edition of the game. This edition, while still using the BBC trade dress for Matt Smith's later (and last) seasons, brings in photos and imagery from all the past Doctors. This makes this book feel more like a full Doctor Who game, something I have not felt since the FASA books. The content still favors the NuWho series but there is enough here and there to get a real feeling of depth and history. The character sheets are the same 11th Doctor format for example.

Secondly, and just as importantly, this is a hardcover book. It is sturdier than my 10th Doctor softcovers, but of course, no dice, no sheets, and no extras that you get with a boxed set. It does have a solid Basic vs. Advanced feel to it that I like, and one that is formalized for the Second Edition.

Bigger on the Inside

As I mentioned, the rules here are not unchanged from the previous printings of this game, they are reorganized a bit. There are some edits and as expected things that happened in the series more recently are in the forefront here.

The obvious strength to this new presentation of the rules is it combines what had been in the Players and Gamemasters sections into one. In the 10th and 11th Doctor's books the Gamemaster's Section repeated some information from the Player's sections. Here they have been integrated into a whole.

Chapter One: The Trip of a Lifetime

This is our introduction to the Doctor, RPGS, and this RPG in particular. Introductions on who the players are and the Gamemaster as well as how to use this book. There is also an example of play.

Chapter Two: Travellers in the Fourth Dimension

This is our character creation chapter. Here we cover the types of characters that can be played. The assumption is still Time Lord + Human Companions, but other variations are also mentioned, like No Time Lord At All, UNIT Squad/Torchwood team, and others.

We start with detailing the Attributes of the character, or the qualities of a character that are typically fixed. These are Awareness, Coordination, Ingenuity, Presence, Resolve, and Strength. Similar to the "Basic 6" of many RPGs. All these are scored from 1 to 6 with 1 being the human minimum, 6 the human maximum, and 3 being the average. Time Lords and other aliens can go beyond these. These are bought on a point-buy system.

Traits are the qualities of a character, good or ill. There are Minor Traits (Animal Friendship, Attractive), Major Traits (Boffin, Fast Healing), and Special Traits (Alien, Cyborg, Time Lord). Like Attributes, you spend Character Points to buy these. Some can be good or bad traits, and some can be Minor, Major or Special depending on how they are "bought" in character creation. "Friends" can be minor or major depending on the friend in question. "Hypnosis" can be minor, major or special depending on how powerful it is.

Skills are also purchased with Points. There are only 12 skills, unlike modern D&D and more like Unisystem, skills can be combined with any attribute as appropriate.

Chapter Three: I Walk in Eternity

This covers running the game and the basic rule(s).

Attribute + Skill (+Trait) + 2d6 = Result; Compare the result to a Task Difficulty.

That is the guiding principle for the entire game and it works really, really well. Your average Difficulty is 12 but it can be as low a 3 (super easy) or 30+ (near impossible). Contested rolls are introduced and the all-important Story Points (the little cardboard counters).

It gives us some details on the Task Difficulties; 3 for Really, Really Easy, 12 for Average, and 30 for Nearly Impossible. Additionally, there are thresholds if you roll above or below the set difficulty levels. So, for example, if you score 9 points above the roll needed, something special can happen, like extra damage or something. Likewise, if you roll poorly, something bad can happen.

The rolls, much like in Unisystem, become easier with practice, and soon you won't need any guides at all.

Contested rolls, rolls where your character is being prevented from success are also covered. The biggest example of this is combat. Example situations are given and which skills can or should be used. This is a good way to rule these since Doctor Who is not really about combat. "Combat with words" is more important and can even stop physical combat. Though there are weapons detailed here and how deadly they are.

Chapter Four: A Big Ball of Timey-Wimey Stuff

While the first three chapters can apply to every game, the is the chapter that is quintessentially Doctor Who. This covers not just roleplaying, but roleplaying in Time Travel games. Here we get a lot of advice on how, well, to keep gamers from being gamers and avoiding paradoxes.

We get some background on Time Lords and TARDISes. Not encyclopedic details mind you, but enough to keep players and gamemasters happy. This covers dealing with damage to Time Lords and regeneration.

The section on TARDISes is updated, reflecting notions and ideas seen in the show at this point.

Chapter Five: All the Strange, Strange Creatures

Here we get to all the aliens. While some are certainly foes to be fought (Daleks, Cybermen) there is a lot here that run the spectrum of friend to fiend. Creatures use the same stats as characters. So it is expected that there are some "Alien Traits" here as well. These work just like Character Traits, but are typically not bought by characters.

Plenty are covered here, but there is an emphasis on ones that have appeared more recently and ones that have appeared in both the new and classic series. So for example the entry on the Great Intelligence not only covers the "Servers" and eyeless men from the 11th Doctor, but also the Yeti from the 2nd Doctor. There are old and new Ice Warriors. We get the Master in both his John Simms and Anthony Ainley depictions.

Old and new Autons. Silurians and the Sea Devils. It's not every monster or alien, but it is a good selection of "Greatest Hits." There is also enough information here to make your own.

Plus it is one of the best places to see all the variations of Cybermen and Daleks all in one place.

Chapter Six: Hold Tight and Pretend It's a Plan

This covers good roleplaying and how to play in a Doctor Who game. We also get tips on being a good Gamemaster here.

Chapter Seven: The Song is Ending, But the Story Never Ends..!

This is our Gamemaster chapter. This includes where (and when) to set them and a basic 5-act adventure formula. Other tips and tricks covered are personal story arcs (think Donna or Clara), cliffhangers, two (or three) part stories, and more.

In this version, we also get some Adventure Seed ideas. These are great since each one focuses on an earlier regeneration of the Doctor.

Appendix: Journal of Impossible Things

Character sheets. We get the 11th, 10th, and War Doctors. Clara, Amy, Rory, River, Rose, Sarah Jane, K-9, the Brigadier, and his daughter Kate. There are also archetypes, UNIT Soldier, Scientist, Rock Star, and Adventuring Archaeologist. A blank sheet, and a cheat sheet.

There is also an index.

While rule-wise there is nothing "new" here this feels like a good solid revision and has been my "go-to" book for Doctor Who for some time now.

If you are a classic Doctor Who fan and want to play the "new" RPG then this is a great place for you to start. This is true especially of anyone coming to this game from FASA Who. You will need to get some dice, but since the game uses 2d6 exclusively that is not too hard to do.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space Limited Edition Hardcover Edition
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Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space - Eleventh Doctor Edition Upgrade Pack
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/23/2023 11:37:07

Originally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2023/05/review-doctor-who-adventures-in-time_23.html

Cubicle 7 did release an "upgrade pack" for free for people that have the 10th Doctor books and want to have the changes from the 11th Doctor book. It contains:

New aliens and creatures (from the Gamemaster's Guide, 32 pages) New gadget cards New character sheets. New pre-generated character sheets for the Eleventh Doctor and companions. (11th Doctor, Amy, Rory, River, and Craig Owens) New archetype character sheets, partially generated characters for you to quickly personalize and use. (UNIT Soldier, Scientist, Rock Star, Adventuring Archaeologist, Footballer, Politician, and Alien)

Worth it to grab really. If you don't mind abusing your color printer a bit you can print these off and stick them into your 10th Doctor boxed set. I think I saw an 11th Doctor set though at my FLGS recently.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space - Eleventh Doctor Edition Upgrade Pack
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Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space (Eleventh Doctor Edition)
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/23/2023 11:35:24

Originally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2023/05/review-doctor-who-adventures-in-time_23.html

We start a new decade of the 2000s with a new Doctor, Matt Smith as the youngest actor to ever play the role (to date) at 28 years of age and a new printing of the Doctor Who RPG to reflect the new BBC trade dress for the new Doctor. I did not pick this one up in print since the contents are largely the same as the one for the 10th Doctor, minus some minor details.

I did pick it up in PDF from DriveThruRPG.

Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space, 11th Doctor Edition

This version is pretty much the same as the 10th Doctor version. Much like the Doctor himself, changed on the outside but fundamentally the same thing inside.

The differences are largely cosmetic from what I can recall from when I first bought it and my recent delving into has not really changed much in my mind.

There is more focus in the art of the 11th Doctor and his companions. The character sheets are now landscape instead of portrait, so there is that.

One area that is new is the Adventures book. There are two new adventures that replace the two adventures in the 10th Doctor version.

Cubicle 7 did release an "upgrade pack" for free for people that have the 10th Doctor books and want to have the changes from the 11th Doctor book. It contains:

New aliens and creatures (from the Gamemaster's Guide, 32 pages) New gadget cards New character sheets. New pre-generated character sheets for the Eleventh Doctor and companions. (11th Doctor, Amy, Rory, River, and Craig Owens) New archetype character sheets, partially generated characters for you to quickly personalize and use. (UNIT Soldier, Scientist, Rock Star, Adventuring Archaeologist, Footballer, Politician, and Alien)

Worth it to grab really. If you don't mind abusing your color printer a bit you can print these off and stick them into your 10th Doctor boxed set. I think I saw an 11th Doctor set though at my FLGS recently.

Which one to buy?

All things being equal, buy the one of the Doctor you like the most. If you are looking for print then your choices are more limited since both are technically out of print. Though the PDFs of both are still available.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space (Eleventh Doctor Edition)
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Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/22/2023 13:24:12

Updated Review posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2023/05/review-doctor-who-adventures-in-time.html

The first decade of the 2000s gave us a new series of Doctor Who starting in 2005. The 9th Doctor, played by Christopher Eccleston, was, in his own favorite word, fantastic. He re-introduced the character to both new and old audiences. It can be argued that the show, and new fandom, really took off with David Tennent's 10th Doctor. In 2009 British RPG publisher Cubicle 7 released its first Doctor Who game. Like the show it was based on, it was a huge success. A couple of points I want to clarify first.

I am reviewing my boxed set here AND the PDF from DriveThruRPG. There will be differences, so I will point these out.

I was on the playtest for this game as I have mentioned in the past. Plus Dave Chapman and a fe of the Cubicle 7 guys were also play testers for my Ghosts of Albion game. We communicated often in the time Doctor Who, Ghosts, and Chapman's other RPG Conspiracy X was being developed by Eden Studios.

Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space

262+ pages. Full-color interior and covers. Print: soft-cover books in a boxed set. Digital: Seven PDFs in a Zip file.

This is the first of many printings of the C7 Doctor Who game. A good way to differentiate from one to the other is by which Doctor appears on the cover. This is the Tenth Doctor's cover.

The Boxed set features two softcover books; a Player's Guide and a Gamemaster's Guide. Several cardboard "story point" tokens, a "Read Me First" booklet, several character sheets, and gadget sheets. All of these are also present in PDF form. The Boxed set additionally has a set of six d6 dice to use in the game. The dice are also available separately.

Read This First - How To Play

This four-page booklet covers the really basic basics. It is written with the Doctor Who fan in mind and not the average role-player. So we cover questions like "where is the board?" and "how do I play?"

Inside the 10th Doctor's character sheet is broken down. It is recommended that starting players use one of the pre-made characters in the box, but there is nothing saying you can't use your own characters.

The "Basic Rule" is covered here.

Attribute + Skill (+Trait) + 2d6 = Result; Compare result to a Task Difficulty.

That is the guiding principle for the entire game and it works really, really well. Your average Difficulty is 12 but it can be as low a 3 (super easy) or 30+ (near impossible). Contested rolls are introduced and the all-important Story Points (the little cardboard counters).

You are directed next to the Adventures Book.

Adventures Book (and Characters)

This is a 32-page book of easy to start with adventures. They include "Arrowdown" with some monster form Autons (very clever), "Judoom" a short adventure inside a Judoon cruiser, and a bunch of adventure seeds to give you some starting points. All the rules needed to run these adventures are self-contained.

For these adventures, it is recommended that you use the provided characters. These include The 10th Doctor, K-9, Sarah Jane Smith, Rose Tyler, Martha Jones, Donna Noble, Mikey Smith, and Capt. Jack Harkness. Additionally, there are some "pre-gens" for players to customize on their own. These include a Medical Doctor, a Musician, a Student, a UNIT Soldier, a Torchwood Operative, a Scientist/Inventor, and a Journalist. There are also six blank character sheets for your own creations. The "named" sheets are printed on slightly heavier stock than the pre-gens or the blank sheets.

There are also gadget sheets, both filled out and blank.

The Player's Guide

These are the rules of the game proper. This is a 86-page soft-cover perfect bound book. Mine is getting on so the binding is coming loose, but nothing that I didn't expect for a book that is nearly 14 years old (which is old for a Sontaran!).

Chapter One: The Trip of a Lifetime

This chapter begins with some set-up fiction. Only two pages. We get another recap on the basics; Who is the Doctor, what is roleplaying, what is a Gamemaster, and the like. As well as how to use this book in the game.

This chapter sets up the game rather well. Imagine going anywhere, anytime, past, present, or future.

Chapter Two: The Children of Time

This covers the characters of the game. From playing your own to games with no Time Lords at all! We start with detailing the Attributes of the character, or the qualities of a character that are typically fixed. These are Awareness, Coordination, Ingenuity, Presence, Resolve, and Strength. Similar to the "Basic 6" of many RPGs. All these are scored from 1 to 6 with 1 being the human minimum, 6 the human maximum, and 3 being the average. Time Lords and other aliens can go beyond these. These are bought on a point-buy system.

Traits are the qualities of a character, good or ill. There are Minor Traits (Animal Friendship, Attractive), Major Traits (Boffin, Fast Healing), and Special Traits (Alien, Cyborg, Time Lord). Like Attributes, you spend Character Points to buy these. Some can be good or bad traits, and some can be Minor, Major or Special depending on how they are "bought" in character creation. "Friends" can be minor or major depending on the friend in question. "Hypnosis" can be minor, major or special depending on how powerful it is.

Skills are also purchased with Points. There are only 12 skills, unlike modern D&D and more like Unisystem, skills can be combined with any attribute as appropriate.

Chapter Three: Allons-y!

This takes us back to our basic rule and expands on it. It gives us some details on the Task Difficulties; 3 for Reall, Really Easy, 12 for Average, and 30 for Nearly Impossible. Additionally, there are thresholds if you roll above or below the set difficulty levels. So for example, if you score 9 points above the roll needed something special can happen like extra damage or something. Likewise, if you roll poorly, something bad can happen.

The rolls, much like in Unisystem, become easier with practice and soon you won't need any guides at all.

Contested rolls, rolls where your character is being prevented from success are also covered. The biggest example of this is combat. Example situations are given and which skills can or should be used. This is a good way to rule these since Doctor Who is not really about combat. "Combat with words" is more important and can even stop physical combat. Though there are weapons detailed here and how deadly they are. Afterall no one can talk a Dalek out of being a Dalek.

Chapter Four: Two Worlds Will Collide

This covers the ins and outs of good Roleplaying. There is also another character sheet here to copy (print) or print out (pdf).

The Gamemaster's Guide

This book is for the Gamemasters naturally. Not that Players can't read it. This book is also a full-color, perfect-bound softcover book. It is 140 pages.

The first four chapters here parallel the four chapters of the Player's book.

Chapter One: Next Stop, Everywhere!

A brief recap of the basics and what this book is for.

Chapter Two: The Stuff of Legend

Covers character creation from a Gamemaster point of view. This includes different types of groups (Doctor and Companions, Unit or Torchwood Groups, and more). We also get some details on how the various Attributes work with examples of seven levels (1-6 for humans, 7+ for others).

Traits are likewise discussed since they provide the most differences between characters and character types. All the traits are covered again, but in briefer, "rules only" formats. Same with skills.

We also get some "Technology Levels" TL. I will have to go back and see how well these map onto other RPGs, in particular the FASA Doctor Who and Traveller. For the record Earth of Doctor Who is TL 5, we are closer to TL 4.75 I think.

Chapter Three: The Long Game

Covers running a game. This includes when to roll (and when not too) and how to judge rolls and difficulty levels. While not a combat-focused game there is lot of text dedicated to it since that is the place where rolls will happen the most.

We get a section on using and regaining Story Points and experience.

Some equipment is also covered here.

Chapter Four: A Big Ball of Timey-Whimey Stuff

Covers not just roleplaying, but roleplaying in Time Travel games. Here we get a lot of advice on how, well, to keep gamers from being gamers and avoiding paradoxes.

We get some background on Time Lords and TARDISes. Not encyclopedic details mind you, but enough to keep players and gamemasters happy.

Chapter Five: All the Strange, Strange Creatures

Ahh. Here is our chapter on all the Aliens. While some are certainly foes to be fought (Daleks, Cybermen) there is a lot here that run the spectrum of friend to fiend. Creatures use the same stats as characters. So it is expected that there are some "Alien Traits" here as well. These work just like Character Traits, but are typically not bought by characters.

Chapter Six: You Are Not Alone

This covers the role of the Gamemaster and what they do in the game. There are some resources shared here for gamemaster including other Doctor Who books out at that time.

Chapter Seven: The Oncoming Storm

This chapter covers running adventures. This includes where (and when) to set them and a basic 5-act adventure formula. Other tips and tricks covered are personal story arcs (thin Donna or Clara), cliffhangers, two (or three) part stories, and more.

It is a great starting point for all GMs.

Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space really is a wonderful game and the best Doctor Who game to date. It is easy to see why it has had such staying power. The rules are simple, easy to understand, but infinitely flexible. They emulate the genre very well and can be used to in a variety of situations.

The rule system is such that it could be powering other games as well. It did, for a while, with games like Primeval (no longer available) but I am not sure if it is used elsewhere now.

Honestly, it is one of my favorite games.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space
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Blue Flame, Tiny Stars: A Memoir of Early Experiences Playing the Holmes Edition of the World’s Most Superlative Role-Playing Game
Publisher: DONJON LANDS
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/28/2023 11:42:07

Originally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2023/03/review-blue-flame-tiny-stars.html

I was on Mastodon a while back (and I really do need to do more over there) and I struck up a conversation with Stephen Wendell. He was promoting his new book Blue Flame, Tiny Stars, and I asked for a copy, which he happily sent me. I got it in the mail about a month ago and I finally sat down to read it. Honestly it was hard to put down. While he was not expecting a review when he sent it, I said I would review it. So here it is.

Blue Flame, Tiny Stars

Blue Flame, Tiny Stars, or more properly, "Blue Flame, Tiny Stars: A Memoir of Early Experiences Playing the Holmes Edition of the World’s Most Superlative Role-Playing Game" by Stephen Wendell, is a memoir of one man's first experiences with Dungeons & Dragons.

Stephen's story here is a familiar one. I could have recounted a very similar tale of the summer of 1980 after being exposed to D&D back in December of 1979. But his tale is an earnest one and an engaging one.

The sales pitch for this book includes the line "Warning: Reading this book will make you want to play D&D!" and that is 100% true. Reading through Wendell's recollections of his first encounter with D&D, via the Holmes Basic Rules (same as me) made me want to pull out my Holmes set and roll up a new character. It reminded me of summer days coloring in my own dice with a white crayon and then playing games at night with my brother or friends.

This is not a long book, a little more than 30 pages. It also reads much faster than its size would suggest because it is so engaging. Wendell manages to do something rather magical here. He engages you in his own discoveries and makes you recall your own at the same time. It is not just a fantastic new tale; it is a fantastic OLD tale that you already know.

I have talked a lot about Holmes Basic and its enduring appeal. This book is a love letter to that set and that time.

The book is on sale in lots of places, and Wendell sells it in a variety of formats (print, pdf, epub), all at Pay What You Want (at DriveThru). But seriously, find the suggested price and pay more than that.

Regardless of what you pay for it or how long it takes you to read it do pick this one up. Especially if you started as part of the "Second Generation" of Gamers that did not learn from war games or from the ancient masters. We taught ourselves or learned from others that also taught themselves. This is the group that both Wendell and I (and likely many of you) claim membership in.

Props also for including the quote from Carl Jung. Seriously was this book custom-made for me? We even have the same dice.

If you are part of that Second Generation, then you owe it to yourself, or at least that 9-11-year-old version of yourself, to pick up this book. It is more than just a nostalgia grab. It is the real thing, and I am happy to have it.

I am sticking my copy inside my Holmes boxed set where it belongs.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Blue Flame, Tiny Stars: A Memoir of Early Experiences Playing the Holmes Edition of the World’s Most Superlative Role-Playing Game
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Atlas of Hyperborea
Publisher: North Wind Adventures
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/15/2022 00:14:35

Orignially posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2022/12/review-hyperborea-products.html

Atlas of Hyperborea

PDF and softcover. 36 pages.

This covers the whole HYPERBOREA world. There is an overview map and then broken up into detailed segments. The softcover book is great, and the PDF does allow you to zoom in for more detail.

It is a good map, but you need the HYPERBOREA RPG to get the full use out of it.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Atlas of Hyperborea
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Hyperborea Annual Calendar
Publisher: North Wind Adventures
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/15/2022 00:14:28

Orignially posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2022/12/review-hyperborea-products.html

Hyperborea Annual Calendar

PDF. 14 pages.

This is a great product. It is the 13 month, 28-day per month HYPERBOREAN calendar. It has the moon phases of the two moons, Phobos and Celene, and plenty of room to add your own details. While you need the RPG to use this for Hyperborea, it would work out well for a homebrew world if you liked.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Hyperborea Annual Calendar
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Forgotten Fane of the Coiled Goddess
Publisher: North Wind Adventures
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/15/2022 00:14:19

Orignially posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2022/12/review-hyperborea-products.html

Forgotten Fane of the Coiled Goddess

PDF. Color cover, black & white interior art.

This is an old-school adventure for 4 to 6 characters of 5th to 7th level.

Lemuria. Ancient cults. Dinosaurs and demon apes. This adventure has everything. I kinda wish it could have been done for lower levels because it is a great introduction to sorts of adventures that HYPERBOREA should be the best at. While I originally grabbed this as a supplement to some other related adventures (and still might use it as such) it really, really feels at home in Hyperborea the most.

On that note it can be easily used in whatever OSR/Old-School system feels the most as home to your groups.

Plus it has a Dimetrodon in it. So I am already sold on it.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Forgotten Fane of the Coiled Goddess
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HYPERBOREA Referee's Manual
Publisher: North Wind Adventures
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/14/2022 11:26:35

Originally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2022/12/review-hyperborea-referees-manual.html

Yesterday I covered the Player's book. Today let's go with the Referee's Manual.

HYPERBOREA Referee's Manual

PDF and Hardcover. 308 pages. Color cover, black & white art with full-color art pages.

Chapter 10: Introduction Again, this is our introduction this time for the Game Master or Referee's point of view. What the Referee does for the game and more.

Chapter 11: Refereeing This get's into the Game Mastering process in detail. This covers grant experience for the characters and setting up the campaign.

Chapter 12: Bestiary Our monster section and truthfully one of my favorites. The expected ones are here, but there are also plenty of new ones. This covers roughly 130 pages. There are interesting new takes on some classic "D&D" monsters, plus many new ones like a bunch of new "lesser" and "sublunary" demons. The format is most similar to Basic or Labyrinth Lord, and it is full of the usual suspects with some Lovecraftian Horrors, and even remnants of alien and bygone ages. "Demons" are here, but no devils.

Chapter 13: Treasure Covers treasure types and magical treasure. Among the magic items are things like Radium Pistols and other sc-fi artifacts. Very pulpy. It also includes some rules on scribing spell and protection scrolls. There is even a small section on Alchemy in Hyperborea. Very useful to have really.

Chapter 14: Gazetteer. The lands are a pastiche of Howard, Vance, Lovecraft, and Smith. If these names mean anything to you, then you know or have an idea, of what you are going to get here. This section has been greatly expanded from the previous editions. Included here are the gods again and a little more on religion. Basically, you get the idea that gods are either something you swear by (or to) or get sacrificed to by crazy cultists. So yeah, you know I am a fan.

Appendix A: Weather in Hyperborea. Likely more important here than, say, other game worlds. Weather in Hyperborea is dangerous.

Appendix B: Hazards of Hyperborea. There are horrible things waiting for you in Hyperborea and they are not all monsters or the weather.

Appendix C: Waterborne Expeditions. Covers waterborne adventures and combat.

Appendix D: Warefare and Siege. Your characters have built their strongholds. Now someone wants to know it down. Here are the rules.

Appendix E: OGL Statement. The OGL statement for this book.

Nearly every aspect of this game has seen expansion since the 2nd Edition; some sections more than others, but it is a great upgrade.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
HYPERBOREA Referee's Manual
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HYPERBOREA Player's Manual
Publisher: North Wind Adventures
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/13/2022 12:30:25

Originally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2022/12/review-hyperborea-players-manual.html

With the new 3rd Edition, we have some changes. First, the game is now simply called "HYPERBOREA" and not "Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea 3rd Edition." Secondly, the Player's Manual and the Referee's Manual are now separate books. Much like the 1st Edition was. Only this time, they are full hardcover books.

HYPERBOREA Player's Manual

PDF and Hardcover. 324 pages. Color cover, black & white art with full color art pages.

For my review, I am going to be considering the hardcover from the Kickstarter and the PDFs from DriveThruRPG.

The book starts with the credits, acknowledgments, and dedication to John Eric Holmes, the author/editor of the "Holmes" Basic edition.

Chapter 1: Introduction this covers what this game is and what RPGs in general are. This is important and worth a read since it sets the stage for what sort of sub-genre this game covers, "swords, sorcery, and weird science-fantasy." The classics of Swords and Sorcery are covered here briefly and how they add to the feeling of this game. This is pure Howard, Lovecraft, and Smith.

Chapter 2: Character Generation covers character creation. This chapter is brief covering of what you can do with the five chapters. This also has a listing of the common "facts" known to every character. There is a section on leveling up.

Chapter 3: Statistics or the "rolling up characters" chapter. The six recognizable methods are presented here. The most common of course is Method III; roll 4d6 drop the lowest. We also have the same six attributes we have always had.

Each class has a "Fighting Ability" (FA) and a "Casting Ability" (CA) which relates to attacks. So yes, even magicians can get a little better in combat as they go up in level. It's a great little shorthand and works great. So a 4th level Fighter has a fighting ability of 4. A 4th level magician still only has a fighting ability of 1 and a cleric 3 and thief 3. Subclasses can and do vary.

AC is descending (like old school games), BUT with the Fighting Ability stat it could be converted to an ascending AC easily.

Chapter 4: Classes We still have our Basic Four; Fighter, Magician, Cleric, and Theif. Each also gets a number of subclasses. Fighters get Barbarian, Berserker, Cataphract, Huntsman, Paladin, Ranger, and Warlock. The Magician has Cryomancer, Illusionist, Necromancer, Pyromancer, and Witch. The Cleric has the Druid, Monk, Priest, Runegraver, and Shaman. Finally, the Thief has the Assassin, Bard, Legerdemainist, Purloiner, and Scout.

Each subclass is very much like its parent classes with some changes. The classes look pretty well balanced.

Chapter 5: Background This covers all the things about the character that "happened" before they were characters.

Races are dealt with first. They include Amazons, Atlanteans, Esquimaux, Hyperboreans, Ixians, Kelts, Kimmerians, Lemurians, Picts, and Vikings along with the catch-all "Common" race of man. No elves or dwarves here. Physique is also covered.

Alignment is a simpler affair of Lawful Good, Lawful Evil, Chaotic Good, Chaotic Evil, and Neutral.

Along with race, there are various languages the characters can learn/know. There are also gods here, an interesting mix of Greek, Lovecraftian, Norse, and Smith gods.

There are background skills and weapon skills. Though I misread "charcoaler" as "chocolatier," and now I want a character with this background.

Chapter 6: Equipment Or the "let's go shopping" chapter. If you missed the "to hit modifiers vs. armor types/AC" in AD&D then I have a treat for you. Weapons here are more detailed than they were in previous editions of HYPERBOREA; or at least more detailed than my memory of the older editions. Just checked, this one is much more detailed.

Chapter 7: Sorcery This is our spell chapter but it also covers alchemy. Spells are split up by character class. Spells are limit to 6th level since classes are all limited to 12 levels. Spell descriptions are all alphabetical. This covers about 75 pages.
Chapter 8: Adventure. This chapter improves over the previous editions. It covers all sorts of adventure topics like hirelings and henchmen, climbing, doors, nonstandard actions, time and movement.

Chapter 9: Combat. All sorts of combat topics are covered. Critical hits, unarmed combat, mounted combat and more. Damage and madness are also covered. The madness section is small and not really designed to mimic the real world.

Appendix A: Name Generator. Pretty useful, really, to get the right feel of the game. Afterall "Bob the Barbarian" isn't going to cut it here.

Appendix B: Lordship and Strongholds. What each class and subclass gains as a Lord or Lady of their chosen strongholds. There is a great section on creating strongholds as well.

Appendix C: Cooperative Gaming. This covers how well to play in a group.

Appendix D: OGL Statement. This is our OGL statement.

These appendices (with the exception of D) are all new.

There is also a great index.

So I will admit I was unsure about backing the 3rd Edition of HYPERBOREA. I have the 1st and 2nd Editions and they have served me well over the last few years. This edition brings enough new material to the table that it really is the definitive version of the game.

The leatherette covers are really nice and I am happy I waited for it. Since the Player's and Ref's books are now separate, I could, if I wanted, pick up another Player's book.

The art is great. There are some reused pieces and still plenty of new ones. It uses the art well and helps set the tone of the game.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
HYPERBOREA Player's Manual
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Mysteries of the Dead Side: Sacred Necromancer
Publisher: Zombie Sky Press
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/30/2022 10:18:38

Originally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2018/09/class-struggles-necromancer-part-2.html

This book is presented in landscape orientation for easier screen reading. We are given a 20-level base class for Pathfinder with six "Callings" (sub-types). I have to admit this got may attention since my cabal of evil necromancers is called "The Order of Six" so I could restat them as one of each type here. No new spells, but there is a fully...fleshed out...NPC.

For just under $4 it is worth it.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mysteries of the Dead Side: Sacred Necromancer
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New Paths 7: Expanded White Necromancer (Pathfinder RPG)
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/30/2022 10:18:33

Originally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2018/09/class-struggles-necromancer-part-2.html

This 17-page book gives a new perspective a, GOOD necromancer that protects the dead. I like the idea, to be honest. It comes with a complete 20-level base class and six new spells. There are also feats and stats for various undead companions. It makes for a great companion piece and counterpoint to the 3.x Death Master from Dragon Compendium Volume 1.

For just under $3 it is a great buy for anyone that wants something a little different or for that GM whoes player keeps begging to play a necromancer.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
New Paths 7: Expanded White Necromancer (Pathfinder RPG)
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