Doctor Who RPG – Could this really work?

Doctor Who and RoseSome time ago I heard that Cubicle 7 Entertainment is working on a new Doctor Who RPG. Since I am a great fan of Doctor Who and Torchwood I was of course very excited. But at the same time I was a bit skeptical: Could this really work?

The Cubicle 7 website doesn’t give us any hints on what the focus of their roleplaying game may be. The most important question will be what the players will be. Will they be part of the Doctor’s companions? Some random guys who live in the “Whoniverse” or even Time Lords like the Doctor? Let’s speculate a bit…

The Doctor Who TV show is pretty much focussed on the adventures of Doctor Who and his various companions who are travelling through time and space, saving civilizations, correcting wrongs, solving mysteries and ensuring that London is visited by evil aliens at least every Christmas. One possible concept could be that the player characters are those companions that the Doctor has picked up in any place or any time (preferably on Earth) and now they are travelling with him in the TARDIS. Although this is my favorite idea of a Doctor Who game it has it’s flaws. At first the GM is faced with playing the Doctor all the time. What could be fun for a few sessions will probably turn into a problem fast. In fact the Doctor becomes the GM’s player character. And in the series it’s usually the Doctor and his favorite “plot device” aka his sonic screwdriver that saves the day. So the players move to the 2nd row.

Random guys
The  “whouniverse” is a big place, so why not make it your playground? The Doctor (and his companions) could be recurring characters that you’ll help in one adventure and that will save your hide in another session. But how do you allow the players to travel time and space like the Doctor does? The only thing that comes to mind is make them agents of that mysterious time agency Jack Harkness had been working for. That would allow them access to 51st century technology and time travel. So it’s probably best if the players are not some random guys but “time agents”. Hmm, this could work.

Time Lords
The Doctor tells us at least in every other episode that he’s the last member of his race, that his homeworld was destroyed in the time war. But that didn’t prevent the Master to come back. And although the Doctor thought the Daleks were gone for good too, they reappeared several times. So, it’s totally possible that there are still some Time Lords around. I hope that’s not what Cubicle 7 is aiming for with their Doctor Who RPG. Having a lot of very powerful Time Lords running loose in the “whoniverse” would probably destroy the special atmosphere of the series. And the fact that the Doctor is the last one of his kind makes him something unique.

Perhaps the creative minds at Cubicle 7 have come up with a lot more ideas on how a Doctor Who campaign could work. What are your thoughts on the subject? Could a Doctor Who RPG really work and what kind of campaign would you like to see?

Michael Wolf is a German games designer and enthusiast best known for his English language role-playing games blog, Stargazer's World, and for creating the free rules-light medieval fantasy adventure game Warrior, Rogue & Mage. He has also worked as an English translator on the German-language Dungeonslayers role-playing game and was part of its editorial team. In addition to his work on Warrior, Rogue & Mage and Dungeonslayers, he has created several self-published games and also performed layout services and published other independent role-playing games such as A Wanderer's Romance, Badass, and the Wyrm System derivative Resolute, Adventurer & Genius, all released through his imprint Stargazer Games. Professionally, he works as a video technician and information technologies specialist. Stargazer's World was started by Michael in August 2008.

9 thoughts on “Doctor Who RPG – Could this really work?”

  1. I actually did a post with ideas for a Doctor Who themed RPG back in November (

    Basically, a party packed full of Time Lords wouldn't be that much fun IMO (unless it was set prior to new Doctor Who, where it could be amazing – entire party of Doctors a-la The Five Doctors). Other then the war with the Daleks, a non-canon war with an enemy known as The Other and rogues like the Master and the Rani they don't like fighting that much, which could lead to things being very WoD or Cthulhu-esque.

    I liked my idea of using Time Agents/Torchwood as the basis for a setting so much that I'm still working on designing a campaign for Chaosium's BRPG system based around it.

    Set in the moderate future, with Captain Jack still alive as an NPC, all you need to do is give Torchwood some form of timetravel device and you have a very adaptable basis for fun.

    <abbr><abbr>Hammers last blog post..Tofu & Mushroom Stroganoff</abbr></abbr>

  2. Too bad, it seems I have missed your article. I will have to check out that post immediately.

    And I hope that I am not only spoiling anything, but Captain Jack Harkness will be around for a long, long time. 🙂

  3. I'm pretty sure that was one of my first articles on the network, so it kind of got buried 😉

    Not spoiling anything at all. I'm a big Torchwood fan 😉 I'm just imaging that by 500 years in the future or so, Jack will probably be overseeing operations (and it does away with the whole immortal PC if he doesn't get involved).

    I also thought that Torchwood 4 (which is 'lost' according to the Torchwood tv series) could be used if you wanted to keep things present day.

    <abbr><abbr>Hammers last blog post..Tofu & Mushroom Stroganoff</abbr></abbr>

  4. Hmm, I haven't seen all Torchwood episodes yet. So can you tell me if Captain Jack ever gives some details on that Time Agency he had been working for? Being a Time Agent from the 51st century could be an interesting premise for a Dr. Who setting if you want go the Torchwood route, don't you think?

  5. Way back when, I think it was in the mid-80's, FASA did a Dr Who RPG. I'm really hazy on those old rules and their buried in a box somewhere. But I do remember that they were more entertaining to read than play. In that old version, players could be a Time Lord or a Companion.

    <abbr><abbr>Chucks last blog post..Savage Bloggers Unite!</abbr></abbr>

  6. There's also a slightly newer RPG called TIME LORDS that is now available for free on the internet after the authors managed to have the copyright reverted back to them.

    You can check this game out here.

  7. It would very VERY tough. The Doctor Who universe depends very little on physical resolutions. It's always some idea or Time Lord knowledge that saves the day. For a Gamemaster, coming up with clever plot devices like these is very challenging and players can grow frustrated at having to sit around and always think about things their non Time Lord brains aren't as capable of coming up with.

    Furthermore, there's the whole thing about the Doctor Who universe, at least of late, being so dependent on the Doctor and not the setting. Without a rich setting, GMs are forced to come up with not only story, but also everything else that goes around it. Overall, Doctor Who is just not well built for a paper-pen rpg with continuous replay value.

  8. About the only thing I can think of is one, play in the original series era prior to the Last Great Time War when you have a Lot of Time Lords to play with. Two is to use the Time Agency, the Chula, love the ship, the Doctor's Daughter, or similar branch from the series. Third is the Celetis, the Gallifreyan Celestial Intervention Agency that created Mictian, a planet outside the Universe (Space and Time) and became beings of energy who would monitor the time stream. They left Gallifrey before the last great time war. It makes an easy story to say the ruling council are energy beings but flesh and blood agents still exist and are used for missions. They would be Gallifreyan, could have TARDIS, could pick up companions, would try to operate in secret. It presents possibilities. It could be fun to read.

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