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The Doctor Who Role Playing Game was a tabletop roleplaying game published by American game company FASA in 1985. Players could either assume the role of the Doctor and his companions or of other Time Lord characters accompanied by his or her companions and acting on behest of the Celestial Intervention Agency on Gallifrey.

Publisher's summary

The Master has stolen a weapon that will give him the ultimate control of the universe and of time itself. The Daleks are invading Earth. The Cybermen are terrorising the space lanes. And the Sontarans and Rutans are battling to see who wins the galaxy.

Only YOU, the Time Lords and Companions of the Celestial Intervention Agency, can stop these villains from changing the course of history. Your weapons are your wits and your TARDIS. To join the Doctor in his adventures to defeat the foes of the universe, you only need your imagination, a pencil, some paper, and this game!

Overview

The game

The main set of three rulebooks, one for players, one for game masters and a guidebook to the Doctor Who universe, packaged in a cardboard box. It was followed by several separately published adventures and supplements for the game, which provided details about the Daleks, the Cybermen and the Master. The supplements contained two pamphlets, one for game masters and another for players. The player's handbook sometimes had inaccurate information, reflecting the fact that the CIA sometimes had gaps in its knowledge. The game's mechanics were based on (though, not identical to) those of the Star Trek RPG which FASA had published previously.

Relationship to the Doctor Who universe

The game line reflected the established continuity of Doctor Who at the time of publication, though the rulebook introductions the authors admitted to have taken some liberties to make the history of the universe more consistent.. Consequently, in later years, certain non-television stories presented wildly different interpretations and explanations, making the FASA Role Playing Game retroactively look "discontinuous" to some. For example, it claims that the Monk was an alias adopted by the Master. The game's backstory resolved the UNIT dating controversy by flatly contradicting Mawdryn Undead, placing that story's "present day" sequence in the near future.

It also claims the Master tried to take over Gallifrey with some adepts, including the War Chief. And that he was behind the War Chief's plot with the War Lords. The War Chief escaped the event using one of his SIDRATs to reach his actual TARDIS and considered the Master to be as much responsible as the Doctor.

The adventure module The Lords of Destiny suggested that, rather than dying, Adric was saved at the last minute by a Time Lord in a TARDIS of a more advanced make that the Doctor's, though this did not factor into the plot of the adventure.

History

The game was released in three printings. The first used painted artwork of the Fourth Doctor and Leela as cover art, while the other two featured a collage including a publicity photo of the two characters. (At the time, Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor and his companions had greater recognition in the US than the Fifth or Sixth Doctors who had, by this time, replaced him.) The "painting" printing had interior rulebooks with slick white covers, while the first "photographic edition" first featured more textured, brown, Victorian-styled rulebooks, and the second had smooth, more-plainly designed brown rulebooks. The two photographic editions also had slight differences in their box art and text to differentiate them. [1]

  • NOTE: The latter two editions removed information and photos of the Sixth Doctor and his companions, as apparently FASA had not initially secured the rights to use any information on Colin Baker's incarnation. In addition, none of the versions of the main game have photos of Roger Delgado's version of The Master--again, due to likeness rights--but they DO include information on his incarnation. The same is true of "THE MASTER" Sourcebooks described below.
Docor Who Role Playing Game 2nd FSA

2nd & 3rd Edition photographic cover

FASA also published two gamebooks that worked much like the Doctor Who Make Your Own Adventure Books. The first, Doctor Who and the Vortex Crystal (1986) by William H. Keith, Jr., featured the Fourth Doctor, Sarah Jane Smith and Harry Sullivan and the Daleks, set on the planet Gathwyr; the second, Doctor Who and the Rebel's Gamble (1986) by William H. Keith, Jr., featured the Sixth Doctor, Peri and Harry Sullivan, set during the American Civil War. Both of these paperback books were self-contained volumes, allowing the player to use a simplified version of the base game's mechanics without the need to own the base game itself. The player simply needed paper and pencil to keep track of their stats and progress in the game. Both also allowed play without needing dice, by randomly flipping to certain pages which revealed a number between 2 and 12 in their upper corners.

Supplements

Sourcebooks

The Daleks

Two part module with Daleks (intended for GM's) and The Dalek Problem (a file intended for players, presented as a CIA briefing documents). These detailed the Daleks' backstory, giving playing guide stats and a new adventure scenario. (1985 - FASA 9101 - ISBN 0-931787-93-9)

The Master

Contains The Master and The Master: CIA File Extracts. (1985 - FASA 9102 - ISBN 0-931787-94-7). In this, it is stated that a Time Lady on a mission saved Adric from death.

The Cybermen

Contains The Cybermen and Cyber Files: CIA Special Report. (1985 - FASA 9103 - ISBN 0-931787-73-4)

Adventures

The Iytean Menace

"Out in the fog-shrouded night of Victorian London, an evil force was lurking, waiting to strike. A senseless murder, over a strange artefact, was only the very beginning of the terror of The Iytean Menace. What was the ancient evil, and how had it been awakened? Where would it strike next?

The Time Lord and his Companions had been sent to the capital of Queen Victoria's realm to learn the source of a strange weapon that should never have been on Earth at all. What they found was a web of mystery and deception that led them, step by step, to a confrontation with The Iytean Menace." (1985 - FASA 9201 - ISBN 0-931787-91-2)

Authored by J. Andrew Keith. Like the other adventures, the adventure could work with any version of the Doctor and his companions, or, alternatively, with an all-new Time Lord and companion(s), either of the players’ creation or the set of characters published within.

The Lords of Destiny

"The World-Ship of Ydar was a monster, vast, implacable, and set on a collision course with the Galaxy of Man. Giant starship and mobile world, Destiny of Ydar is both refuge and vengeance of a long-dead civilisation which must be stopped, or worlds will die. The cooperation of the Ydarans is vital. To bad they're caught up in a civil war just now. Too bad, too, that they've forgotten the rest of the universe exists..." (1985 - FASA 9202 - ISBN 0-931787-92-0)

Written by William H. Keith, Jr. The cover presumably featured the Third Doctor and an unidentified male and female companion, although these may actually be depictions of the new characters included within the text. The adventure employed scientifically plausible hard science fiction concepts, but also suggested Joan of Arc as a potential companion! (The adventure suggests that the included Time Lord character might have saved her from death by burning by clever use of their TARDIS.)

Countdown

"The sudden appearance of a dangerous gravity bubble causes the TARDIS to dematerialise [sic] aboard a ship of the Earth Empire on an emergency mission to deliver vital serum to a plague-ridden world. Before the adventure is over, the Doctor and his Companions must contend not only with the death-dealing gravity bubble, but with the ship's paranoid computer, space pirates, and an attack by androids as well." (1985 - FASA 9203 - ISBN 0-931787-95-5)

Written by Ray Winninger. This adventure featured the Cybermen, but this was intended to be a surprise to the players, as they would initially only encounter androids of unknown origin, as in TV: Earthshock. The surprise, however, would be ruined if the players saw the cover of the publication, as it prominently featured a Cyberman. A likeness of the Fourth Doctor appeared on the cover.

The Hartlewick Horror

"Why are the villagers of a sleepy little town like Hartlewick disappearing? Has the archaeological excavation of an ancient Druidic mound awakened something that was better left undisturbed? And are these strange occurrences related to the presence of a mysterious energy field?

The Time Lord and his Companions are sent to Hartlewick, England to locate the source of this unexplained energy field. But they do not have much time. Forces are at work to unleash something hideous and all-too-powerful upon the residents of 1923 Earth." (1985 - FASA 9204 - ISBN 0-931787-75-0)

Written by Ray Winninger. The Fourth Doctor appeared on the cover. The supplement dealt with Lovecraftian monsters.

The Legions of Death

"The legions were on the march... but Rome had never faced an enemy like this one. An evil renegade Time Lord has allied himself with British tribesmen to lure a Roman army — and a Roman Emperor — into a deviously plotted trap. History will be changed and an army of fanatic conquerors loosed upon the Galaxy if a Time Lord and his Companions cannot stop the renegade's sinister plan. As time runs out, the adventurers race to their final confrontation with the Legions of Death." (1985 - FASA 9205 - ISBN 0-931787-26-2)

Written by J. Andrew Keith. The cover portrayed the Third Doctor.

City of Gold

"Dinosaurs in the twenty-first century? That was only the first mystery that confronted the Time Lord and his Companions when they set out to investigate a violent revolution in an age of turmoil, and stumbled into a plot that could end human history — and change the universe forever. A lost city and a vanished race from the depths of time and [sic] hold the key to the destiny of the Earth, unless the adventurers can penetrate the mysteries of the City of Gold." (1986 - FASA 9206 - ISBN 0-931787-49-1)

Written by J. Andrew Keith. The adventure featured the Silurians. The Fifth Doctor appeared on the cover.

The Warrior's Code

"Arigato, Doctor Who. A collision in the Vortex with an unknown timeship... a forced materialisation on the rocky seaside cliffs of feudal Japan... a power play among the samurai warlords who wield absolute power in an ancient and mysterious realm. For the Time Lord and his Companions, those were only the first steps in a dangerous game, where one man's ambition could bring the collapse of human history. Stranded, cut off from help or contact with Gallifrey, the time travellers must band together to free themselves from old Japan, history from a madman's plot, and humanity itself from oblivion in a distant but all-too-real future. To achieve their goals, the adventurers must learn to understand the shifting politics and timeless culture of the Land of the Rising Sun. They must come to understand the samurai and their Bushido...The Warrior's Code." (1986 - FASA 9207 - ISBN 0931787735)

Written by J. Andrew Keith. The cover featured the Second Doctor and Victoria Waterfield.

References

  1. Wayne's Books site depicting all three editions of the base set and cover images of the supplements & adventure modules.

External links