Saturday, September 12, 2015

Armchair Reviews: DWAITAS -- The Ninth Doctor Sourcebook

I approached the review of this sourcebook with some trepidation. After all, the Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space (DWAITAS) series of sourcebooks had been solid entries every time – with the Doctor series churning out astoundingly consistent source material in the tone and spirit of each of the eras, despite the volume (or paucity thereof) of actual episodes during that Doctor’s era.

However, this one was the incarnation of the Doctor that revived the franchise on TV -- and one that had eight sourcebooks preceding it. Was it going to live up to expectations? Or might it lapse into a boring re-tread of what had gone before?

A Solid Framework

Dedicated collectors and followers of this particular series of sourcebooks would, I’m sure, agree that some aspects of repetition are actually the strength of this series.

I’m very fond of the presence of the initial chapter of each of these books that give an overview of the peculiarities and strengths of this particular Doctor’s personality, and the character of the adventures during this era.

The roll call of protagonists and antagonists (statted out, with descriptions and explorations of their role during this era, of course) is also a given. But it’s unarguably essential to a sourcebook like this. It’s also very well done: character sheets for each with a great selection of iconic imagery for each. As always, I love that the TARDIS has its own writeup.

Perhaps that’ll be my next campaign idea: a Doctorless campaign with “companions” recruited by the TARDISes of various incarntations. Hm, a Storm of TARDISes has a nice ring to it.

Unique Challenges

This era only saw one Season / Series, meaning a quite a bit less source material in terms of episodes (we’ll come back to the Eight Doctor’s sourcebook as soon as I pick it up), but these episodes – in conjunction with the section tackling handling adventures in this era in greater detail – really give players a lot of options in running Doctor-y or Doctorless campaigns with the mix of personal drama, neo-pulpish adventure, and witty banter.

I really have to say that these synopses are well-written – and have been over this series of because. Concise, but filled with easy-to-follow details (useful for the GM who hasn’t quite reviewed every single episode in the given era, and may not have the time to do so). They also always raise concerns regarding continuity (that some sharp-minded GMs and Players will likely tackle in or out of play.

There’s also great notes on running your players through the episode as an adventure – fantastic I’m sure for the fans who’ve always wanted a chance to be a real companion of The Doctor.

Furthermore, the smaller pool of adventures does give the writing team an opportunity to really go in-depth and all-out in mining and milking these episodes for (a) adventures; (b) spin-off adventures; (c) motifs and leitmotifs of the Doctor’s adventures to reinforce the feel; (d) ideas on using location and enemies in different or expanded ways.

For the Fans

There is some added benefit here for me as a fan – some of my favorite episodes can be found here (“The End of the World, Dalek, Father’s Day, and The Parting of Ways), along with the first appearances of some enigmatic continuing characters. Much of the analysis and extrapolation here helps feed that fan prediliction for speculation, and is a rich source for both theories, and possible adventuring in the continuum of Time & Space that the Doctor inhabits.

Highly recommended.

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