This is a review of the RPG supplement Doctor Who: Aliens and Creatures. It’s the first supplement that I’m aware of from Cubicle 7 for their prestigious Doctor Who license. In other words; you need to have a copy of Adventures in Time and Space before you can play this supplement. That said; I think some readers may enjoy the PDF just for its collection of Doctor Who monster photographs.
This is a PDF. Normally I’m okay with that – in many ways PDFs have become slightly more preferable than books which take up space on my groaning shelves. In this case, though, I rather missed the ability to leaf through pages of aliens. For me, monster manuals (let’s just use that term for now) are a visual treat. I’m not the sort of gamer who plots improbable tactical accounts with an ever more thinly connected series of monsters but I do enjoy having the option. I enjoy the quasi-academic side of reading up, learning and understanding how these creatures fit into the game’s environment.
If we look at Doctor Who: Aliens and Creatures as mainly a monster manual then we can define things even more precisely. This is a new Who supplement for seasons one through four. In other words the aliens and creatures are from the ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) to the tenth Doctor (David Tennant). The good news is that this means we’ve got the Weeping Angels. The bad news is that even with this supplement we don’t get to cover the Matt Smith aliens and creatures.
Credit goes to Cubicle 7 for putting together a stunning layout for the book. We’ve a healthy dose of Doctor Who imagery and these are blended into the text very well. This isn’t just a collection of stats either – for each alien and creature there’s a wash of useful text. By “useful” I mean it helps the GM understand how, when and why these creatures can be added to a scene or campaign.
One of the challenges any RPG of a movie or TV franchise faces is that it has to document some of the mysteries. In doing so some of the mystery is destroyed. For example, in Doctor Who: Aliens and Creatures we’ve the stats for the Beast. That’s right; that devil (like) creature the tenth Doctor face down in the pit before it was (apparently) crushed by a black hole. Should we know how well the Beast would do in an arm wrestling match with a Cyberman? Probably not – but if you buy this supplement and you’ll have an idea.
Doctor Who: Aliens and Creatures is actually 6 books in 1. Pay once (and it’s about £20) and the download will open up into PDF files A through to F. In fact, even Book A – Aliens and Creatures – there’s more than just a list of aliens. Dave Chapman and the other authors have ensured that any GM for Adventures in Time and Space has what’s needed to help define and balance their own aliens. The first PDF contains a number of building blocks that the storyteller and piece together to help build out an encounter that’s in proportion with the official monsters. No wonder it’s 138 pages long.
The second PDF is the Adventure book. Just as the Aliens and Creatures book finishes by ensuring we can define our own aliens (or even worlds) as does the Adventure book finish by running through a whole list of ideas. However, many readers will get a lot of value out of the two fully fledged adventures; The Next World by Steve Lyons and The Rosetta Plague by Alasdair Stuart.
The other books are smaller; there’s a few which are only a page or two long but these are designed to be printed out and cut up like the Story Points or handed out to players.
One of my favourite hand outs are the Creature Cards (46 pages). These are designed to be a handy quick reference resource. Not just easy to look at and add that visual element to an RPG based on a TV show but also they provide an easy way to quickly access the creatures’ stats.
All in all I’m not disappointed with my purchase. I would have rather had access to an equally cost effective hardback but it is easy to appreciate the iconic Doctor Who images in the PDF and with the addition of the Creature Cards (and a bit of pre-planning as the GM) I know I won’t be scrolling through an annoyingly slow Adobe Reader looking for what I need.
One last word; aren’t the Adipose incredibly cute?