Fun as it may seem on the surface, when you start thinking about it time travel can make your head hurt. So here's a primer to get all you budding Time Lords sorted before you leap into a TARDIS and make a complete mess of time and space.
Launching straight in to Chapter 1: Into The Vortex, there's an overview of the contents of the book chapter-by-chapter and various comments on things like die-rolling conventions and other rules mechanics. There are plenty of extra rules here, which you - as the GM or in agreement with the group - will need to decide if you want to implement. The ruleset as given in the original box set work fine, these are refinements which you may or may not want to include. There's also a note that a big portion of the book is best left to the GM alone, on the assumption that only one member of the group will GM Doctor Who games. If you don't plan on being the GM, you might want to wait until your GM has had a look at this book before you decide to buy it.
Next, Chapter 2: The Shining World of the Seven Systems takes a look at Time Lords and their homeworld of Gallifrey. Any player who wants to be the Doctor (or another Time Lord) really ought to read this, it's background information any Time Lord would have. It's fascinating stuff... but likely only known to Time Lords so if you're playing a companion, stay out or at least forget it - unless your Doctor likes giving history lessons. We have the history of the Time Lords from way back in the mists of time until now, the 'Laws' relating to time travel and so much more. Time Lords are a political bunch, and there'd be scope for creating a unique game with several Time Lords engaging in the sorts of power games that they enjoy if you want a game something out of the ordinary. Or you may want to get involved in the Time War. It's all here. You also find out about life on Gallifrey and the Academy programme that forges new Time Lords - there's enough detail that you could even run an Academy game if you wanted to! It ends with notes on how to create a Gallifreyan character - not all are Time Lords, only those who graduate from the Academy, you see.
Then comes Chapter 3: I Walk in Eternity. This discusses the creation of original Time Lord characters, rather than resorting to playing the Doctor. There's a more advanced process for generating the character, and even more ideas about what sort of adventures he could have. Did the Doctor actually exist in this reality, or does your Time Lord have the opportunity to do the things the Doctor did? There are new traits and all manner of other goodies too, like detailed rules for regeneration.
Now we have a Time Lord, it's time to travel in time so on to Chapter 4: Temporal Mechanics 101. This talks about the things that can go wrong time travelling, and how to avoid them. It's complex and scary and is almost enough to persuade you to trade in your TARDIS... almost. Fear not, after scaring the would-be time traveller half to death, the chapter settles down to explain the game mechanics to travel safely through time and space, and maybe even end up where and when you intended to go!
Of course, to travel in time you need a TARDIS, and Chapter 5 provides a detailed run-down of what a TARDIS is and what it is capable of doing. There's loads of detail about different systems and modes of operation, and you can even have a go at designing your own TARDIS. Like the rest of the book, this chapter is copiously illustrated with shots from the show... alas, all uncaptioned so if you don't have photographic recall of the entire history of the TV show you can be left wondering just what a particular person, place or item might happen to be.
Next, Chapter 6: Master of Time and Space heralds the 'GM only' section - which occupies the second half of the book in terms of number of pages. The main elements are Chapter 7: Dark Secrets of the Time Lords, Chapter 8: Last of the Time Lords? and finally Chapter 9: Advanced Temporal Mechanics. The Dark Secrets takes Chapter 2 and lifts the lid on the true history of the Time Lords, and makes fascinating reading. Quite a few useful NPCs are included. Plenty of ideas for adventures and even entire campaign arcs are scattered throughout as well. Last of the Time Lords looks at the belief held by the Doctor - at least during the initial years of the 2005 'reboot' of the TV series - that he is the last surviving Time Lord. There are ideas for using this, and others for things to do if this is indeed not the case and there are plenty of other Time Lords scampering around. Advanced Temporal Mechanics is an opportunity to mess with everybody's head...
Essential reading for Gamemasters, and probably for any aspiring Time Lord, but of limited use to other players. A thoroughly good read, though!
Return to The Time Traveller's Companion page.
Reviewed: 12 January 2016