Traditional roleplaying magazines have all but vanished from the shelves but I believe that not only would a monthly publication sell well it would help the overall product line.
There are already several Dr Who magazine publications, catering to different target audiences. There is even a magazine for the Doctor Who: Battles in Time and Space card game. This certainly suggests that a new roleplaying specific Dr Who magazine would sell.
The greatest asset for the magazine is that it can cover the new series as it comes out. While the series is airing the magazine can provide write-ups of the latest villains, monsters and gadgets, only a few weeks after the episode has been broadcast.
This means that if a viewer enjoys an episode of Dr Who they know that it won’t be long before they can include elements from that very adventure into their own games. Even if they don’t plan on playing the game themselves there would be a certain thrill in seeing how the new monsters stats compare to other creatures.
Between seasons the show has plenty of material to be mined. Each issue could provide coverage from the new series and something from the old series. A coloured page border will allow a reader to quickly flick to the section they are interested in (orangey-red for the new series and grey for the old series).
In addition the magazine could have interviews with the actors and writers, picking up tips that could be used for the roleplaying games. Actors can provide insight into how they get ‘into’ character, allowing players to invest more into their roles. Writers can provide advice on how they come up with ideas and transfer that to paper.
Bonus points if they can be persuaded to play the roleplaying game. It would do wonders for the image of the game to have a photo of Matt Smith and Karen Gillian rolling dice with Steven Moffat behind the gamesmaster screen.
Each magazine would include at least one adventure, ideally using elements from that issue. Readers would be encouraged to send in after play reports so that everyone can compare how they did.
This would promote the playing of the game. The magazine wouldn’t be just something you read but something that provides you with active entertainment. This would make it perceived value much higher.
A significant portion of the magazines material can be generated by the readership itself. Advice columns can clarify the rules, tackle problems when running the game and settle arguments.
Readers would be encouraged to send in tales from their own games, write-ups of their characters and even submit whole articles. This will create a feeling of community and give an idea of how other people are running their games.
Not only does the very presence of the magazine on the shelf each month promote the existence of the roleplaying game it can also be used to create awareness and excitement for upcoming releases.
Just as Doctor Who magazine gives coverage of forthcoming books, dvds and audio plays so this magazine would let the reader know what is coming soon, even providing interviews with the creators and sneak peaks of these projects.
The material generated for the magazine can continue to prove profitable by releasing collections of adventures, write-ups and articles.
Dr Who RPG Adventures
The general opinion was that published adventures don’t sell well. Despite this Mongoose publishing made their name doing just that. They realised that there was a gap in the market.
The modern gamer just didn’t have the time to prepare adventures as they once did and would gladly purchase a cheap pre-made adventure. Particularly in a market which has moved towards pdfs there is an ever growing number of such adventures being published for a wide range of systems.
Dr Who RPG adventures would be ideal for the younger gamer who is still not confident to write his own game but still wants to play. With a price to reflect this a steady stream of adventure collections could be written.
Each collection would have 4 to 5 adventures, providing maps and characters sheets for the game. The format would allow them to be individual stories, linked or themed, depending on book.
Ideally there would be several writers involved, to ensure that the adventures have a varied ‘voice’. Taking the same approach as Big Finish have done with their ‘Short Trips’ books the adventures would be seen as an anthology, complimenting each other while still being distinct.
To ensure that the reader gets the most out of them each adventure would give advice on changing the variables. Maybe the villain could be someone else, their motivations might be different, plot twists could change the story and even the setting of the adventure could be altered to give it a different feel.
This would promote the idea that the adventures can be reused time and time again. The aim would be to counter the belief that you can only use the written adventures once. A resourceful games master can disguise the same plot, or borrow different elements for his own stories.
The over riding publishing strategy would be to raise the profile of the game. The various books can’t just be available in roleplaying shops or online. They have to be in book shops, department stores and newsagents.
They have to be on the shelves next to the more main stream Dr Who books. The general Dr Who audience have to see it in order for them to be tempted to purchase the books. Even knowing that there is Dr Who game could hook more people into seeking out a copy.
These are only some initial thoughts for potential Dr Who roleplaying publications. There is still room for books collecting information from the books, comics and audio plays, catalogues of gadgets and even a Companion book, providing write-ups from the shows entire history.
The thought behind these articles is to encourage readers to think about what they’d like to see for the game. What product would you buy if you saw it on the shelves? If you have any ideas feel free to put them in the comments below.