“You were just talking to me, I know. I’m a time traveller, figure it out.”

figureitoutThe Doctors need to get in the Black Archive but it is TARDIS proof. How do they do it? In ‘The Day of the Doctor’ the War Doctor realises they don’t actually need to land. They just need the ‘Gallifrey Falls’ painting to be in there so they can emerge from it, just as the Zygons did in the National Gallery.

In order to make sure that it is there they contact McGilliop by telephone and ask him to move it there, an example of the Doctor crossing over his own timeline.

Time travel fiction frequently does this, showing an event and then revealing that it was the characters future self that was responsible. The film ‘Time Crimes’ is probably the best example of this.

Doctor Who does it much less frequently. ‘The Big Bang’ has the most examples, with the future Doctor engineering his own escape from the Pandorica and again crossing his own path later so he can pretend to die and get into the Pandorica again when everyone is distracted. This was shown to be a special situation due to the collapse of time.

It could be that the presence of three Doctors created similar conditions but such actions are probably achievable normally.

The important thing is why the Doctor does it. He has no other option but to go back in time. Similarly PCs should only resort to this use of time travel if they simply run out of time in the ‘present’.

For example the PCs might have tried their best to counter a threat (and may have succeeded in stopping part of it) only to find out there was something they didn’t know about or that the there is a backup plan. They will not now have time to prevent the threat from happening.

Note that the Doctor didn’t change anything by his actions. We had already seen the phone conversation earlier in the episode. Everything that we saw happened still happened the same way. We just didn’t know that some time between that conversation and the Zygon attack McGilliop arranged for the transport of ‘Gallifrey Falls’.

If you do allow this type of action in your own adventures it should only be possible if the PCs don’t affect their own past or present. They can only use it to prevent something that happened, not change it.

The Doctors have the advantage of already being in their TARDIS when they decide they need to travel into the past (before the countdown reaches 0). If the PCs aren’t in their own time machine they will need to race to get there before the event they are trying to prevent occurs (or at least ensure they don’t know that it has happened).

This condition can require them to use stealth and can lead to amusing incidents where they are trying to keep outside the awareness of their previous incarnations. This is best done if they are interacting events that previous happened off screen. As long as nothing happens to contradict anything that happened on screen then the plot will still make sense.

In this way the PCs can revisit the events of the same adventure. To those around them the time travellers appear as if they are in multiple places at once. ‘Back To The Future 2’ has some good examples of how to revisit the same story but from a new perspective.

The PCs might be revealed to be responsible for things they experienced the first time round. The person an NPC is speaking to on the phone is their future selves, they are responsible for parking a car across a road to prevent the bad guys escaping or they are the ones who will sabotage the aliens doomsday weapon.

PCs could spend plot point to make this happen, making a note that they need to ensure this happens by travelling into their past. Taking to far and this could turn into the farce of ‘Doctor Who and the Curse of Fatal Death’.

Such occurrences could arise naturally during play, with coincidence or luck affecting the narrative. The PCs don’t need to make sure they happen but if they find themselves in the past they could be revealed as being the source. The games master might even give a plot point reward for help close these plot holes.

When things go wrong the PCs might change their own past, or worse meet their earlier incarnations. There are ways around this, for example allowing history to be re-written, having one incarnation vanish (as in ‘Father’s Day’) or simply having the incarnations forget the encounter.

Something to avoid is the PCs creating a paradox. That is they shouldn’t bring something into the past to give to their earlier incarnations to eventually bring back into the past to give their younger self, whether that something be information or an item. In both cases it comes from nothing, existing only because of the loop.

Things get very complex when this type of time travel is used, which can be part of the fun. Care should be taken to make sure everyone keeps track of where various incarnations are and what actually happened.

What it can do is to give an adventure more scope. Rather than just one run through the PCs have to make two or more passes to ensure that everything is resolved to their satisfaction. Only a time traveller could achieve what they’ve done. This can make an adventure and their actions in it all the more special.

You don’t need to do this immediately either. You might return to the same adventure much later, revealing that there was a whole other side that they didn’t know about until know.

While this can complicate things further, as the players might not have  clear memory of what happened the first time, it could be an excuse to revisit earlier versions of a character, especially if the Time Lord PC has already regenerated.

For a good Doctor Who example of the Doctor crossing his own timeline read ‘The Festival of Death’. The audio ‘Flip Flop’ explores a similar idea with its own twist with the 7th Doctor experiencing events he has put in motion, although not the way you would think.

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“The Black Archive. Highest security rating on the planet.”

vortexThe Black Archive, shown for the first time in ‘The Day Of The Doctor’, is mentioned on page 24 of ‘Defending The Earth: The UNIT sourcebook’. There it says it is situated at an undisclosed location in Central London. We now know that it is beneath the Tower of London.

A single security guard waits at the end of the tunnel to let visitors in but there could be more security checkpoints that we don’t see. It uses a lock and key rather than electronics, designed to keep the Doctor out (presumably to prevent the use of his sonic screwdriver).

The staff has their memories wiped at the end of every shift, so that a security guard that has worked there for 10 years believes that it is his first day. This is said to be done through a memory filter, implying that only specific memories are removed (so that they can continue to have private lives without fear of erasure).

This would only make sense if it is done to the staff responsible for protecting and maintaining the Black Archive, rather than UNIT scientists who come to study the devices stored there. Otherwise UNIT would never know what was stored there or be able to make any progress in studying the alien technology.

A key plot point is that the whole of the Tower of London (and not just the Black Archive) is TARDIS proof. The Doctor says that this is possible with alien technology and human stupidity.

This raises the possibility of other locations being impossible for a TARDIS to land in, not just on Earth but elsewhere in the universe. The perfect excuses to prevent players short circuiting the plot by simply materialising the TARDIS where you don’t want them to go.

The big question is how it does this. How do you stop the TARDIS from emerging from the vortex in a specific location? There must be some way to manipulate space-time or possibly find a way to make them a fixed point where the TARDIS didn’t appear.

Much of their security is to prevent the Doctor finding out about the Black Archive and getting in. Kate Stewart believes that the Doctor would not approve of their collection. Yet he is aware of certain things they do have, such as the Vortex manipulator and the Space-Time telegraph. All three incarnations of the Doctor (the War Doctor, 10th and 11th) confirm as much when Clara mentions it.

Either the Doctor isn’t as against UNIT having alien technology as they thought or they have something that he doesn’t know about that would make him very unhappy. What could be worse that the weapons of mass destruction and time travel device they already have?

Buried 20 feet beneath the Black Archive is a nuclear warhead, powerful enough to destroy the Archive, its contents and London. It was to be activated in the case of an alien incursion. Kate seems to do this manually but there maybe a way to do this remotely. It is unknown whether the 5 minute countdown is a default or if the time can be changed.

The contents of Archive are considered to be so dangerous with a Zygon estimating that with its contents they could conquer the world in a day. This gives us an idea of how powerful these items are, although UNIT scientists might not yet know how to operate them all.

Amongst their collection they do have some rather mundane items such as River Song’s shoes and Amy Pond’s windmill toy. It is hard to know why these would deem important enough to be placed in the Black Archive (or how they obtained footwear from the future).

The Vortex Manipulator is given as an example of something that not even their allies can know they have. It is unclear if Kate is talking about allies of UNIT or allies of Britain. They fear that if America got hold the Vortex Manipulator they would alter history (the implication being they would make themselves responsible for every great deed).

Since we know that there is an American branch of UNIT it is conceivable that the UK branch is keeping information from the rest of the organisation. One has to wonder what the consequences would be if they found out.

When Torchwood existed how did the two organisations deal with their shared desire to collect alien technology? Torchwood was dedicated to protecting the country but UNIT has a responsibility to the world. This could lead to some conflict between the two organisations which could be explored in an adventure.

Following the Battle of Canary Wharf did UNIT recover Torchwoods collection for the Black Archive? This could result in several UNIT themed adventures with PCs despatched to recover technology from other shutdown Torchwood facilities.

The Black Archive can be used in a variety of ways in your campaign. It can simply be a safe place for alien technology to go at the end of an adventure. The PCs can leave it to UNIT to clean up after them.

It can serve as a resource. If the PCs are in 21st century London and need some heavy fire power or advanced technology to take down the enemy they could requisition it from the Black Archive. UNIT may require a favour in return.

The PCs could work for the Black Archive, either as part of UNIT or freelance. They could be tasked with obtaining an alien artefact and ensuring it is safely transported to the Black Archive or they could be called in to study an new acquisition.

They could find themselves in opposition to the Black Archive, if they have alien technology that the PCs feel they shouldn’t have. This can lead to an elaborate heist as they try to overcome its security.

Enemy forces (alien or otherwise) could target the Black Archive. If they can get in and disable the nuclear warhead the whole world could be at stake. Are the PCs trapped on the inside or are they inside when the facility is captured?

In a worst case scenario the Black Archive could be haven or an ideal place to make a last stand if the city is overrun. The PCs would have to quickly work out what the technology does in order to defend themselves and possible repel the threat.

The destruction of the Black Archive (and London with it) can be a good way to establish how dire things are in a dystopian future. A massive crater, surrounded by ash and ruin, is a stark image. Can the PCs prevent this from happening?

The existence of the Black Archive can be something that the PCs discover during an adventure or something they retro-actively knew about. They might also find that they’ve been there before but had their memory filtered.

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“It’s funny, isn’t it? If I’m Zygon then my clothes must be Zygon to, so what happens if I loose a shoe or something?”

whoiswhoIn ‘The Day of The Doctor’ the Zygons and the humans they are impersonating can’t remember who is the original and who is the copy. This isn’t the first time that ‘Doctor Who’ has explored the concept.

Most notably ‘The Rebel Flesh/The Almost People’ revealed that the Doctor and his ganger had swapped places, to test how others reacted. That same story also revealed that Amy was actually a ganger (although one remotely controlled by the real Amy).

Rory struggled with his identity in ‘The Pandorica Opens’ when he was resurrected as an auton. Despite his best efforts he was unable to prevent himself from shooting Amy. Not dissimilar to how some of the Cylon sleeper agents in the new ‘Battlestar Galatica’ were unable to fight their own programming.

These uses of identity work for the viewer because we are an observer. We aren’t in those character’s shoes and we can be tricked by appearances. Would we feel the same if we were inside their head?

In a roleplaying game a player assumes the role of a character. Their expectation is that they know who that character is. That they have all the knowledge that their character does in order to make informed decisions.

Revealing that they aren’t who they thought they were can have even more of an impact but must be treated carefully. The last thing you want is for the player to feel like they’ve been tricked.

This works best where their double doesn’t know they aren’t real. In this scenario the player shouldn’t be playing their character any differently than normal. When the truth is reveal the player and their character should be shocked.

If the double is a sleeper agent they might act completely normal until a key moment, in which case the games master takes over as it is unfair to expect a player to do something they disagree with. The player could resume control of their original character or they might take back control of the shape shifter once the personality they are copying returns.

The double might be just very good at impersonating others, while still retaining their own mind. In which case having a player take that role demonstrates just how good the double is. This is where players can feel they’ve been betrayed and that they’ve put others in danger because of information they didn’t have.

It is important to think about what your purpose was in having a player take the role of a double.

In ‘The Day of The Doctor’ it is about putting a character in the position of another,  because they don’t know who they are. They must believe that their double (whether it is the original or the copy) feels and thinks the same way.

This can give players a greater appreciation of those that they face. They might be alien but they are people (‘different casing, same software’). Going forward this might alter how they deal with others (looking for peaceful solutions rather than resorting to violence).

In ‘The Rebel Flesh/The Almost People’ it is about how people react to the double. What does it feel like to be treated differently because you’re an alien, synthetic or copy even if  you are? What does it feel like to treat someone else like that, even if they’re not?

This can challenge preconceptions. It can make a player character (and the player) realise that they do judge people on what they are, rather than who. It could also make them realise the hostility that their enemies usually feel.

The Pandorica Opens’ uses the change in identity for the purposes of horror. Rory is trapped in a nightmarish situation where he knows that he will kill the woman he loves and there is nothing he can do about it.

This can be a tense situation to put the player characters. If they know they will hurt others or do something that is repellent what will they do to stop themselves? Do they believe they have the willpower to overcome their programming or will they try to destroy themselves? Will their true nature let them?

Having a double assume the personality of the player character can be a tale of redemption. Could their influence change the double for the better, dissuading them from their evil plan or letting them overcome their instincts?

You should think at what point does the player assume control of the double. If your adventure starts in medias res, with the switch already taking place. By closing over the point at which the double began thinking they were the original you keep it hidden for the players.

The change might happen at some point during the adventure. This is more likely to catch the player by surprise. You just need to find a point for the switch to happen, such as between scenes.

If the player characters are already aware that doubles are involved in an adventure then the switch could happen when there is some confusion. Whether it be a temporary memory wipe or a blackout, you open up the possibility that characters have switched places and even the players can’t be sure who they are. This can increase the level of paranoia if the doubles have been shown to be hostile in intent.

Players will want to resume control of their original player character going forward. This is usually a good idea, unless you want to have something really shocking like killing the original and having the double continue in their place (which works best if there is very little difference between the two).

You should think about what happens to the double, which will primarily be determined by the players actions. Is their double destroyed, left behind to live in peace or could it join them in their travels?

You could leave their fate more open ended, so that the player characters don’t know what happened to them. They could return in the future (maybe the PCs hear about things they’ve done but don’t remember and have to wonder if their double or something they’ll do in their future) or act a replacement should a character die (always good to have a spare copy around).

At the end of the adventure the player might still not know if they are now playing the original player character or their double. This question of identity could be an ongoing character arc.

There are plenty of alien races that this would work with. Zygons are the obvious inspiration but also autons, faceless ones, Sontarran clones, Rutans, gangers. You can also create a new species or automaton capable of copying others.

Surprising players by having them take the role of doubles can be powerful but must be used sparingly. More than once and players will constantly be questioning just who it is they are playing.

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“Peace in our time.”

peacetreatyThe Day Of The Doctor’ could be an example of the first successful alliance with an alien race, thanks to the Doctor engineering it so both parties were concerned with making the best deal for all involved (because they didn’t know what side they were on).

The Doctor seems pretty convinced that this will work (and it is presented as being the conclusion of that particular plot thread), at least in the short term. This should be incorporated into any adventure set after this point so we should think about what form this alliance takes place.

The Zygons’ main priority is obtaining a new home but also a degree of comfort. Their placement in stasis was quite a gamble, as they had no way to anticipate how Earth technology would develop. It might have never achieved the level of advancement they needed or it might have become too powerful to overcome. They were lucky that they gained access to a stockpile of alien artefacts.

The concern voiced during the treaty is that the humans could destroy the Zygons, just as they did with the Sycorax in ‘The Christmas Invasion.’ For once it is the humans that aren’t perceived as trustworthy.

The British (and by extension the rest of humanity) would be concerned with whether they could support the introduction of the Zygon population. There does not seem to be too many Zygons within the paintings (since they are all empty and were able to hide by destroying a few statues) but there could be others in stasis elsewhere or aboard a refugee fleet (although how would they know when to arrive?).

They’d of course worry about an attack from a warlike species, especially as this contact was initiated through an invasion. Luckily the Zygons practice of keeping their human doubles alive will reduce the possible casualties already inflicted.

The key to this was the Zygons desire for comfort. If they have no desire for conflict (due to their experiences in the Time War) then it only matters that Earth provides an environment suitable to their needs. Their decision to emerge in the 21st century suggests that it is and they don’t need to alter it further (as they have attempted in the past).

The Zygons’ ability to shape shift would help maintain secrecy, as they could mix with humanity without being noticed. They already display the ability to assume the form of another without a captive. It is possible that they can assume a human form long enough when out in public, returning to their natural form when in private.

Alternatively they could assume the forms of those in comas or who are on life support (their biotechnology might actually help the patient). People could volunteer to ‘rent’ their form for a limited time.

Possibly a Zygon could learn to create their own original human form. This would remove the need to have a template to copy. Surely the Doctor could show them a thing or two about taking a convincing human shape.

From what we hear of the treaty (under Clara’s conversation with the War Doctor) it appears that the Zygons will share their biotechnology with the humans. Thus the humans can’t get rid of the Zygons without loosing the secrets of their science.

This could lead to a new wave of biological technology, used firstly by UNIT but which might eventually be used in the public sector. This creates exciting possibilities for the near future.

Adventures set in the mid to late 21st century might feature biological implants of all types (bio-punk rather than cyber-punk), computers with organic intelligence and living vessels (taking us a step closer to a TARDIS). Not to mention advances in genetics that could resurrect extinct species.

Whatever form the treaty takes it has to be so good that when both sides remember whether they are Zygon or human they still abide by it. If we assume that it is peace would be a fragile thing. There would need to be safeguards in place to ensure it is upheld.

The first step would be finding a place for the Zygons’ to live. With the current housing crisis this could be tricky, complicated further by a need to prevent people finding out the truth about them.

Due to their amphibious nature the Zygons could find homes in sections of water perhaps within their organic spaceships. The question would be whether they would find this comfortable enough.

There would need to be an agency policing affairs between Zygons and humans, ideally with agents from both sides. If Zygon is injured or murdered this agency could be assigned to investigate, to establish if it is was a violent attack and to punish the guilty.

This could be the basis for a buddy cop adventure or campaign. The victim could have been killed just for being an alien, they could have been killed by another Zygon (maybe hoping to stir up discontent between the races), killed by someone who didn’t know they were alien (maybe it was a robbery that went wrong) or it could be an accident.

The same agency might also be responsible for ensuring that the integration is working, checking up on those Zygons who have been placed in human society. Not only must they make sure they are maintaining their cover but they’d have to deal with tricky situations like what happens if a Zygon falls in love with a human who doesn’t know they’re an alien.

If the treaty did begin to breakdown both sides might resort to the same methods to restore peace, wiping the memories of those negotiating. Memory wipes could also be used to fully integrate a Zygon into a new human persona.

Adventures could be based around the development of new biotechnology. Can the humans use it responsibly? Would they become impatient with the rate in which were releasing the knowledge? Might the humans decide that they no longer needed the Zygons to advance their biotechnology, threatening a linchpin of the treaty?

As long as the peace treaty remains in the place the Zygons become a new potential race for the players to choose. A TARDIS crew with a friendly shape shifter onboard could be a real advantage, able to infiltrate the enemy or impersonate historical figures to ensure that history goes according to plan.

A UNIT campaign might introduce Zygon soldiers. They’d have their own natural weaponry and their shape shifting would be a real advantage for espionage. Zygons could also find themselves ideally suited for protecting targets, even assuming their form to act as a decoy.

It is up to you how long this peace does last. It might last forever or it might break down at some point resulting in a conflict (which you can centre an adventure around). Of course the Zygons might eventually find another world to settle on and call home once more.

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“Some day you could just walk past a fez.”

cybermenpictureUpon entering the Under Gallery the Doctor is so distracted by acquiring a new fez that he fails to notice a painting depicting cybermen. While he might have walked right past it, the day will never come that I will ignore such a interesting background detail.

The painting is clearly modelled on ‘The Raft of Medusa’ by Théodore Géricault in 1818 to 1819. The original depicts survivors of a shipwreck that occurred in 1816. The similarity between the two would indicate that within the Doctor Who universe that this was produced by the same artist (and either this is the original painting which Théodore was forced to repaint or ‘The Raft of Medusa’ doesn’t exist in this universe.)

The shipwreck occurred when the French frigate Méduse overtook three other ships in its convoy in attempt to make good time but ended up going off course by 100 miles and ran aground.

The ship held 400 people but only enough boats to hold 250. Around 146 men and one woman were forced to board a hastily assembled raft. They spent 13 days, parched, starving and driven to madness and cannibalism. A harrowing occurrence to be sure.

Géricault didn’t experience these events first hand but was so intrigued he set out to speak with those who survived. His research extended to studying dead bodies and having a detailed scale model of the raft built. It is clear that his painting was intended to capture the truth of what happened.

The version of ‘The Raft of Medusa’ puts the cybermen in place of the survivors. Their design suggests that they are the most recent version depicted in ‘Nightmare in Silver’. Just how did they end up in the 19th century in this pitiful position?

The only possible answer is time travel. This could be via the void (similar to the events of ‘The Next Doctor’), through their own time travel technology or possibly by stowing away on a TARDIS (their cybermites seem small enough to escape detection and capable upgrading people in the past).

Their presence on the ship could simply be one of opportunity (this is where their journey through time brought them) or it could be deliberate. The frigate was on its way to accept the British return of Senegal, with the French appointed governor on board.

The cybermen could have been there to disrupt this historic event (but making history occur much as it did in our reality) by preventing the Méduse from reaching its destination.

The blame for the ship running aground was placed upon it’s captain, Viscount Hugues Duroy de Chaumerey. Although lacking in sailing experience he’d been given the position due to politics.

It could be that other factors were actually responsible, such as having cybermen onboard. If the raft in the painting does depict roughly 147 cybermen then it could be that they were converted from amongst the 400 members of crew.

This could be the source of a tense game, with the PCs on the ship as a mysterious illness sweeps through those on board and people start to go missing (difficult on such a cramped ship). They discover that there aren’t rats on the ship spreading a plague but cybermats and cybermites.

The cybermen could take the ship deck by deck, adding more people to their numbers. Given how advanced these versions are there would be little to defeat them and desperate measures could be taken.

The ship captain could have deliberately had the ship run aground in the hopes of sending the cybermen to the bottom of the ocean. Little did he anticipate that the cybermen would be able to build a raft in time to affect an escape. Alternatively in the chaos of the cybermen attack the ship just went off course and crashed.

Were all those upon the raft cybermen or were there those left unconverted? This would be a very tense situation, akin to sharing a boat with a hungry tiger as shown in ‘Life of Pi’.

In this version of events the cannibalism attributed to the survivors could actually be reference to the cyber conversions or possibly the cybermen turning on each other to salvage parts to make sure that at least some of them survive (their main motivation).

If the painting is an accurate representation the cybermen are in a dire situation. This can be an interesting situation as the PCs might be able to speak to them without fear, since they are so close to dying. Defeat by the elements would the cybermen realise the error of their ways or would they be defiant to the end?

By the time the survivors of the raft were picked up by the ship Argus only 15 were left alive. That is still enough for the cybermen to be a danger. Would that be enough to pose a threat or would the crew of the Argus be able to defeat the weakened aliens?

Were all the cybermen lost at sea or was there a cover up? In either case the PCs could explore 19th century France to recover and eliminate any remaining evidence of the cyber invasion.

An adventure could centre on Théodore Géricault. The PCs could join the artist who sets out to produce a painting of survivors of a ship wreck only to discover that metal giants were involved.

If there was a coverup there could be forces who work against Théodore to prevent the truth from getting out. The PCs could protect him to ensure that his work is completed, at least so that the Under Gallery can come and put it safely away.

Géricault made a choice to paint an actual event that was considered a national embarrassment. He may have refused to hide the truth or paint something he knew was a lie.

In which case, if ‘The Raft of Medusa’ does exist in the Doctor Who universe, a forger would need to copy his style to provide the sanitised version of events. The same forger might have done other paintings and PCs might eventually recognise his style, putting them on the trail of other famous paintings they realise how been similarly sanitised.

You can explore both angles (the events on the ship and the production of the painting) by having the PCs discover that they were also present on the Méduse and must travel back to 1816 to ensure that the cybermen don’t succeed in their plan.

This is just one example of how you can take an actual painting and create an adventure by introducing aliens into the subject matter. This is even easier if the painting depicts an historic event.

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‘Welcome to the Under Gallery’

undergalleryIn ‘The Day Of The Doctor’ we are introduced to a secret location beneath the London National Gallery, the Under Gallery. The cover story is that it where Elizabeth the 1st stored all art deemed too dangerous for public consumption.

Later we learn that the primary purpose was to house the 3D paintings that contained the zygons and the ‘Fall of Arcadia’. We know that there are plenty of other pieces of art as well, including statues and a painting depicting cybermen.

This building serves as as another stockpile of potential adventures. The artwork, gathered over the centuries, depicted events from different eras for the player characters to investigate and some of the art might still be dangerous, as the zygons showed.

We only know that the criteria for an piece of art to placed in the Under Gallery was that it was ‘dangerous’ but the above examples show that they fall into two categories; that the art is dangerous in itself or that it depicts things that the public shouldn’t know about (like cybermen).

PCs sent to collect a piece of art might not know initially which category it falls into. Is that just a painting of a demonic alien or is it a prison for that entity? Is that surrealist landscape or a weapon to drive those who view it mad?

Certain aliens would blend in well within the museum. The Weeping Angels are the obvious example (particularly as I thought it was going to be them that had escaped the paintings when I watched the episode the first time) but so would the Silence (was Edvard Munch’s ‘The Scream’ an attempt to depict them).

We know that the Under Gallery is looked after by the Curator (who may very well be a future incarnation of the Doctor) but what is the history of the building?

The National Gallery was founded in 1824 but they didn’t move to the current site until 1834 with construction being completed by 1838, so it was either built over the hidden Under Gallery, or like its counter part it was moved there from a previous location.

In contrast to similar museums in Europe the National Gallery wasn’t making existing Royal collections of art. Instead the British government purchased art specifically to be shown in the Gallery. While this made their collection much smaller it allowed them to draw from a wider range of artists.

It is unusual then that the Under Gallery began as a Royal collection and that it is now merged (or shares the same space) as art purchased by the government. This suggests that there has always been those within the government that have been privy to the on going agenda of the Royal family.

The National Gallery was already being criticised for having little room, since workhouses and barracks behind the building prevented it from expanding too far. They were also sharing the building with the Royal Academy until 1868 so fitting in another, hidden section, doesn’t seem feasible.

Much more likely then that the Under Gallery was a later addition. It would be much easier to explain the purchase and storage of paintings if this was done using the cover of the National Gallery. Presumably they used they sought out these art works from across the world.

The question of course is where was the Under Gallery for over two hundred years before the National Gallery? The most likely answer is that they were kept in secure locations owned by the Royal family.

We know that the Gallery contained more than just the Zygon pictures but did it grow before or after its move to the National Gallery? This allows the possibility of PCs encountering art collectors from the Under Gallery from the 16th century onwards.

Following the events of ‘Tooth and Claw’ was the Under Gallery affected by Queen Victoria’s dislike of the 10th Doctor and the formation of Torchwood. She couldn’t fail to notice the Doctor’s presence in the picture with Queen Elizabeth I.

There could have been a behind the scenes power struggle as Torchwood tried to gain access to the wealth of information the Under Gallery held about the Doctor and other aliens. They could have tried to take control and maybe they did, only relinquishing it when the organisation was all but shut down following the Battle of Canary Wharf.

During World War II paintings were evacuated from the National Gallery and taken to various locations in Wales. Unless the Under Gallery was very secure it is likely that they were similarly taken to other places.

Not only does this make them vulnerable to theft or damage during transport but there is an increased chance that members of the public could be exposed to them. This could happen by accident or when someone takes this opportunity to steal art from the Gallery and gets more than they planned for.

Churchill opposed the suggestion of taking them abroad (Canada was suggested) and they were appropriately (for Doctor Who) stored in a quarry. Since the Under Gallery could be outside of the authority of the Prime Minister (who might not have known of its existence) these dangerous pieces of art could find themselves smuggled to regions not affected by the conflict. Given Churchill’s knowledge of the Doctor it could be that he was all to aware of the Under Gallery and its importance, which could have affected his decision.

An unexpected advancement for the National Gallery was that the Keeper, Martin Davies, had the time to compile a catalogue of the works collected (since they weren’t on display and so he could easily reference them all).

A similar situation could occur with the Under Gallery. Until then it acted more as a prison, locking the art away. For the first time someone might actually be studying them and recording exactly what they have gathered.

This would be a very exciting time for the PCs to be around. Terrible secrets could be uncovered and great discoveries made. There is also the potential that will lower security and with all the pieces of art in close proximity something could be unleashed.

Amongst the long history of the Under Gallery we have the biggest mystery of all. Just where did the Curator find the ‘Fall of Arcadia’?

That is a story for another time.

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“It’s the fall of Arcadia, Gallifrey’s second city.”

arcadiaWhat we know about Gallifrey was expanded in ‘The Day Of The Doctor’ with the introduction of Arcadia. It offered a glimpse of life for Gallifreyans beyond the walls of the capital.

This can add background detail to the past of a Time Lord (who may have spent time in Arcadia), used to flesh out the culture of Gallifrey or as a setting for a pre-Time War or post-return of Gallifrey campaign.

We are shown not only Arcadia during the war but some idyllic times before (as the Doctor remembers the children playing). Both make it clear that the people who live there aren’t the usual high collared Time Lords that we are used to seeing.

Arcadia would therefore appear to be where the non-Time Lord population live, particularly since their children haven’t taken to the academy. Their woollen clothes and fabric hats all suggest a completely different culture.

We see a child with a rabbit doll, indicating that toys are part of their culture. It is unclear whether rabbits are native to Gallifrey or if the Gallifreyans are just aware of them and thought it would make a good doll.

The fact that there are so many children is hard to reconcile with Looms introduced in the Virgin range of books, along with the idea that in exchange for an ability to regenerate the Time Lords became sterile.

This could be explained if the average Gallifreyan is very similar to humans, having but a single life and having children normally. This would create a greater division between the Time Lords and the rest of the population.

It raises questions about how easy it is for a Gallifreyan to become a Time Lord. It could be that the Time Lords use looms to create new members of their House, preventing outsiders from joining their ranks.

If a Gallifreyan has an average lifespan then Time Lords have even more of an advantage, since they can live for hundreds of years. The planet would be ruled by an upper class that never changes while the rest of the population is prevented from changing. Stagnation would be inevitable.

sigilWe also see citizens with a Gallifreyan sigil on their necks. Do the Time Lords place these on the rest of the population to show who owns them?

It could be that each House or Chapter forces those Gallifreyans who work for them to display this mark. This could be important if there is political intrigue within the capital, to make sure that the person you were speaking to was loyal to you.

If there is a degree of ownership of the lower classes then Time Lords might be responsible for the actions of those beneath them. This can add further complications to the life of a Time Lord PC.

Having two very distinct classes of Gallifreyans, could explain the difference between the Doctor and his granddaughter Susan. He might have rescued her from Arcadia (possibly after the death of her parents). There could have been a social taboo or law that prevent different classes from socialising so they were forced to flee the planet altogether.

For all of this the War Doctor has memories of children smiling so the situation couldn’t have been terrible. The Gallifreyans were still living on the most powerful planet in the entire universe, protected by virtually god-like beings. They might have accepted everything else for the happiness it brought them.

The Last Day’ mini episode shows that the walls of the city is well defended, so the city is important. Quite possibly the city is responsible for all of the day to day running of the planet while the High Council in the capital concern themselves with galatic affairs.

It is in Arcadia that the War Doctor leaves his message of ‘No More’ but why did he come here? Why was this the place to leave such a message?

That all depends on whether the Time Vaults are in Arcadia or the capital. One would imagine that the Time Lords would keep the vault close to them but maybe that would be too obvious and so they keep them it in Arcadia. It could also be that you’d need to be a Time Lord to get in and so placing it amongst simple Gallifreyans decreases the chances of unauthorised personnel getting in. The more cynically minded might also suggest that since the Omega Arsenal contains weapons of mass destruction they’d want to keep it far away from them.

If it is in Arcadia then this explains why the War Doctor was there, leaving his message before or after he obtained the Moment. He left it in Arcadia simply because it was most convenient.

If the Time Vault is in the capital then the situation is more puzzling. If it is before the War Doctor stole the Moment it seems an unnecessary delay (unless it is a distraction). If it is afterwards then the Doctor might be taking one final look before killing everyone, which could mean that the place was important to him.

The city must have had some level of strategic value as the Daleks were throwing a lot of forces against it. If the capital was the only important part (and eliminating the Time Lords would pretty much end the war) then this would be a waste of resources.

Could it be that Arcadia is where TARDIS’ were grown? Since they are living things which grow then a non-Time Lord could be tasked with ensuring they provided the nutrients they needed and watched over. This could take several lifetimes for a Gallifreyan, which would be a blink of an eye for a Time Lord.

This all makes Arcadia a way to explore another side of what life was like on Gallifrey. As only its second city there are plenty more spaces on the map to create other locations that can reveal further facets of the Doctor’s home world.

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“It’s from your past. Possibly your future, I always get those two mixed up.”

badwolfThe interface in ‘The Day Of The Doctor’ is able to access information from the Doctor’s mind. It mistakenly assumes a form from his future instead of his past. While it displays the ability to open time portals this is something she gets from inside his head.

That means that a Time Lord’s future is within their mind, even if they aren’t consciously able to access it. This is further supported by the mini-episode ‘The Last Day’, where a soldier fitted with a head cam has hallucinations that are later proven to be premonitions.

The BBC novels explored the idea of biodata, which contained a person’s entire timeline. Not only could you discover their past but their future as well. Manipulate their biodata and you could alter who they were and who they would be.

The Time Lords have been shown to have psychic abilities from time to time, which Susan being particularly sensitive. It is possible that they could access this locked off information, giving them premonitions of the future. The Visionary from ‘The End of Time’ might be an example of this.

This can be used to explain how a Time Lord can know elements of their own future, such as the 3rd Doctor being aware that his next incarnation will be ‘all teeth and curls’ despite regeneration usually meaning you don’t know what you are going to get.

A Time Lord’s link with their TARDIS might be the reason that prophetic messages occur. Whether it be the appearance of ‘Bad Wolf’ or an omen of four knocks will signal a regeneration these messages could have been unconsciously transmitted by the Doctor to the TARDIS who broadcasts it to sensitive psychics in the vicinity and makes it appear when it translates writing.

Within a campaign it can be troublesome to have a character who can readily access their own future. This is balanced by the fact that rarely do people have complete control of what they see and those that do, such as Bad Wolf and the TARDIS, get confused about what is the past and what is the future.

As such it could be available as a Special Good trait. When a plot point is spent they might get a glimpse of what is to come. This is only a clue as they lack the context in order to properly understand what they’ve seen. It also gives the games master an excuse to provide ominous premonitions, whether it be a repeated phrase or an actual vision.

There are plenty of aliens which display the ability to read the minds of others. How many can also access their future memories? This could allow a species to discover what is going to happen and shape the future to suit their needs.

In both cases there is the question of how this knowledge of the future affects time itself. If this is predestined then everyone would be powerless to use that knowledge to change anything. It has to happen because they saw it happen. If they are able to change it that future will never occur and the premonition was wrong.

This also has the potential to form an ontological paradox, whether the information only exists because that information was gained. For example does the interface adopting the persona of Bad Wolf, influence Roses’ adoption of that role in the War Doctor’s future?

It is worth exploring how such a gift affects a person’s life. The Visionary obviously dedicates herself to the role but the soldiers in Arcadia not only try to believe that what they are seeing are hallucinations but it demonstrates why knowing the future can be a bad thing (since in this case they are going to die).

The fact that not every Time Lord is like the Visionary demonstrates it is not something the majority of the population seek. To know the future makes them either powerless or forces them to change it. Both ideas would be unappealing to a Time Lord.

There are other uses for it within a campaign. Just as in ‘Quantum Leap’ they could get a brief timeline of an NPCs life, unless they intervene. This can provided them with motivation to make things better for them or to avert disaster.

It can allow you to provide an epilogue for NPCs, if the PCs will never meet them again. As above they are given a debrief how that person’s life will turn out, as a result of the PCs actions.

For PCs lacking a time machine exploring biodata (both their own and others) can be another way to travel into the past and future. This could provide results akin to the ‘Assassin’s Creed’ computer games, allowing them to inhabit the bodies of their ancestors.

The PCs could be in opposition to others using technology or alien abilities to manipulate biodata. Their own biodata could come under attack, changing their past to change who they are or implanting a terrible future they are powerless to avoid.

In your campaign PCs might never be able to access their future but it can still be a strange thought that it is there, locked within them. Everything that they do and everything that will happen to them already exists.

It can be incredibly tempting to peek but if they are able to resist they can take comfort in the fact everything will happen as it should. They preserve their own freewill or at least the illusion of it.

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“How do you use a weapon of ultimate mass destruction when it can stand in judgement on you?”

themomentAfter hearing about the Moment for many episodes we finally learn details about it in ‘The Day Of The Doctor’. Stored within the Time Vault in Omega arsenal it is a galaxy eater, the final work of the ancients of Gallifrey. A weapon so powerful that it’s operating system became sentient.

When we first see it the Moment is a square wooden box with metal cogs inside. The War Doctor is not initially sure how he is supposed to operate it, starting the clockwork but not finding any input devices. It is capable of giving off enough heat to be hot to the touch.

By the conclusion it is a much larger pillar, with metal of steel and gold. It is activated by a glowing red jewel, that is suggested at least partially by the War Doctor’s desire for a big red button.

By the end of the episode we never actually see the weapon activated but we know what the Doctor expected to see. He believes he saw the destruction of his planet but a ‘galaxy eater’ should have had a much bigger effect.

A galaxy can consist of ten million to a hundred trillion stars. For a weapon to be capable of destroying all of them it would be incredibly powerful. This seems to be overkill when the Doctor only needed a stellar manipulator to detonate Gallifrey’s sun and take out the local star system (wiping out his own people and the Daleks).

The desert world he travels to might be outside of the galaxy that contains Gallifrey but he seems to believe that he won’t survive its activation. It is possible he just took it away from Gallifrey so he’d have time to activate it. If the world is outside of the weapons area of affect it would need to be an incredibly vast distance away.

The operating system manifests as Bad Wolf, taking Rose Tyler’s form. This would appear to be a psychic projection, since only the War Doctor is able to see it (the fact that his 10th and 11th incarnation can’t see her indicate that different incarnations have different brain waves). He does touch her at one point but this could be part of the sensory illusion.

In many ways the personality of the operating system shares a lot in common with the TARDIS (when it was personified in Idris in ‘The Doctor’s Wife’). It can be flirtatious, childish, wise and shares the same confusion about past and future.

It knows enough about the future to be able to observe the 10th and 11th Doctor. It chooses an incident in the War Doctor’s future that will give him inspiration that will change his mind about using the device.

Yet it states to the War Doctor that the future he is shown isn’t real yet (it is only real to the future Doctors) as he still has a choice. It is also surprised when the fez comes through, just after it opens up a time vortex (which could indicate that her actions change what should have happened and she has no way to view the outcome of her own actions).

As mentioned above the interface is able to open up swirling gold holes to different times and control the direction in which things that pass through travel. This is a much more advanced form of time travel that a TARDIS, especially as it can retrieve a traveller at any point (as it does with the War Doctor).

This might hint at how the Moment worked. It could be that rather than destroy a galaxy in the present it could extinguish it throughout time, consuming it from the past or maybe stopping stars and planets from forming in the first place. If it has access to the vortex its destructive power could come from the vortex, using time winds to erase a galaxy from existence.

Having a Time Lord weapon use time as the source of its destructive power makes sense and helpfully explains its capabilities it displays. Since this is the last work of the ancients it could be that there were previous weapons with similar capabilities on a smaller scale.

It isn’t clear if the operating system was intended to be sentient. This is treated as a drawback by the member of the war council but it could be the wisdom of the ancients that such a powerful weapon have a safe guard in place, just as Rassilion saw that immortality was a curse.

This sentient operating system judges the user but from what we see it doesn’t at any point prevent the war doctor from using the device. It is always his choice whether to activate it. If he had pushed the button then it would have destroyed Gallifrey as intended. In short the interface isn’t the one deciding if the user should be able to activate it.

The judgement instead takes the form of making the user appreciate the full extent of their actions. Not only by showing them all the lives they will sacrifice but showing them glimpses of the future so they can understand how will impact them.

Further expanding on the idea that the ancients intended the operating system to function in this manner it could be that is actually the purpose of the device. It could be that it isn’t a galaxy destroyer at all.

Rather it is an anchor point in time, allowing multiple incarnations of a Time Lord to come back to a specific moment. As was shown in this episode this gives them much more time to come up with alternative solution.

The 10th and 11th Doctor are surprised they were able to break through the time lock, as if something was guiding them. The involvement of all of his incarnation further supports the theory that the Moment suspends the laws of time that prevent a Time Lord from crossing his own time stream.

If the War Doctor had pushed the button maybe nothing would have happened at all and the ancients ruse would have been discovered. They knew that anyone willing to use a galaxy destroy would have been in a dire situation indeed and if the Moment didn’t exist for them to seek out they would have sought an alternative. By providing the perfect tool they could put in place safeguards to make sure that level of destruction was never used.

That theory could be wishful thinking and it could be that the Moment would indeed have wiped out a galaxy. Whether this would have impacted established history (since we know now that this is what did happen originally) is a matter of debate.

There is also the question whether the Moment or a prototype was ever used before. Is there a galaxy erased from the universe? What would have driven the Time Lords to destroy it?

The PCs could find evidence of this or even find themselves in the past, before the Moment is activated. If they prevent its activation how will the timeline be altered?

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“You have a top level security rating from your last visit.”

securityclearanceIn ‘The Day Of The Doctor’ we learn that UNIT screen all of the Doctor’s known associates. The stated reason being that they can’t allow information about the Doctor or the TARDIS falling into the wrong hands.

We learn that Clara herself has already undergone this screening process at the Tower of London.

Clara has no memory of this, which has two possible explanations. Either this hasn’t happened yet from her perspective (so there could be a future episode where she travels to a point prior to this story and undergoes the screening process) or, since Kate shows no surprise that Clara doesn’t remember this, the event was wiped from her memory.

The board has various companions on it, including Amy, Rory, Martha, Sarah Jane, Wilf, Rose, Mel and Nyssa. The implication is that all of them were underwent the same security screening but this doesn’t necessarily mean that they were brought to the Tower of London and had their memories wiped.

Certainly several of those on the board were already members of UNIT (Martha Jones and Sarah Jane Smith) or Torchwood (Captain Jack) so would already be under a certain level of confidentiality.

Clara however is a civilian and so it is likely that others, such as the Ponds, received the same treatment. Presumably this was done to avoid them telling the Doctor, who might object to what UNIT is doing to his companions.

The degree of scrutiny may vary depending on how much time the subject spends with the Doctor. For example Wilf only has a passing acquaintance with the Doctor, compared to others and so his security check might be less vigorous.

The fact they also have a photo of Kamelion suggest that maybe the robot wasn’t destroyed in ‘Planet of Fire’ and found its way back to Earth. Alternatively there could have been a period where the 5th Doctor was on Earth with Kamelion long enough for them to take him aside for screening.

Nyssa is a special case as she is an alien and so her detention by UNIT is even more suspect. One can only imagine how she felt being interviewed (interrogated?) by an organisation designed to combat aliens.

With the exception of the Clara most of the photos are understandably taken from production photos from previous episodes. It does raise the question of where UNIT is obtaining these images and at what point they are bringing in the companions for security clearance.

Could they have access to information recorded by the TARDIS scanners, just as the Time Lords were able to do in ‘Trial of A Time Lord’? It could be that Martha Jones was able to plant a surveillance device for UNIT at the end of ‘The Poison Sky’ or during ‘The Doctor’s Daughter’.

It is easy to understand how UNIT were able to screen those companions who live in the same time frame as the organisation. Clara and Ponds resided within the UK between their adventures with the Doctor, giving them plenty of opportunity to pick them up.

It is harder to work out when they might have spoken to companions who were constantly travelling with the Doctor and who ultimately ended up on other worlds or times (so interviewing Mel or Peri would be a problem).

There is of course the possibility that they were interviewed during adventures in the late 2oth and early 21st century. Even if we didn’t see this adventure onscreen it doesn’t mean there aren’t unseen adventures for this to occur in (as the audios and books show). It would seem odd since  an adventure usually indicates that some crisis is occurring so would they really pull someone aside when they are needed?

Since they are also dealing with a time traveller there is no guarantee that they are bringing in the ‘right’ version of a companion. What if in their intelligence gathering process UNIT had discovered the 1980s photos of Clara in a Russian sub from ‘Cold War’ and picked her up before she met the Doctor in ‘The Bells of Saint John’? This would have been confusing for all parties involved.

What would the security process be for a companion? There main concern seems to be that they won’t pass the information on and that they won’t abuse their knowledge. This indicates they are looking at their moral character, their allegiances and who they associate with (who will likely be undergoing security checks of their own).

Clara is given top clearance so that indicates a standard for the other companions to met. It also means that they can be given information that UNIT doesn’t even trust the Doctor with (such as the black archive), even if they late wipe that knowledge.

What happens when a companion fails the security check? The easiest answer is that their memories of travelling with the Doctor are wiped completely, to prevent that information getting out.

This is problematic when you have companions that could resume travelling with the Doctor, which is the case with Clara. If they wipe their memories the Doctor will realise something is wrong immediately.

Would UNIT keep them under constant observation and intercept all their communications? Would they imprison a companion or tell the Doctor that he is no longer allowed to travel with them? No option is ideal.

This whole process does provide us with further insight into what UNIT feels is important. They don’t want the Doctor and the TARDIS to be common knowledge. Newspapers and publishers could find themselves preventing from printing anything about him, websites could be shutdown and even those who only met him briefly (such as Craig from ‘The Lodger’) would be advised not discuss what they’ve seen.

Within your own games this can come up in a number of ways. You can run through these security clearance screenings with any companion of the Doctor’s (or any other Time Lord PC that UNIT has an interest in).

Even if you don’t run the event itself it is likely that it has already taken place, the companion just doesn’t know it. They could learn about this later, particularly if they find a way to detect if their memories have been erased.

The consequence of this can be explored in your game. If the Doctor or Time Lord PC finds out that UNIT are doing this to his friends what will he do? Would he stop it or understand that it is necessary? ‘Inforarium’ showed that the Doctor isn’t above altering peoples memories to protect his secrets but we also know the Doctor can be a hypocrite.

Those running a UNIT campaign now have a new activity for the players. They can be tasked with bringing in companions to undergo security clearance, by force if necessary. This can be a good way to feature a whole host of former companions (and maybe some future ones) with plenty of opportunities for adventure along the way (maybe the UNIT soldiers arrive at the worst possible moment).

If the companions are asked about their adventures with the Doctor this can serve as a spark for new adventures. They might relate information about something that is going to happen in the near future or point UNIT in the direction of danger that still needs to be resolved (the Doctor doesn’t always tie up loose ends).

Time travelling PCs could stumble across an archive of these security clearances and investigate some of this information on their own. They might even find their own files, that not only do they not remember but contain information from their own future.

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