‘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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“All the bigger on the inside starts leaking to the outside. It grows.”

gianttardisIn ‘The Name of The Doctor’ Clara and the Doctor discover the future TARDIS. It is so big that Clara at first mistakes it for a monument. The Doctor realises the truth, that his ships dimension dams have broken causing a size leak.

The fact that there is a dimension dam suggests that the interior dimension of the TARDIS is naturally inclined to manifest in our dimension. It is the job of the dimension dam to hold it back.

We’ve always known that the TARDIS could change it exterior but what is the relation between its outside and its interior?  The exterior is commonly referred to as an outer plasmic shell and its shape crafted by the chameleon circuit.

It isn’t clear whether the plasmic shell can be altered (maybe on a molecular level) or whether it swaps one shell for another from its interior (as suggested in the short story ‘The Little Things’).

When we see the TARDIS transform in ‘Attack Of The Cybermen’ the familiar police box fades away to reveal a new dresser shell, accompanied by a sound not unlike that of materialisation which would support the latter theory.

The fact that the exterior can grow suggests some exchange is taking place, as more mass it added to the plasmic shell. Since it remains in proportion there must be some adjustment made to it as this process continues.

What isn’t clear is if the interior is being converted into the exterior, in which case it would be half the size of the total interior when the dam in place. It is possible that once it achieves a balance the interior dimension stops spilling out. It is also possible that there is something else being converted (maybe the power within the TARDIS) that would allow the exterior and the interior to be exactly the same size.

So we know that a TARDIS can change its size. The Doctor’s own TARDIS was reduced to the only a few inches in ‘Planet of the Giants’, he shrinks the Meddling Monk’s TARDIS in ‘The Meddling Monk’, the Master has created a mobile giant stone robot with his TARDIS and Iris Wildthyme’s TARDIS took the form of London double decker bus.

Just how small or big could a TARDIS get? Presumably the smaller the TARDIS gets the greater the strain on the dimension dam, with the reverse being true as the TARDIS increases in size (which could be a way to save energy).

In theory the only limit is just how big the interior is. We know that it does have a finite space within itself, as over the years various parts of been ejected. It is also reasonable to suppose that there is only so big that it needs to be. It is, after all, primarily used to travel.

It is entirely possible that the interior is not static. If its exterior dimensions can be changed there is no reason why it couldn’t do the same for its interior. Since that space has to come from somewhere a TARDIS might take it from empty space (which is why we occasionally see the TARDIS hovering amongst the stars rather than travelling through the time vortex) and could have hastened universal entropy.

The TARDIS has shown an ability to reconfigure its interior layout and have some inclination of its own future, having multiple console rooms, including ones that the Doctor hasn’t used yet. It is possible that it anticipates its occupants needs before they do, reducing or increasing its interior space to accommodate this.

So the answer is that the interior is as big as it needs to be. Only someone who spends a long time in the TARDIS, for example the Doctor, would ever notice that it alters at all. Most would stay within specific areas, never venturing further to find its limits.

Conceivably, while the TARDIS is primarily designed to blend in and thus would prefer a small size, it could be much bigger. A TARDIS could be a building, a structure several miles high, a vast land mass or even a planet. Even if it blends in by changing its form people will notice.

Increasing a TARDIS’ exterior to such a size does put a new spin on the Doctor’s materialising around a real police box, replacing it. If a Time Lord wanted to isolate a building from the exterior or hide a planet from an invasion he could simply have his TARDIS appear around it, assuming its form.

Increasing the size of a TARDIS could also be used to terrify the locals or cause great damage. Certainly one can imagine this tactic being used during the Time War. There would be little defence to one or more mile high TARDIS’ suddenly materialising on a planet and smashing through buildings.

The fact that the Doctor recognises what has happened to his own TARDIS indicates that he has some knowledge of this type of thing and that it is connected to failing systems. This could be from early versions of the TARDIS or what happens to old models. It is also possible he saw the same thing happen to other TARDIS during the Time War.

An increase in size could be the first warning sign that PCs get that their own TARDIS is sick or dying. It could only a few inches at first, before growing bigger over time at a much faster rate.

They could also encounter the destruction caused by a giant TARDIS, whether as a malicious act or the death throe of a time machine. Whatever the reason the consequences would have a huge impact on the surrounding area.

If PCs realise the potential of changing the size of the exterior they may be tempted to use it as a way to solve a problem. They could ram alien spaceships or grow to shield a city. Such tactics are best reserved for drastic, one-off measures.

In a game where this is used too frequently you may wish to introduce some drawbacks. For example it could be that the exteriors invulnerability is linked to its size. The bigger it gets the more likely it is to be damaged.

You could have the dimension dam damaged, either locking it at its current size or preventing it from being shrunk. Reducing the interior dimension so that it is smaller than its exterior would also prevent the PCs from increasing the size of its exterior for fear of crushing themselves.

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“Go back to your battlefield. You haven’t finished yet. Some of the universe is still standing.”

redIn the mini-episode ‘Night of the Doctor’ we get a glimpse of what life was like during the Time War. The universe is on the brink of destruction and only the Doctor can save it, but only by changing his very nature.

When we first meet the 8th Doctor he is resolutely trying to avoid any part in the conflict. He is just doing what he always does, swooping in at the last minute to save a life. In this case it is Cass, aboard a gunship about to crash.

The fact that it is a gunship could mean that it was involved in the Time War itself. The fact that Cass obviously hates Time Lords and says that you can’t tell the difference between them and the Daleks indicates that she is not allied to either side. In all likelihood the gunship is designed to protect the interests of her race (which could be human).

Cass’s extreme reaction and knowledge of the Time War suggests that it is common knowledge in this particular era. We know that if the Time War was localised to a particular part of history that the 8th Doctor would avoid it, therefore we might take this to mean that all of time is being badly affected by the conflict. This is further confirmed by Ohila, who says that Cass understood there was no escaping the Time War.

This would seem to contradict the Doctor’s statement that the Time War was invisible to lower species, unless Cass was actually from a ‘higher’ race. It could be that what the Doctor actually meant was that lower races just no longer remember the Time War, now it has be time locked and history expunged of its corruption influence.

Campaigns  (or isolated adventures) set during the Time War should keep this in mind. Time Lords PCs won’t be able to find anywhere that isn’t eventually touched by the conflict.

This might be a gradually process to begin with. The PCs might encounter the beginning of the Time War infrequently. Eventually it becomes so frequent that they can’t go anywhere without finding themselves on a battlefield.

If this is the case then what happened on the most important planet from our perspective, Earth? This obviously could be the setup for a UNIT campaign during the Time War, centred on one particular decade or spanning the life of the whole organisation.

Caught in the cross-fire between two time travelling combatants what can UNIT do to protect itself? If the Doctor is avoiding the Time War then he won’t be there to help them. They will be on their own.

UNIT soldiers must face unbelievably powerful beings. The threats they struggle against aren’t even directed at them, just by-products of their war. Such a campaign could be very gritty, with NPC soldiers dying in their scores.

Will they be ale to keep their sanity knowing that at the end of the conflict all they’ve experienced will be wiped away? All those who died might be restored to life but everything the PCs have done will vanish. Not even they will know the role they played in protecting their planet.

With all time being fair game for the Time War you can have adventures in a variety of historical locations, besieged by those fighting for the Time Lords and Daleks. There is no chance to protect history, only finding away to make sure that people at least survive.

Will the PCs fight with the Time Lords, help those caught in the middle or simply avoid the whole thing? Events during the war might force their hand or help them change their mind.

Night of The Doctor’ indicates that the 8th Doctor didn’t fight during the conflict until his regeneration. This at least gives us some basis for running a 8th Doctor campaign, with a clear character arc.

He is resolute, right to the end when he states that he would rather die than fight in the war. Given this incarnations past history with the Daleks (as the Big Finish audios must now be considered canonical) the Time Lords must already be taking very unethical actions for the Doctor to not ally with them.

Either he believed that the Time Lords could eventually defeat the Daleks or he felt so strongly about his role as a healer and wise man that he didn’t want to sully himself by becoming a soldier.

Cass’s reaction to the Doctor could be common across the universe and throughout history. Time Lord PCs might have to hide their true nature during the Time War. They might even have to hide the truth about themselves to their own campaign. Of course this is an excellent candidate for the Dark Secret trait.

Cass would rather die than accompany the Doctor and considers the fact that he’ll die in the crash good news. This shows how much she hates his race as moments ago the Doctor was saving her life.

We know that Cass was a good person, willing to risk her own life by staying on the ship to save others. If she reacted like that then the response of someone less heroic is likely to be a lot more violent.

This gives us a taste of what a hellish existence people are experiencing. The Sister of Karn’s dire predictions indicate that all of reality was threatened. It is likely if the conflict continued to escalated that fixed points in time would be destroyed resulting in situations like that seen in either ‘The Big Bang’ or ‘The Wedding of River Song’.

It is tragic that this is how the 8th Doctor died and that it forced him to become something he struggled against but if he hadn’t the consequences could have been much worse for everyone.

A Time War campaign can be dark and brutal but ultimately produce stories of sacrifice, bravery and redemption.

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INSPIRATION: THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH

manwhofelltoearthThe 1976 film ‘The Man Who Fell To Earth’ concerns an alien, played by David Bowie, who crash lands on Earth. Dealing with time, the corrupting influence of humanity and an aliens attempt to end his exile all have thematic ties to Doctor Who and are ripe for plot hooks in an on-going campaign.

SPOILERS FOR THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH

Thomas Jerome Newton

David Bowie’s portrayal of the stranded alien is ethereal and mysterious. Given the scenario it is possible to view this as an alternative third Doctor, exiled to the US in the 1970s rather than the UK.

He keeps his nature and plans a secret from everyone in the first third of the movie. Firstly selling gold rings for some quick cash and then patenting numerous advanced technology he gathers a fortune in order to build a spaceship to escape the Earth.

Would the Doctor try such a ploy if he found himself in such a situation? If instead of removing his knowledge of how to operate the TARDIS the Time Lords had instead removed the time machine would he attempt to rebuild it?

It could be that introducing the advanced technology is the only way to get the parts he needs. To avoid disrupting history too much the technology might be finite, requiring resources that the Doctor knows will run out once he leaves or he simply shuts down his business and makes sure that no one can retro-engineer his technology.

The actions of Thomas Jerome Newton could be carried out by any stranded alien. PCs could find that a sudden influx of advanced technology in a time period are due to an alien who just wants to get home. Can they shutdown his business and prevent the advances in science disrupting history?

If I Stay, I Die

Newton’s quest is to save his family but he also states that he can’t stay on Earth because he’ll die. This doesn’t occur in the film and indeed doesn’t age over the course of decades. Like the Doctor it is his companions who wither and die.

The Doctor has always been prone to wanderlust. What if he literally would die if he stays in one place for too long? What if the price for leaving Gallifrey was being cursed to wander the universe and all of time, forever?

Just how long he’d have to stay in the same place (and whether the same place constitutes a city, country, planet or star system) before he died will greatly affect the feel of a Doctor Who story.

If he was in possession of his TARDIS then he should have to move on after 1 or 2 adventures. His companions must travel with him because he can’t stay with them, as much as he’d like to.

If he was stranded the time limit could add tension to his attempts to escape. In this scenario there should be enough time to get away (ranging from months to years). Long enough to feel trapped but not enough to settle down.

Of course this could be a figurative death. It could be that if he stays too long in one place he looses the magic that makes him special. He becomes just like everyone else, absorbed into the community.

While this means he could have a life on whatever planet he finds himself it would mean giving up his regenerations, his twin hearts and his knowledge of time travel. This could be the price the Time Lords require from the Doctor if he doesn’t want to be one of them anymore.

PCs could be tasked with reminding a Time Lord of his true nature (maybe even the Doctor) and restoring their memories and abilities. This could be how the campaign starts for a Time Lord PC, when they discover they aren’t human after all.

Something Amazing; A Boy Falling Out Of The Sky

In one particular scene we focus Brughel’s Icarus, coupled with a poem about the work. It depicts Icarus falling into the ocean, his fall witnessed by ploughmen. It is supposed to remind the viewer of Newton’s own fall to Earth.

What if it was more than that? What if this relates another alien visitation that has been mistakenly interpreted as the myth of Icarus?

Using artistic works from hundreds of years ago is an excellent way to introduce plot hooks to time travellers in the present, as ‘Vincent and the Doctor’ demonstrated. They allow both a snapshot of something what happened but an indication when they happened.

Newton has a family, left stranded on his own dying alien world. What if one his children attempted to follow him but arrived hundreds of years too early? The picture or the poem could alert him to that fact but how would he reach them?

This could be where the PCs come into an adventure. They could encounter an alien who knows that one or more members of his family are dispersed through history. He has collected historical paintings, books and documents that can help track them down. Will the PCs help him?

Imagine as well if the Time Lords didn’t have the TARDIS. What if every time they travelled they plummeted. Their time jump mechanics could be configured so they land in bodies of water but maybe not always. This would certainly be one way to make the start of each trip exciting (and prevent PCs from taking too much with them).

You’re An Alien!

While Thomas Newton appears human on the surface we learn that much of this is disguise. With reptilian eyes, earless and bald his true appearance is apparently nauseating to others.

The Doctor is alien in that he has two hearts and can regenerate but how would people feel about him if he was hiding an alien appearance? It would be much harder for companions to connect to him or accept him if he had scaly skin, inhuman orifices or body parts.

Companions are sometimes struck by the fact he is an alien but this is a mild compared to actual discomfort with something that is physically strange or unknown. It would only emphasis that the slightly eccentric human guise he usually adopts isn’t real and that they don’t actually know him or what he is capable of.

This deception might only be revealed when the Doctor and his companions run into Time Lords who don’t hide what they are. It could be that when this happens the Doctor simply lies and claims they are different race (maybe withholding the gift of translation from his companions so they can’t learn the truth from the Time Lords).

If you don’t want to change the nature of the Time Lords this is still a good experiment to run to test how the PCs reactions are based on appearance. If they find out a friendly human looking NPC is actually an alien whose form is so horrific it is difficult to look at do they treat that NPC differently? Will they accept them for who they are, feel they’ve been lied to or not trust them based on their terrifying appearance?

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“All of history is happening at once. But what does that mean?”

verminSomething has gone very wrong with time in ‘The Wedding of River Song’. Winston Churchill is the Holy Roman Emperor, the war of the Roses enters it second year and pterodactyls fly through the air.

All of this is due to River Song changing a fixed point in time. Things eventually go back to normal but this is still a fascinating setting to explore in your own adventures. Since all of reality is affected no matter where your PCs are they were involved.

It is stated that it is always the 22nd of April, with the time permanently stuck at 5:02 pm.

The Doctor states that everything happens at once and will do forever, while the date and time remains the same. Confusingly there still does appear to be a passage of time that people are aware of.

In a television interview Charles Dickens is asked if his new story will top last year’s Christmas special, Winston Churchill is returning from seeing Cleopatra and the Doctor has been a prisoner in the tower long enough for him to grow a beard.

From this it is clear that there is progression of events but people just don’t question why the date doesn’t change. It is conceivable that people have established other methods to keep track of the progression of time despite the fact the sun never rises or sets anymore.

This acceptance of the new reality extends to the mingling of different parts of history. Churchill knows about downloads, Charles Dickens is comfortable on television and there are signs to warn people not to feed the pterodactyls.

Since Churchill needs the Doctor to explain the situation to him it can’t be a case of people adapting to the collapse of time. What isn’t clear is what shape this reality took when it was first formed.

Using the sign in the park as an example did that come into existence fully formed or did someone have to make it? If it did come into existence on its own was time extrapolating what people would do with the mingled elements? If someone made it did they wonder why this wasn’t a problem before.

Amy is aware of the collapse of time thanks to the influence of the crack in her house but she says that other people knew as well and were working to solve the problem. It could be that certain smart or observant people were just able to see that things didn’t make sense. This could include your PCs.

We could also question who exists in this reality. The fact that Churchill is ruling Britain indicates that he is the only ruler of UK currently in existence (which raises questions about the war of the roses which is taking place as that centred around a power struggle for the throne) and so there can’t be other historical figures that have filled that position.

The Earth could also not support the population of everyone who has and will exist. So while everything is supposedly happening at once this can’t be the reality of the situation. Rather only elements are occurring.

It could be that different parts of history are phasing in and out, along with their accompanying populations. These parts could combine in new ways, with reality reshaping itself to reflect this.

The problem is that the reality we see throughout the episode is consistent. We never see the setting change or rewrite itself. Even if the population have their memories adjusted the viewer would still be aware of the change.

We can therefore take it that the Doctor is exaggerating. From the perspective of the games master running this setting this reduces the amount of work you have to do. You don’t have to accommodate everything, only the parts of history that you find interesting.

You can introduce any historical event but change it to include famous figures who weren’t previously involved. You might have a dominant time frame overlaid with the society or organisation of a different period. For example Britain seems to be modelled around the 21st century but ruled by the Roman empire.

The best thing is that no one (except PCs who are aware of the problem) will notice the anachronisms. Things don’t need to make sense in order for the plot to progress. People with simply accept the reality presented to them.

There is plenty of potential for adventure and things do matter as we’ve established there is a progression of events. PCs could help repel a Nazi invasion of Egypt, defend Mayans from dinosaurs in South America or ensure John F Kennedy isn’t assassinated by John Booth.

You can include elements from the Doctor Who chronology as well, allowing you to have numerous alien invasions to happen all at once. Enemies might mingle as well, resulting in the Master taking the place of Davros as leader of the Daleks.

A major change would be the inability to time travel, since everything is happening at once. Does this mean that the PCs TARDIS just winks out of existence or will it be rendered inert or begin to die?

Speaking of which the Doctor says that time is dying. This is a very different thing to the end of existence. From what we can see everything has collapsed, rather than remaining in a fixed continuum.

Since time is dying, rather than dead, we can take it that this is the reason that there is still some progression. If time does die then not only will things not go back to normal but there will be no change.

Worse still people wouldn’t even be aware this had happened. In effect everything would stay the same for all eternity, frozen in place. The population would either be blissfully unaware or horribly aware of their own paralysation.

If things hadn’t been put right then the amount of progression available would have slowly diminished until it was gone altogether. This could be a way to signal to PCs adventuring in this setting that it is time to take action.

You can weave them into the background of the show, giving Amy, Rory and River Song the resources they need to rescue the Doctor and put an end to the situation. This would inevitably lead them to oppose the Silence but how do you gather information on entities you don’t remember?

Posted in 11th Doctor, Setting, The Wedding of River Song | Leave a comment

“Time travel has always been possible in dreams.”

sleepIn ‘The Name Of The Doctor’ in order to confer with parties in different locations and different time periods Lady Vastra engineers a dream conference. This allows her to speak with Jenny, Strax, Clara and River Song, until they are rudely interrupted.

Vastra reveals to a confused Clara that time travel is possible through dreams. Presumably she means that several minds can meet within this dream-state. If time travel is involved are Vastra, Jenny and Strax projecting their minds forward or are Clara and River Song having their minds sent backwards?

This dream realm could exist outside of time, in some form of astral plane. If there is chronology outside of normal events (marking the various stages of pre-time war, post-time-war, time crack, post reboot, etc) then those participating aren’t actually travelling in time, just converging in the same place.

The decor of the room where those assembled meet is designed by Vastra and the tea they drink is drawn from her memories. If this is a physical location then it could be a realm similar to the land of imagination.

If it is purely mental then this is simply a form of telepathy. Those involved only imagine that they are physically present in the room when that is just an implanted idea, where memories can be shared.

In either case River Song shows that she is able to impose her own on the setting, changing a cup of tea into a glass of champagne. If this is an issue then this should be a contest of presence.

Lady Vastra initiates this conference and presumably selects who will arrive. While this is relatively easy for those within the same time zone it is much trickier for those in the future (from Vastra’s perspective).

With Clara Vastra needs to place her in a trance-like state, possible through a soporific laced candle or letter. It could be that only in this unique state can Vastra ensnare Clara’s unwilling mind. Only when this event occurs will Clara arrive, avoiding the problems of summoning her before she’d met the Doctor.

River Song is more complicated since it would appear that this is post ‘Forest Of The Dead’ and technically dead. The River Song stored within the computer was a data ghost, a copy of her mind and not the real thing.

None the less River Song certainly acts like the real thing and is able to take part in the dream conference. This opens up the possibility of robots and computer intelligences being able to enter the dream realm.

This dream-realm is not impenetrable as the Great Intelligence and his Whisper Men are able to intrude. This makes sense for a being composed of mental energy but conceivably could be entered by other beings with strong presence.

A dream conference has lots of possibilities within your game, especially for player characters who spend lots of time apart. While players are able to exchange information across the table this can be a way to explain how their characters can do the same thing when not physical together.

On a basic level this can be done when player characters split up but becomes even more effective when they are in different time zones. Even if they only have the one time machine (which is the default assumption) PCs could be dropped off in different eras to investigate the same threat and still share their progress.

This can also facilitate campaign set ups where characters are permanently separated, each in a different era and place. They might never be able to physically meet each other (unless the time periods are within their natural life spans) but they can still keep in a touch.

They might have individual adventures which others can offer advice or do research in their own time. For example someone in an earlier era could investigate events or places that are impacting another character in a later time period while those in the future could research how things turn out or other events that relate to the matter at hand.

If you want to take things one step further this dream time-travel could be used to possess someone else. This allows player characters to physically interact in the past or the future while still blending in.

It could be a way to include NPCs that PCs have met without requiring them to physically travelling to see them. If they need the expertise or help of a NPC they’ve met before they could initiate a dream conference call.

You could require some effort on the PCs part to engineer a situation in which they are placed in a trance state. Of course the NPC only needs to enter the trance once for the PCs to access them at any other point in the future. You could also skip this requirement if you just want to include an NPC (maybe they naturally enter this state)

It is up to you to decide how easy and how common this ability is. Can anyone do this given the right circumstances or does it require the purchase of a special good trait?

Villains could use the same technique to communicate. PCs could wonder how they are organising themselves only to find out that they are gathering in their dreams. In order to find out what they are planning the PCs will need to find a way to enter the same trance state and enter the dream realm without being detected.

The villains could bring unwilling victims, including the PCs, into a dream realm. Vastra made her dream room pleasant but there is no reason a villain couldn’t create some hellish realm to torture or brainwash a victim.

If their dreams aren’t safe then that means that the PCs are very vulnerable. Staying awake is only a short-term solution as exhaustion will eventually take its toll. In order to stop it they’d need to seek out the dream summoner and stop them but since they could be any where and any when this is no easy task. 

Posted in 11th Doctor, Name Of The Doctor | Leave a comment