“So the official history says, but there are many rumours and legends to the contrary.”

towerIn ‘The Five Doctors’ the 2nd Doctor tries to explain the contradictory history of Rassilon. He is generally accepted as a great figure but rumour indicates that he was also cruel, causing the Time Lords to rebel against him, locking him in his tower.

Confusingly the Death Zone was used before Rassilon yet the practice is known as the Game of Rassilon (although this could refer to the later attempts to get past his traps and reach the tower to acquire immortality).

The ghostly Rassilon who appears at the end of the story gives the impression that he was in some ways good since he had the wisdom to see that true immorality was a curse and that anyone who wanted it should be removed.

Yet when he is reborn in ‘The End of Time’ he is clearly evil. This is also how he is presented in the ‘Divergent Universe’ arc in the 8th Doctor audio adventures. Earlier than that the New Adventure books indicated that Rassilon used time travel to erase any rival races from history.

Something to consider is that we don’t have to necessarily restrict ourselves to one version being true. By now we’ve seen that it is possible for the universe to be revised and for future events to impact on the past.

The reason that the Dark Ages of Gallifrey have so many contradictions is that it experienced a period of frequent revisions. There could have been two or more versions of Rassilon, influencing events.

With the discovery of time travel it would stand to reason that the first thing a Gallifreyan would do would be to try and influence their own planets history. They might consider introducing time travel prior to its discovery.

For example the sacrifice of Omega could make time travel possible, allowing Rassilon to travel into the past and give the technology to earlier Gallifreyans (still powered by the Eye of Harmony in the ‘present’).

These proto-Time Lords abuse the technology to create the Death Zone. The decadent society they create might also lead to an incarnation of Rassilon who is equally evil. The original Rassilon could stop the games and try to reform society, confining his alternative self to the tower.

It is possible that there were several alterations until the perfect society was established. The knowledge of this process could be kept secret out of shame or the confusion about what happened could be because few remember the original history.

The forbidden knowledge of the black scrolls could contain this information. The consequences of this meddling could have far reaching consequences for the rest of the universe, if their history was also affected by these changes.

The 5th Doctor was keen to read the scrolls before they were destroyed. Might he have followed up on this later and learnt the truth? Could this be the secret knowledge he refers to in ‘The Rings of Akhaten’?

Travelling in the past of Gallifrey is rarely done but ‘Time Of The Doctor’ showed that it is possible. The Dark Times could another exception, allowing PCs to travel back and get involved in this difficult period.

They might not be the only visitors from the future. There could be Time Lords from many different futures. Futures where they rule the universe with an iron grip, a version where they are enlightened beings of peace, Time Lords who are vampires or cyborgs. There might be versions where different alien races become the Time Lords or win the Time War.

The PCs could be vital to ensuring that their version of Gallifrey comes into existence (maybe requiring them to put Time Locks in place to keep that version of events in place). This could be a lengthy process and until it is resolved the future (that is the period after the Dark Times) could be in flux.

This could be a good period for the Doctor to get involved in and might explain the 7th Doctor’s references to being involved with his peoples early history. You could have multiple incarnations of the Doctor all working together in this impossible time in history.

The Time Lords policy of non-interference could be a direct result of these problems (even if the public isn’t aware of the truth). They have learnt how fragile history is and do what they can to prevent any other potential futures coming into existence.

You don’t have to restrict yourself just to this moment in Doctor Who history. Post Time War a similar event could occur on other planets upon the discovery of time travel. This will probably resonate with the players best if you focus on Earth but other alien planets give you more possible futures to explore.

The revision of history and resulting contradictions can cause complications for the PCs. They might run into versions of themselves that have been changed by the universe rebooting or have to face the consequences of their alternative selves.

These alternative versions needn’t be evil. They might actually be better, kinder versions of the PCs from versions of the universe that are equally improved. Would the PCs be willing to sacrifice themselves for the greater good?

Another consequence of the universe being rewritten is the rumours and legends left behind. They could exist retroactively, so that the PCs were aware of them before they became involved in events.

This could mean that they are the legendary heroes they always inspired to be (becoming something of a self-fulfilling prophecy).  This applies equally to their enemies, so they witness their opposition gaining the stature of stories that frightened them as children.

This kind of temporal damage and resulting complications can make the very nature of reality more exotic. Time travellers would have a unique view of the way things came to be that others would find difficult to comprehend.

The PCs will also have learnt an important lesson that there is no single truth. Anything is possible, anything could have happened. Their actions will not only determine what will happen but what did.

Posted in 2nd Doctor, 5th Doctor, Five Doctors | Leave a comment

“You’re a talented watercolourist, professor of psychology and ghost hunter. Total pleasure. Massive.”

ghostHide’ has the Doctor and Clara crashing a ghost hunt at Caliburn House conducted by Major Alec Palmer and Emma Grayling. Supernatural investigations are can serve as the inspiration for an adventure or the basis of a campaign.

The classic series had little time for ghosts and other elements of the supernatural. The 3rd Doctor in particular was dismissive of the reports of spectres in ‘Day Of The Daleks’. In the new series the world at large seems more accepting of the idea.

Indeed in ‘Army of Ghosts’ people accept the presence of phantoms, incorporating them into their lives. It would appear that people can more easily handle the idea of life after death than they can life beyond our planet.

Emma Grayling status as a psychic is also not questioned. The Doctor has experience with such phenomena but both Major Palmer and Clara accept her mental abilities as fact. It is clear that in the Doctor Who universe psychic abilities are a fact.

That being said ghosts usually turn out to be aliens, time travellers or psychic impressions (sometimes a combination of all three). This means that ghost hunters could be forever searching for proof of the real thing.

Ghost hunters create the perfect starting point for an adventure. By their nature they head into the unknown, placing themselves in potential danger and actually hoping to meet something unnatural. Whether they are PCs or NPCs ghost hunters are characters who can be put in a perilous situation with very little justification.

Once ghost hunters are in place you can concentrate on the meat of the story, locating ghosts. The site being haunted can vary wildly from a traditional haunted house to a deserted work place or, if you want to include a science fiction element, a space station.

You’ll want to think about the history of the location, since this will give the PCs something to research. Are there any tales that suggest an origin for the ghost? Are their any other recorded sightings?

Rumours and flat out lies can make it harder to work out what is true. This can be the first challenge for the PCs. Finding out what is real can prove vital in working out where they can find the ghost and working out what its nature is.

Tension is important during these early stages. There are many unknowns for the PCs, including whether there even is a ghost. You might slowly introduce unusual incidents that unnerve the characters (such as doors opening on their own or glass cracking) without revealing the presence of the ghost.

When the ghost does make itself known you must decide whether it poses an threat to the PCs. Will it attack them or is it only a messenger? The incorporeal nature of a ghost makes it difficult to fight but it might still be able to hurt the PCs.

Once the PCs know that there is a ghost the adventure can take two different paths. If they were only there to establish that the location was haunted they could decide that they’ve achieved their goal and leave.

Alternatively they may decide they now have to deal with the ghost, either helping it or destroying it. The question of whether this is even feasible depends on its true nature. If it is an alien it could be trying to invade or simply trapped. If it is a time traveller where are they from and what do they intend? If it is psychic impression what event does it record?

As Clara points out to the Doctor everyone is a ghost. PCs with a time machine can also view this in reverse, with every ghost being a person. Once they’ve encountered a real ghost they could go back to when they were living. It could be that the ghost is appearing because the time travellers were supposed to avert their deaths.

Palmer is an amateur and it is easy to imagine similar small groups of ghost hunters existing, investigating similar ghost stories in their local areas. Their lack of knowledge and resources can make an adventure much more scary (or amusing if they are the bumbling sort).

The advantage here is that even if they do discover something out of the ordinary the public isn’t likely to believe them so you can maintain the status quo of the campaign world. Only this plucky group of PCs will know the truth.

With Palmer’s military connections it might not be long before UNIT or Torchwood also start to pay attention to ghosts and assemble their own ghost hunting teams. This has the advantage of backing, support and more knowledge about what they are dealing with.

A campaign focusing on ghost hunting might take a ‘Scooby Doo’ approach with each adventure finding the PCs travelling to a new haunted location. You could take this a step further and have a cute animal or alien (or an alien disguised as an animal) for comic relief.

If you decide that living beings do linger after death as ghosts you might think about how they interact with the world. What would ghosts do if the place they were haunting was invaded by aliens?

You might decide to run a whole campaign where the PCs are ghosts. Immaterial and largely unseen they could secretly defend the world from beyond the grave. If invaders can’t be frightened away the ghosts could sabotage their equipment or secretly aide resistance fighters.

Having a PC become a ghost upon their death is also an alternative to creating a new character. A player can continue with the character they know, just as a phantom. It could be several adventures before their fellow PCs discover their departed companion is still with them.

Posted in 11th Doctor, Hide, Setting | Leave a comment

“And I know things. Secrets that must never be told.”

knowledgethatmustneverbespokenI’ve already discussed how secrets are a key element of Doctor Who here and the Doctor discusses his own secrets in ‘The Rings of Akhaten’. It is a great speech and one worth analysing.

It gives us the perspective of the Doctor as a being who has seen incredible, unique things. We have been lucky enough to witness some of these events by his side but there is much more that we don’t know.

It can also be useful to consider if your own player characters are in such a privileged position. If they were to relate their own life and experiences to another would it be just as impressive?

“I walked away from the Last Great Time War. I marked the passing of the Time Lords.”

We now know that the Doctor doesn’t have an accurate memory of what occurred at the end of the Time War at this stage in his life. Does his statement here refer to his attempt as the 8th Doctor to avoid the conflict?

All evidence suggests that he thought he was responsible for destroying Gallifrey using the Moment. One could hardly consider that as walking away from the Time War. Is the Doctor lying here, when he otherwise should be telling the truth?

We might also consider in what way he marked the passing of his people. Did he take a moment before ‘Rose’ to remember their deaths. Is there some graveyard or memorial built by the Doctor?

“I saw the birth of the universe and I watched as time ran out, moment by moment, until nothing remained. No time. No space. Just me.”

This could refer to the reboot of the universe in ‘The Big Bang’, just in the reverse order. He might consider that the universe (the old version of it) did vanish around him and until Amy recalled him he was in limbo. As the universe was recreated he saw its birth.

This doesn’t quite fit but aside from some brushes with Event 1 the Doctor hasn’t been depicted at the start of the universe. He also didn’t stick around long enough in ‘Utopia’ to see it end.

There can be few who can say they’ve seen both the start and the end of the universe. Adventures depicting these events are by their nature epic. What would convince the Doctor to travel to these very dangerous regions of time.

At the beginning of the universe a time traveller might witness the arrival of ancient beings from the previous reality. At its end powerful beings from our universe could be trying to escape into the next.

If the PCs do find themselves at the end of the universe would they be tempted to escape as well? What might they discover on the other side?

“I walked in universes where the laws of physics were devised by the mind of a mad man.”

There have been instances in which the Doctor has found himself in an artificial reality, governed by a mad man. Candidates include the Land of Fiction from ‘The Mind Robbers’, the antimatter universe ruled by Omega in ‘The Three Doctors’, the pocket dimension conjured up by the Master in ‘Castrovalva’ or the Divergent Universe the 8th Doctor becomes trapped in from ‘Scherzo’ to ‘The Next Life’.

The way the Doctor phrases it suggests that the universes were created by the mind of the same mad man. Possibly he is referring to the two realities that the Dream Lord created but these were not true universes in which case we’ve not seen this depicted. Who is the mad man and how was he able to create multiple universes (as opposed to dimensions). How did the Doctor become trapped there and how did he escape?

“I’ve watched universes freeze and creations burn.”

Again we are given a hint that the Doctor has experienced things on an epic scale. Here he is depicting himself as someone who has seen various fates befall multiple universes, where as he has previously indicated that other universes are difficult to travel to (he spent a long time trying to escape E-Space). Now the Doctor claims to have encountered many.

What could he mean when he says that watched universes freeze? This could be the heat death of the universe or that it was being placed in stasis (perhaps for storage). Since he watched it happen we can assume the Doctor felt that this needed to occur.

Watching creations burn could cover a range of things, from small items to worlds to universes. Likely he saw much destruction in the Time War. By all accounts few worlds were spared.

“I have seen things you wouldn’t believe. I have lost things you’ll never understand.”

Both these statements relate to what a planet sized parasite might or might not believe or understand.

Certainly there have been things in Doctor Who that are unbelievable. Alien worlds and time travel are not within most peoples range of experiences.

We think we know what the Doctor has lost; his people, his family, his friends even his own life. It is also possible that there are other losses that we haven’t witnessed. One of the most enduring mysteries is the Doctor’s wife (Susan’s grandmother), although the books do tackle that.

Still there are plenty of material to be mined from other people and things the Doctor has lost. There may be things beyond our imagining. Things that only a Time Lord might understand such as alternative time lines or aspects of his nature that go beyond the physical.

“Knowledge That Must Never Be Spoken.”

This might be the biggest new piece of information. The Doctor knows things that he can’t talk about, presumably because it would be dangerous to do so. We’ve seen evidence that information can be spread amongst time and space. The location of the Doctor’s grave was one piece of information that was recently revealed and almost ended reality.

In all his adventures the Doctor has thwarted many dangerous plans and destroyed technology that has endangered whole worlds. If the Doctor has taken steps to conceal his own identity it stands to reason he might use time travel to prevent anyone from replicating these plans or technology.

The Doctor might be aware on a subliminal level that he knows that Gallifrey hasn’t been destroyed, which later has a huge impact on the universe in ‘Time Of The Doctor’. Even if he doesn’t he might know other things that would be equally shocking for others to learn.

How deep has the Doctor buried this knowledge? What might an enemy learn if they probed his mind? Could there be circumstances in which he would reveal secret knowledge and what would he do to prevent it being used?

PCs in your campaign could learn that the Doctor has dangerous information. They might not know what it is but understand that while the Doctor lives the whole of reality is in terrible danger. Would they help safeguard that knowledge or find a way to silence him (maybe even wipe his memory)?

Posted in 11th Doctor, Rings of Akhaten | Leave a comment

“Emergency. You’re my boyfriend.”

boyfriendIn ‘Time Of The Doctor’ Clara accidentally makes the Doctor think she wants him to be her boyfriend. She quickly clarifies that she only wants him to pretend to be her boyfriend for the benefit of her family who are visiting. We should note that the Doctor doesn’t seem opposed to the idea, only mentioning he might have to check the manual as he is a bit rusty.

The Classic series never dwelled on the Doctor as a character who could get involved in romance. The 1st Doctor did get accidentally engaged in ‘The Aztecs’ but it is clear that he could never have got married. The 4th Doctor certainly had chemistry with Romana (no doubt thanks to the actors off-screen relationship) but it seems more a close friendship.

The 9th Doctor has an odd relationship with Rose, clearly trying to impress her and getting jealous of her relationships with others. He even mentions that he is capable of ‘dancing’. Despite this he doesn’t act on these feelings.

The 10th Doctor has feelings for Rose but thinks nothing of forming a deep emotional connection with Madame de Pompadour. He is also oblivious to Martha’s romantic feelings towards him. The only time he feels he can express his feelings is through a half human clone of himself.

The 11th Doctor is shocked at Amy’s advances (suggested to be because he still thinks of her as a small girl) and is annoyed at Clara’s suggestive comments, unsure if she is serious. The only time we see true passion and the suggestion of a fully developed romantic relationship is with River Song.

Could the Doctor ever have a companion in the future who he could have a romantic relationship with? Amy and Rory showed that a married couple could work in the TARDIS but would it be the same if it was the main character?

A major issue would be the Doctor’s awareness that he can never spend his entire life with a companion. From his perspective they would age and die very quickly, leaving him with two broken hearts.

This could be avoided if this hypothetical companion had a comparable lifespan or immortal. Practically, if this were to occur in the television show, this would require the casting of an actor who doesn’t age or the character would also need away to renew themselves (through regeneration or something similar).

Once this physical requirement is met is within his character to fall in love. The examples above show that he has the capacity, he just lacked the means. We’ve seen various examples of the kind of women that he likes. In particular he likes those who are passionate, intelligent, an ethical code he agrees with and a wonderment for the universe.

In theory his behaviour towards his companion/girlfriend/wife wouldn’t change and thus the structure of his typical adventures wouldn’t change. He would still be protective, still want to show them the universe and he would still have faith that they’d do what was right and help save the day.

The Doctor has also shown he is more than willing to follow the wishes of others. It would be an equal partnership, with his romantic interest driving the plot as much as the Doctor. Again, this doesn’t change the format significantly.

What could affect things is the usual turnover of new companions. Any new additions would have to be vetted by the Doctor’s partner. Usually the Doctor pays a lot of attention to a new companion but he’d have to make sure that he didn’t neglect his lover interest. This could make any new companion feel like a 3rd wheel.

Having a permanent partner might also change the Doctor’s priorities. While he has a new cycle of regenerations his life is still finite. He might not be so willing to sacrifice when it would mean leaving a loved one behind in mourning.

By the Doctor’s own admission he is a little out of practice at being a boyfriend. This could lead to rocky moments in his relationship and he could seek out past companions for advice.

This would allow adventures revisiting old friends to explore love and romance. How would they react to the Doctor (who might be in an incarnation they never met) talking to them about his new relationship?

If the Doctor was able to maintain a relationship what else might he have to revaluate? Could it be the impetuous to finally settle down and stop roaming the universe? Might he even think about starting a new family (if such a thing were possible)?

A lasting relationship would change the legend of the Doctor. His partner would become just as famous (or infamous) as the Doctor. This could make her very influential and put her at risk.

The biggest threat to the Doctor maintaining a relationship is regeneration. It has been established that he becomes a new man once he has transformed. There is no guarantee that a new incarnation would still be in love with his partner.

While tragic this does allow for a natural end of  a plot arc focusing on the Doctor’s relationship. It allows for an epic romance to stretch through a single incarnation and then bring it to an end without making the Doctor or his partner seem like the villain.

Of course his partner might not take it well, becoming a villain. They could be a reverse River Song, targeting earlier incarnations. Could this be the origin of the Terrible Zodan?

This line of thought could be explored within your own games. It is an interesting personal dynamic that the show is yet to cover (aside from the hints about River Song) and could be interesting to see how it affects adventures.

With many new future incarnations of the Doctor to explore it is possible that this might happen at one point. PCs playing original characters might meet him or his partner during this period.

There is plenty of drama to be exploited with the PCs encountering this arrangement at different points in the relationship. What if they learn that the Doctor’s wife is going to die, betray him or worse? What if when they meet the Doctor it is still early days in their relationship and he is madly in love?

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

“So many secrets, Doctor. I’ll help you keep them, of course…”

1stquestionOne of the defining characteristics of Steven Moffat and the 11th Doctor era is secrets. From the true identity of River Song, the mystery behind the cracks in time, the  nature of the impossible astronaut to the name of the Doctor, these are plot elements that dangle in front of the viewer for seasons of episodes.

A good secret is a question that demands to be answered. They provide something tangible for the viewer to obtain and increase the stakes of any Doctor Who story. We know that the Doctor will save the day but will we the viewer be given any answers.

Indeed the very show itself is a question, Doctor Who?

It is obvious that mystery is a core element of the show. This plot element is something that you can introduce into your own campaign. It can be tricky to create a mystery that will be engaging not for a single session but over the course of months or even years.

There are a variety of different types of secrets.

Adventure Secret

These are secrets connected with the plot. Not everything will be explained during the adventure, leaving some dangling threads. This could be what the true motivation of the enemy was, how they achieve their goal and what set events in motion.

This is similar to how the TARDIS crew encountered aliens fleeing the cracks in time before they realised their significance. This type of plot acts as foreshadowing for the big reveal.

Since time travel is an integral part of the show the PCs could find themselves stumbling into the middle of an epic story. Other adventures can reveal how things began and how they might end.

With these types of secret the players should feel that they will eventually understand what was happening and have a desire to resolve the story. If you reveal too little players might forget important parts of the plot.

You can be subtle, having an adventure apparently be self contained only to reveal that it was linked to a bigger story. What might have seemed like a plot hole was actually a hook for another adventure.

Character Secrets

There are a variety of characters that are good examples of this. The Doctor himself has a mysterious past and a hidden name, River Song was introduced as being someone with a deep connection to the Doctor but we weren’t sure what it was and Clara was the impossible girl, reappearing throughout time only to die.

PCs can be created built around the fact that they have a secret. This is best done in co-operation with the gamesmaster (who should also be aware of the truth behind the secret). This allows hints at that secret to be naturally introduced.

NPCs can have secrets which the PCs learn a little more of each time they encounter them. This can be a separate plot thread that runs through many different, self-contained adventures.

Such secrets should have an impact on the PCs and affect how they affect their relationship with the NPC. Friends could be revealed to be enemies while adversaries could reveal that they are on the PCs side.

Campaign Secrets

These are huge secrets that make up the framework of the whole campaign. An example of this might be the Time War, which was a mystery for a long time. What happened and the consequences of that have huge impacts on adventures and the future of the characters.

This works best where there are strong mystery elements. For example you might create a campaign where the PCs gain possession of a TARDIS. Where the time machine came from and the identity of its original owner could be a secret that the PCs keep finding themselves trying to answer.

Secrets As A Plot Device

Players might want to introduce a secret into an adventure as a way to resolve a situation. Faced with impossible odds they could pay Story points to have their character do ‘something’ that saves the day.

What they did is unknown to the other players but it works. Sometime in the future there will be consequences when the truth is revealed.  Whatever was done will upset, shock or horrify everyone.

Maybe the character broke their moral code to do what they thought was right (becoming in some way their own version of the War Doctor) or they could have broken a law of time (maybe their future self appeared and saved the day, meaning that they have to do this in a later adventure).

Secrets As A Way To Fix Mistakes

What occurs during an adventure might not be the whole truth. This could be a sanitised version of events. A clue to this might be that not everything makes sense. A future adventure could reveal what really happened either as the PCs revisit the adventure, a flashback reveals the truth or the consequence of their actions catch up to them.

If you take this route secrets can be a way to explain away any mistakes that are made during an adventure. If you realise that something in the plot didn’t make sense you can reveal there was secret reason that explains what really happened.

These layers of truth prevent the players taking anything for granted. All the better if you can get them to go along with this and enjoy revisiting past adventures or looking forward to what might be revealed.

Secrets As A Campaign

To put secrets centre stage a whole campaign could be centred around them. The PCs should each have one secret, maybe more. There will be secrets that link them and control their lives.

Their motivation could be to discover the truth or to keep their secrets. Time travel is perfect to conceal themselves in the shadows of history or carry out indepth investigations. Their opposition are not would-be conquers of the galaxy but those who hide their own secrets or wish to expose the PCs.

“Look, my name, my real name – that is not the point.”

As with the secret of the Doctor’s name ultimately it wasn’t revealed and the Doctor explains that it doesn’t matter. You can treat other secrets the same way. Sometimes it doesn’t matter what the truth is if it is in the past.

All that matters is the present and the PCs future. Secrets can be used just to give flavour and to make the mundane exotic. We can never know everything and isn’t that part of the fun?

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

“What if she’s a spy? What do we do?”

sarahjaneTime Warrior’, by Robert Holmes, introduces Sarah Jane Smith. When the Doctor first meets her she is posing as her aunt, to infiltrate the gathering of scientists. The Doctor quickly sees through her ruse and she confesses that she is a journalist. Professor Rubeish worries that she might be a spy.

While it is ultimately revealed that she is indeed a journalist how does the Doctor know that for sure? She would hardly confess if she really was a spy and the Doctor already knows that scientists are going missing.

During this UNIT era there was a concern about foreign powers abducting (or luring away) scientists. The loss of individuals with unique skills or exceptional ideas could shift the balance of power, forever determining whether capitalism or communism was victorious.

The Brigadier is therefore right to be worried, even if putting all of his eggs in one basket might not have been the best idea. The Doctor, however, seems unconcerned by the mystery of the missing scientists.

While it is true he doesn’t have an allegiance to one particular country (being a Time Lord) he does have some loyalty to UNIT and must realise how it would be affected if the East gained the upper hand.

It is possible that his knowledge of future history allowed him to be confident that it wasn’t a foreign agency taking the scientists. It is is also possible that with control of the TARDIS returned to him if things became uncomfortable in the UK he could simply leave. How might things have been different if he was still in exile and would have to live with the consequences of political upheaval?

Responding to Rubeish’s question the Doctor puckishly suggests that they shoot Sarah Jane, if they she is a spy. Rubeish doesn’t take this seriously but confirms that there is something odd about her and that she even tried to convince him that the Doctor was a spy.

This illustrates that Sarah Jane could have an antagonist in this story. Had it not been for the main plot about a Sontaran in the middle ages using time travel to kidnap scientists the whole story could have centred on the Doctor matching wits with a potential spy, even being framed.

We can presume that Sarah Jane made these allocations to throw doubt on the Doctor, thus colouring any claims he might make against her. This is quite a ruthless act for a young journalist. This is a side of Sarah Jane that we rarely see later.

Trust has to be earned and early on in a relationship things can be tense. It can take a while to work out who a person really is and what their agenda is. When the stakes are high people can be reluctant to put their faith in others.

This can be important during the early sections of an adventure or campaign. Not only could the PCs be trying to work out whether they can trust other PCs they also need to know which NPCs they can trust.

The presence of spies, who lie as part of their job, make this more complicated. Suspicion and paranoia can be rife in games in which espionage have some presence. This can add levels of complexity to an otherwise straightforward story.

This could be the main focus of a UNIT campaign. They have secrets they need to protect and certain missions could give them an opportunity to learn more about what their enemy currently knows.

Espionage and spies can occur in any setting and time period. Whether it be behind enemy lines in WWII, during the Cold War, in the corporate run future or in the stars with multiple alien empires.

Shape shifting aliens and brain washing techniques (such as those favoured by the Daleks) mean that the PCs can never fully trust anyone, not even themselves. This can result in exciting twists in the plot, where characters reveal their true allegiances.

Just the suspicion of a spy can cause problems for PCs. As time travellers with few credentials their odd behaviour and unexplained motives can mean that the authorities have reason to arrest, interrogate and even execute them.

This can add another task for the PCs to complete. Not only must they stop whatever threat exists but they must prove their innocence and identify who the real spy is (if there even is one).

It should be remember that a spy is not automatically a bad person. Thus you might want to have characters who aren’t what they really seem who end up helping the PCs. For example if a PC is captured by the enemy maybe one of the guards is a spy who helps them escape.

Exploring this idea you could reveal that other characters were always undercover spies. For example Sarah Jane Smith might actually have been a spy (using journalism as a cover) which could put a new twist on adventures set during her travels with the Doctor.

Who might she be working for? What secrets would she have access to once the Doctor gets her UNIT clearance? Would her friendship with the Doctor give her doubts? If her identity was discover how would UNIT react to this breach of security and those responsible for it?

This could allow one or more adventures revealing this untold chapter of Sarah Jane’s life. It could be that she eventually does become a journalist but you still have scope for some covert missions (maybe some that occur in the background of a televised story).

Posted in 3rd Doctor, Time Warrior | Leave a comment

“To Days To Come.”

TimeCrashTime Crash’, by Steven Moffat, is a 2007 mini episode for Children in Need. Due to the 10th Doctor failing to raise the TARDIS shields he collides with the 5th Doctor’s TARDIS. The resulting paradox threatens to blow a whole in the universe until the 10th Doctor saves the day by carrying out the actions he remembers watching himself perform when he was the 5th Doctor.

This brief adventure sets the ground work for ‘The Day Of The Doctor’, particularly in how an earlier incarnation finds the 10th Doctor irritating and childish (in this case the 5th Doctor calls him a skinny idiot). The solution also is resolved by the Doctor passing along information to his younger incarnation.

We learn that unless the TARDIS has its shields active it can collide with other time ships (also the Titanic). If this happens they can merge, displaying occupants. Here the 5th Doctor finds himself in the 10th Doctor’s console room.

We’ve seen that the TARDIS can retain multiple console rooms so it is conceivable that the 5th Doctor’s version was just displaced elsewhere within the ship. It is likely that his travelling companions (whoever they may be as he doesn’t confirm who he is with) are also displaced and there could be an adventure to be had in what they got up to during this merging.

Given just how big space and time is the odds of actually colliding with another time ship, let alone the same TARDIS, would appear to be astronomical. Was the 5th Doctor passing through the same region? It is interesting that the 10th Doctor only pulls a lever before the collision occurs. There isn’t even the few seconds it takes for the TARDIS to dematerialise before disaster strikes.

It is therefore tempting to think that there could be another force at play here to engineer these unlikely events. Since the 5th Doctor is involved the Master or the Black Guardian would make good candidates.

The universe is endangered by the two time zones at war at the heart of the TARDIS, creating a paradox. The implication is that this is because it is the same time ship but it could be that all TARDIS have their own internal time zone which is incompatible with others if merged.

This makes a certain amount of sense as a TARDIS is outside of time and we’ve seen examples of the ship protecting occupants from changes to history. This could allow Time Lords to survive even if the universe is rewritten.

The Doctor states that this will cause a paradox but this usually on applies if one event contradicts another. This wouldn’t seem to apply if a TARDIS just finds itself alongside a future version of itself, since this doesn’t change the fact that both will exist. It could be that since its future and its past are both ‘now’ it will destabilise the TARDIS.

The technobabble solution involves a black hole and supernova at the exact same instant, somehow cancelling the explosion and implosion out. It isn’t clear if the 10th Doctor piloted the TARDIS into an actually black hole and supernova at the same time or whether he created these conditions within the TARDIS (as the 5th Doctor does warn him his actions will cause the TARDIS to explode).

Whatever he did do the 5th Doctor realises that even he isn’t smart enough to come up with that solution. The 10th Doctor confirms that he only knew what to do from remember these events.

Like ‘Space/Time’ the answer creates itself through time travel. As discussed in my article about that story this could just be an elimination of possible futures. If the Doctors weren’t able to save their TARDIS then the time ship wouldn’t exist for the 5th Doctor to collide with. The timeline would momentarily reset to allow it to exist and for the collision to occur until they finally find the right combination. Both versions of the Doctor would be unaware that they could have played out these events billions of times.

The 10th Doctor does state that the 5th Doctor will remember this. This suggests the amnesia of crossing ones own time stream won’t apply here. He is surprised when the 5th Doctor appears but it is easy to see how he might loose track of just when this meeting will happen.

He very quickly seems to recover from his surprise and mentions the potential crisis before the alarm sounds. While the 5th Doctor is panicking he knows exactly how things will turn out.

It is possible to interpret this as his memories of the encounter unlocking once the TARDIS merges. Certainly he has no qualms revealing aspects of the 5th Doctors future, including mentioning that the Master will have a wife.

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“Ponds, always fine. Worrying unnecessarily.”

oodonthelooPond Life’, written by Chris Chibnall, was a series of mini-episodes showing married life for the Ponds and their eventual separation before the events of ‘Asylum Of The Daleks’. As they are so short they can only hint at larger adventures occurring off-screen.

In April the Doctor leaves a phone message to let the Ponds know what he has been up to. He does this by phone, rather than in person, because he is having difficulty piloting the TARDIS due to a faulty Helmic regulator.

This allows you to create a period of the 11th Doctor’s life where he can’t always get where he was supposed to be going. A fault to the TARDIS can also be the justification you need to prevent a Time Lord PC being able to return his companions home.

Amongst his adventures he is shown to be fleeing from Sontarans at a place called Florinall 9, using a surf board to escape on a firefall. This is a particularly exotic location for an adventure and there is plenty left to discover about why the Sontarans are there.

Next the Doctor claims to have met Mata Hari in a hotel in France. There is an extended period where this meeting could take place, beginning in 1903. Most famous for being a German spy she did not enter their employment until 1915.

Presumably the Doctor would know who she was so why was he in her company? Typically of the Doctor he appears surprised that she would try to seduce him. Did she have any feelings for him or was she trying to gain information for Germany? This would be the good basis for an adventure based around the the first world war.

The Doctor also says that he laid down backing vocals which would seem out of character except we know that he also took time to play the triangles in a performance of Carmen (broadcast by Oswin in ‘Asylum of the Daleks’). We can only speculate how this particular recording session came about.

All of the above should be treated with a pinch of salt as it could just be the Doctor spin a tale to make his life seem interesting.

In May the Doctor pays a night time visit to the Ponds, dashing into their bedroom despite there being rules against that. He warns that no one on the planet is safe and urges them to come with him until he realises that they don’t know what he is talking about and that he has come to the wrong point in time.

When pressed for information about what is going to happen we are shown clips of ‘Dinosaurs on a Spaceship’. In that story the threat to Earth occurs in the future and the Ponds didn’t know about the crisis before the Doctor collected them so it seems unlikely that this is what he is referring to.

It makes more sense that this Doctor comes from ‘The Power of Three’. We know that the Doctor was popping back and fore between trying to solve the mystery of the alien cubes. He would assume that the Ponds would immediately know that he would be talking about this ongoing mystery so their puzzled response lets him know he has come back too far into the past.

It could also be an unseen adventure. This indicates that it is certainly possible that the 11th Doctor had further adventures with them, popping up out of order. He might not always realise he has taken the wrong Ponds before whisking them into adventure. Rory’s comment that he hates when the Doctor does that suggests that this isn’t the only time the Doctor has done this.

In June Rory and Amy find an Ood on their toilet and don’t learn until July that the Doctor had rescued the alien from the Androvax conflict and speculates it must have wandered out of the TARDIS when he last visited them.

This could indicate that his arrival during the night was at the end of May and that it was the next day or so that the Ponds discovered the Ood. If not what was the Ood up to before they found him? Alternatively the Doctor visited them again between the events shown of May and June.

This Ood is still conditioned to be servile and it would appear that the Doctor was going to return him to the Ood-sphere (probably to free him). This suggests that know the Doctor is aware of their conditions (having been shamed by Donna Noble into taking action) that he goes out of his way to help them.

Until the Doctor comes to collect him the Ood acts as the Ponds butler, although they at least have the decency to feel guilty about this. This period could make for interesting adventures, as the Ponds try to keep the presence of the alien a secret.

The Doctor doesn’t come to collect him immediately as there is a power drain in the TARDIS, threatening to cause it to implode. How this fault occurred and how the Doctor got out of it could be an exciting start to an adventure.

At some point the 11th Doctor does manage to rescue the Ood and take it to be reconnected to the hive mind. Along the way he gets mixed up in the Battle of Hastings (where the helmic regulator is again damaged), rides a horse through 11th century Coventry and might have invented pasta by showing how it is made to a Mongol.

By August the Doctor attempts to make contact but finds no one is home. We are shown that Amy and Rory have split up (the reason eventually revealed in ‘Asylum of The Daleks’) during this time, suggesting things went downhill fast after the Ood left.

This last segment shows the deep concern the Doctor has for the Ponds. He reconsiders leaving his phone message, using the sonic screwdriver to delete it. It is possible to interpret this as a post ‘Angels Take Manhattan’ Doctor, particularly as he is changing the TARDIS’ light bulb.

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“Typical Doctor. Some Things Will Never Change.”

deathistheonlyanswerThe mini-episode ‘Death Is The Only Answer’, written by the children of Oakley CE Junior School, reunites the Doctor with Albert Einstein (after they last encountered each other on-screen in ‘Time and The Rani’) and an Ood (who seem to be popular in these mini-episodes).

The episode begins with the Doctor (apparently alone) talking about how he had missed the TARDIS and couldn’t believe that River had blown it up. This establishes this story as taking place relatively soon after ‘The Pandorica Opens’.

Conceivably Amy and Rory could be elsewhere in the TARDIS after he collects them from their wedding in ‘The Big Bang’. However as the Doctor enters with the fez he picks up in the alternative timeline I think this probably occurs before the wedding, after the universe is rebooted and he is about to be summoned by Amy.

The Doctor trips, dropping the fez on the TARDIS controls and pushing a lever that causes it to vanish. It eventually transpires that the fez returns to its original owner, Albert Einstein, and creates a time window for the him to pass through into the TARDIS.

This indicates that the TARDIS can teleport objects and people from and into itself. Einstein is surprised that the fez is on his head, suggesting that this was the ‘hook’ that the time machine to reel him in.

If a TARDIS pilot becomes skilled with this technique the time machine need not ever land. Instead crew members can be sent where ever they need to go and then recalled via a time window.

Einstein at first believes that his transportation was the result of his own time machine. The Doctor is sceptical of this, using air quotes when referring to Einsteins ‘time machine’. Indeed this seems justified as developing the device has caused Einstein to almost die twice and fall off a cliff.

We learn that Einstein tried to steal the TARDIS in the past (and possibly succeeded). This could be where he first had the idea to create his own time machine. This original incident could be the basis of an adventure, whether it occurs directly after ‘Time And The Rani’ or at a later point.

He believes that he is close to perfecting it using a green fluid he refers to as a bionic fusion liquid. Since he was by his time machine when the time window appeared it is likely that he was just about to use it on the machine.

Shortly afterwards Einstein throws doubt on the exact nature of the liquid. He claims to have invented it and refuses to allow the Doctor to test it. How is it possible that Einstein created the fluid, named it and doesn’t know what it is?

Later Einstein asks the Doctor to take him back to 1945. From 1943 Einstein was a consultant for the navy, working for a research chemist Stephen Brunauer. Could it be that Brunauer provided the unknown chemical for Einstein?

Just as the Doctor is warning Einstein not to drink the fluid the green ooze spontaneously squirts over the scientists face. This results in a rapid transformation into an Ood, complete with translation sphere.

The physical transformation is reminiscent of the toxic slime in ‘Inferno’.  It could be that Ood has a common ancestry with humans that the slime unlocks (although this doesn’t explain the sphere). It might also be that this creates a genetic flux that the Ood take advantage of, using Albert as a temporal host for one of their psychic projections (much as they appeared to the 10th Doctor in his last days).

The title of the episode comes from the Oods ominous claim that ‘death is the only answer’ The Doctor doesn’t understand this and wonders what it could be the answer to. Could it be the answer to the very first question? The question he has been running from his whole life?

It could also be that this Ood originates from ‘The Time of the Doctor’ and decided that the only way to end the stalemate was to kill the Doctor earlier in his timeline. If it isn’t an assassin it could be just trying to let the Doctor know that the same situation can be solved by his ‘death’ and subsequent regeneration.

The Doctor distracts the Ood by saying that it is looking for a power source for his time machine. This could just be a theory but if true it might mean that the Ood had taken over Einstein and had been driving him to create a time machine so it could get home.

Producing the supposed power source from his pocket and throwing it into a barrier of silver energy activated by a lever on the console. Passing through this energy field restores Einstein to normal. This indicates that the Doctor had at least some idea what had happened and that the energy some how filtered out the mutation.

Like ‘Good As Gold’ the mini-episode ends on a cliffhanger. After the Doctor has returned Einstein home (empty handed) and he puts the TARDIS back in flight the camera lingers on a dollop of green liquid on the floor which begins to move on its own.

This indicates that the fluid itself was alive, explaining how it came to spray over Einstein. This raises more questions about its origins and possible agenda. Could it still be in the TARDIS waiting to infect someone else?

There is certain sense of urgency to the Doctor’s use of the TARDIS console. This could indicate that he is rushing to somewhere unconnected to these events (like Amy’s wedding) or he has realised that there are too many unanswered questions about this incident.

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“I’ve Set The TARDIS To Adventure Setting.”

goodasgoldGood as Gold’ is a mini episode written by the children of Ashdene school. After Amy reads that they should have an adventure every week the Doctor sets the TARDIS to adventure setting and lands them 2012 Olympics where a torch bearer is pursued by a Weeping Angel.

This episode was aired between ‘The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe’ and ‘Asylum of the Daleks’. Since Amy says they haven’t had an adventure for ages it is unlikely that it occurs when the Doctor was visiting the Ponds to whisk them away for adventures (the implication is that she and the Doctor have been travelling without anything eventful occurring for a while).

It is possible that this might take place during ‘The Power of Three’ and Rory was just too busy at the hospital to go with the Doctor. It might happen before ‘Vampires of Venice’ since Amy is reading a book on what space travellers are expected to do.

It is more likely that it takes place after ‘Cold Blood’, after Rory was erased from history. If memories of her adventures with her husband were lost entirely (rather than just edited to remove his presence) she might believe that nothing has happened. The Doctor might also be avoiding stressful situations to try and protect her.

It is difficult to know whether the TARDIS really does have an adventure setting or whether the Doctor is just being flippant. Certainly the TARDIS does not react well to whatever the Doctor has done as it is forced to make an emergency landing, apparently materialising in the air before landing with a thud.

The torch bearer is able to enter the TARDIS with ease, suggesting either the doors aren’t always locked when the TARDIS appears or this is because of systems failing. The torch bearer says that he didn’t see the ship, which he attributes to the fact he was being chased but it could also indicate that the ship was cloaked (which might be for the best since a stadium full of people would have seen it otherwise).

The existence of the torch bearer leads to continuity problems in that it was the 10th Doctor who supposedly made the final leg of the journey. This story could be a lot more interesting if he had carried it into the 11th Doctors TARDIS.

It is possible that due to the technical difficulties (particularly an unauthorised bearer taking the torch) that the flame was carried again. It is also possible that the events of ‘Fear Her’ were erased by the cracks in time.

We also only have the Doctor’s observations that indicate the torch bearer is from the 2012 Olympics. While the torch bearer doesn’t contradict him he is distracted. He might also have reason to hide his true identity.

We learn that the torch bearer was being chased by a Weeping Angel, which also enters the TARDIS. The Doctor claims that it wants to steal the flame to destroy the spirit of excellence and friendship that it represents.

This wouldn’t really fit the usual methods or goals of the Weeping Angels. They’ve always been presented as only being driven to feed (and possibly multiply). Since it is never confirmed that this is what the Weeping Angel is doing this theory could be incorrect (it wouldn’t be the first time that the Doctor is wrong).

Yet ‘Time of the Angels/Flesh and Stone’ revealed that the Weeping Angels can be sadistic. Using the absorbed consciousness of the soldier Bob they taunt the Doctor, attempting to demoralise him.

It could be that Weeping Angels, once their hunger is sated, just enjoy torturing other species. Corrupting their values or simply ruining major events like this could be how they enjoy themselves. This can help give this particular monster larger goals.

Another possible motive is that the Weeping Angels can infect and convert anyone who witnesses them. It could be that this Weeping Angel is alone (particularly after the rest of its species were consumed by cracks in time) and is hoping to using the televised event to quickly replicate.

Given that a roaring crowd can be heard outside the TARDIS it does raise the question of just how the Weeping Angel was able to move without being quantum locked. One possible answer is that these events occur at the same moment in ‘Fear Her’ when those within the stadium vanished. This could give the Weeping Angel a small window of opportunity, with the sound of the crowd just being an echo.

The Doctor is able to despatch the Weeping Angel with relative ease using the sonic screwdriver. Since he has never used this tactic before or since this could be special situation. One reason for this might be that the Weeping Angel has entered the TARDIS. Its special nature with time could be weakened or eliminated here (meaning that an Angel couldn’t send someone into the past of the TARDIS interior).

The unresolved cliff hanger of the episode is the Weeping Angel reforming. This fits with the otherwise indestructible nature of the species. Even if the PCs believe that they’ve destroy an Angel there is the possibility that it could come back.

This opens the way for a future adventure following the events of this mini-episode. Does the Weeping Angel attack immediately or hide somewhere in the TARDIS? If this story does take place before ‘The Impossible Astronaut’ this could be the mysterious figure that many claim to see in the console room.

As a reward for saving the day the torch bearer gives the Doctor a gold medal. Putting aside the unlikelihood that a torch bearer would have such a medal to give out this memento could come back in a later story if the Doctor ever needs a source of gold to fight off a Cyberman.

At the resolution of the story the Doctor believes that they are still looking for adventure. Therefore he believes that the TARDIS didn’t purposely pick this moment to fulfil that criteria.

This allows you to set an adventure following these events. What would the Doctor consider an adventure? Amy seems to be happy that they are about to try again but considering that they were almost killed by a Weeping Angel might she not want something safer?

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