“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).

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“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 a 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 cold 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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brilliantbookThe ‘Doctor Who – Brilliant Book 2011’ certainly lived up to its name, as did the 2012 edition, and it is a shame that we didn’t get one for 2013. In addition to behind the scene information there were nice little pieces of fiction that fleshed out the first season of the 11th Doctor.

One of these sections was a page full of teasers for the future of the Doctor, delivered by the Dream Lord. Some of these hints came to pass, including the first instance of the words ‘the only water in the forest is the river’ which hinted at River Song’s true identity.

Not all of these hints did occur, at least not yet. This means they are rich in material that can be mined for your own campaign. Here are a few of the best:

Find The Lady Before She Finds You

This could refer to the card game, also known as three card monte. Players must keep track of the Queen of Hearts as three playing cards are shuffled. It is frequently part of a confidence trick, using sleight of hand and misdirection to ensure that the player can never select the correct card.

This might suggest an adventure in a deadly version of this game, with the PCs lives at stake. Alternatively they could goad the opposition into taking part in a game, with the fate of the world at stake.

It could also suggest an adventure in which the PCs are being hunted by the Lady, with deadly consequences if she catches them. Since the PCs are challenged to find her there must be some benefit to finding her first.

You could bring time travel into it, with the PCs hunting down a younger version of the lady. It could be that if they find this version they can prevent her from becoming a menace in the future.

“I Won’t Take Calls From THAT Prime Minister”

This probably refers to the Doctors habit of taking calls for help, so presumably this quote comes from him. We know this can’t be Winston Churchill so who might the Doctor not want to talk to?

This might refer to Harriet Jones, another prominent Prime Minister in the Doctor Who universe. Would the 11th Doctor still hold a grudge for her actions in ‘The Christmas Invasion’, especially after her sacrifice in ‘Journey’s End’?

It might also be Harold Saxon aka The Master. It could be that after being elected the Master found that as Prime Minister he had access to the Doctor’s phone line. He may not be able aware that it is the 11th incarnation that he is contacting.

Combined with the line “Margaret! Come Back!” this could suggest the call is from Margaret Thatcher. She would a controversial choice but 1980s London could be good time period to explore.

This could link with the line ‘4 August 1982 – Happy Birthday Ma’am’. The Queen Mother was born 4th of August so could indicate that she is also involved in the same adventure. This wouldn’t be the first time that the Royal family have been included in a Doctor Who adventure.

Regardless of who it is there is mileage to be gained from exploring why the Prime Minister is calling and what the consequences are of the Doctor refusing to listen to them.

“12 Years On And Rory’s Still Terrified of Granny Grainger”

This could add some much needed back story to Rory (who usually is only ever seen in context to Amy). Who was Granny Grainger and what did she do that terrified him? Why is this relevant now?

The simple route could be to have a monster that feeds on fear assume the form of Granny Grainger.

It could also be that Granny Grainger was unnatural, just as Ace sensed that there was something evil at Gabriel Chase. An adventure could be based around either encounter Granny again or travelling into the past to deal with her while Rory was young.

The Shuddering Brethren, They’ll Stick In Your Mind

An evocative line for a new race that you can introduce into your game. They could be the polar opposite of the Silence, a race that you can’t stop thinking about. This could take the form of obsession, worship or a form of infection (not unlike the Weeping Angels ability to convert others).

This could be linked to the line ‘“If I saw them walking down the high street what would I think?””I don’t think you’d think anything at all Amy.”’ This might mean that the Shuddering Brethren can prevent people thinking altogether.

The Bones Of The TARDIS

We have seen the heart of the TARDIS but what about its bones? This could refer to the structure of the ship, which would relate to its transcendental nature. While heart can relate to a things nature or motivation its bones usually relates to its fundamental basis.

Bones usually conjures to mind concepts of death. Finding the bones of the TARDIS could be something akin to finding its grave. What we see in ‘The Name of the Doctor’ is its outer shell meaning we might find the rest of its interior at some later point.

What Awaits The TARDIS At The Zero Point?

This is ominous and suggests that whatever is at the Zero Point it will have consequences for the TARDIS. This could be a good question for the PCs to learn ahead of time. It can lead them to speculate what Zero Point might be.

It could be when a major historical event occurs that causes huge changes (the zero point of that chain of events) or it could be a physical place (maybe the centre of the universe) or another dimension. It is so flexible it could be the name of trending night club.

PCs could either seek out the location to try and answer the riddle or try to avoid it (only to find that the words keep appearing where ever they go).

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“A space loop. Nothing can enter or leave this ship ever again.”

isthatwhatilooklikeBroadcast as part of Red Nose Day 2011 and later released as part of the 6th series box sets ‘Space/Time’ is an entertaining mini-episode that captures a lot of the themes of the 11th Doctor era.

Airing between ‘A Christmas Carol’ and ‘The Impossible Astronaut’ this doesn’t necessarily mean that it occurs between those two points. All we know that this is a point at which both Amy and Rory are travelling with the Doctor.

The episode begins with Amy asking the Doctor if they can talk. The Doctor prevents this by calling for Rory, leaving us to wonder what exactly she wanted to speak to him about. She could have been about to talk to him about her pregnancy, concerned what effect the TARDIS might have had on it or if this occurs after ‘The Impossible Astronaut’ she might have wanted to talk about seeing him die.

Learning that Rory is beneath the glass floor, interacting with the TARDIS console Amy asks if he is helping the Doctor fly it. Given that both the Doctor and Rory are making adjustments, rather than touching the controls it is more likely that they are carrying out repairs or maintenance.

It has already been establish that Rory has a fairly good understanding of scientific principles, if not any practical experience. It shows a great deal of trust for the Doctor (and the TARDIS) to allow Rory to take part in these procedures.

During this process the TARDIS enters conceptual space (causing the ship to hum). Conceptual space is traditionally where concepts (colour, taste, weight, etc) can be compared.

This could be a layer of reality where abstract concepts and ideas might exist. It could also be similar to the Land of Fiction, where unreal things can exist. Since the TARDIS is unable to make an emergency landing anywhere else but itself it could mean that conceptual space is empty (at least no physical safe place for the TARDIS to materialize).

When Rory drops a thermo-coupling the TARDIS makes an emergency landing, within itself. This is similar to ‘Logopolis’ when the Master envelopes the Doctor’s TARDIS trapping it in a recursive loop.

Presumably the TARDIS is enclosed entirely within its own pocket dimension. It can’t re-materialize in normal space because it can’t leave its own enclosure. The Doctor initially believes that nothing with be able to enter or leave ever again.

This situation could happen to any set of PCs that have their own TARDIS. There are many reasons why their ship might be forced to make an emergency landing and there could be dire circumstances in which it ends up landing inside itself.

If they do learn how to get out again this could be a good defensive manoeuvre, since not only would the TARDIS vanish from reality but nothing can get in. It is possible that there are other Time Lords who ended up in the same situation during the Time War and are just waiting for someone to get themselves out of the trap.

Their isolation is quickly ended when an Amy from the future arrives. This foreshadows the multiple Amy’s in ‘The Girl Who Waited’ not to mention future Amy’s first words echo her introduction in ‘The Big Bang’.

It is interesting that Amy is attracted to herself. Not only is she complimenting her own appearance the Doctor himself identifies that she is flirting. Yet she is offended when Rory considers the possibilities of having two Amy’s around.

The Girl Who Waited’ plays with this notion, with Rory being fought over by ‘present day’ Amy and ‘future’ Amy. It is also worth noting that the Doctor doesn’t raise the issue here that two Amy’s can’t co-exist (although he is keen to get ‘present’ Amy into the past).

Future Amy explains that the exterior of the TARDIS (which is currently in the console room) has slipped forward in time, so that if you step inside you’ll end up a few minutes in the past in the console room.

This drift could have interesting consequences in other scenarios. If the exterior drifts ahead those inside the TARDIS could use the scanners to witness themselves leave the box or observe events that are about to occur.

It could also mean that future incarnations or other creatures could enter the TARDIS exterior and arrive in the TARDIS interiors past. While the time difference is short here the same principle could mean beings from days, months or years in the future could enter the TARDIS. This could get confusing fast.

As with ‘Time Crash’ the distortion in time causes information to materialise from nowhere. Here future Amy explains the situation but only by remember what she herself said. This could be another example of time using such paradoxes to communicate.

This ties into themes of pre-destination, which will eventually come to a head in ‘The Angels Take Manhattan’ and end the relationship between the Doctor and the Ponds.

The Doctor is focused on making sure that Amy enters the TARDIS exterior at exactly the right point to stop the time line collapsing. Amy also checks with her future incarnation what her first line is. In contrast future Rory is able to convey a lot of information without memorising it, stating that it just happens.

This shows two different approaches to pre-destination. One in which time travellers artificially make things happen as they experienced them and one where the traveller allows it to happen naturally.

The Doctor manages to free them from the TARDIS with a controlled temporal implosion, resetting the ship. His only problem is that he doesn’t know which lever will control it and prevent them from dying.

He gets this information from a future Doctor who instructs him to pull the Wibbley lever. Since the Doctor pulls the lever and then dashes into the TARDIS exterior (to give himself the information) we can assume that if he’d pulled the wrong lever death would have been instantaneous (thus no future incarnation could have entered).

We might be witnessing an elimination of possible futures. In each version where the Doctor pulls the wrong lever  he and the Ponds die but in their near past only the Doctor who choose correctly appears. Therefore it only appears as if he is creating a paradox by giving himself that information (when in truth it was a process of elimination).

From the perspective of those in the console room the TARDIS exterior dematerialises. The implosion is not noticeable at all (possibly used to fuel its escape). The fact that it was temporal implosion could be mean that the time differential was consumed.

Another option to escape a similar situation could be to brutally sacrifice one version of the TARDIS control room (and its crew). Since the problem is that the TARDIS has landed in itself, removing its surroundings could allow it move on.

In short, if either the present or future TARDIS were destroyed its counter-part could escape. PCs could have to make a tough decision about which version gets to live. True, with only a few minutes to separate them the difference is meaningless but that will be small comfort to those who are about to die.

Posted in 11th Doctor, Space/Time | Leave a comment

“Oh, Davros, I am far more than just another Time Lord.”

tauntingdavrosIn ‘Remembrance of the Daleks’ Davros attempts to belittle the Doctor by stating that he is just another Time Lord. The Doctor retorts that he is far more. There are several ways this can be interpreted, which can impact upon your own campaign.

The Cartmel Masterplan

The easiest way to take this is how it was probably intended, as part of the Cartmel Masterplan. I’ve discussed this here but in short this was an attempt to restore some mystery to the Doctor.

Lungbarrow’ eventually revealed that the Doctor was the reincarnation of The Other, a mysterious figure from early Time Lord history. This scene and a cut scene from ‘Survival’ were supposed to hint at this.

The cannonity of this is in doubt, so you are free to ignore it if you wish. Its only real impact is to give the Doctor a previous life that extends before his 1st incarnation, giving you much more history to explore.

An encounter between the Doctor and the Other could make for a good adventure, a way to explore his true origin. The Doctor might also come across the consequences of the Others actions or have to recall his past life.

An Experienced Time Lord

The Doctor’s confidence could simply come from his experience. Indeed, the thrust of his conversation with Davros is that he has defeated him every time they have met. The Doctor is simply pointing out that he has done far more than any other Time Lord.

We already know how capable the Doctor is but this interpretation casts a different light on his people. It suggests that no other Time Lord could hope to equal what the Doctor has done.

This could very well be true, given that when the Doctor dies the stars blink out off existence but when his people are erased by the Time War the rest of the universe doesn’t notice.

PC Time Lords are the exception to this, or at least they should aspire to be. If this is the way you interpret the Doctor’s words the PCs should always feel like they are special, that no one else can do what they are doing.

The Elite

The Doctor began his message to Davros by announcing his titles, including being President Elect, Defender of the Laws of Time and Protector of Gallifrey. The Doctor could therefore just reiterating that he isn’t a common Time Lord but a higher social class.

While the Doctor never seems too concerned about status it obviously has a place within the culture he grew up in and certain incarnations certainly think they are better than the common man.

If this interpretation is correct then the Doctor thinks that his status entitles him to interfere in affairs of others and people like Davros should know their place. This can be a subtle bit of motivation for those playing the Doctor.

You could take it further either in another incarnation of the Doctor or another Time Lord who puts a lot of emphasis on his title. If the Time Lords exist in your campaign then a PC could be motivated to curry favour and increase his standing.

Servant Of The Guardians

Having worked for the White Guardian in his 4th incarnation the Doctor could believe that this elevates his above being a Time Lord. The novels also suggest a close connection with the gods of Gallifrey, such as Time. This is a Doctor who works for higher powers.

The Doctor does spend his 7th incarnation vanquishing gods or godlike beings (from Fenric to the gods of Ragnarok to Light). Compared to them someone like Davros is beneath him. The Doctor’s retort could be his way of making his old enemy know that he has outgrown him.

This approach could be a good way to signify that the Doctor is ascending. No longer on the back foot or forced to perform damage control here the 7th Doctor manipulates Davros into destroying his own planet, as if it was a game.

Later incarnations of the Doctor or PC Time Lords might go through a similar character growth (especially if they’ve improved their character during the course a campaign). They are now ready to deal with bigger threats, as long as they don’t become one themselves.

The Man Who Saved Gallifrey

If any Doctor is likely to remember the events of ‘The Day of the Doctor’ it is the 7th. Every instance of his foreknowledge and manipulative nature could originate from his encounter with his future selves and knowledge of what will happen (possibly telepathically linking minds or stealing data from their TARDIS).

This knowledge could have been lost once he regenerates, his 8th incarnation personal time stream delinking from his future incarnations. For the moment though the Doctor knows just how important he is.

This can add another layer to the 7th Doctor’s background. He has access to all this knowledge about what is going to happen but knows that he only has a brief time to do anything about it.

Far More…

Time Lords are far more advanced than a human. They are near immortal, vastly more intelligent and have mastered space and time. The Doctor could be indicating that he has exceeded his own people.

We are never shown exactly how these advancements might manifest. A clue might lie in two extraordinary abilities displayed in this very story, namely teleporting in the van so he can switch places with Ace and later healing her with a touch.

If these are not common abilities of Time Lords the Doctor this could just be the tip of the iceberg. Is this the result of his years of time travel, a gift bestowed by a higher being, an indicator that he is from the Time Lords future (and thus further along their evolutionary track) or that he was never a Gallifreyan to begin with?

Do later incarnations of the Doctor possess these same advanced abilities? Might they have been reset when the 11th Doctor was granted a new cycle of regenerations?

Time Lord PCs might similarly discover they are becoming far more than a Time Lord. How do they react to this and do they reveal their new capabilities?

Posted in 7th Doctor, Remembrance of the Daleks, Setting | Leave a comment

The 50th Anniversary Trailer: Part 4

The 10th Doctor

10thdoctorruinAway from the conflict surrounding his previous incarnations is the 10th Doctor. In front of him is what could be a younger War Doctor.

Has the 10th Doctor stumbled across this moment, is he coming to the rescue or is he standing here to hold back the enemy forces?

If it is War Doctor before him and this prior to ‘The Day of The Doctor’ his cold gaze could be because he is encountering an incarnation of himself he has tried to forget. All of this could be an unwelcome reminder of the Time War.

The 10th Doctor seems to be surrounded by the ruins of London, including St Paul’s Cathedral and the Shard. Earlier in this sequence there were shots of Big Ben, with Dalek ships overhead.

It could be that this battlefield has caused massive damage to London (which would have lasting consequences) or that this sequence occurs during the Dalek’s occupation of Earth. Either scenario has potential.

To the 10th Doctor’s right is Bessie. Could this be how the 10th Doctor arrived here. Possibly he obtained this from UNIT, suggesting that he might have conferred with them before heading into the fight.

It might also mean that the 10th Doctor has already met with the 3rd Doctor. While the 3rd Doctor dealt with the Master in the TARDIS the 10th Doctor borrowed his old car to get to where he was needed.

The presence of the 9th Doctor leads to the potential of he and the 10th Doctor meeting. How would the 9th Doctor react to those who would follow him? While it is unlikely we’ll ever have this shown on screen this could be good to play through in your own adventure and might explain his acceptance of his regeneration in ‘Parting of The Ways’.

11th Doctor


Even more distanced than the 10th Doctor is the 11th Doctor, standing atop a peculiar stone edifice inscribed with a symbol in high gallifreyan. The stone itself reminds me of the Aztecs.

What is this structure? Is it part of the reshaped London landscape or is it elsewhere, a perch from which the 11th Doctor is watching the crisis?

Behind the 11th Doctor we see the Golden Gate bridge, which is located in San Francisco. Not only is the city where the 8th Doctor was born (and thus might be vulnerable to attack) but where the universe almost ended.

The incident could have weakened reality or left a scar, not unlike the rift in Cardiff was caused by the events of ‘Boom Town’. This might allow the 11th Doctor to see events occurring in different eras.

San Francisco is also where the Master was pulled into the TARDIS eye of harmony. We never learn how exactly the Time Lords were able to resurrect him after this demise. It could be that their efforts to free him caused these events or at least put events in motion.

If the disembodied Master was alive within the TARDIS could he move back through its time stream and contact his earlier self. Might this explain the Master’s presence in the 3rd Doctor’s TARDIS?

Once again segments of the key to time are very prominent in this sequence. It could be that the 11th Doctor has finally managed to gather them all, to deal with the situation, just as in ‘Day of the Doctor’ he spends all his lives solving the problem here he is the culmination of his past incarnations efforts.

Most importantly it is the 11th Doctor that finally moves, as if the whole universe was holding his breath waiting to see how he would act.

“Our future depends on one single moment of one impossible day. The day I’ve been running from all my life.”

The 11th Doctor narrates the trailer and it is easy to see how the dialogue could refer to what occurred during the Time War and how using the Moment to save Gallifrey will affect his future.

In the context of the images in the trailer it could mean something quite different. Firstly when he refers to ‘’our future’ is he talking generally or specifically about the future of the various Doctors?

When we see him act at the end of the trailer is this the moment that he refers to? It seems quite likely that this is the climax of the story, his choice of the sonic screwdriver an act that will save all versions of himself.

If this was a television episode I would have the majority of the trailer at the start of the story and then flashback to reveal how this situation was arrived at before revealing exactly what the 11th Doctor was aiming at, high above him.

The Doctor calls this an impossible day which might suggest a 24 hour framework for the adventure. It could also mean that there is only one day in the whole of time that could allow these circumstances.

The fact he has been running from this moment his whole life could indicate that all the Doctor’s have retained knowledge that this was going to happen. That each incarnation knows there will be a moment where they will be caught up in these terrible events.

It could be that they don’t know how the 11th Doctor saves the day, or whether he is only able to return them to their own time stream. It could be a continual concern that they get ever closer to the incarnation that will have to save them all.

If you do choose to base an adventure around the trailer then this can give the players some respite. Rather than running the adventure in one go you can have each incarnation return to their own life, pondering how things will turn out.

This can allow you to have overlapping scenes, which can reveal more information from the perspective of the other Doctors. By the time you reach the 11th Doctor they should have good idea about what is happening and how to resolve it.

Posted in 10th Doctor, 11th Doctor, day of the doctor | Leave a comment

The 50th Anniversary Trailer: Part 3

5th, 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th Doctor

7thdoctorweepingangelThe next scene in the trailer is harder to analyse as we are presented with a chaotic battlefield, upon which the various Doctor’s are surrounded by their enemies.

There are two ways we can interpret this. Firstly this could be symbolic. Just as there isn’t a tunnel leading from Foreman’s junkyard to the Himalayas the battlefield represents individual battles taking part in different time periods.

Secondly that the various Doctors are on the same battlefield. This could take place once they have worked out that someone is attacking their earlier incarnations and managed to gather together to face their enemies.

The 7th Doctor is being pursued by a Weeping Angel. This could be where he first learns of them, explaining how the 10th Doctor knew so much about them. Does this Weeping Angel plan to kill the Doctor, infect him or transport him in time? Might the manipulative 7th Doctor already have a plan?

The 5th Doctor is throwing a cricket ball. Is he attacking an enemy or using the ball to activate a device? Could he have been snatched through time during a cricket match? He is apparently oblivious to a lightening blast that is coming from either a Silence or possibly Davros.

The 6th Doctor is either shocked by something or possibly holding up his arms to stop the 9th Doctor, who is looking back towards the other incarnations. The clash of egos between the 6th and 9th Doctor would certainly be entertaining.

The 8th Doctor seems to be out of harms way, with none of the monsters directly focused on him (aside from the Racnoss lurking in the background.) This is a pre-Time War version of this Doctor so the impact of encountering the War Doctor could be great.

The Companions

8thdoctorautonThroughout this sequence we see numerous companions, although alot less visible than the Doctors. We open with Sarah Jane Smith, K9 and Clara but Rose and Amy Pond are also there. There is a definite bias towards New Who in this selection.

Just when each companion originates from raises some interesting questions. As we’ve already discussed whether Sarah Jane Smith has witnessed the Doctor regenerate creates many possibilities.

Similarly what version of Clara is this? It could be the version that recently travelled with the 11th Doctor or one of the many versions that splintered through time. If it is the latter this strengthens the possibility that this is all a consequence of the Great Intelligence trying to attack him throughout time.

Did Rose come here with the 9th or 10th Doctor? If this is post ‘School Reunion’ she might have some questions about why Sarah Jane Smith didn’t mention they met before (possibly suggesting that these events won’t be remembered). It’ll also be a chance for her to meet Sarah Jane in her prime.

This could also be Rose after she left the Doctor’s company. Whatever crisis has occurred could once again have weakened the barriers between realities, allowing her to cross over. Potentially she could also have brought the half human clone of the 10th Doctor along.

Of course this might not be Rose at all but a manifestation of the Moment. Could she be invisible to everyone but the War Doctor again or will she take part in events? She appeared to have some awareness of future timelines and this chaos could be disrupting that ability.

Amy Pond could be from several distinct periods in her life. She could be accompanying the Doctor when they first began travelling. If she still has strong feelings for the Doctor how will she react to meeting other incarnations of him.

If Rose also is in love with him at this point then there could be conflict between her and Amy. Both have shown to themselves to be jealous. Rose in particular found it hard to take that there had been other women in his life before her. How will she react when she finds there are women after her?

If this Amy during those early years the cracks in time that she is partially responsible for could have created or exasperated the current situation. This could be a good way to link that story arc into this epic multi-Doctor story.

Set after ‘The Pandorica Opens’ and/or ‘The God Complex’ the absence of Rory is troubling. Was he simply not caught up in events or is he in trouble somewhere? Might he be about to arrive to rescue his wife?

What if this was Amy post ‘The Angels Take Manhattan’? This could be a reunion for her and the Doctor. It also creates the potential risk that if he can’t return her to New York the city will be destroyed by the paradox.

With so many past companions why don’t we see more of them? Especially since most of the companions present travelled with the 9th, 10th and 11th Doctors. This opens the possibility that rest are either captured or on a mission of their own.

It could be that the 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th Doctors have sent their companions to rescue their earlier incarnations. They could have divided into several groups to rescue the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th incarnation.

This gives you a wide range of companions to mix and match. Who will be selected to lead each group? Who will rebel? Who will cause trouble? If Turlough is present is he still under the sway of the Black Guardian and a potential traitor?

This could be a real chance to have the companions save the Doctor for once. If the Doctor is the target of everything that is happening it is possible that the mastermind behind it all has overlooked the companions, giving them a real chance to exploit this oversight.

Posted in 5th Doctor, 6th Doctor, 7th Doctor, 8th Doctor, 9th Doctor, day of the doctor | Leave a comment