“So, you and that bloke in a box. You do this sort of stuff a lot?”

tinymanDue to the exterior of the TARDIS shrinking in ‘Flatline’ the Doctor spends much of the adventure trapped in his time machine. It is Clara who takes his role, out in the field, waving the sonic screwdriver around and taking charge.

The surprise is that this works really well, allowing the 12th Doctor to concentrate on solving the mystery. It has been well established by this point that not only is this Doctor not very good at dealing with people he doesn’t seem to enjoy it.

He, or a Time Lord with a similar temperament, might make this a permanent arrangement. Now we know that any TARDIS can be shrunk and made light enough to be carried there is no reason for companions to ever be without him.

If the Time Lord was happy within their TARDIS they could spend their downtime between adventures pottering away. When adventure calls the companion can simply carry the TARDIS in their bag, allowing tools and gadgets to be passed to them through the doors.

This might also be a good way to get around the problem of a Time Lord who is not physically capable, either due to age or injury. They could still help save the world from the comfort of their bed.

The Time Lord might have no choice about being in a shrunk TARDIS. This could be due to a technical failure or a form of punishment. This could be part of an on-going plot thread, with the Time Lord working to free themselves.

A shrunken TARDIS could change its exterior to make it easier to transport. This could be handbag or briefcase but it might be even smaller. It could be disguised as a wrist watch, pen or lucky charm. Something that wouldn’t arose suspicion if the companion carried it around for extended periods.

The concern would be that someone might take the TARDIS or it could be lost, which is what happens in ‘Flatline’. The difference being that as long as it had enough power the Time Lord could simply pilot the TARDIS back to the companion.

During the episode the Doctor ‘hacks’ Clara’s eyes so he can see what she sees (without her consent). We can only hope that he severs the connection or he’d be able to spy on her at any time. An ear piece allows them to communicate, completing the connection

It is possible that a Time Lord might have multiple companions or agents linked to their TARDIS. This would allow him to see and hear what is happening in multiple places while coordinating their efforts from the TARDIS control room.

This group of companions could span the universe or be placed throughout time, only activated with the Time Lord is in their vicinity and needs their help. This setup might be akin to the comic ‘Global Frequency’ (and many of ‘Global Frequency’ stories would fit Doctor Who).

Hooking up a companion in such a manner might also be a good safety precaution. Companions have a tendency to get captured or lost. It prove very useful for a Time Lord to find out where they are and give them guidance, no matter their circumstances.

A particularly mysterious Time Lord might recruit people without their knowledge. He could install his cameras and ear piece while the unwitting companion slept only to awake with an unknown voice telling them how to help those around them.

Identifying the owner of the voice and where and what their TARDIS is could be an ongoing mystery for the PCs to solve. Dare they ignore the strangers warnings when his information turns out to be correct?

If the Time Lord prefers more direct contact it is possible that they could arrange for their exterior doors to open up around head level. It could take the form of a box that opens to reveal their disembodied head, recalling Dorium’s fate in ‘The Wedding of River Song’. A more alien Time Lord might not understand why this disturbs others and embarrasses their companion.

The Doctor can provide instruction but he still needs Clara to do a lot for him. This puts a further emphasis on the companion, making them far more important to the story. They aren’t just following the Time Lord around, they are vital to the investigation.

Companions can take the initiative, ignoring the Time Lord in their ear to do what they think should be done. This could cause tension, especially if things don’t turn out as planned.

While the companion is doing the physical stuff and interacting with the locals the Time Lord can concentrate on deciphering the mystery. They could use the TARDIS memory banks to research the situation, analyse samples in the TARDIS labs or spend time building a gadget to defeat the monsters.

It would be important to ensure that they had plenty to do, even if they aren’t in the thick of the action. The sheer amount of resources available in their time machine might make things much easier for their companions as they’d always have the information they needed or the right tool to hand.

Time Lords who prefer to take the lead in physical action could establish the reverse of this situation. They might keep their companions within the safety of a portable TARDIS, leaving it to them to do research and spend time in the labs, safe from the terrors of the universe. Such a Time Lord might assemble a crack team of experts for any field, making up for his own lack of intelligence.

Once the situation has been resolved the TARDIS could either grow larger enough to whisk the companions to their next adventure or the Time Lord could retreat back into their solitary existence, awaiting for the next disaster.

PCs could encounter another Time Lord who has this arrangement. It could be that since the Time War he has shielded his presence by remaining in his own TARDIS. Now he might have a phobia about leaving the safety of its confines.

A sinister villain might collect miniature TARDIS and their trapped Time Lords. They could be a collector or they might treasure the knowledge the Time Lords can bestow. The villain might be posing as a hero, only for the PCs to learn the true source of his world saving skills. They could run the risk of joining the collection.

Posted in 12th Doctor, Flatline | Leave a comment

“You are monsters. That is the role you seem determined to play.”

monstersOnce in the tunnels in ‘Flatline’ the Boneless become three dimensional. They still wear the form of their victims. Their bodies have gaps and the move with a lumbering gait. Their name comes from the observation that they appear to be hollow inside. Their movement judders, with their form occasionally blurring. This indicates that they are still made up of much smaller components.

Why is it that they assume this new form? Certainly it shows further mastery of dimensions but if their goal is to eliminate the humans they are pursuing this is not the most effective way to do it. Indeed, they might have more success using stealth, as they did with George and Stan.

It could be that they want to inspire terror. They also might find it easier to navigate the 3D environment using 3D avatars. As we learn there are several layers to the train tunnels and anticipating that they might have to go up and down these human forms could help them.

If the Doctor has come to the wrong conclusion the Boneless could be trying to take on human form to better communicate with these 3D creatures. By appearing as them they might hope to improve their relationship.

It isn’t clear how many of the Boneless have made the trip into our world or if they can only manifest one avatar per victim. Certainly we don’t see multiple copies of the same victim in the horde but if they are only an imitation there is no reason why this should be the case.

Starting with Clara and Risby’s encounter with the Boneless at Mr Heath’s house the Boneless demonstrate an ability to reduce three dimensional inanimate objects into 2D. This appears to be their favoured tactic to confine their prey.

The fleeing group find that the Boneless have already flatted several of the doors that lead off from the tunnel. Did the Boneless anticipate that prey might try to escape here and plan ahead? This seems unlikely given that appears to be some distance from their usual hunting ground but could indicate that they are so highly intelligent that can foresee such circumstances.

It could be a sign that the Boneless are able to move very quickly. Once they realised the group were entering the tunnel they were able to get ahead of them, flatten the doors and then approaching from behind in 3D.

The isolation of the train tunnels could have been a future experiment. If the Boneless were indeed looking for a cross section of the population targeting a train carrying a mix of passengers could serve their purposes. Later we see that the Boneless are capable of compressing a train so it could be that their plan was to immobilise its engine and prevent the humans from escaping in the tunnels.

This conversion of 3D objects into flat 2D could be a means to gain the extra dimensions the Boneless need to become three dimensional. Stealing dimensions from the TARDIS appears to give them a huge boost in energy.

Without the presence of a TARDIS the Boneless might be much less powerful. Only by claiming more victims could they increase their power. This could give PCs more time to track and eliminate the Boneless, knowing that the more people who die the more powerful the Boneless would become.

The Boneless appear to be able to work together and pool their energy, as when they trying to bring Risby’s painting into 3D. Potentially this means that a group of well feed Boneless could convert whole buildings or cities into 2D.

What is apparent is the the Boneless can’t sense what dimension something could be. This is why Clara’s ruse works. Instead the extra dimensional energy the Boneless are pumping out goes into the nearest ‘drained’ 3D object, the TARDIS.

The Doctor creates the 2Dis to unflatten doors so must work on a similar principle. He never suggests that Clara use the device on the TARDIS so it either wouldn’t have worked or the idea never occurred to him. It is possible that such a device would need to drain three dimensions in order for it to restore dimensions to something else. If PCs find themselves in a similar situation they’d have to find a suitable donor to drain from before they could restore their own TARDIS.

The trick with the painting could expose another blind spot in the Boneless’ understanding of 3D space. There were examples of art and photos in previous victims homes. Did they believe that these were real things, compressed into two dimensions? Might they have imagined that humans found this practice acceptable or that this odd race stripped others of their dimensions and then displayed trophies of this act in their homes?

Having decided that the Boneless are monsters the Doctor banishes them back to their own dimension. He indicates that there is a good chance that they might not survive the trip back, as they shed their stolen dimensions.

The question is what happens next? Were the Boneless the only living organisms in their dimension and if none survived does that mean the Doctor carried out an act of genocide? If there were more of their species and none of their explorers returned would they mount a rescue mission or make another attempt years later? If some of the explorers survive what would they be able to communicate about their experiences and their encounter with the Doctor?

While it is doubtful that the universe at large becomes aware of this realm of the 2D (given that the Doctor believes this is the first time the theory has ever been proved) PCs could encounter the Boneless again.

They might try a more subtle approach or invade in mass, flattening wide areas. If this was all a horrible miscommunication they might be able to explain what happened in the future. This could have consequences for the Doctor, as he discovers that he acted too rashly.

Now that the existence of the 2D world has been proven PCs might want to explore there. If they can find a way to survive the transition this could be an exciting and weird new place to explore. It might also be a handy way to hide from threats in the 3D world.

Posted in 12th Doctor, Flatline | Leave a comment

“Are we really hiding from killer graffiti?”

bonelessThe big question ‘Flatline’ is how aware the Boneless of their actions. We’ve already seen that there have been attempts at communication, emulation and camouflage. What might be the reason that the Boneless from the mural might pursue Clara and the community workers?

This could simply be a response to a perceived attack, in this case the attempt to paint over them. As a 2D entity being covered by the paint could be seen as a means of confinement or an attempt to smother them. Their pursuit and subsequent attack is thus retaliation.

If the Boneless are indeed attempting to infiltrate then their attack could be a means to eliminate those who are obviously aware of their presence, just as they targeted the victim in the teaser only after he attempted to warn others of their existence.

This could be a continuing part of their experiment. The mixture of age, gender and race amongst the community workers and Clara could be perfect to test the Boneless various theories about humanity. The scenario could specifically designed to see how different humans react to the threat.

The presence of the TARDIS itself might also be a factor. It is demonstrated several times that the Boneless are draining energy from the TARDIS. Each time they do the TARDIS shrinks or its systems shutdown while the Boneless gain new abilities. If true the Doctor has once again put others in danger just by being there.

The Doctor attempts to communicate with the Boneless through mathematics, using pi as a basis. The Boneless are able to respond, transmitting a chirping sound which the TARDIS translates into numbers.

The first number is ‘55’ which Rigby believes relates to the number of the community workers wear. Stan, the recent victim in the underpass, was 55. This could be true and either be the Boneless gloating, as Fenton believes, or an apology, as Clara suggests.

They might also be referring to the 55 that hangs on the wall next to George. Indeed his number is ‘22’ and they absorb him next. While this could again be the aliens taunting the group it might also be the Boneless describing their path across the room.

Aside from this the Boneless don’t appear to be able to communicate. None of them speak and we can’t be sure that they understand anything that is said to them. If they are truly alien the TARDIS might not be able to translate the Doctor’s speech for them, leaving them entirely puzzled by the whole affair.

Unless brought into the 3D world by another agency the Boneless must have enough intelligence to add dimensions to their own. While they are shown to drain power from the TARDIS they have been active in the area before it arrives so they must have been able to make that first step themselves.

If you wanted to tie the Doctor more closely with the creation of the Boneless it could be supposed that the TARDIS was coming from the past into the present. As it passed through the last few weeks as it approached its destination the Boneless first got their taste of its dimensional power and realised they could use it to shift into 3D. This would explain why the TARDIS exterior has already shrunk by the time it lands.

While the Boneless later demonstrate the ability to alter dimensions physically it must be remembered that this is done only through the avatars of their dead victims. This need not be a natural ability. If it were one would think that such encounters were more frequent.

It is possible that the Boneless are making use of some 2D technology which is never seen (and might be integrated into them). This technology could be part of their snake like form we initially are shown, since it is three dimensional (rather than truly flat).

It could be that the technology is only a minor step for the Boneless, it is the understanding of dimensions that is the important part. Much like block transfer calculations learning the principles allows them to control their own reality. The Boneless are slowly learning more about our world and the more they learn the more they can do.

In only a few hours the Boneless go from near invisible flat beings to being able to create 3D humanoid forms. They are not restricted to just copying forms either, as they are able to create a giant hand to snatch one victim away.

This might appear to be rapid progress but we have no idea how the Boneless view time. Indeed they are able to rapidly dissect PC Forrest and manage to absorb Stan and George before they can make a noise.

From their perspective much more time could be passing. To them this period of development could take days, weeks or months. This extra time to contemplate and interpret what is happening could compensate for their lack of experience with this new realm.

The accelerating rate of their abilities is almost certainly due to the TARDIS. Somehow the Boneless are able to remotely draw upon its power remotely. They seem to be able to do this from quite some distance, although the Doctor initially believes that Clara can move it out of range when he senses the Boneless during their investigation.

Could their ability to interact with the TARDIS reveal a connection to Gallifrey and the Time Lords. We know very little about the actual process involved in making the TARDIS bigger on the inside but some of the books indicate that there is a threshold bridging the exterior and interior dimensions.

While both of these dimensions are three dimensional in theory the same threshold could be used to pass from a two dimensional space to the three dimensional. The Doctors flippant remark about needing to diet to get to the 2D plane could indicate that three dimensional creatures would be crushed if they went there but there is no reason that 2D beings, such as the Boneless couldn’t make the trip the other way.

The Boneless could be the equivalent of bacteria, growing within the TARDIS threshold. The Time Lords might have experimented with other dimensions and stumbled across the 2D plane, only to find that they couldn’t access it but their influence still allowed the Boneless to be aware that other life existed.

In their own realm the Boneless might be the equivalent to the Time Lords. Indeed their power over the three dimensional could make them as god-like to two dimensional beings as the Time Lords’ mastery over 4 dimensions was to other races.

To Be Continued….

Posted in 12th Doctor, Flatline | Leave a comment

“And I name you The Boneless.”

DW 12 Ep9In ‘Flatline’ the Doctor encounter an alien race from a two dimensional plane. Until now the very existence of such a dimension was only a theory and this would appear to be the visit contact that anyone has made with such beings.

The Doctor eventually name them Boneless but there is much about them that is still a mystery. Through much of the episode there is a question of their motivation, with the Doctor hoping that they are just explorers who don’t realise the harm they are causing. By the end the Time Lord has come to the conclusion that they are monsters and banishes them.

The Boneless initially manifest as several flat creatures that slither along flat surfaces. We might assume that each line is an individual member of the species and that they hunt in packs but it could equally be hordes of small entities assembled in a line or one single organism.

By the time that the TARDIS arrives people appear to have been disappearing in Bristol for several weeks, enough time for makeshift memorial to be placed at the underpass and for people to think that the police were never going to investigate.

The first incident occurs at the home of Mr Heath. Later the disappearances are confined to the Estate. Mr Heath is the first person reported missing but that doesn’t mean there weren’t victims before him. The Boneless might have first made contact with animals before moving on to humans.

We know little about Mr Heath. Was he the first victim by chance or did he do something that attracted the attention of the Boneless? Could it be that he made contact with them first or deliberately brought them into a higher dimension.

There is no evidence to indicate that he was a victim of the Boneless, only that he is missing. Certainly there is no indication that he was dissected. This could lead to future encounters involving the mysterious Mr Heath and the other horrors he brings into our world.

After Mr Heath why did the Boneless turn their attention to the estate? Could it be that the higher population density of humans in the region was more suited to their needs? The cross section of humanity could have helped them understand how three dimensional beings live.

PC Forrest learnt to her peril that the Boneless were still infesting the home of Mr Heath. Could it be that they never left? This could mean that the Boneless at the Estate are a different group of explorers or that consuming Mr Heath allowed the Boneless to procreate, sending their new spawn to colonise a new area.

The Boneless don’t just kill people at the estate. They manifest what appears to be graffiti depicting tire traces and hand and foot prints. The Doctor later theorises that this was an attempt to communicate, since these tracks are how a two dimensional being would view our world.

If the Doctor is correct did the Boneless perceive these 2D symbols before or after they breached the 3D dimension? If it was before it is possible that the divide between worlds is thin, that the Boneless had seen these traces of our world for eons. If it was after it could be that their world is entirely separate from our reality.

Did the Boneless manifest these images before or after they began absorbing people? Could it be that they were testing to see if the humans were intelligent and when they didn’t get a response move on to an experimentation phase?

We know that Rigsby was at least one graffiti artist on the estate. What would the Boneless have made of his marks on the walls? Could this have been perceived as an attempt at communicating? Might the graffiti have been interpreted as a threat? Certainly those Boneless posing as a mural lash out when the community workers attempt to paint over them.

The mural in the underpass is revealed to actually be where the Boneless are gathering, wearing the shapes of those they have killed. It could be that the choose the underpass as a good place to watch the community come and go. It would be a good place to hunt but most of the kills we are shown occur in the victims home.

Initially all of the mural figures have their back turned to the viewer. Could this be how the Boneless perceived their victims, indicating that they were attacked while walking away or on their backs (with the Boneless absorbing them from the ground they lay on).

It might be that it is easier for them to imitate the back of their victims since they still have trouble with human features. Their later, juddering forms lack expression, indicating that they haven’t mastered this and so it is easier for them just to not show the face.

Once their presence has been revealed this flat figures do ‘turn’, showing that the Boneless have grasped some of the principles of perspective. At this stage each individual melts into a mass of transparent snake-like creatures that swarm forward.

The Doctor will later suggest that the Boneless were on a mission of infiltration. If the time travellers hadn’t arrived it is possible that with enough time to observe their targets they could manifest on their own in 3D, wearing the faces of the dead.

Since their victims are considered to be only missing, not dead, they might have been able to impersonate the departed. Their loving friends and relatives could have welcomed them with open arms, allowing the Boneless to gather more victims or learn more about Earth.

PCs could encounter a situation like this, where the Boneless have successfully achieve this stage of infiltration. They’ll need to work out what the Boneless plan next while working out how they are going to convince others that the missing haven’t returned after all.

To Be Continued…

Posted in 12th Doctor, Flatline | Leave a comment

“There were many trains to take the name Orient Express, but only one in space.”

trainMummy on the Orient Express’ takes place at an unspecified time period. The impression given is that it is sometime in Earth’s future but the passengers need not be human.

Voyage of the Damned’ establishes that there is a race of human looking aliens elsewhere who have fascination for Earth and its history.  This could be a similar tour, this time emulating the experience of the Orient Express. In which case this adventure could take place in the early 21st century, the Doctor taking Clara on a trip through space not time (making her phone call to Danny less complicated).

The Orient Express itself travels through space on hyperspace ribbons. Hyperspace, a concept once dismissed as absurd by the 4th Doctor, typically is a different plane than normal space. Since the Orient Express does appear to be in normal space it could be that rails are the only thing in hyperspace, allowing it to move faster than the speed of light.

It isn’t clear if the train is generating the hyperspace ribbons itself and if it is whether it has to follow a set route or whether it can lay down new hyperspace ribbons to navigate. If the train doesn’t create the hyperspace ribbons did another party have to lay the route and are these rails regulated?

Quell indicates that anyone who spreads rumours about the deaths will be let off at the next station, indicating that the train does stop along its route. The writer revealed that in the original outline the train stopped at several wonders of the universe.

This is important if you want to set further adventures on the train. It gives you the opportunity to take the PCs to a variety of exciting locations, with a few hours to explore before the train takes them on to their next destination.

The passengers on the train all dress and act in the style of the 1920s. Either this is reflective of their culture or they are trying to stay in period to get the true Orient Express experience. If the latter were true they are certainly dedicated, staying in character even when people start dying.

Notably the passengers and crew all appear human. This would suggest either that this culture doesn’t mix with other species or they are not rich enough to afford passage on the train (and their presence as staff would lower the tone).

The culture does employ cybernetics and Mrs Pitt makes use of Excelsior Life Extender chair. The medical equipment revealed in the lab later is able to complete rapid and thorough medical scans. The fact that no one is surprised by its functions would indicate that it is an established piece of medical equipment.

While the lab equipment probably isn’t standard it would make sense for the train to have some medical facilities or at least one member of staff with medical training. There does appear to be a doctor to attend to Mrs Pitt but he could just be part of the group of experts that were assembled to study the Foretold.

Many of the crew and passengers were actually hard light holograms. This would suggest that they have a physical presence but were projections. Quell is surprised by this so this isn’t standard but if the technology is available it would make logistical sense to use it. It would mean that there could be staff on call 24 hours a day and they wouldn’t need to eat or sleep.

Most likely the hard light holograms could only be projected within the train itself. This would prevent a train from being entirely staffed by holograms, as carrying bags and supplies on and off the train would be necessary at their stops.

We can be reasonably sure that the kitchen staff were alive, since one falls victim to the Foretold and the rest are ejected into the cold of space. Why were they real when most of the other staff were holograms? Could it be that artificial creations lack the ability to cook?

Gus is an example of this cultures level of AI. It isn’t clear how much of the direction that he gives to the captured scientists and his methods to coheres them comes from his own programming and how much is being remotely instructed to him by his master.

When the deception is revealed Perkin suggests that the vanishing guests might have been taken by a teleporter. He might have been theorising but it sounds as if that technology does exist in this culture. Did the train have a teleporter in case someone fell off the train or the passengers needed to make an emergency escape?

Historically Quell indicates that there was a war, one in which his squad was bombed. The fact that he escaped without a scratch indicates that it wasn’t weapons of mass destruction that were used in this conflict. Given the 1920s feel of the era this war could be very similar to World War I. The injuries caused by the conflict could have led to the increased use of cybernetic technology.

The Orient Express and the culture provided allows for many 1920s style adventures but within the context of a science fiction setting. A campaign could be built around the adventures of the crew and passengers, with a rotating cast of NPCs.

Just as with the original Orient Express exciting events don’t just occur at where the train comes to a stop. Galactic events, such as further conflicts, could change or close routes that the train takes.

In addition to murder mystery plots, which ‘Mummy on the Orient Express’ sort of emulates, but it could be the good basis for a disaster adventure. Technical failure and sabotage could leave the train stranded, with dwindling life support.

An adventure could concentrate on the drama and tension resulting from a group of strangers forced to spend extended periods with strangers, even in the luxury of the Orient Express. Things can get very tense if two parties who have every reason to hate each other find themselves sharing a dining car with their enemy.

Posted in 12th Doctor, Mummy on the Orient Express | Leave a comment

“Can I talk about the planets now?”

blackholeDuring what is supposed to be their last adventure in ‘Mummy on the Orient Express the Doctor mentions various alien worlds. Clara isn’t very interested but they could serve as inspiration for your own adventures.

Magellan black hole

The Orient Express offers passengers a majestic view of the Magellan black hole. The dark centre is surrounded by a swirling cloud, which could be gas or the remains of planets. The Doctor remembers that region of space as having planets as far as the eye could see and calls the black hole a beast.

The Doctor could just making a joke but a solar system with a high number of planets that were eventually all destroyed by a black hole would make a good setting for several adventures, exploring each of the worlds and charting their history as they approach oblivion.

The black hole could have occurred naturally or it could have been artificially created. It might have been created as a weapon by one of the planets, dooming everyone else or it could have been used by an outside force. It could be that the planets created a strong alliance that had to be ended.

If we take the the Doctor’s comments literally then the black hole could be a creature that only resembles a black hole. Once it had consumed all that remains of the planets might it move on to other star systems?

All the planets the Doctor mentions could be the worlds that were destroyed. Certainly he describes them in the past tense and Maisie confirms that Thedian Four was destroyed thousands of years ago (although that would suggest that it orbited a star called Thedian).

Just as likely is that the Doctor has just gone on a tangent, just talking about random planets to either silence Clara or to entice her into continue travelling with him.

Obsidian

A planet of perpetual darkness. The lack of light could be due to a lack of bright star in the planet’s solar system or it could be that the sky is constantly covered by cloud. Obsidian is produced by lava flows so it could be that volcanic ash blotted out the sun.

It could be that the planet itself has a unique property to absorb light. This would mean that no matter what illumination is brought to its surface there would still be constant darkness.

If such a world was capable of sustaining life there several races might see the appeal of using Obsidian to make their home. The Vashta Nerada would find it an ideal environment to thrive in. It could be that Obsidian was covered in forests, the air thick with the Vashta Nerada swarm.

A lack of light would mean an inability to see, which would suit the Weeping Angels. If others were unable to see them then there would be no risk of being quantum locked. Even if other races brought artificial light sources the Angels have the ability to neutralise them.

The Silence might eventually decide that they don’t want to be forgotten any more. Only those who see the Silence forget them, so on a world where no one can see anything they might be remembered.

A world of perpetual darkness would be a good location for covert or military installations. It could be that the world not only absorbs light but other signals that could give its presence away.

It might also serve as a haven for those who are blind or who have disfigurements. Obsidian would allow them to exist in an environment where everyone is on equal footing, unable to see.

In the Doctor Who universe there could be diseases that make it dangerous to view the infected subject. This might be a disease that turns victims into gorgons, changing anyone who gazes upon them into stone. Obsidian might be the best place to hide such afflicted people away.

Shrub World

Shrubs are similar to trees, distinguished by their multiple stems and short height, so a world of shrubs is no stranger than the forest moon of Endor. Some shrubs are capable of growing into trees so the Doctor could just be amused that none of these plants do.

Thedian Four

The constant acid rain didn’t stop the Doctor from having a nice picnic here, although he did have to wear a gas mask. According to Maisie it was destroyed thousands of years ago and the Doctor doesn’t dispute this.

Acid rain is produced by emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide, combing with water particles in the atmosphere. This can occur naturally through a combination of lightening strikes and volcanic eruptions. If this is the case on Thedian Four constant acid rain would such a planet with constant electrical storms and volcanic activity.

Pollution is much more commonly the cause of acid rain. This could mean that Thedian Four’s environment was ravaged by its native population or colonists. The environmental damage caused could be the basis for an adventure concentrating on the consequences of pollution.

Acid rain can poison and kill plant and animal life. It can wipe out fish and insect life which could further damage the planets eco-system. It can damage the composition of soil, making it more difficult for plants to grow, especially food crops.

PCs might have to save a race from extinction or help those who are starving. When their very environment is killing them what do the PCs do? They might attempt terraforming or move who they can to other worlds.

Acid rain can erode metal and stone structure, which means that Thedian Four could be a good place to oppose robots, cyborgs and beings made of stone (such as the Weeping Angels).

Posted in 12th Doctor, Mummy on the Orient Express | Leave a comment

“What’s the most interesting thing about the Foretold?”

mummyThe central threat in ‘Mummy on the Orient Express’ is the Foretold. This supposedly mythical being can only be seen by victims. Once it appears the victim has 66 seconds before the mummy-like being touches them, killing them instantly.

Ultimately the Doctor discovers that the Foretold is a soldier from a long-forgotten war 5,000 years ago. The Doctor believes that he was wounded but was filled with equipment to keep him going.

Specifically it has a state-of-the art phase camouflage. This is why it is invisible to everyone and can pass through solid objects. It stays ‘alive’ by similarly moving its victims energy out of phase, this takes 66 seconds and is why they can see it. This draining effect makes it painful for the victim to look at the Foretold.

Potentially, since the phase shifting of the energy occurs at a distance, the Foretold doesn’t actually need to touch the victim to make the transfer. This can’t be confirmed because the Foretold also has a personal teleporter, able to move right next to the victim at the crucial moment.

The immortality resulting from this energy drain would be valuable technology. The only downside is that it kills the energy donor but there is no reason that it needs to come from sentient races. It is easy to imagine that large livestock could provide the same sustenance. Even if it does requiring intelligent races to work there are many who wouldn’t have a problem with that.

A whole society could be transformed by such an implant. This would create a vampiric race, feeding on others for energy. If the Time Lords were still around this could lead to a new crusade against vampires.

The downside is that the Foretold can’t turn it off. It continues to drive him to feed on others, no matter how weary he is. This could be a problem for any society that adopts them. Turning the implant off could be akin to suicide and prevented by the government or the rules of decent society. This could allow an adventure that explores the issues of the right to die.

The teleporter would appear to compensate for the slow pace of the Foretold. Part of its injuries could be to its leg and rather than fix the damage they just gave it the ability to jump to where it needed to be.

Through examination of the victims chosen by the Foretold the Doctor comes to the conclusion that it is picking off the weak. This includes those who are psychological issues and physical trauma.

Part of its technology must therefore be scanning, both physically and mentally, nearby lifeforms to decide who is next. The Foretold appears to have limited intelligence as the Doctor is able to fool it into think he is Maisie by copying her mental trauma and injecting it into himself.

The real question is why this might be. The Foretold is a soldier, programmed to stop if its victims ‘surrender’ which indicates that it views them as an enemy force. If it can target anyone why pick the weak? Wouldn’t it make more sense for it to target the strongest, thus weakening the enemy?

Tactically wounded or weak soldiers drain resources. It could be that the race that designed the Foretold wanted to prolong combat or only face the best of the best in battle. Thus the Foretold was actually helping them.

The Foretold was anchored to what the Doctor believes is a flag. Could it be that this cloth material has some kind of beacon that the Foretold can follow. Did his creators use this to control where he went? Could it be that this is just the last remnant of his race that he just follows through time.

The Foretold similarity to a Mummy is due to being covered in tattered cloth. When it was first created he might have totally been covered. These bandages might have had some healing prosperities, helped preserve its body or provided protection from spending extended periods out of phase.

His body is covered in symbols that are similar to those that can be seen on the flag. These could be for decorative purposes, provide a name and rank for the solider, identify what the Foretold is or be part of its programming.

Physically the Foretold appears humanoid. It is 5,000 years old but the uncertain timeframe of the space Orient Express doesn’t rule out it being human. Could there have been an Egyptian themed empire that posed such powerful technology that was eventually forgotten?

While the Foretold is eliminated at the end of ‘Mummy on the Orient Express’ there could be more. The legends of the Foretold could be so prolific because there are many invisible, shambling corpses in various corners of the galaxy. Certainly an army with the capability to turn a wounded solider into a killing machine that can last thousands of years would have done it more than once.

Of course it could be a prototype. The conflict in which it was wounded could have eventually led to the demise of its people. It would be the only one of its kind, without anyone to dismiss it (until it met the Doctor).

Yet some of the legends were correct in that there was a way to bargain with the Foretold. When the Doctor does this it disintegrates shortly afterwards. This would suggest that this couldn’t happen more than once.

It is possible that the creators of the Foretold do or did exist long enough to spread some information about their creation. If it was bound to the flag they might have lost track of it and tried to advise other races what to do if they encountered it. After thousands of years those words of warning were turned into half remembered myths.

It could be that the only reason that the Foretold disintegrated was because the Doctor said it was relived. Possibly others did surrender to it and the Foretold then left, awaiting new enemies.

Posted in 12th Doctor, Mummy on the Orient Express | Leave a comment

“We’d stopped going into space. Nobody cared.”

shuttleIt is revealed in ‘Kill the Moon’ that it took 10 years for anyone to investigate the missing Mexican mining survey because there wasn’t a space program. The only shuttle they had to go to the moon was recovered from a museum.

This is a startling change to established Doctor Who history, which has generally seen a continued interest in space. Even if the public is some how not aware of the existence of aliens that doesn’t explain why governments and organisations such as UNIT wouldn’t see a need to expand into space.

The Sarah Jane Adventures episode ‘Death of the Doctor’ establishes that UNIT have a moon base in 2010 (where Liz Shaw is stationed). ‘AHistory’ argues that the colony on Vulcan shown in ‘The Power of the Daleks’ is in place by 2020. ‘Waters of Mars’ establishes that there is a healthy space program establishing Project Pit Stop and sending unmanned probes throughout the solar system.

The events of ‘Kill the Moon’ are put in motion by a Mexican mining survey in 2039. It would seem strange that Mexico were the only country to still have space technology, even if it only came from the private sector.

There are multiple reboots and rewrites of history during the 11th Doctor’s era that could explain this discontinuity. It could be that as a result the space program of various countries was seriously reduced.

This could explain why the British Space Program of the 3rd Doctor era isn’t represented in the 21st century setting. Similarly if the alien invasions encountered by the 9th and 10th Doctor never happened then the world might not see the urgency to reach beyond our world.

It might be that there were surveys of the moon that revealed there were no minerals there and thus not worth investigating. Only those without this information or who were desperate would bother to go through the trouble of launching a mission there.

Alternatively this could be a deliberate attempt to cripple humanities path into space. This could be the result of a malevolent time travellers (such as the Master or the Meddling Monk). It could also be the result of a time traveller from the future who has decided that space travel is a bad idea.

There are many alien races who might see the advantage in preventing humanity from developing space travel. Races like the Ice Warriors would certainly not want humanity to reach Mars, let alone the planets beyond.

Several races could band together to contain the human race within the solar system. It could be that humanity has gained a reputation just through their talent of repulsing alien invasions. Now the other races fear what will happen when the humans come to their worlds.

PCs could encounter aliens or time travellers sabotaging various countries space programs throughout the late 20th and 21st century. This could be a good opportunity to get the PCs to encounter important astronauts.

The change to history could be a result of the Doctors actions. One possible alteration could be the alliance with the Zygons in ‘The Day of the Doctor’. The exchange of technology could have diverted focus of space travel to concentrate on bio-tech and the colonisation of the sea floor.

Given the new attitude of the 12th Doctor this could be a deliberate attempt by the Time Lord to confine humanity to Earth. He might have decided that after thousands of years that humans only cause problems when they go to other planets. In his old age he might just be getting lazy and find it easier to visit his favourite species if they are just on one planet.

The Doctor indicates that after the moon dragon emerges there is a renewed interest in space travel that allows humanity to spread out and last until the end of time. One of the first things to be done is the exploration of the new moon.

This creates an exciting new period for the PCs to get involved in. It could be that all the previous Doctor Who stories set in the future have now been erased. It is completely new territory for the PCs to explore.

Now humanity is aware that their moon contains a living creature there would likely be debate about whether they should let it live, even if the last moon dragon proved harmless. They would still know that when it hatches it will cause a natural disaster but maybe the fact it won’t happen for millions of years would make that a low priority.

Study of the egg and the moon dragon could give humanity a better understanding about space and alien beings. Using biotechnology gained from the Zygons they could create living ships based off the basic design of the moon dragon.

Considering the sorry state of the space program, since they seem to be unable to build a new space shuttle in 10 years, they could turn to captured alien technology. UNIT and other organisations might share knowledge of this science to allow it to be used in new spaceships.

There would have to be a new recruitment drive for astronauts to crew these vessels. PCs could be part of this crew or have their TARDIS land on one of these vessels during their maiden voyage using experimental technology.

This could allow you to combine Doctor Who and Star Trek style adventures. During this era the PCs carry the flame for this renewed era of space travel. If they fail it could set back the space program and not making new discoveries could mean that people loose interest.

Posted in 12th Doctor, Kill The Moon | Leave a comment

“An innocent life versus the future of all mankind. We have 45 minutes to decide.”

decisiontimeThe crux of ‘Kill The Moon’ is the ethical decision whether to kill the moon dragon or let it hatch, possibly destroying the Earth.  This can provide drama and some interesting ethical discussion in an adventure.

The basic situation is that the main characters only have a choice between two possible outcomes. In this case either they nuke the moon or they don’t. It is the consequences of these actions that add weight to the decision.

Another element is the time limit imposed upon them. It is long enough for them to have some debate but not too long that they can delay making a decision. The longer they debate it the less time that they have.

Clara, Courtney and Lundvik don’t have all the facts makes the decision more difficult. They don’t know for sure that the moon dragon will adversely affect the Earth but they also don’t know that it won’t.

Such dilemmas can create feelings of guilt since those making the decision will determine who lives and who dies. In their minds they will be responsible for those deaths. In truth at least one option would happen anyway if they weren’t there.

In order to make the decision participants have to weigh up the pros and cons. They have to argue their case and try to convince others. When only PCs are involved in the decision making process such scenes should just be roleplaying. When NPCs are present Presence could be used to sway them, Ingenuity used to present clever solutions or Resolve to resist their own arguments.

Clara attempts to let Earth has a say in the decision, setting up a rudimentary voting system in which people can turn their lights on or off to show whether they want the moon dragon to die.

PCs might not want more people knowing about the decision, especially if it could cause panic. They’d have to make sure that if they do tell people that they are given accurate information. They could also find that answering questions takes up what precious time they have left.

As time ticks away those who feel that the wrong decision will be made can take drastic measures. If Lundvik had a different temperament she might have held the time travellers at gunpoint or just shot them if she felt strongly enough that the button should be pressed.

Clara decides to take matters into her own hands, ignoring Earth’s population, and shutting the countdown off. This shows that ultimately it might not matter what is said during the debate, only who gets to push the button.

Mindful PCs could take steps to stop such a decision arising. If those involved can’t be trusted to agree to a vote then they might agree to an arbiter or an impartial figure not affected by outcome.

There are many variations to the debate featured in ‘Kill The Moon’. Examples include:

  • There is only enough medical supplies for 1 of the 2 neighbouring space colonies. The PCs must decide who gets them. This could involve weighing up the qualities of each colony.
  • 2 alien species are stranded on a planet about to be bombarded with a solar flare. With their oxygen supplies running low only the PCs can save them but not only are the races hostile to each other they can’t share the same environment once brought on board. Only one group can be rescued. With the races of the aliens affect the PCs decision?
  • A TARDIS is discovered at the heart of a sun, orbited by a human colony. Inside the TARDIS is a trapped Time Lord, who could possibly free Gallifrey. Helping the TARDIS emerge from the sun would cause the star to explode, destroying the colony but if they don’t act in the next hour the TARDIS will be destroyed.

The quality and/or quantity of the lives saved or destroyed can be an important part of the debate. In ‘Kill The Moon’ it is the perceived innocence of the moon dragon as a baby (and the last of its kind) versus the whole of the human race.

In other scenarios it could be the value of a child’s life versus that of a surgeon, political leader or technical genius. The PCs could have to decide whether a young criminal deserves to be saved so he has a chance at redemption or if he should die to allow an old war hero to survive (for however long he has left).

There could be an investigative angle to the debate, with the PCs using what time they have to learn more of the facts before they make their decision. This could throw up all types of revelations about who they are trying to save and what the consequences of their actions will be.

PCs might decide that they aren’t the right people to make the decision. Clara argues that it should be the President of the United States that makes the decision but the Doctor points out that the President isn’t there, they are.

Not long after the Doctor departs because he doesn’t feel that he can make the decision. After all he isn’t human so what right does he have to determine the future of Earth? Interestingly he does let Clara and Courtney make this important decision even though they are time travellers potentially changing history.

If PCs do decide they can’t make the decision who do they give the responsibility to? This could lead to a race against time to find worthy candidates and brief them on the situation. They could also have to prevent the wrong people from making a decision before they can arrange this.

Having PCs make really important decisions can help them shape your campaign world. Further adventures could take them into the future they’ve created. This can help them explore whether they did make the right decision.

Once they have made a decision their adventures and problems aren’t over. There could be those, with hindsight and plenty of time on their hands, who think that they made the wrong decision. Worse the PCs could be viewed as monsters or criminals.

This can be part of the burden, knowing they had to make a tough decision when no one else could.

Posted in 12th Doctor, Kill The Moon | Leave a comment

“Clara, there are some moments in time that I simply can’t see.”

greyareasA reoccurring issue with time travel in Doctor Who is that the main characters should know how things turn out. Sarah Jane Smith in ‘Pyramids of Mars’ is confident that Sutekh won’t destroy the Earth in 1911 because she is from the 1980s and Ace wonders why she hasn’t heard about the Daleks invading London in the 1960s in ‘Remembrance of the Daleks’.

A similar situation arises in ‘Kill The Moon’ where Clara believes that the moon won’t be destroyed because they’ve visited the future and the moon is still there. Her suggestion is that they just leave because everything will work out.

The Doctor indicates that he doesn’t know what will happen and gives possible explanations of what the moon they’ve seen in the future was. He goes on to explain that he can’t tell what happens to the moon because that hasn’t been decided yet.

The impression given is that this is an embarrassing confession and also hints that the Doctor views time differently. Presumably all Time Lords experience the same phenomena, which could have an impact on your own campaign.

The Doctor describes this in terms of being able to see time. Specifically he states that ‘litte eye blinks’, that things don’t look the same as other things. They are fuzzy, unclear and grey.

Later, when the decision has been made, the Doctor closes his eye and is able to relate how these events lead humanity to spread across the universe. It is as if he is watching the new timeline unfold before him.

Previously we might have believed that the Doctor’s knowledge of history comes from experience or things he has learnt. This new information would indicate that rather he is ‘looking’ backwards or forwards. This could apply to his own personal timeline.

This might be why the Doctor suggests that the moon they’ve encountered in the future was a hologram or a picture despite the fact it couldn’t possibly be because his 2nd incarnation was on the surface of the moon after 2049 (just to cite one example). At this moment the Doctor doesn’t remember those events possibly because he never remembers anything, he only looks.

These blind spots could explain moments in which the Doctor doesn’t recall things he really should. For example he isn’t sure if the events of ‘Aliens of London’ is when humanity first makes contact.  At that moment history is in flux and he is incapable of remembering his past experiences of 21st history because his mind doesn’t work that way.

This could explain why in multi-Doctor adventures each incarnation doesn’t retain the memory of going through the experience as their younger self (with the exception of ‘Time Crash’). At those moments his ‘little eye’ has blinked and he can’t see his past or how things turn out. The talk of merging and untangling timelines is just to cover this mental flaw.

The TARDIS usually takes the Doctor to moments where his presence (or that of his companions) affects the outcome. Any knowledge the Doctor should have about those events is locked off to him until things are resolved. The reason he refuses to leave until this is done is not because of the web of time but because it would leave him blind to time.

The exception are fixed moments in time. These would be events which aren’t in flux unless history was massively rewritten. These would be akin to big landmarks, easy to from a distance. This explains why the Doctor retains his knowledge of how major historical events will play out even while they are still occurring around him.

The web of time is less an essential part of the structure of reality and more of a roadmap for Time Lords. They need fixed points to follow the paths history will take. If those thing are changed they become lost and confused.

We could interpret the collapse of history in ‘The Wedding of River Song’ as occurring almost entirely in the Doctor’s mind. The only real events are those at Lake Silencio when River changes a fixed point by refusing to shoot the Doctor.

When that happens the 11th Doctor’s ability to see past and future is disrupted to the point where he sees everything happening at once. This isn’t actually occurring, rather his brain can no longer interpret what is around him. Only by restoring that fixed point does his ability to perceive reality return.

It possible that a Time Lords can bring a future into focus while events are in flux the more likely it is they’ll exist. In ‘The Curse of Fenric’ the 7th Doctor is aware of the toxic world that the Haemovore will unleash but he doesn’t have to have visited it. At that moment, when Fenric was so close to succeeding, he could see that future ahead of them.

Similarly in ‘Pyramids of Mars’ the blasted wasteland that the 4th Doctor shows Sarah Jane Smith could be a projection from his mind, thanks to the TARDIS telepathic circuits, showing what he can see with his ‘little eye’.

The Doctor obviously has some awareness of when those events resolve, even when he isn’t present. The moment that Clara makes her decision not to detonate the nuclear weapons the Doctor arrives to rescue them in the TARDIS. Where ever he was his vision must have cleared to allow him to navigate to that moment.

This interpretation drastically changes how Time Lords should be perceived, making them far more alien. While they give the impression that they know things about the past or future they are actually reliant on what they can see, which can be affected by events around them.

Gameplay wise this could be justification for a Time Lord to be able to spend Story Points to be allowed some insight into what is going to happen based on current events. The GM can refuse, indicating that things are still in flux.

The difficulty of piloting the TARDIS can also be increased when events are in flux. This can persuade PCs to resolve a situation before they leave. It could also be an adventure hook, with the Time Lord finding that the path through the vortex is unclear until they’ve landed and resolved an important flux point.

It could be that the Doctor’s piloting skill didn’t increase. Rather once he actually started to get involved he was able to see more clearly, revealing new routes to take through history. Indeed the 3rd Doctor’s exile might actually have been a way for the Time Lords to map out the events of the 20th century, rather than just being a way to repel alien invasions.

This allows a campaign to be as much about exploration as it about defeating the bad guys. Each time they resolve a situation they discover a little more of history, making it easier to reach the next unexplored territory.

Posted in 12th Doctor, Kill The Moon | Leave a comment