“Save Danny. Bring him back or I swear you will never step inside your TARDIS again.”

volcanoWhat happens when a companion goes bad? In ‘Dark Water’ Clara is grief stricken when Danny dies. She refuses to cry and comes up with a coldly calculated plan. She tricks the Doctor into taking her to a volcano, gathers up his 7 TARDIS keys, drugs him and threatens to throw all the keys in the lava unless he agrees to her demands.

While the scenario that plays out is just a hypnotic suggestion it is clear that Clara would go through with her threat, throwing all the keys into lava. In her mind she has denied the Doctor the use of his time machine forever. Not only that but given their proximity to the volcano and the likelihood they are on an alien world she has probably just sentenced them to death.

Is there much difference to her tactic than that of Melody in ‘Let’s Kill Hitler’?  At least Melody was more honest about her intentions, pointing a gun at the Doctor and making him choose between death and changing history.

It could be argued that Clara is acting out of character due to her grief and that she knows the Doctor can change time. She knows that he wouldn’t agree and so has taken steps to ensure his co-operation.

The problem is that this behaviour stems directly from her nature as a control-freak. She demands that others obey her no matter the consequences. That is who she is and no matter the circumstances this is how she behaves.

Clara explicitly states that she doesn’t give a damn about paradoxes. ‘The Angels Take Manhattan’ makes it clear that a paradox is not just confusing but potentially devastating to the surrounding area. Innocent people would be harmed or killed if the Doctor was to agree to change history and Clara doesn’t care.

At this point Clara’s selfishness is putting others in danger. At this point she is a villain who wants to achieve her goal no matter the cost. She is exactly the type of person that the Doctor normally opposes.

The Doctor forgives this behaviour, even though he calls it a betrayal. He says that he cares too much about her for that to make a difference. The problem is that the Doctor has much wider responsibilities than to his friend.

As one of the last Time Lords (at least while the others are trapped) he is the only one who can protect time. He also has responsibility to prevent his time machine from doing harm to the web of time. At this point Clara has revealed herself to be a liability.

If he had agreed to her demand to prevent the accident what would have happened? It is possible that this would result in the same scenario as ‘Father’s Day’. Their earlier selves would have been erased and Reapers would have started devouring everything until Danny died. Alternatively the dire warnings of ‘The Angels Take Manhattan’ would occur and the paradox would destroy part of London.

PCs could become involved if either event occurred. In investigating the cause they could find it is due to the Doctor agreeing to Clara’s demands. They might have to go back earlier to warn the Doctor or give him the idea to search for the afterlife instead.

Characters might find out that they are responsible for abusing time travel in the future. Could a Time Lord PC allow a companion to remain with him if they knew that they’d threaten to kill them or take an action that would damage time? How would the companion reacting knowing what they’ll do.

The Day Of The Doctor’ indicates that the Doctor’s companions are interviewed. Clara apparently passed this screening process but should she have? Shouldn’t a psych evaluation have predicated this disturbing behaviour if she suffered an emotional loss? Would the Doctor reveal how close he came to dying due to his companion betraying him?

A UNIT campaign could focus on these psych examinations, both for established and new companions of the Doctor. What if the PCs detect some worrying personality traits in a companion? Can they persuade the Doctor to reject the companion?

This would be a tragic way for a heroic Time Lord to die. After facing off against so many mad men and monsters it is their own friend who ends up killing them, just because they don’t get their own way.

An adventure could explore a diverging timeline in which the scene by the volcano is not an hallucination. What if the Doctor died leaving a grieving Clara behind? What if the PCs either stumbled across her or received a distress call (maybe using the external phone of the TARDIS to contact them)?

How would the PCs react to Clara and what she has done? What would the universe now be like without the Doctor? What would Missy do now she doesn’t have anyone to give her Cyberman army to?

Eventually the PCs could put history back on track, maybe merging Clara with her past self. This could be part of the reason that Clara decides to part ways with the Doctor. Maybe part of her remembers just how close she came to killing him.

Posted in 12th Doctor, dark water | Leave a comment

“Photos with the big metal men–one pound!”

selfiesIn ‘Death In Heaven’ we are given an example of how the 21st century population now react to the presence of Cybermen in their midst, they take photos of them. The Doctor also believes that rather than being terrified when the roof of St Paul’s cathedral opens up to reveal more Cybermen people will be excited.

Kill The Moon’ and ‘In The Forest Of The Night’ also has examples of the youth of the 21st century being indifferent or more interested in social media at best when confronted with  the alien or strange.

Missy certainly isn’t surprised by this behaviour as her plan didn’t need to account for the panic of the public. She knew they’d accept their presence. This indicates that she is by now very familiar with how people in the 21st century react.

This radically changes how most adventures in the 21st century will play out. Aliens and monsters can walk around in broad day light and as long as they aren’t attacking anyone people will accept their presence.

People will likely rationalise their presence, believing it to be a gimmick, performance piece or marketing ploy. This can allow non-human aliens to operate much more openly, removing the usual obstacles that prevent them from carrying out that their plans.

This would normally make detecting their presence much harder for the PCs and organisations like UNIT. Luckily social media means that people are likely to upload photos and video clips of things they find noteworthy.

The challenge would be to shift through the vast amount of media being shared and identify the real alien presence amongst the actual fakes. Luckily the PCs will likely have experience with the genuine article (or records of them) to help with the identification process.

A campaign could be based around a team (either as part of UNIT or a separate organisation) searching the internet for actual alien contact. This could send them all over the country, trying to make sense of what the aliens are up to from a single, grainy photo or shaky 5 second video clip.

The willingness of the public to disregard the presence of aliens makes UNITs job of covering up incidents much easier. The downside is that anyone trying to convince the authorities or the public they’ve seen something from another world is going to face a lot more scepticism.

Presumably the police and other emergency services wouldn’t be contact either. Unless the aliens are causing public disorder or committing crimes patrolling police officers would likely walk right past them.

You could play this for laughs with a would-be alien invader finding that the public don’t take him seriously. Aliens could find it very difficult to maintain control if every time they appear the public react with amusement and want to take their photos with them.

A darker take would be aliens exploiting this compliancy. They let people believe they are harmless until they are in key strategic positions. Things can get even worse if they infect others, using their contact to spread quickly through a population.

In The Forest Of The Night’ the Doctor suggests that humanity has a gift for forgetting major incidents. While this is useful for maintaining the status quo so that the setting remains similar to our own reality it is a worrying aspect of the public mentality.

PCs might find getting witness accounts of traumatic events caused by aliens more difficult if they are all in denial that it ever happened. Those who do remember might be ostracised, classed as mentally ill or imprisoned.

A campaign could focus on PCs who do remember something terrible while the rest of the public has forgotten. Their shared experiences bring them together as they try to work out what really happened and prove that they didn’t imagine it all. A major plot milestone might be when UNIT or the Doctor confirm that they aren’t crazy.

These mental blind spots could explain why history doesn’t record alien invasions. If you establish that people will always forget, no matter how much evidence remains, you can have significant alien encounters during any historical period.

Eventually the publics attitude to the strange and their ability to repress memories would need to change. At some point in history they establish contact with other alien races and become part of the galactic community.

PCs might have to help humanity during these early stages of first contact. Aliens might find humanity quite rude if they either refuse to believe they are real or forget about them when they leave.

There could be an unnatural cause for this behaviour. It might be that the presence of the Silence has trained humanity to forget the sight of aliens. It could be some other agency that wants the public to forget.

One culprit might by Torchwood and its use of Retcon to make people forget. If they’d been using for a long time it might have entered the water supply or a branch of Torchwood could be putting it in medical supplies. Another agency (alien or otherwise) could use similar drugs to keep the population docile. The rejection of anything that disturbs their world view could be a side effect.

Whatever the source the PCs could investigate and develop a cure. Would there be hidden memories that come rushing back? How would the population react to this secret part of their lives returning?

Once cured the public could then accept and interact with aliens in a meaningful way.

Posted in 12th Doctor, Death In Heaven | Leave a comment

“You are the Chief Executive Officer of the human race. Any questions?”

boatoneDeath In Heaven’ reveals that in the event of full-scale invasion an Earth president is inducted immediately, with complete authority over every nation state. Their conclusion that the only practical choice was the Doctor.

This obviously has ramifications for an adventure featuring an alien-invasion from 2016 onwards. Even if your campaign doesn’t feature the Doctor it gives some insight to how the world governments now react to invasion.

Firstly is the conclusion that the Doctor is the most practical choice. In the past he has been treated with suspicion due to his alien origins so it is surprising that the majority of voters decided that a non-human could be trusted to protect and lead humanity.

There is also the assumption that the Doctor will be present during an alien-invasion. While true that he is frequently on hand during a crisis this isn’t always the case. Indeed Torchwood ‘Children of Earth’ indicates that he isn’t always present during alien incursions not to mention future invasions such as those depicted in ‘Dalek Invasion of Earth’ or the references to the Martian or Cyber Wars.

Should there be an alien invasion resources would have to be spent trying to locate the Doctor. While we’ve seen that in the 21st century surveillance and phone tapping has been useful to locate the Time Lord this can’t always be relied upon.

UNIT PCs could find themselves assigned to locate the Doctor during an invasion. They could have little to go on and there is always the chance that he isn’t actually there. This really stacks the odds against them with a very short time limit.

It could be that rather than searching for the Doctor they send a message to him, perhaps using the space-time telegraph. This would force the Doctor to be on call, responding whenever there is an invasion.

Kate Stewart is very specific in that the Doctor is only Earth President while on the plane, Boat One. This condition could be in place to ensure that his powers are limited to the duration he is onboard and prevent him from leaving unexpectedly.

The world leaders are waiting for his orders, which does mean that in order for this to work communication systems need to be in place. We never see the Doctor make use of this authority so we don’t know how effective it was.

One can imagine that following the events of ‘Death In Heaven’ that the various world leaders were dissatisfied that they received no guidance or support from the President of Earth.

If the Doctor wasn’t available or they decided to vote him out of office who would they choose instead? No world leader could be trusted not to exploit the role to favour their own country (aside from Barack Obama given his reputation in ‘End of Time’). Indeed, as an outsider, this is something that the Doctor had in his favour (although he still focused on the UK).

Timelord or alien PCs could be good alternative candidates, especially if they have a proven record of foiling alien invasions. This could be a good permanent position for stranded or exiled PCs.

It is possible that someone from UNIT might make a good selection or someone that has studied previous invasions and has come up with new strategies to deal with them. Someone smart, charismatic and trustworthy could secure the position.

A campaign or series of adventures could be based around a prolonged alien invasion that takes months or years. The PCs could take the role of the Earth President, world leaders and their support staff.

While every nation has agreed to follow the orders of the Earth President in theory what would happen in practice is they disagreed or his choices would negatively impact their country? What if they felt one country was receiving more aid or that they were sacrificing too much?

This could lend a more political edge to an alien invasion story. How do the PCs save the world while still maintaining diplomatic relations with other countries? Once the invasion is rebuffed how do the individual countries rebuild and heal from the damage caused? Will the Earth President retain his position or will there be a new vote?

Putting so much power in the hands of a single individual is also potentially dangerous. If they were killed it would be a huge blow to morale and disorganise the world. The flying Cybermen surely exposed the tactical flaw of an unescorted plane so how else do they protect the President of Earth?

There is also the danger that the Earth President could be impersonated by a shapeshifter or that they have their own agenda. An adventure could be based around a false invasion engineered to allow the Earth President to take over the world.

PCs can discover just how long this new position remains as they explore the future. When dealing with future alien invasions they discover who the current Earth President is during the crisis.

This could be a good way to keep the Doctor in the background. The focus can remain on the PCs because the Doctor is currently occupied leading the world, requiring them to be on the ground dealing with things directly.

Posted in 12th Doctor, Death In Heaven | Leave a comment

“She exploits the wealth and the mortal remains of selected idiots, so she can create a whole new race of Cybermen.”

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until: 28/10/2014 - Programme Name: Doctor Who - TX: 01/11/2014 - Episode: n/a (No. 11) - Picture Shows: *STRICTLY NOT FOR PUBLICATION UNTIL 03:00 HRS, TUESDAY OCTOBER 28TH, 2014* Cybermen - (C) BBC - Photographer: Jack BarnesDark Water’ introduces a new model of Cyberman. It is likely that Missy acquired their technology from the same era depicted in ‘Nightmare In Silver’ and modified them.

The chief difference is that the Cybermen can now convert others without the need of a cyber-mite or lengthy surgery. Further more they no longer require living organic material to create a new Cyberman.

Designed to be controlled these Cybermen are not as intelligent as their immediate predecessors. Newly resurrected Cybermen are also likely to be disoriented and disorganised.

Missy created a process to upload the minds of the dead into the nethersphere. Here the subject is prompted into deleting their emotions to spare them the emotional pain they feel from their physical body.

Not all subjects make this choice and when downloaded into their new cyber body find that their emotional inhibitor is not activated. This can be activated manually by anyone but the cyberman.

Since full conversion is now a choice it is more likely that there will be rogue Cybermen, free to make their own decisions. Potentially such a Cyberman could be a PC.

Dark Water/Death In Heaven Era

Awareness 2 Coordination 3 Ingenuity 3 Presence 3 Resolve 4 Strength 7

Traits:

Armour [Major Trait]

The cybermen have created a slim armoured body made of an unknown metal. Their armour reduces damage by 25 points.

Cyborg Immunity: Cold/Disease [Major Good Trait]

The modifications made to their organic bodies have rendered these cybermen immune to cold and disease. Their chest units provide them with oxygen, even in a vacuum.

Detachable [Major Good Trait]

A limb does not need to be physically linked to the Cyberman body for it to be controlled. They can either detach their head and control their body independently. For each limb which is operating independently a cumulative –1 modifier is applied to all their rolls.

Flight [Major Good Trait]

Due to rocket boots Cybermen can fly, using their arms to stabilise themselves. They are capable of going at least as fast as a commercial plane. They use this mobility to reach optimum height for pollination, move to strategic positions and intercept aircraft.

Gadget: Scanner [Major Good Trait]

A chest mounted unit can scan a subject, scanning them to ascertain their identity. It is unknown if this information is gathered from the Cyberiad or from the memories of the resurrected.

Hive Mind [Major Good Trait]

Part of the Cyberiad all Cybermen are linked together by a wireless network. This version of the Cybermen do not have a Cyberplanner, instead following the orders given to whoever wields the control bracelet.

A Cyberman can only gain access to the Cyberiad if their emotional inhibitor is engaged. Without this they must make Resolve check against a Difficulty of Hard (18) to ask one ‘Yes or No’ question from the Cyberiad.

Immortality [Major Good Alien Trait]

Thanks to suspension technology these Cybermen were able to survive for a thousand years, without their organic components dying. As long as they have access to their technology a Cyberman is virtually ageless.

Infection [Major Good Alien Trait]

A Cyberman contains Cyber-Pollen. Every particle contains the blue-print to build another Cyberman. If a particle makes contact with compatible living, organic matter it can convert the host into another Cyberman, covering them in circuitry and a metal shell.

Missy has upgraded this process allowing the dead to be converted. At least one resurrected Cyberman originates from the 18th century so this process works on corpses several hundred years old.

Not all of the dead reactivate suggesting that not all of the dead are suitable. This could be due to levels of decomposition or if the body is incomplete. The process involves ‘downloading’ the mind of the dead so it may require the brain to be intact or for their minds to have been previously ‘uploaded’.

To initiate the infection process a Cyberman must self-destruct as demonstrated when Danny destroyed several Cybermen in close proximity to Clara and she did not become infected.

The pollination process creates a cloud large enough to cover a major town or city. It is possible that this cloud is still linked to the hive mind, allowing it to rain in selected areas. The infection is carried within the rain droplets. 

Natural Weapon: Blaster [Major Alien Good Trait]

Basic: 3, S: 4, G: L, F: L

Cyberman possess a blaster that emerges from their wrist, firing blue lasers. A lethal shot is enough to disintegrate a target or cause a Cyberman to explode. 

Natural Weapon: Stun (3/S/S) [Minor Alien Good Trait]

Touching a subject unleashes an electrical shock, sufficient to stun for several hours.

Skill: Convince 1, Fighting: 3, Marksman 3, Medicine 1, Science: 1, Technology 4

Story Points: 2-5

Posted in 12th Doctor, Cybermen, dark water, Death In Heaven | Leave a comment

“Clara Oswald is a cover story–a disguise. There is NO Clara Oswald.”

noclaraAttempting to bluff a Cyberman into letting her live in ‘Death in Heaven’ Clara claims to be the Doctor. She claims that she invented the persona of Clara and that all her records are just stories.

It is all nonsense of course but her statement has enough narrative weight to trigger the opening titles. The viewer is meant to at least speculate about that shocking statement. Could it possibly be true?

It would be an amazing twist if the ‘companion’ had been the Doctor all along. It could also explain Clara’s strange behaviour as discussed here. Missy could have been foreshadowing that the Doctor had also changed gender.

The Doctor disguising his identity is a natural development of the 11th Doctor’s efforts to keep a low profile. Having deleted references to himself from databanks he then makes sure that no one thinks of him as the Doctor by assuming a new female persona.

The big question would be if Clara is the Doctor who is the 12th Doctor? This is particularly tricky as we see the 11th Doctor regenerate into the 12th. It could be that what we see on screen isn’t the literal truth and is only what Clara wanted people to believe. This would seem to be a cheat on the audience but necessary if the 11th Doctor stories also occurred without Clara (because she didn’t come into existence until he regenerated).

If the 12th Doctor isn’t the Doctor she’d need someone to play the role. It could be that he was a native to Trenzalore. The new Doctor would only have to introduce him to old friends of the Doctor as a new regeneration, explaining his confusion, to be believed.

Clara/Doctor could fly the TARDIS remotely or pre-program it to make the fake Doctor believe he was piloting it. She spends some time away from the TARDIS to convince all others around her that she isn’t the Doctor, recalling her time machine when she is ready to travel again.

If the 12th Doctor is a fake it could explain his confused behaviour. His rambling and doubts about his identity could all be because he is just a decoy, brainwashed to think he is a Time Lord (maybe using the TARDIS telepathic circuits to download some old memories).

Alternatively Clara/Doctor could be a later incarnation of the Doctor, doubling back on his/her time stream. The 11th Doctor apparently sensed that this was going to be a particularly bad regeneration.

Without Clara it could be that the 12th Doctor made terrible mistakes. Without someone to act as his conscience what would he have done? Subsequent incarnations might deeply regret the actions he made.

The Day Of The Doctor’ illustrated that future Doctor’s can help their past selves. This might give a female Doctor the idea to go back and become his own companion. She could then fix time from behind the scenes. This would tie into the 12th Doctor’s vow that he was going to do something about his past mistakes.

Her paradoxical nature could be why the TARDIS disliked Clara. This would mean that that Clara didn’t need Missy to give her the Doctor’s telephone number. It could be that Missy was lying when she claimed to be responsible for pairing them up. Of course Clara/Doctor doesn’t need to be the original.

There are two events in which a future Doctor could have swapped places with Clara, maybe having regenerated to specifically look like her. First this could occur in ‘The Name of the Doctor’ when the 11th Doctor attempts to rescue her. He might instead find his future incarnation and retrieve her instead (there are plenty of incarnations walking around.)

Secondly it could occur during ‘The Day Of The Doctor’. It could be that it is Clara/Doctor who successfully rescues the earlier Doctors. This is a point when all points in his life merge, including that of the 12th Doctor. One more future Doctor could be possible.

A substitution would explain why Clara has a family. Clara/Doctor simply keeps the ruse up, allowing her to blend in with humanity. Was her relationship with Danny also part of her cover story or did she find she actually had feelings for him?

If the Doctor is only posing as Clara it could explain the frequent occasions in which she doesn’t know things she really should. This future Doctor is attempting to play dumb but forgets what the real Clara should know.

The fate of the original Clara would need to be decided. Her statements in ‘Death in Heaven’ indicates that she doesn’t exist any more. Either she fractured in the time stream or died at some point.

Might the 12th Doctor begin to suspect the truth? Does Clara/Doctor have her own TARDIS if she is from the future? If the 12th Doctor is a fake what happens when he is critically injured and doesn’t regenerate? What if Clara/Doctor regenerated before his very eyes?

Time Lord PCs might try to pretend to be their own companion or create a decoy. This adds an additional complication to a normal adventure. Not only do they still have to save the day they have to do so without tipping their hand.

If a Time Lord does travel back along his own timeline they might attempt to be several of their past companions. This could alter their own history but depending on the original timeline this might be worth the risk.

Earlier incarnations of themselves could visit an old companion only to find out that they only remember a few of their adventures. The investigation into who was impersonating them could lead into their own future, revealing the deception. Do they prevent their future incarnation from enacting their plan and risk changing their history again?

Posted in 12th Doctor, Death In Heaven | Leave a comment

“I need you to know we’re not so different. I need my friend back.”

DW 12 Ep12Dark Water’ introduces the return of the Master, newly regenerated into the female form of Missy. ‘Death In Heaven’ reveals more about what she has been up to since we last saw the Master in ‘The End of Time’.

Missy is aware that the Doctor saved Gallifrey in ‘The Day Of The Doctor’ so we can assume there is a link between the timelocked realm in ‘The End of Time’ and which ever dimension the planet was sent to.

This means that Rassilon and the mysterious women who meant so much to the Doctor are also in the same dimension. This could have interesting consequences if the Doctor does ever find his world as Rassilon probably won’t be on the best of terms with him.

The Master was dying when we last saw him but we don’t know the circumstances in which he regenerated. Could it have been a punishment? If so maybe his new form was specially chosen for him. Alternatively the effort of escaping might have forced him to regenerate.

It is implied that Missy has a TARDIS so upon escaping she was free to discover the current state of the universe. Since her imprisonment it had been rebooted a few times, meaning that there would be plenty to discover. PCs might encounter her during this early scouting missions.

Her stated goal at the end of ‘Death In Heaven’ is provide the Doctor with an army so that he can wage his war for good. While carrying out this task in the most twisted of ways, slaughtering the Doctor’s beloved ‘pets’ in the process Missy does seem genuine in her goal.

The Sound of Drums’ indicates that the Master was traumatised by the events of the Time War. His manner indicates that he feels shame for running away. The Master felt fear and tried to hide.

Upon taking over the Earth he plans to launch missiles against other alien worlds. This indicates that the Master is lashing out, perhaps still fearful of what aliens could do to him. He probably wouldn’t feel safe until every other major power is eliminated.

In ‘End of Time’ he turns everyone in the world into a copy of himself, more through circumstance than planning. Still it shows his desire for a loyal army who can protect him. It might also speak to his loneliness.

If Missy found out about the events on Trenzalore she might be horrified to learn how the different races of the universe spent so long just to prevent Gallifrey from returning. Worse these races had time travel and had attacked the Doctor’s own time stream.

Missy would know that if her existence were discovered she’d also be a target. Beyond simply selfish reasons her feelings of friendship with the Doctor could have been rekindled both due to his efforts to save their home world but his long service on Trenzalore.

The Doctor would be the only one who Missy would trust to do the right thing, saving both herself and her people. She’d know that he’d never accept that power willingly so it would have to be forced upon him.

The Master has a history of working with other alien races only to be betrayed. The Cybermen would make an ideal partnership but she might prefer ones that were loyal t her and not their Cyber Planner.

The Cybermen appear to be the same model as the far-future versions encountered in ‘Nightmare in Silver’, with some upgrades. All those featured in ‘Dark Water/Death In Heaven’ appear to be those taken from the dead, running on a program that Missy designed. It is therefore likely that she took their technology and that the real Cybermen might disapprove of her actions.

Using a slice of the Matrix Missy uploaded the minds of the dead and then downloaded them into upgraded bodies. This process could be done remotely so we might suppose that her TARDIS was using its telepathic circuits to transfer the minds of anyone who died within its vicinity.

Did Missy have the Gallifreyan technology when she escaped or did she build it herself? If it is her own creation it suggests she is more technically skilled that previous incarnations have indicated.

At some point Missy introduced Clara to the Doctor in ‘The Bells of Saint John’. This of course occurred prior to Gallifrey being saved but Missy does say that she has been up and down his time stream.

We might suppose that she exited into a timeline in which Clara and the Doctor didn’t meet but in which the three Doctor’s still found a way to save Gallifrey in ‘The Day of The Doctor’ or that those events occurred but the 11th Doctor and Clara were from a (at that time) alternative timeline.

Did Missy realise that she was creating the Impossible Girl who would be responsible for saving the Doctor throughout his many lives? Regardless of her intention Missy can take some credit for saving the Doctor.

Her end goal of this association was so that the Doctor would investigate the afterlife, with Missy hoping that Clara would be enough of a control freak to compel him. Presumably Missy would only launch the max conversion of humanity once the Doctor actually arrived.

This could explain why she had been collecting souls in the past and the future. She couldn’t be sure exactly when the Doctor would intervene and so had to be prepared for any era.

What would Missy have done if the Doctor had accepted her gift? She seems to imply that the clouds wouldn’t kill the rest of humanity if he accepted the power. Would she have been satisfied to watch the Doctor wage his war for good?

Once defeated Missy offers to take the Doctor to Gallifrey, revealing its co-ordinates. She doesn’t get the chance and she apparently lied but what would she have gained from this? Would she have just been amused at the Doctor’s disappointment, effectively undoing all her work to win his friendship back?

Is it more likely that Missy thought she was telling the truth. She only states that those where Gallifrey’s last co-ordinates. It could be that the co-ordinates had changed since her escape. The Time Lords might also have planted false memories to prevent their location being discovered by their enemies (and who would trust the Master).

Missy is apparently killed but that has rarely meant much to her previous incarnations. PCs could encounter Missy again, coming up with a new plan. Would she have given up trying to put the Doctor in charge or would she be looking for other ways to give him the power he needs to safeguard the universe (for example reassembling the Keys To Time).

PCs will probably try to stop her but what if they agree that the Doctor should be in charge? Can they find a way to work with her and prevent unnecessary deaths?

Posted in 12th Doctor, Death In Heaven | Leave a comment

“Stars implode. Planets grow cold. Catastrophe is the metabolism of the universe.”

doomsdayWith a solar flare approaching the Doctor and Clara believe that this is the end of humanity in ‘In The Forest Of The Night.’ This time the Doctor believes that there is nothing that he can do, that he can’t fight physics.

As in ‘Kill The Moon’ Clara points out that they’ve seen the future but the Doctor indicates that those futures are about to be erased. In that previous adventure the Doctor suggested that there are moments in which he can’t see the outcome, moments when everything else gets decided.

We must assume that this is another one of those moments but this could indicate that the time is a lot less fixed than we thought. The Doctor might only occasionally know if history is about to change completely around him.

While ‘In The Forest of The Night’ doesn’t depict the end of the world we know that Earth does have a finite history. Why not have the world end in 2016 or some other point in the near future?

One advantage of this is that you don’t have to attempt to make the future of Earth believable because it doesn’t have one. If you do wish to run adventures in a futuristic setting there are many advanced civilisations elsewhere with human looking aliens that could fill those roles.

Time travel would become much more important to the player characters. No longer is it just a way to take them to interesting places it has saved their lives by letting them avoid the inevitable.

In this episode the TARDIS is described as a life pod. The crew are therefore cast in the roles of survivors, possibly the last of their race (at least when they are in a time period after the destruction of Earth).

This would also recontextualise the future. The days after doomsday are something that humanity would never be able to see normally. The very fact the PCs are there is a source of wonder but also sadness.

Removing humanity from the equation would give you the freedom to explore a completely new future without them. How does the universe react? Will another race fill their role in major galactic events? Can the universe cope without the resources that Earth possessed that attracted so many invasion attempts?

Knowing when and how the world is going to die could change how PCs behave. They might wonder what is the point of saving the Earth or single individuals, especially close to doomsday, if they are only going to die. Adventures could show them that any amount of life is precious.

Clara persuades the Doctor not to save the Coal Hill School children because she thinks they would miss their parents and fears the Doctor would just abandon them on an asteroid. This scenario is extremely short sighted. Setting aside that this is a choice between life and death she also forgets that the TARDIS is a time machine.

The planet might not be able to be saved but humanity could be (or some small part of it). The TARDIS gives PCs as much time as they need to save people and take them somewhere safe.

This could form the basis of an ongoing quest. PCs could search the universe for a new home for Earth. There are plenty of planets that might be similar but have their own unique problems, from differences in environment to proximity to other inhabited worlds.

Will they choose an isolated planet rich in resources or find an inhabited world whose natives can co-exist and even help colonists rebuild? Will they select a time period in the past or at some point after doomsday?

Once they’ve selected a new home who do they choose to save?

The obvious candidates are friends, allies and family but are these the best people to build a new life on an alien world? Would they appreciate the PCs whisking them away to toil and struggle on distant planet? Would they even believe that there is a doomsday?

PCs could approach governments or other large organisations to make the preparations for the exodus. They might travel back several years to allow enough time to put a plan in place and gather required resources. During this period the PCs might have to make sure that the secret isn’t reveal, causing wide scale panic.

With enough co-operation the PCs might be able to arrange for a large number of people to be rescued. The interior of the TARDIS is supposed to be quite vast, meaning that whole cities or countries could be saved, if they can pass through the threshold of the time machine in an orderly fashion. The PCs could make several trips to get everyone they can.

This could be version of Operation Golden Age in ‘Invasion of the Dinosaurs’. If the PCs don’t mind altering history (and why should that matter given the Earth is doomed?) they could take over that ruse for themselves.

If you did want to base this scenario around ‘In The Forest Of The Night’ a mass evacuation, engineered by the PCs, could explain why London was so deserted. Only small pockets of people would be left, possibly missed during the exodus.

The PCs aren’t restricted to people from the present. There could be historical figures that the PCs believe would be perfectly suited for helping a colony flourish. Those from the past mind be even be better suited to coping with primitive conditions and basic tools. It could turn out that the PCs are responsible for several famous disappearances throughout history.

Now they have a new planet and people to colonise it the PCs can become their protectors. They could live alongside them, dealing with logistics and helping them overcome any challenge they encounter.

Alternatively the PCs could jump ahead, checking in and always appearing just when they are needed most. This approach allows you to flesh out the new timeline and show how the colony is expanding.

The PCs could wait until the New Earth is well established before collecting the remainder of survivors from before doomsday. These stragglers would find a new world, already controlled by fellow humans.

There have been several episodes that indicate humanity has a great nostalgia for the past and have a habit of emulating past places and fashion. This New Earth could be much like the old, to the extent that historical events might happen again naturally.

PCs could discover, possibly by consulting the TARDIS travel logs, that they’ve come to this duplicate Earth (which they helped create) in the past mistaking it for the original. This could be a handy way to explain any past historical mistakes or establish that all adventures set in the future of Earth were actually occurring here.

Posted in 12th Doctor, In The Forest of the Night, Setting | Leave a comment

“We are Here. Here, always, since the beginning and until the end.”

hereInto the Forest of the Night’ introduces a previously unknown facet of Earth’s ecosystem, the Here. These entities are usually invisible, although sensitive telepaths might detect their thoughts.

The Doctor is able to make them visible using a localised gravity field. The Here appear as a swarming mass of fireflys but the field causes them pain and they beg the Doctor to free them.

They are able to speak with Maebh, possibly using her psychic connection. While she speaks the deep voice of the Here is also heard. They speak as a collective indicating a hive mind.

The Here identify themselves as the life that prevails. Eventually it is revealed that they are responsible for the trees growing over night and that they have done this in the past. They also take credit for plants growing between cracks and on mass graves.

This would suggest that they are linked to plant life, able to transform themselves into what ever is needed. This is supported by the end of the episode where the trees, having done their job, vanish in a mass of gold light. This would explain where the mass of the plants came from. Rather than growing organically the Here just converted their own bodies.

Their function seems to be to protect the Earth. This might not necessarily include the human race, since they obviously have a low opinion of the human’s capacity for death and war.

This could explain why the Here haven’t made their presence known before, for example preventing prior attempt to invade or wipe out humanity. They only act when the planet itself faces destruction.

The Here are obviously proud of being around for a long time but it is curious that they are unfamiliar with the Doctor, given how integral he has been to saving the planet for thousands of years.

It could be that the Here are a relatively small group (although they obviously they are spread far enough across the globe to transform the whole planet). It might be that they are not that intelligent, and without someone like Maebh they can’t communicate or understand basic concepts.

While the Here make reference to saving Earth in the past it appears that they were called there to deal with the crisis. In this case it is the solar activity of the sun which has summoned them. It could be that they aren’t native to Earth and travel through the universe, aiding whatever planet needs them.

The Here are also confident that they will outlast everything else. This would indicate some form of immortality. If they are a hive mind it could be that their physical forms are mortal but their consciousness continues as long as their can reproduce.

Rather than immortality the Here could possess some degree of future vision. They might believe that they will outlast everything because they can see it. This could also explain why they knew about the solar flare when even the Doctor was unaware of it.

In this adventure the Here helped to save humanity. In the future they might become their enemy. In order to protect itself a Here summoned tree denies a fire oxygen. If the Here decided that humanity was a threat to the planet they could create forests and similarly prevent oxygen from being released, suffocating everyone.

This could lead to a Doctor Who version of the film ‘The Happening’ or ‘The Day of Triffids’. Depending on the degree of control the Here can exert they could create plants that release toxins, hallucinogens or bring plants to life to eliminate humans. If the Here are everywhere they could spy invisibly on the PCs, anticipating their every move.

In such a scenario the PCs might need to seek out a telepath to communicate with them, possibly using a gravity field to facilitate this. If all else fails these gravity fields might be used to eliminate the Here, although this would leave the planets’ ecosystem defenceless.

If the world was in danger the PCs could seek out the Here as potential allies. They would need to persuade the mysterious race that any invaders threatened the whole planet. If successful the PCs would have a powerful ally, capable of controlling the environment and plant life.

An alien race might target the Here specifically. The species could be captured and studied to identify a weakness. PCs would need to stop the experiments and prevent any weapon being used against the Here for fear of leaving the planet vulnerable.

In the future it is possible that a dialogue could be established with the Here. Humanity could show themselves as willing to protect the environment and work with the Here to protect their home.

This could be a great period of regrowth and reconstruction, while the rest of humanity continues to explore space. What knowledge and insight could the possibly immortal race of the Here share?

We know that Earth has a finite lifespan. What happens to the Here then? Did they survive until the final days? Would they die with the Earth or move on to other planets that need them?

The Here are like the opposite version of Vashta Nerada. Both are near invisible swarms with a connection to trees but while the Here associate with life the Vashta Nerada embody death.

Is this a coincidence or are they related? They could be different evolutionary branches of the same species or one or the other group could be a rogue faction. An adventure exploring this connection could place the PCs between the two groups.

Posted in 12th Doctor, In The Forest of the Night | Leave a comment

“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