“What do you think of my new face, by the way?”

st--3a42In episode 2 of ‘The Spearhead from Space’ the Doctor survives being shot at and enters a deep coma which Dr Henderson guesses is self induced. Once he awakens the Doctor seems much more in control, engineering his escape and his personality seems to be in place, using his newly acquired Voice of Authority to get past the UNIT guard.

It is interesting to speculate that the self induced coma is his brain rebooting after his transformation. The coma could be similar in nature to the zero room meditation that the fifth Doctor uses to stabilise his own regeneration or the lengthy period the tenth Doctor spends unconscious.

Games masters wishing to replicate this could impose negative modifiers to all checks made by a time lord player after they have regenerated until they are able to similarly ‘shut down’.

A TARDIS could help this process, the first Doctor certainly seems to be keen to enter his time ship in ‘The Tenth Planet’ before he undergoes his transformation. The exception to this is the Sixth Doctor who is remarkably unstable after his transformation in the TARDIS but the cause of the regeneration could be a big factor here.

The regeneration process seems focused on restoring the body. The mental transition takes a little longer and rather than being a biological process could just be the result of psychological trauma, the time lords own identity shattering as a result.

That of course assumes that the Doctor has actually regenerated. It can’t be just coincidence that the time lords exiled the Doctor to a period in human history where alien invasions occur on an almost weekly basis.  The ‘Two Doctors’ and later books suggest that before his exile the 2nd Doctor worked as the Time Lords agent.

st--3a48Given all that it doesn’t seem likely that they would shorten such a useful assets life span. It very might be that rather than a regeneration the Time Lords simply changed his cosmetic appearance, in a similar manner to Romana trying on new bodies in ‘Destiny of the Daleks’.  They might even have given him a whole new cycle of regenerations, explaining the faces we see prior to the 1st Doctor in ‘The Brain of Morbius’.

The Doctor explains to the Brigadier that he has amnesia. He is surprisingly at ease with this meddling with his mind and is only mildly amused when he finds he can remember certain alien cultures.

All of this gives a good indication of what player characters can expect if they end up being manipulated by the Time Lords. This could even be a good start to a campaign with the Time Lord player characters having a new appearance and knowing that parts of their memory has been suppressed and even altered.

Amnesia is a bad trait but a good tool for creating fresh starts, such as the one in ‘Spearhead from Space’. The BBC novels also used to good effect in the BBC 8th Doctor range, exiling him to Earth without memory, giving him a long time to discover who he is.

This trait makes it entirely possible for a group to allow different players to take the roll of different incarnations of the same Time Lord without having to wait for one to regenerate.  During a game they can simply jump from one incarnation to another and back again. Amnesia handily explains why a later incarnation doesn’t recall an earlier adventure or old skills are forgotten.

In his escape from the hospital the Doctor steals both a new costume and a car. With the flexible morality of a time traveller player characters can view history as their personal treasure trove.

These acts of petty theft only become truly evil if it adversely affects the victim. In this case the Doctor steals from a wealthy doctor. Things would have been very different if he’d stolen the clothes of a vagrant and made off with an ambulance.

You can indulge your player characters by presenting them with tempting treats during an adventure, using the above guidelines of making sure that they only take from the rich. For example if the player characters find themselves the guest of a wealthy lord and help themselves to the contents of his wardrobe or if they are infiltrating a compound owned by an evil millionaire they might make off with his helicopter.

The Doctor finds the UNIT base because he has a watch that homes in on the location of the TARDIS. It is tempting to think that this nifty gadget was another gift from the Time Lords, a useful tool for one of their agents in the field.

This gadget might be represented as follows:

TARDIS Locator [Minor Gadget]


A TARDIS locator is built into a small hand held device that can indicate a direction. This could be fitted in a watch, a compass or even a iPod. The device is tuned to a specific TARDIS, allowing its owner to use the locator to find it.

It provides a +4 to awareness+technology checks to find the time ship. It provides a +2 bonus when making the same checks to find other TARDIS capsules and a +1 to find time vessels made by other species.

Advanced technology could conceivably be used to block the signal admitted by the TARDIS, rendering a TARDIS locator useless.

Traits: Scan (TARDIS), Story Points: 1

The Doctor becomes involved in investigating the Auton invasion when he finds Liz Shaw hard at work in the lab where the TARDIS is found. This demonstrates how to lead player characters into a plot.

Put something that they want where the interesting things are. Once they are there you can get their attention and let the adventure go from there. It doesn’t hurt if at least one of the player characters have insatiable curiosity.

The Doctor makes a pretence that he is only helping UNIT in exchange for the TARDIS key but it is clear he is enjoying the challenge. Finding out what the meteors contained and where they were taken is an intellectual puzzle for him, rather than to stop a menace.

Insatiable Curiosity is a built in plot hook. You should only have to give the player character a whiff of a mystery for them to start being pro-active and begin their own investigation.

This entry was posted in 3rd Doctor, Spearhead from Space. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to “What do you think of my new face, by the way?”

  1. dailypop says:

    “They might even have given him a whole new cycle of regenerations, explaining the faces we see prior to the 1st Doctor in ‘The Brain of Morbius’.”

    THANK YOU! That is the best explanation I have read so far regarding the Doctor’s previous incarnations seen in Brain of Morbius.

  2. Tyler says:

    A TARDIS could help this process, the first Doctor certainly seems to be keen to enter his time ship in ‘The Tenth Planet’ before he undergoes his transformation.

    I recall reports that in the scene as broadcast, there was either a brand new bit of gadgetry over the TARDIS console, or it was the thing that’d been hanging there for three years with seemingly no use, that displayed some sort of effect, flashing lights or what-not.

    At the time the implication was that the Doctor’s renewal was a function of the TARDIS, rather than his own biology. He says as much at the start of The Power of the Daleks, even: “It’s a part of the TARDIS. Without it I wouldn’t survive.” Of course, he was also being cagey and willfully obtuse at the time, so who can say. Post-regenerative paranoia may have caused him to be particularly catty to Ben and Polly.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s