In a roleplaying game it is easy to play with the idea of what is real, after all the whole game is a fantasy. The natural inclination is to believe whatever is closest to previously established reality.
In this adventure it is far more likely that the true reality was the one where the Doctor, Rory and Amy where all still on board the TARDIS, since that is how we last saw them. Of course that makes it all the more likely that it is a trick.
The episode opens with a pregnant Amy and pony tailed Rory living a quiet life in Leadworth, five years after they stopped travelling with the Doctor. They have past, complete with memories of everyone in town, and a future, in the form of the baby yet to be born.
Even when the Doctor uncovers an alien race hiding within the bodies of the old folks of Leadworth this seems just the kind of thing that would encounter after accidentally visiting old friends. In the TARDIS all seems lost and could a sun that burns cold really exist?
Seeds of doubt are planted. It would be unusual but not totally unheard off to have a story that leapt ahead in the narrative. It really could have been set in the personal future of the Doctor, Amy and Rory.
After waking up in Leadworth they could very well have mused upon the adventures they shared, foreshadowing events to come, and parted ways. Next episode could have been set back in normal continuity, the characters having no knowledge of what lay ahead of them.
In the same manner you do not always have to run your adventures in chronological order. You could view it as selecting which Dr Who episode you are going to watch. There is no need for you to watch them in order. Maybe you fancy a Tom Baker episode or maybe you’re in the mood for a William Hartnell story.
Players do crave stability so it is probably best not to jump to another time period each adventure but you could divide them into blocks. Each player has a different character in each era, allowing them to try out a variety of roles. This has the advantage of allowing you to select character combinations that best matter the adventure you’ve written.
In DWAITAS there isn’t a great emphasis on levelling up or gaining new abilities. For the most part characters will stay roughly the same, baring regeneration or great personal growth. This makes it easier to use the same characters in different eras.
The only thing that should be kept track of is the internal continuity. This is a simple matter of just remembering when characters first encountered alien races or went to certain places. You can have gaps in the characters continuity that you can fill in later.
For example you might run an adventure where the 3rd incarnation of a time lord encounters the Daleks. This might be the first time that you’ve included them in your game but the time lord explains he already has experience with them. Later you run an adventure with the original incarnation of the time lord where he meets the Daleks for the first time.
This gives you a certain amount of wiggle room to fit in the how characters join the group or leave. You also don’t have to formally establish that your adventures are happening in order. This allows you to have an adventure featuring characters that have died, simply stating that this is a ‘missing’ adventure.
In ‘Amy’s Choice’ the hook is that the main characters are switching back and fore between the two scenarios. While they are awake in one world they are asleep in the other and vice versa. This becomes an issue later when time begins to run out in each scenario. They are forced to make choices about which reality gets their attention.
This framework can be applied to an adventure, creating two situations and have the player characters switch between them. You could use the same framework, the characters falling asleep, but there are alternatives.
The Doctor runs through a few theories including that fact that they might have skipped a time track. They could be flashing back or leaping forward. For people who live most of their lives in a time machine this could be a real possibility.
In earlier posts I’ve discussed the psychological effects of time travel. What if a botched piloting roll in the TARDIS doesn’t send the time machine to the wrong time or place but send the crew mentally backwards, forwards or even both?
Splitting player characters between their past and their future could lead to interesting situations like the one shown in ‘Mawdryn Undead.’ Those in the past can effect the future and those in the future can gather information that can benefit them in the past.
This has an even greater impact if you regularly leap backwards and forwards in the characters personal time line. They really will have a hard time working out which is the ‘present’ of the adventure.
Of course the episode is called ‘Amy’s Choice’ for a reason. It isn’t just which scenario is real it’s which man Amy actually prefers to be with. Does she prefer to be with the Doctor in the TARDIS or with Rory in Leadworth?
In the end she chooses the TARDIS, not because the Doctor is there, but because Rory is dead and there is nothing for her in Leadworth anymore. She makes this choice in a very dramatic manner, ending not only her life, the Doctor’s and her unborn child, all on the slim chance of being with the man she realise she loves.
You can try this approach with your games. If you want to experiment with the format of the game you could present them as two potential realities. This lets you test waters and see how the players respond.
Which ever scenario the player prefer can be the ‘real world’. Simply congratulate them for making the right choice and move on.