Mirrors have a long relationship with the mythology of Doctor Who. From the mirror powered time machine in ‘Evil of the Daleks’ to the mirror doorways in ‘Warrior’s Gate’, all the way up to their use to send Donna back in time in ‘Turn Left’.
There is something off putting about reflections. They are one step removed from reality and prone to be distorted. In our own mythology mirrors can act as a ward against evil, allowing us to detect vampires by their lack of reflection, but they can also be a portal, summoning supernatural entities if their name is said three times.
For my next adventure I wanted to build a story around this. Set on a distant world on a forgotten Earth colony there would be a simple village, their lord ruling from a gothic mansion on a nearby hill.
My inspiration for this setting was the Hammer horror films so the village would be called Hammersmith, also the surname of the Lord. Hammersmith is aan area in London so fed into the idea that this is a Earth colony, naming themselves after a place on Earth.
The seed of the idea was that the time travellers would be in a tavern when the serving girl is strangled by an invisible entity. Only when they look into the mirror in the tavern do they see a grey skinned, blood soaked woman (inspired by the urban legend of Bloody Mary) strangling the girl. By smashing the mirror could they save her, separating the link between reflection and reality.
Learning that this isn’t the first attack in the village this would lead them to the manor of Lord Hammersmith whose father was both an inventor and obsessed with mirrors, giving the manor its unofficial title as the House of Mirrors.
Lord Graven Hammersmith would be a frail aristocrat, his agoraphobia confining him to the house. I thought the most amusing thing would be, in a house full of mirrors, that Lord Hammersmith would lack a reflection.
The obvious explanation was that he was a vampire but the truth would be slightly more complicated and linked to the phantoms in the mirrors. Graven didn’t know the reason for his lack of reflection and his desire to know the reason has led him to make a terrible bargain.
His father had created a mirror chamber that, when activated, showed reflections of other realities. What it also did was show the gap between dimensions, the home to unreal. The unreal only exist because of psionic energy infested in them by a viewer.
Every time someone thought they saw something out of the corner of their eye or glimpsed something in a reflection they gave the unreal shape and form. Urban legends of summoning a specific being in a mirror gave those unreals the most power but they would still be trapped in the void between realities.
The mirror chamber made that division weaker. The unreal would not be able to pass through without someone from that reality passing back through to balance the transition. What they needed was someone who could make that sacrifice.
They appeared to Graven and promised they would reveal why he had no reflection if he was able to send people into the void so they could emerge into reality. The player characters would be the perfect candidates.
Showing them the mirror chamber Graven would trick them into going into the void. They’d be trapped there, only able to peer into reality through mirrors and see that Graven had freed the apparitions.
I wanted them to see Graven explain that he had upheld his side of the bargain and the apparitions whisper to him the secret of his nature which would make him collapse in tears. The question was what could be so terrible to invoke such a response?
I decided that what the unreal told him was this. The unreal’s salvation came in the form of Lord Augustus Hammersmith who desired a son but he and his wife were unable to conceive. Using this desire the unreals crafted Graven from Augustus’s wish for an heir. This was temptation enough for Augustus to send his wife through his mirror chamber to collect the child he could see in the void. Although it meant she had to stay in the void it was a price he was willing to pay.
The reason Graven didn’t have a reflection was because he was no entirely real. He was the living reflection of something that had never existed. His ‘mother’ had died in the void and while this allowed him to stay anchored in reality he couldn’t leave the confines of the building, not because of any phobia, but because outside of the house of mirrors he’d fade away.
To stop the unreal the player characters would need to get back into reality, but how? I didn’t want the solution to this adventure to be purely about using technology, as that had been the conclusion of several adventures so far.
So they’d trapped in the void, cut off from their TARDIS and only able to watch the unreal rampage through the village. The solution would be the other realities they’d glimpsed in the mirror chamber.
Able to appear in the reflections they could appeal to their alternative selves to rescue them. I thought this would be a fun excuse to show the player characters alternative realities and having to persuade ‘themselves’ to save them.
I anticipated that either the doubles could cross into their ‘reality’ and free them using the mirror chamber or enter the void directly, allowing them to cross back into their reality as their doubles would act as temporary sacrifices.
Once freed the player characters would have to hunt down the apparitions and use mirrors to force them back into the void. To prevent the unreal from escaping again they could destroy Hammersmith manor, something I envisioned to be akin to ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’.
The ending of the last adventure required a quick rewrite of this adventure which I’d written some weeks prior. To give resolution to what happened to those in the pocket dimension I changed the Earth colony to be the planet that those fleeing the island emerged on.
Instead of the far future the year would be 1988, 400 years after Roanoke island. The humans would have set up settlements far away from the aliens who’d come through, mostly achieving 19th century living conditions with the occasional pieces of advanced technology, such as the mirror chamber, using the alien technology that survived the exodus. To ensure the player characters went to Hammersmith manor the TARDIS would need a piece of equipment replaced that could only be obtained at the house.
I felt these details would make the players feel that their actions had lasting consequences and nicely tie the adventures together. Next time we’ll see how well it went.
To be Continued….