It was time to bring the Croatoan storyline to an end. After building him up the player characters now needed to confront him and save all of time and space. It was very important that this not be an anti-climax.
I’d already decided that when they’d tried to destroy Croatoan using the TARDIS he had infected the Eye of Harmony within, which would in turn have spread to the Eye of Harmony on Gallifrey and subsequently to all other time ships. The black exterior of the TARDIS was a symptom of this infection.
Gathering his power Croatoan began influencing time, leading to the the events of the ‘The Empty Men’ and ‘The Darkest Sun’. Using the extra power gathered from the stars the black holes weren’t just linked through space but also by time.
This was when Croatoan struck, materialising as a huge black sun above Gallifrey. His energy could re-write history, transforming the Time Lords into his servants, the Shadow Lords.
This was why Gallifrey now lay in ruins. I decided it would be interesting if Croatoan established his new empire within the Death Zone, his new dark tower dwarfing the tomb of Rassilon.
I imagined that the Doctor or other devious time lord might have suggested this to Croatoan, playing on his pride and making him vulnerable to anyone who knew enough to use the time scoop.
Gathering my Doctor Who resources I began making notes of Gallifreyan locations that could be useful for the player characters in their fight against Croatoan. The very first thing I jotted down was a museum holding a working prototype of Omega’s ship, the Starbreaker.
They could pilot the vessel into the dark sun, destroying Croatoan. It would be a one way trip for whoever was on board. Would either Phillipa or the Inspector hologram be willing to make the ultimate sacrifice?
With his power running low the Inspector hologram would need a TARDIS to recharge so I sketched out details of a TARDIS creche, where new time ships are grown. This would have it’s own perils, in the form of the shadow infection. I imagined the black shell of the TARDIS ships sliding off and trying to consume Phillipa.
Background information could be provided in the Panopticon. Among the wreckage the player characters could find Public Register television cameras (from ‘The Deadly Assassin’) showing the conversion of the Time Lords into their shadowy counter-parts.
The Matrix could give the player character access to the minds of dead Time Lords if they wanted further help and there was even the possibility they could trick Croatoan into entering the cyber domain where he might be vulnerable.
The Council Room would have a report from Regis, confirming the source of the infection came from the Inspector’s TARDIS. In a nod to ‘The Five Doctors’ the secret chamber with the time scoop controls would be accessible by playing Rassilon’s harp.
The real Inspector would be in a medical bay, a large scale version of the Zero Room. The player characters would find him in a coma but could possibly awaken him if certain conditions were met.
There was no point in mapping out the whole of the Capital. The Inspector hologram would know the city well enough to direct Phillipa and it was only important to have a rough idea of relative positions.
To provide further guidance around the Capital, as well as finding out what occurred, I introduced a ‘guide’ character in the form of a shobogan. The shobogan were outsiders but I decided one, a shepherd called Shar, would venture into the ruined city to find out what had happened.
In addition to providing help Shar would remind the players that there were more than just Time Lords on the planet. The outsiders might be rallied to help protect their world, even if they didn’t care much for the people who lived in the Capital.
I couldn’t forget that during the course of the game the Daleks would arrive on Gallifrey. Although they’d see the tactical sense in fighting against the shared enemy of Croatoan they’d also not miss the opportunity to plunder Gallifrey and make an attempt to seize the planet for themselves.
The more the player character helped the Daleks the harder it would be to force them to leave once the crisis had passed. Just to make sure that having them around did provide the player characters with an advantage I decided that combined fire from the Daleks would be able to harm the Shadow Lords, who would be otherwise immune.
So the player characters had multiple ways to destroy Croatoan. They could either use the Starbreaker to destroy the Dark Sun, work with the Daleks, take advantage of the Matrix, use the time scoop to bring reinforcements or any combination.
For the resolution I decided that while the Time Lords would be grateful to the Inspector (either the hologram of the real thing) and Phillipa it couldn’t be ignored that it was due to their actions the crisis had begun.
As punishment the Inspector would be confined to Gallifrey and Phillipa returned to her own time and place. Normally they’d leave her with the memory of her first meeting with the Inspector but as she’d been unconscious at the time they’d wipe him completely from her thoughts.
To give the player characters some leeway the Time Lords would foolishly leave the Inspector and Phillipa alone with their TARDIS while they went to set up the mind wiping technology. After all, the Inspector wouldn’t dare go on the run from his own people just for the sake of a human? Would he?
This would solve some problems in the campaign. The player characters wouldn’t be able to call upon the Time Lords any more or use them as a point of authority. Their TARDIS would still be recovering from the damage done to it making it more difficult to control and have fewer amenities that the player characters had been becoming increasingly reliant on.
If the player characters didn’t take the bait then it would be a sad end to their partnership. Not that it would necessarily be the end. of their adventures. The Inspector might find reason to leave the planet (maybe decades later) and either find a new companion or just happen to be reunited with Phillipa. Either way it could lead to new possibilities and perhaps a different era of Doctor Who.
As always all this planning still didn’t prepare me for what the players actually did or where their choices would lead the campaign.