Having established their attributes and skills let us now turn our attention to the traits. Traits are what make a race unique, the correct combination setting them apart from the player characters or other alien species.
Alien appearance is the obvious choice but most species won’t remember it long enough for it to be a problem. Given the sheer amount of time that the Silence have occupied Earth and their influence I doubt the –4 to social interactions have hampered them. So while they do look alien they probably shouldn’t have the trait.
The Silence’s ability to implant suggestion into subjects fits nicely with the Hypnosis (major) trait. We can assume that this power is so successful because most subjects won’t think there is anything odd with the thought in their head since they don’t remember its origin and thus fail to resist.
The Special version of this trait, allowing a subject to be possessed, doesn’t fit here but the Silence should probably pay 3 points for the unique quality of their talent. Their hypnotic suggestion works on recordings, which was used against the Silence in ‘Day of the Moon’ but could be useful in other situations.
Being part of a religious movement the Silence should have the Obligation trait. The major version of this trait indicates that the organisation is more important than the character. Considering the sheer importance of their task and the lack of any clear individualism amongst the Silence this would seem to fit them well.
Deciding whether the Silence should have the Fear Factor trait is difficult. They are creepy to look at and their nature is unnerving but would the sight of them frighten? In ‘The Impossible Astronaut’ Joy looks at one and thinks its just a prank.
There are scenes in which characters are shown to be afraid of them, particularly when they stumble upon a group of Silence either feeding or clinging to the ceiling. For this reason I think giving them 1 level of Fear Factor is sufficient.
Throughout their appearances the Silence seem to know more than they should. Now they are part of a powerful organisation that spans time and space which doubtlessly provides them with plenty of information yet there are moments when they reveal great insight.
In particular I’m thinking of the scenes in which they know Joy’s identity, the secret that Amy is keeping from the Doctor and in ‘The Wedding of River Song’ that Rory keeps dying.
While the first two could be gained through observation the last draws upon information that would have been difficult, if not impossible to gain (the crack wiped his existence from history which would obscure his death and another death was just an illusion in ‘The Doctor’s Wife’).
For this reason I think they should have the Psychic trait. This might not be a literal mind reading ability but more a representation of their all-knowing nature. It might be that the Silence a player character is meeting knows all their secrets because they’ve researched their future but in that moment it would feel like they were peering into their soul.
The Vortex trait is necessary in order for the Silence to pilot their time ship, no matter what its origin. The reason for this is that we know that the Silence were present on 21st century Earth, both to kidnap Amy and to witness the Doctor’s death. This is of course after their mass slaughter in the 1960s. Since the show normally represents a fixed time line (the Doctor didn’t alter anything with the genocide, it had already occurred) these must have been time travelling Silence members.
The frequent encounters with the Silence hanging from ceilings like bats (suggesting a nocturnal nature) means that we should give them the Climbing (major) trait. Without the limitations of the television show this ability could make for some very creepy scenes with the Silence scaling buildings or running up walls.
Their offensive capability is best modelled using the Natural Weapons trait. Able to draw in electrical energy (much like the Weeping Angels) they release it in a burst of lightening while screaming.
We’ve only seen one result of being struck by this blast, disintegration. It is possible however that we’ve only seen it on its most lethal setting and a lucky player character could escape with just a shock. For this reason I’m going to model it by copying the qualities of the Dalek’s extermination ray [L (4/L/L)].
Other than that the Silence don’t seem to have to many combat focused traits. They certainly don’t have any armour, taken down in a hail of bullets by Amy in ‘The Wedding of River Song’.
The final trait is one to represent their memory erasing powers. We know that this isn’t just a mental ability they are projecting, rather part of their nature. A person won’t even remember the image of a Silence the moment they look away. Nor are they actively using it, even their allies can’t remember them without technical help.
It is tempting to treat this as a roleplaying element rather than a game mechanic, in much the same way as I discussed the Weeping Angels ability to move at super speed and teleport people in time.
Yet we can see that the main characters in Doctor Who react differently to them. While they can’t remember what the Silence look like they eventually do remember that they exist and their general nature.
We can also look at the difference between Joy and Amy’s reaction to the Silence in ‘The Impossible Astronaut.’ Upon seeing the Silence Amy remembers that she’d seen one at Lake Silencio while it takes longer for Joy to remember that she’d just seen the monster in front of her.
The trait that most closely matches what is being shown here is the Hypnosis trait. Each time the hypnotic suggestion is to forget the subject has seen the Silence. A subject can resist but they’ll always forget.
Instead we can concentrate on what they remember. If the player character wins the attempt to resist the mind wiping then they still retain that the Silence is there. They might not know what they look like, where they are or how many but they know that they are not alone.
A ‘Yes and’ result indicates that they also remember the nature of the Silence and their actions, if not their appearance. This explains how Canton can imprison a Silence and remember that fact even after he has turned away.
It is up to the games master to decide how long this memory lasts. A single encounter might eventually fade from memory but frequent meetings over the course of months can lead to this information becoming ingrained in their conscious.
Next well put this altogether and start looking at how we can use the Silence in the game itself.
Some interesting insights. I have a love/hate relationship with these particular aliens–I’m intrigued by their mystery while at the same time I’m annoyed that Moffat seems to have created these fascinating creatures only to leave us hanging with no explanation of what they are or even what their species is. Really, are they not important enough to give a name to? I’m hoping he’s going to go into these more in the next series, but until then it’s fun to speculate.