In reinterpreting Doctor Who we must consider the Daleks. No other race has had as much impact on the show, changing the very course of the series. Even their names are bigger that the Doctor’s on the Peter Cushing movie posters. They would seem to be essential.
Is that a good thing? How might the Doctor Who universe feel without their existence? No longer is there a foe who overshadows the Doctor or has such an impact on the future timeline.
Without them there is no Dalek Invasion of Earth, there are no galactic wars, Master plans or final Time Wars. The fate of the universe is free to be rewritten as the games master pleases, making the exploration of time something fresh and new.
It also gives certain freedoms in introducing new alien races, potential candidates to fill that power vacuum. Before any hostile aliens had to measure up to the Daleks, now they can establish their own identity.
As with the Master there is an expectation that the player characters will fight one of the most iconic races in the Doctor Who universe. I won’t be discussing reinventing the Daleks here, that deserve articles of it own, but how they can be used.
Daleks benefit from having a long established timeline that ties them to both Earth and Gallifrey. Starting fresh a games master can chart their expansion from being sheltered survivors on Skaro to would be destroyers of all reality.
An advantage of starting from day one is that the contradictions of the Dalek timeline can be ironed out. When the Doctor first meets the Daleks he has no idea who they are, yet we later learn that the Time Meddler is well aware of them and that Daleks were specifically not used in the Death Zone in times past.
This can be solved by simply having the Doctor know exactly who the Daleks are when he first meets them. Does he lie to his companions so they don’t try and persuade him to destroy them before their invasion of Earth? Does he try to stop them here, violating his oath as a Time Lord? Does the discovery of Daleks confined to their city fly in the face of what the Doctor knows has to happen, forcing him to help them win their freedom?
It could also be that everything after the events of ‘The Daleks’ is a result of the Doctors meddling in time. Thanks to his part in this change and his travels in the TARDIS he is the only one aware of the change. Other Time Lords believe that the Daleks have always been a threat. Only the Doctor would know that it is because of him.
This would be a neat Dark Secret for the new Doctor to possess. It would give a good motivation to his crusade to vanquish evil, to make amends for his sins. It could explain why companions can only stay with him briefly, that he can’t allow himself to be happy for too long.
Another tact to take is that the Time War ended with a peace treaty between the Tiem Lords and the Daleks. In return for promising not to interfere with Dalek history Gallifrey would be spared. Daleks would be lords of space and the Gallifreyans would remain lords of time.
All of this is ancient history to the Doctor. When he encounters the Daleks he experiences conflict. If he tries to stop them then he risks restarting the war but can’t ignore the suffering they cause.
If he does interfere his own people would brand him a criminal, hunting him down to appease the Daleks. This would neatly bring us to the core idea that the Doctor is an exile, that his own principles are what led him to going on the run.
This could lead to an ongoing epic quest, the Doctor fighting to overthrow the Daleks without causing another Time War. He might even give his people the courage to make a difference, to refuse to let evil win.
In this reinterpreted timeline how involved are the Daleks in Earth’s affairs? Do they invade Earth and is it like ‘The Dalek Invasion of Earth’ with the Daleks creating robo-men amongst the rubble of cities or ‘Day of the Daleks’ where they rule over a dystopian future society run on slaves?
When should first contact occur with the Daleks? What possibilities open up by having an early invasion, such as the one in Big Finish’s ‘Jubilee’? By the modern day everyone knows who the Daleks are and there may be specialised divisions of the army set up to deal with them.
Alternatively they could have been covert invasions, leading to secret organisations waging war with them in the shadows, eliminating secret cells. The Doctor and his companions could stumble upon this war with alien cyborgs and try to find out where the originated from.
Another thing to consider is keeping the Daleks confined to Skaro for much of the timeline. This makes sense in that ‘Genesis of the Daleks’ and ‘The Daleks’ both suggest that they don’t believe in the existence of alien life and lack any form of space travel.
What if it was Earth that made first contact? Just as the Daleks did when they first met the time travellers, they convince these new arrivals that it is the Thals who are the threat and it is the Daleks who are the victims.
They could offer scientific knowledge or servitude, as in ‘The Power of the Daleks.’ Would they immediately take control of a spaceship or wait until they could spread across the universe, infiltrating every aspect of human society?
When the Daleks did decide to strike they could even portray themselves as oppressed slaves, overthrowing their masters. This might garner them sympathy from other alien species, giving them respectability within the galactic community, at least until the Daleks turn their eyestalks to them.
When reimaging the new timeline of the Daleks it is important to consider how much the Doctor knows, as a time traveller. Is this all written or are these events a complete surprise to him?
This could even be a unique quality to the Daleks. They are ‘invisible’ to the Time Lords, able to make changes to the web of time without being recorded. They might even be immune to paradoxes, always existing despite attempts to alter their origin.
No matter what the Daleks always survive.