One of the most ingenious aspects of the New Series was the introduction of the Time War. The Doctor wasn’t just an exile, he was now the last of his kind. What better way to make the title character even more important?
It is no coincidence that when DC Comics rebooted Superman in the 1980s they removed any other survivors from Krypton. If there are other people who can do what your main character can do why is he special?
Any reimaging of the series will need to consider whether to include this. For many the Doctor being the last of his kind is an essential part of the show. Without fellow Time Lords the Doctor is the only protector of space and time. Not only that but it gives another reason for the Doctor to seek out companions. Without them he’d be terribly alone.
Could this be how a reimagined series starts? The mystery of the Doctor could begin with the revelation that he is alien, slowly reveal that his people have been wiped out and eventually reveal how.
Without Time Lords the Doctor is a true enigma, unique in the universe. No other Time Lords for the companions to meet and learn the Doctor’s secrets, no other TARDISes to stumble upon. There might not even be any species who are aware of Gallifrey.
The Time War could also serve as a back drop during the series, starting with the inciting incident, the outbreak of war, the ongoing campaign and its eventually resolution. Imagine if the Time War had been part of Doctor Who from the start.
The Doctor and his grand daughter could be fleeing the conflict, not wanting to get involved. The Doctor is far to old in his current incarnation for battle and his grand daughter far to vulnerable and innocent for the horrors of war.
They are on the run, hiding their burden from their companions, both to hide their shame at running and the truth that the universe is being reshaped by the conflict. The war hadn’t yet reached Earth, a safe haven in the storm.
In this reshaped campaign what happens when the Doctor’s people finally catch up to him? At the climax of ‘The War Games’ is the Doctor drafted? Is the exile to 20th century now a military posting or scouting mission?
Would future incarnations of the Doctor become more militaristic? ‘The 4th Doctor’s assignment in ‘The Genesis of the Daleks’ could become normal for him, sabotaging other species time lines in service of the home world.
Different incarnations could have different approaches to the on going conflict. The 5th Doctor could be a field medic, refusing to fight and doing his best to keep people alive. His youth and enthusiasm gradually drained away by the constant death.
“There should have been another way,” he mutters as another patient dies.
The 6th Doctor resembles Maxil in more than just appearance while the 7th Doctor becomes a strategist, moving people like chess pieces and sacrificing lives so this eternal war can finally end.
Such a campaign structure would have a much more militaristic feel to it, closer to the reimagined Battlestar Galactica than current Doctor Who. Adventures could either take place during or resemble conflicts from Earth history and reference the issues they raised.
Would the Doctor belong to anti-war movements that rose up during the Vietnam War? Would he be viewed as a draft dodger and loose any respectability despite doing nothing more than following his principles? How do people on the home world react when soldiers return home, literally not the same people they were when they left.
In reimaging the Time War elements of it can be reshaped. What if the Time Lords weren’t fighting the Daleks but Earth? The Doctor could either be an enemy sympathiser or subtly trying to learn enemy secrets and make the population dependent on him.
This has the potential for lots of inter-party conflict. Adventures could have the Doctor and his companions loyalties tested by the war. It might get to the point where they can’t stay on the side lines and need to make a choice about whether humanity of the Time Lords will survive.
What if it was a civil war, the great Houses of Gallifrey tearing each other apart? Would the Doctor be loyal to his own House, seek another solution or escape all together. His good deeds across the universe could be nothing more than an attempt to repair the damage his people have done to time.
The true nature of the enemy might even be a mystery, as it was in the Doctor Who 8th Doctor novels. Each adventure offers the opportunity to find out a little more about them. Finding out their identity could be the key to defeating them.
A games master might also decide that the Time War has no part of his reimagined series. Not only is it not happening when the game starts, it never will. The Time Lords power could make them immune to all threats, existing forever.
No corruption, no dark descent. Galifrey remains a planet of old, grey haired men who tut at the Doctor’s antics but often have need of his services. They manage the day to day running of time while he has his fun.
Doctor Who did exist throughout the latter half of the 20th century without the Time War. All the player characters need to concern themselves with is the dangers presented by their current adventure, without worrying about the Galactic community or that their home world might be wiped out of existence.
Such a reimaging would remove much of the angst from the Doctor and send a clear message that there are endless possibilities. This could also lead into an interesting exploration of what the 9th, 10th and 11th Doctor would have been like without the burden of being the last Time Lord.