“You told me to wait. And I did. A lifetime.”

amywaitingThe Girl Who Waited’, written by Tom MacRae, centres around Amy being separated from the TARDIS and having to wait decades for the Doctor to rescue her. In that time she changes.

By the time Rory and Doctor have caught up to her she has become a battle hardened warrior. She has lived a hellish existence, doing anything she can to survive. This Amy has managed to make her own version of the Sonic Screwdriver, reprogram a robot and avoid an alien computer surveillance system.

This is an illustration of how the time travel element of a Doctor Who game can be used to speed up a characters arc. A similar situation occurred in the Virgin books, with Ace parting ways with the Doctor only to return as a veteran of the Dalek war, no longer an adolescent.

In essence it takes a character and transforms them. They are still the same person but their skills and capabilities are vastly different. This is something we can learn from and use within our own games.

You may have a situation in a campaign where a player is unhappy with the role they are playing in the game. They like their character but just feel that they aren’t contributing as much to the adventure as everyone else. They don’t want to abandon their character, they just want to have a different skill set.

A games master could arrange for one game to end with that character parting company with the group. Next game, the TARDIS crew are reunited with their old friend. For them it may have been only one or two adventures since they last saw them, but for the character it could have been years. Long enough for them to learn new skills.

This allows a character to reallocate their character points. In the intervening time they might have become more athletic, begun studying new languages or got into engineering. Even their personality, and associated traits, may have changed as they matured.

They could immediately re-join the TARDIS crew or a whole adventure could be built around why they would take up travelling with the others again. Did they miss the adventure? Is there a threat that requires them to go on the run in the TARDIS to protect the people they love? Do they have an agenda that they can’t reveal to their friends?

Not only does the character benefit from a new set of abilities while maintaining their history with the group they have a lot of catching up to do. What happened to both groups in the intervening years and how have those events shaped them?

This can add greater depth to the campaign. You have now left gaps for missing adventures that you might allude to later. This could provide for plot hooks and mysteries for later stories.

Dropping off a character is a good way to explaining how developing characters gain new skills and traits as a campaign progresses. Rather than pretend that they’ve had time to train and study on the TARDIS between adventures they can be taken somewhere to be educated for a few months while the rest of the crew simply leap forward and pick them up a moment later from their perspective.

A theme that has been explored a lot recently, although it does occur in both the books and the audios, is that the Doctor is not reliable. He might tell you that he’ll pick you up in a week and you’ll not see him for several years.

The Dying Days’ has a furious Bernice Summerfield thinking that the Doctor simply doesn’t have an excuse for being late. Even if he is the Doctor could still nip back and drop you a note to let you know about the delay.

This can be nasty surprise for a player character and can make them bitter towards the errant Time Lord. They can think that they’ve been abandoned, leading them through a cycle of despair, sorrow and anger. Once reunited would they let the TARDIS leave without them ever again? Next time the Time Lord might not come back at all.

This type of scenario is best suited when a play wants to change their personality and relationship with the group, along with their abilities. Dealing with these feelings of abandonment and finding a way to reconcile can be an engaging character arc to develop over a campaign.

The TARDIS leaving people behind could also be used to change the Time Lord character. When the TARDIS returns to collect the character it could be a different person at the console, having regenerated once or twice since they last saw them.

amywaitedDid the departed character know about regeneration before they left? Will they believe that the Time Lord is the same character? Will they still want to travel with them, especially if their personality has altered as well?

Handling a regeneration in this manner can be much more tragic for a character than if they witnessed it themselves. Without a transitional period, without seeing one incarnation morph into the other, there is a greater feeling of loss.

The person they knew has died. The Doctor acknowledges this in ‘The End of Time.’ He may regenerate but it is a different man who gets up. Not being there to witness this passing heightens the sense of loss.

By having these periods of separation, reunion and change your campaign will have a greater sense of the passage of time. Characters will grow more quickly, adventures have a distinct feeling depending on which era they are played in and gaps to explore.

This entry was posted in 11th Doctor, The Girl Who Waited. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to “You told me to wait. And I did. A lifetime.”

  1. dailypop says:

    I have continued to marvel at your articles. You always bring a startling sense of cohesion to the novels and classic series. Though I have to admit that your views on the new series are often more intelligent than the material itself in my opinion (send them your CV!). Your original stories are also inspired and always a pleasure to read.

    I do wonder what the program would have been like if Amy had changed and the Doctor and Rory had to live with the consequences (much like the New Adventures example with Ace you brought up). They really missed an opportunity there.

    • etheruk1 says:

      Thanks. Knowing that people enjoy the articles makes it all worthwhile.

      It would have been interesting to have an older Amy but practically it would have required Karen Gillan to be in prosthetics for the rest of the run. Making a drastic change to character is much easier in books or audios, which is why those mediums have an advantage over the tv show.

      It would be easier to do if they had gone with their original idea of having another actress play the older Amy. This would allow them to keep the character but change the actor (for example if that person wanted to leave the show).

      I’m glad Karen did play both roles, she is excellent in this episode. What I really would have liked to see is both Amy’s survive. Now that would have potential for future episodes. Two versions of the same person running around the universe, not to mention the romantic triangle between Rory and his two wives.

      • dailypop says:

        The Girl Who Waited ranks up there with the lost potential of Waters of Mars. If the Doctor really had completed the movement he began in the Christmas Invasion by becoming a self-righteous authority, just as dangerous as the monsters he fought that would have at least been interesting. But Davies chickened out and insisted that we should empathize with the Doctor even though he was acting so selfish that his actions threatened the fabric of time and space. That would have made The End of Time a memorable episode rather than the self-indulgence that it ending up being.

        The reason I digress so far is that it echoes the fact the program will not change. The fact that the Doctor is so anxious about regenerating is in opposition that the 10th and 11th personas are so similar. There’s no drama there. The Doctor has ‘died’ so many times that the suspense is nil at this point because the production team is most likely terrified to change anything.

        Reality has been re-written, time has been shattered and re-shaped, monsters have been removed from time forever and returned, etc. Even the sonic screwdriver was destroyed and it just came right back! There are no consequences in ‘New Who’ and that’s really a sore point for me with the new series. I’m not saying that it is necessary to have the characters progress, but Moffat and Davies placed the Doctor and his companions in situations that make the lack of progression or change all the more noticeable.

        Sorry to go off on a rant, it’s just one of the things about the BBC Wales Doctor Who that gets on my nerves because the potential is dangled in front of the audience so often.

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