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.
Did 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.