The Doctor does a lot of soul searching in ‘The God Complex’. This self examination does much of the analysis that I try to do in these articles. By understanding the character we can understand the nature of the show itself.
The major realisation that the Doctor has is that he hasn’t really given the companions a choice. Who could turn down the chance to travel with him? They don’t appreciate that it will put them in danger, that they might even die.
The Doctor does and still he makes the offer. We can assume that when he speaks to Amy later about his reasons for doing this he is being deliberately cruel to break her faith in him. None the less they are still interesting, given that there is prior evidence to support his claim.
He says that he wanted Amy because he was vain, because he wanted to be adored. In the TARDIS cutaway scenes, included on the Season 5 dvd, he says that he has a companion to see the universe through their eyes, to remind him of the wonder. More recently in ‘The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe’ he again makes reference to the fact that he doesn’t have the strength of emotion that he once did.
All of this suggests that the Doctor now uses his companions to maintain his, for want of a better word, humanity. We’ve seen how a whole new timeline can be created in ‘Turn Left’ simply by having the Doctor go through the events of ‘The Runaway Bride’ without Donna.
Without a companion the Doctor lacks compassion and empathy. If he doesn’t have their emotional responses to gauges his actions then certain courses of action don’t occur to him. This can be seen in ‘The Beast Below’ where he is prepared to lobotomise the space whale until Amy suggests it might actually want to help.
This can impact on a campaign in multiple ways. Firstly if the Time Lord in your game is a NPC this gives added emphasis to the companion player characters. It is their influence that determines his actions.
The Time Lord character has the advanced knowledge and experience to carry out a plan but it would be the player characters who provide the motivation and suggestions. It is their role to ask ‘Can we do this?’ or ‘Should we consider this?’
A player who is running a Time Lord may like to incorporate this aspect into their own character. This could be treated as a Bad trait and might look something like this:
Emotional Distance [Minor/Major Bad Trait]
The characters ability to experience empathy is diminished. This is common in particularly old Time Lords who have experienced it all and so have become cynical or callous. To stave off this affect the Time Lord can use an emotional proxy, usually a companion who they use to remind themselves of what they should be feeling.
Effect: As a minor trait the character suffers a –2 to Awareness and Presence checks related to emotions. They find it harder to recognise emotions communicated through body language or take into account how their actions impact on others.
When taken as a major trait the modifier is increased to –5. In addition spending a Story Point to provide inspiration never reveals plans or ideas that have an emotional basis (for example a compassionate option).
These modifiers are eliminated if in the presence of a companion (or able to communicate with one). If the character doesn’t have a companion they can temporarily deputise a NPC as one for 1 story point.
If these emotional loss increases due to age then all Time Lords might eventually become unfeeling monsters. This could explain why Rassilon was both an honoured hero before becoming a feared figure that brought about the Dark Times, why Borusa became a villain and the how the Doctor can potentially become the Valeyard.
In the Virgin New Adventures book ‘Sky Pirates!’ Bernice Summerfield ponders that the Doctor reminds her of the sheepdog in old cartoons who protects the sheep from the wolf. The dog is stopping the sheep from being killed but he knows that his owner will eventually kill them himself.
It is then suggested that the Doctor uses his telepathic influence to wipe the thought from Bernice’s mind. I’ve always thought it would be interesting if the reason the Doctor works so hard to save the universe is because he is aware that his future incarnation will do something terrible. In a way he is making amends for something he will do.
If we accept that all Time Lords are aware of this then it can lead to interesting consequences for Gallifreyan society. Would elderly Time Lords be confined or restricted in their later years, to prevent them from doing something terrible due to their lack of empathy? Were the warning signs just missed with Borusa?
This might be the other reason why the Time Lords restrict off-world travel. It isn’t just a policy of non-interference, it is an awareness that these unmonitored Time Lords could wreck havoc as they enter their final, immoral years.
A Gallifrey based campaign could see player characters assigned to hunt down these emotionless rogues. Their quarries might even have been once considered heroes. Now age has caught up with them and they must be stopped.
This knowledge would also be a burden for a Time Lord character, perfect for the Dark Secret trait. You could never tell those around you that eventually you’ll become completely inhuman. That eventually they won’t mean anything to you because you’ll loose all ability to feel emotions.
It could explain why the Doctor occasionally displays a willingness to die. By sacrificing himself to save others he has averted his eventually fate. If he did die at least it would be on his terms.
This is just based on the Doctor’s stated reason for having a companion. Time Lord player characters could have a variety of reasons and it can be a good way to develop the character by stating those reasons.
Is it based purely on friendship? To stave of loneliness? Do they pick people for their talents to make their crusade or mission easier? Or have they got a bigger picture in mind, taking companions and influencing them as part of a grand social experiment that will alter time for the better?
It could be that the character has never really thought about why they do it. If they examined their reason would they agree with it our be horrified at their actions. This self examination can help the character develop or confirm their faith in themselves.
Companion player characters might also question why the Time Lord took them on his adventures. This can help define their relationship, although not everyone will like what they discover. Still, eventually it will be time to see each other as they truly are.