The Doctor initially believes that the minotaur in ‘The God Complex’ is talking about himself when he describes an ancient creature, drenched in blood and drifting through space. That is until is made clear the Beast is talking about the Time Lord.
Stories like this can highlight aspects of Doctor Who and force us to re-examine them in a new light. By literally making the setting of this adventure a series of corridors it could almost be a parody. Instead it is just putting the larger themes of the show into a context that is easier to understand.
There is little difference between the corridors that lead to a countless number of rooms containing people’s fears and the Doctor piloting the TARDIS along the Time Vortex to countless worlds with something waiting to terrify his companions. At least in the hotel the monsters in the room aren’t real.
Seen in this context what the Doctor is doing seems very sinister. Just like the hotel/prison he snatches people from all over space and time (we’ve already established their choice is just an illusion) and takes them to places he knows they’ll be scared of.
Granted this is an over-simplification. There is plenty of evidence that the Doctor and his companions have plenty of periods where they have a nice relaxing time. We don’t see them because they wouldn’t be exciting for the viewer.
That being said within the story this simplification is important for the Doctor to realise he has to let Amy and Rory go. We see some indication this might have had a last effect on him in ‘Closing Time’ and ‘The Wedding of River Song’ but it remains to be seen if there is any genuine character growth from this realisation.
In your own campaign problems within the game can be addressed by building an adventure that reflects those issues. The hope being that players seeing the problem from the outside might come to appreciate the errors of their own ways.
If the player characters routinely cause a lot of collateral damage when defeating an opponent they could encounter a world that was freed from slavery but at the cost of planets environment. Now the planet is dying and their saviours have no idea why the locals aren’t more grateful towards them.
Player characters who routinely fail to keep their promises, lie or cheat could met a race who trusted another alien species to help them, providing them with resources. Centuries later the naive aliens still hope the other species will keep their promise, refusing to face facts and deal with the problem themselves.
These are good sources of adventure in themselves, which is important. If the story is only about pointing out the players flaws then it won’t be fun for anyone. If they don’t get the hint or choose to ignore it then they can still enjoy the adventure. If it makes them reflect on their own choices so much the better.
Taking this route to solving issues within the game can be better than basing an adventure on the consequences of their own actions, for example making them return to a planet to see the terrible mess they made of the place. It is less direct but also less confrontational.
To return to the metaphor of the hotel this can be seen as taking the characters to their own room of fears. It is said that when you find your room whatever it contains is so obvious you realise it could never have been anything else. We all know what we’re really afraid of, even if we can’t admit it to ourselves.
It is eventually revealed that the room itself isn’t the important thing. It isn’t the fear that the minotaur wants. That is just cathartic moment that makes a person turn to their faith. It is how they respond.
Every adventure players know that their characters are going to be scared. They want to encounter that source of fear. What is interesting is how they respond. What do they turn to in order to save themselves?
Is it the Time Lord character? Is it themselves? Is it science, faith or their ability to inspire others? Who do they think with protect them? What makes them feel safe?
This information can be valuable. It can help you fulfil the players expectations or confound them. If they turn to the Time Lord character to help them making sure he is available can strengthen their bond or you could prevent his appearance, making the player character find another way to save themselves.
Even getting the players to recognise the source of their faith can help their characters grow. They might not even realise that they find such comfort in it. Recognising each others sources of faith could help player characters better understand each other.
Within the games NPCs could also learn the player characters sources of faith and use the information to benefit themselves. They might pose as someone that the character has faith in, deny them the thing that they always use when they’re in trouble or uses the source of faith as bait in a trap.
Whole campaigns can be built around putting elements of the Doctor Who genre in different contexts.
In an idea I’ve explored several times previously the TARDIS could function like the hotel, its rooms containing the adventures. The TARDIS acts as the hub, stationary and inescapable.
Guests of the TARDIS can explore the corridors, finding out what is in each room. Each room is a different time or place where the player characters are needed. They can save the day and all they have to do to return to the TARDIS is remember which door they emerged from.
Occupants of rooms could become aware of the TARDIS and interact with other rooms. The TARDIS could become a means for species all over the universe to rapidly travel from place to place. The player characters might have to police who is emerging from their room and prevent invasions or time meddling. This would be much easier with a set of keys.
Keys would allow player characters of who can open the doors from either side. A whole series of adventures could be built around discovering sets of keys which might be in remote sections of the TARDIS or in individual rooms. It could be that you need a certain key to unlocks rooms that lead to the 18th century, Dalek occupied planets or those related to the Time Lords.
Another campaign model could have the player characters as a member of a race who are suffering serious depopulation issues as their young keep being lured away on exciting adventures with exotic aliens, never to be seen again. The player characters have to track down these runaway children and get them home.
To really put the shoe on the other foot they could be part of an species that is trying to gain dominance throughout the galaxy only to have an annoying Time Lord deem them evil, leading him popping up every time and thwarting their plans. Worse still he goes back in time and messes with their history.
Can the player characters ever win? Must they build their own time machine to beat him at his own game? Could they appeal to his own people to stop this Time Lord or will they join forces with his enemies to deal with him?
In closing ‘The God Complex’ leaves us with two continuing mysteries. “What was in the Doctor’s room?” and “What do Time Lords pray to?”
There is nothing wrong with raising questions about player characters that aren’t answered. They help create mystery and encourage speculation. In a long running campaign this is just what you need to maintain interest and generate new ideas.