For the 4th adventure in this campaign the spotlight should be shone on the Doctor’s birthplace. It has received little attention in the New Series, aside from a few flashbacks and a brief appearance during ‘The End of Time’. Now it is time to be reminded why it was so important.
For those using the previous adventures the PCs should already be heading there, having picked up Susan or the rogue 1st Doctor’s transmission. If not the PCs TARDIS could just randomly materialise there, a place that shouldn’t exist.
Scanning with the TARDIS reveals no activity. There are no signals being transmitted, no energy readings, nothing. Outside the mighty Capital city is in ruins, dusty covering rumble. Still, it isn’t a ball of ash like it should be, which is something of an improvement.
While the Doctor and his companions (or the players characters) explore the area they get a sense they are being watched. This should be an opportunity for any Time Lord characters to explain the importance of the world and why it shouldn’t be there. Plot points should be rewarded for anyone who does.
Use this as an opportunity for the PCs to explore notable areas from the television series, from a trial room from ‘Trial of a Timelord’, the meeting from ‘The Five Doctors’ or the operations from ‘The Three Doctors’. Impress upon the history and majesty of Gallifrey, that now lies empty and in ruins.
There should be a strong feeling that the place is haunted, glimpses of figures seen out of the corner of eyes, the sound of voices in the distance. The PCs should be reminded that these buildings and corners were once filled with one of the most powerful races in the universe.
Before long the PCs come under assault by shadowy black humanoids with orbs for heads. They fire psychic bullets and display an ability to teleport limited distances, accompanied by the sound of de-materialising TARDIS. The Doctor and certain Time Lords might recognise them as similar creations to Shayde from the comics, a construct of the Time Lords in the Matrix.
They are rescued by either Susan, or the 1st Doctor (for television a new actor would have to play this role, although this wouldn’t be the first time). The rescue could be something as simple as throwing rocks at the constructs, setting off a trap or using a discarded security guards laser gun. Whatever it is the constructs back off, allowing the PCs to escape.
Once they have put some distance between themselves and their pursuers the PCs can try and get some answers. Susan reveals that the constructs attacked her in 2202, abducting her and taking her back to Gallifrey.
She was able to get away but the PCs are the first people that she has encountered for weeks. During that time she was able to salvage some equipment and was desperately trying to contact the Doctor. Even if the Doctor is with the PCs she will be grateful for their arrival.
If you use the 1st Doctor instead he’ll tell a similar story, of being abducted by the constructs. He’ll make a vague reference to the fact that they interrupted some business of his but he’ll refuse to provide any more information, especially if a later incarnation of the Doctor is there.
What is clear is that the constructs are reporting to the Matrix. Every few hours one of them will go to an interface room and speak to someone. It isn’t too difficult for the PCs to witness this for themselves, as long as they aren’t spotted by the constructs.
The constructs report the arrival of the PCs the Matrix projects the hologram of a dignified woman. If the Doctor is there he’ll recognise her as Romana (mark 2) but any Time Lord should know a former President of Gallifrey.
If uninterrupted Romana orders the capture of the PCs but stresses that shouldn’t be harmed. If the PCs approach the constructs will prepare to attack but Romana will order them to stand down.
Romana explains that she is acting President of Gallifrey. In the closing days of the Time War she ordered that all non-combatant Time Lords should have their minds placed in the Matrix, including herself. She doesn’t know if the ‘real’ Romana is dead or not.
What she does know is that the Time Lords weren’t happy were her leadership and broke the laws of time to summon a dangerously unstable Rassilon, who quickly assumed power. The Matrix Romana initiated an emergency plan, creating a duplicate of Gallifrey in a pocket dimension.
The constructs were ordered to search time and space and gather any remaining Time Lords. Romana is horrified with how little success they’ve had. Now the PCs are there she can proceed with the next stage of her plan.
When the Master was reborn Romana had secret plans placed in his mind that would allow Gallifrey to be restored to its glory. She believed that if there was anyone likely to survive, other than the Doctor, it would be the Master. The Master was unaware of this.
Long range sensors have detected a rift in time, allowing a path into the heart of the Time War. If they can find the Master they can use a mind probe to recover the vital information. It is a dangerous mission but one that promises to restore Gallifrey to its former glory.
Alternatively, if you don’t wish to proceed with this campaign arc, the duplicated Matrix has degraded. Romana and the other Time Lords have gone quite mad and wish to round up all Time Lords and keep them prisoner on Gallifrey to keep them ‘safe’.
The duplication of Gallifrey is unstable, already beginning to breakdown, resulting in earthquakes. The PCs must escape from the constructs, along with any other Time Lords present.
For an extra challenge their TARDIS has been remotely locked down. They’ll need to reach the traffic control to free their time ship. Ramp up the drama as more and more of the planet dissolves away.
This should be a quite sad event, once again watching Gallifrey vanish, along with the minds of the Time Lords. Still, they may have been reunited with old friends. You may also wish to have a copy of the Matrix secretly uploaded to their TARDIS, meaning that the dead Time Lords can manipulate the ships path through the Time Vortex.