The Psychic Circus was once a very different place. They gained such a reputation that even now they have avid fans, such as Whizzkid, who trade in their memorabilia. The greatest tragedy is that such a happy place was corrupted.
Before the Gods of Ragnarok ruined everything the circus was made up of people with special talents. We hear of Flowerchild, Peacepipe, Juniperberry, Kingpin, Morgana, the Ring Master, The Clown and Bell boy. There could very well be several more than we don’t learn about.
These members would seem to be human but do display unusual powers. Flowerchild was able to create kites that could seek out and trap people. Morgana does display some form of psychic ability, able to summon images within her crystal ball. Bell Boy had a genius for robotics.
Tellingly Bell Boy says that these are circus skills that could be learned. This could suggest that at this stage in human civilisation such mystical abilities are trivial. While entertaining to watch an everyday person could do the same if they had the same training.
Is there a trick to learning how to do these things or is there a technological element? Learning could just be a term to describe some form of nanobot injection, that allows the user to manifest these extraordinary abilities.
Either way there is nothing to indicate that the circus was the only ones who possessed these talents. Adventures set during this period could lead the PCs to encounter people who can perform miracles but view their gifts as trivialities.
Player characters from this era might have strange, alien abilities. Travelling into the past might be an easy way to gain them fame and fortune. This can explore the notion that ‘any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic’.
An adventure scenario could be based around the idea of people with such talents defending themselves from an external threat. A hostile alien race might see something like the Psychic Circus as easy prey, until they are attacked by robot clowns, their every move predicted and kites bombard them from the sky.
Morgana’s psychic abilities could be form of Time Sight. If people are able to manifest visions of the future, whether through crystal balls or tarot cards they could affect the web of time, which should concern a Time Lord.
There are some in the circus who we never see exhibit any powers, such as the Ring Master and the Clown. What was their special circus skills? I would be tempted to suggest that the Ring Master had some form of enhanced charisma while the Clown could have a mind that allowed him to deal with the stress of the situation more easily than the others.
Despite losing several members of the circus they were able to continue operating thanks to a large number of robots. From this we can see that in this era a business operation needs only a few people to provide creative input, while manual labour is handled by robots.
Just as the growth of the internet has allowed many people to produce their own media enterprises cheap robotics would give rises to business run by a small number of people. This is great for a Doctor Who roleplaying game as it gives more situations in which the PCs will encounter isolated groups of people surrounded by robots that may or may not try to kill them.
A single person could run mining operations, construction jobs, scientific studies and exploration accompanied by hordes of cheap robots. What this does remove is over-sight, leading inexperienced people having their robots carry out actions that could do lasting damage to the environment and native life forms.
This could increase the speed in which humanity spreads across the universe. Adventures could be built around concerns from alien species about the effect humans are having or putting the PCs in the position of protecting natives and preventing their planet being drastically altered by thoughtless human expansionists.
The circus travelled to planets such as Othrys, the Boriatic Wastes, Marpesia and the grand pagoda on Cinethon. Since we are never shown any vehicles we can assume they travelled there via polyportable landing bays.
PCs may arrive in an earlier time frame and encounter the circus at the height of its glory. If the players haven’t taken the role of the Doctor there is no reason for them to know what will happen to them.
Will the circus be as good as everyone says or is it just nostalgia? PCs might even be responsible for making them great, helping them overcome their problems and learning to work as a group.
The circus could act as a backdrop, with the focus of the adventure being on what happens there or on the planet. Someone could be murdered during a performance, wild animals could escape or the planet might erupt into civil war.
In adventures set after the events of ‘The Greatest Show In The Galaxy’ the PCs might encounter them as they try to rebuild. Can they help them get back on their feet? Might the circus be looking for new members, leading to a recruitment drive? This could lead to an adventure built around what it is effectively a talent competition. Just how far would someone go to join the circus?
If Whizzkid is any indication there could be a booming trade in Psychic Circus memorabilia. An adventure could be built around several parties trying to obtain a ‘treasure’ only for it to turn out to be a Psychic Circus poster or an autographed pamphlet from the Ring Master.
The junk mail robot despatched by the circus is interesting, as it materialises within the TARDIS. Is this a form of teleportation similar to the landing pads, with the robot beamed into passing vessels? This would suggest that there is at least some form of physical space travel carried out in this era.
Not only might spaceships have to deal with such annoyances in their travels such robots can pose a threat. After all, what is to prevent someone from beaming a robot with a bomb onside a vessel or having a robot connect with a ships computer to hijack it?
All of these glimpses of the time paint a very interesting picture, allowing for numerous adventures to explore its different facets.