In ‘The Eleventh Hour’ the cracks in time have allowed an alien shape-shifter, Prisoner Zero, to escape to Earth. This brings the wardens of the prison, the Atraxi, to our world who promptly threaten to destroy the planet.
The Atraxi resemble giant eyeballs, embedded in crystal snow flakes. It could be that this is their natural form or that this exterior is merely the outer shell of a spaceship, with the real Atraxi inside it.
Given that one of the Atraxi’s giant eyeball detaches from the crystal body this could be their true form, with the crystal used as a means of transport. Alternatively the eyeball is just a pod for the main craft.
Certainly in terms of evolution it would seem unlikely that a species would develop that was just an eyeball. It could be that this is just what it looks like to us and that inside the eyeball is a powerful brain, capable of psionic feats that would aide in survival.
The Atraxi could be genetically engineered, designed specifically for the task of acting as wardens of the prison. They could also be extra-dimensional, meaning the eyeball is the only body part that is intersecting with our dimension, allowing us to perceive it.
The majority of the Atraxi’s powers seem to be based on technology. They have weapons that can destroy planets, place a forcefield around a world and take over all communication systems to broadcast their messages.
They can also scan targets, both to search for prisoners and identify points of origin. This does require them to be looking in the right direction. They fail to detect the Doctor using his sonic screwdriver but once he gets their attention are able to track a computer virus to its source.
This ability to scan allows them to gather information about a planet very quickly. Not only does this suggest an impress speed and thoroughness but a mental capacity that can quickly shift through and process a vast amount of raw information.
As a species they seem to have little regard for the life of other species. Even though they are aware that the Shadow Proclamation has declared Earth to be a protected planet they still seem intent on destroying all life, just to recapture a single prisoner.
They do have some sense of self-preservation, as they flee once they are given in an illustration of the Doctor’s power. This would suggest that they may not threaten a world if they believe that they could be harmed.
The Atraxi provide a large scale threat that PCs could encounter in their travels. There is plenty of mystery about them, leaving plenty of room for games masters to fill in the detail.
Currently the Atraxi are baleful gods, unknowable and incredibly powerful. It is a small mercy that they seem focused on their duties as prison wardens. One shudders to think what would happen if they set out to conquer the universe?
We can only speculate at the nature of their prison and how it came to be. Did the Atraxi design it themselves? Do they decide who are prisoners there? This would suggest that Prisoner Zero, who is clearly not of the same species, committed a crime against the Atraxi and was punished by their justice system.
They might run their prison as a service to other species in exchange for money or resources. Imprisonment could be an area that the Atraxi realised they were particularly good at.
As mentioned previously the Atraxi could have been designed specifically for the task. This raises questions about which race would be so powerful to create a race with such incredible gifts.
Prisoner Zero’s designation might be clue to this. Could he be the reason that the Atraxi created a prison in the first place, just as patient zero is the initial patient of an epidemic. Could Patient Zero started something that resulted in many more people that needed to be contained?
The Atraxi might give all of their prisoners a numerical code. This could be a ranking system, with 0 being the most dangerous prisoner. A numerical code could also be a means to keep a prisoner off the books. Only the Atraxi would know that the Prisoner 0 existed at all. Which does raise the question of why.
The prison itself would make a good setting for an adventure. If the PCs TARDIS materialised there they might be mistaken for prisoners themselves. Could they find a way to escape without allowing any of the imprisoned criminals to escape? Might they need to break someone out?
The PCs could also be on an alien planet when it is placed under lockdown by the Atraxi, either searching for an escaped prisoner or there to arrest someone. The PCs would then be facing destruction along with everyone else, just for being in in the wrong place at the wrong time.
This setup gives a lot of flexibility in regards to the identity of the prisoner. The PCs might work with the authorities to try and locate the person that the Atraxi are looking for. This could also lead to a witch hunt, with angry mobs turning on people who they think are the guilty party.
Rather than helping the Atraxi the PCs might learn that the person they want doesn’t deserve to go to prison. The PCs will need to decide whether that person’s life is worth placing everyone in danger. If they do help them they’ll need a way to defeat the Atraxi, presumably without the aide of fearsome reputation.
The Atraxi do seem uniquely suited to dealing with both the Weeping Angels and the Silence. Able to monitor large areas they could seriously hamper the activities of both species.
If the Atraxi are capable of instantly sharing information, as part of a hive-mind, then they’d be able to retain knowledge of the Silence as long as someone was constantly looking at them or a recording of their image.
It could be that both these species are contained within the Atraxi’s prison. This might be what they were specifically designed for. The Atraxi might also find themselves targeted by either or both of these races, trying to neutralise this threat.
In such a conflict who would the PCs side with?