Although we have seen plenty of incidences in which Daleks will destroy members who are impaired ‘Asylum of the Daleks’ reveals that some are actually confined on a planet. The Prime Minister claims that they would find it offensive to destroy such pure hatred.
Daleks which are battle-scarred, insane and/or can’t be controlled are placed in the asylum. Their numbers extend into the millions and the asylum itself reaches into the core of the planet.
The Doctor states that the asylum is a legend. This means two things. Firstly that the asylum has been around long enough to become the subject of legend. Secondly it would indicate that the Doctor, and his sources of information, have never found any proof of its existence.
Given that we later learn Daleks who have faced earlier incarnations of the Doctor are stationed there it would appear that it has existed since before the Time War. It could be that it was spared because the Time Lords couldn’t find it.
The Asylum is surrounded by a force field which is described as impenetrable. This can’t be true because not only did the star liner Alaska crash there the Doctor suggests that a small task force of Daleks could ‘sneak’ through. Shortly afterwards the Daleks use a gravity beam to send down the Doctor, Amy and Rory to the surface.
This all indicates that the force field is porous. We have no idea how big the starliner Alaska was but it could be that it was smaller that either a Dalek ship or their missiles. The design of the shield might allow smaller objects in but nothing out.
The Asylum itself is described as being fully automated. This could refer to simple environmental controls since the Daleks don’t seem the sort to use artificial intelligence. This means there are no sane Daleks within the asylum, no staff members to monitor and care for those confined within.
Puzzlingly the force field itself can only be deactived from the Asylum itself. This raises the question of how new inmates are deposited at the Asylum. Are they simply beamed down via gravity beam and expected to find their way inside?
A more likely scenario is that the automated systems could be signalled to briefly lower the shields. In the wake of Oswin’s sabotage this was no longer an option, forcing the Daleks to call upon the Doctor.
If the Daleks never had the ability to lower the force field why did they design it this way? Did they think that the inmates would never have the capability to lower it themselves? Did they believe that the Dalek Parliament shouldn’t have access? Did they foresee a day when the government would want to destroy the inmates and take steps to prevent that?
The Doctor guesses that the reason that the Daleks want to destroy the Asylum is because they fear that the insane inhabitants will unleash themselves on the universe. Even the Parliament of Daleks wouldn’t want this.
Does this mean that there is a spaceship capable of flight on the planet? It could be that the Daleks fear the inmates will be capable of salvaging the starliner Alaska. If there is no craft capable of space flight do the Daleks fear the inmates will travel through space under their own power?
We have seen Daleks fly and travel through space. The question remains whether they are capable of light speed, allowing them to travel across vast reaches of space. If they are this means that they don’t require ships in order to travel to planets.
Even if the Daleks are capable of escaping into space millions of inmates would only be a threat if they stayed together. If they are truly insane and impossible to control then they are likely to be disorganised. It wouldn’t take long before the escaping inmates dispersed in all directions, making them an occasional nuisance, rather than a threat.
An escape only becomes a concern if enough of the inmates are only in the asylum because they can’t be controlled. This doesn’t prevent these inmates from uniting and forming their own faction.
This is in keeping with their history of internal conflict. The Dalek Parliament could fear that this would weaken them to a point where they’d loose control of their empire. The inmates would give rebels the opportunity to overthrow their masters and Dalek strategists might predict this would be the beginning of the end.
The inmates are not shown to be confined, aside from the traumatised ward that appear to be locked into place. It could be that they were until Oswin sabotaged the system, accidentally unlocking previously sealed doors.
Rory encounters a selection of Daleks that are in a comatose state. It takes several minutes and prodding for them to awaken. We still don’t know how long the mutant inside a Dalek can survive. Do they hibernate and how long can they do so?
The Doctor and Amy encounter a room of Daleks who are interacting or spinning around. Amy views this as a distorted social gathering. If there is any truth in this the inmates might be interacting to prevent themselves from shutting down.
These Daleks don’t immediately attack Amy. It could be that they recognise that she is undergoing conversion. Insane Daleks might hallucinate, either believing that intruders aren’t really there or that they are something else.
PCs exploring the Asylum might encounter such a group. This could lead to tense scenes where they interact with these delusional Daleks, hoping that they don’t realise the reality of the situation.
All of the Daleks show signs of deterioration, with one Dalek being unable fire its weapon. This would suggest that their organic component lasts longer than their mechanical parts. A Dalek stranded without access to replacement parts or tools to perform repairs will see their abilities diminish.
What we didn’t see is those Daleks driven insane by hate. This could be a good basis for an adventure, an encounter with Daleks that other Daleks consider too extreme. What plans would they come up with?
The existence of older inmates might be source of pure genetic material. This might be a reason for Daleks to enter, or at least send their puppets, to collect such material from the dangerous inmates.
From the fate of Oswin we know that the Asylum has the technology required for a full conversion. Was this another security feature or is it something that the inmates constructed?
Since Oswin had such intimate access to all the systems in the Asylum it suggests that the systems weren’t fully automated. I think there is a good possibility that there was a supervisor, plugged in and maintaining the Asylum.
The reason the Daleks needed a genius is because the previous supervisor had died, or they wished to replace him. They turned Oswin into the supervisor hoping she’d keep the place running but only made things worse.
We don’t know how many Daleks were involved in this process or whether they were inmates or staff members. We never see the Daleks that actually concocted this plan. Are they hiding somewhere or were they exterminated when their plan backfired?
The planet is apparently destroyed at the end of the episode but that doesn’t mean that PCs can’t visit their prior to its destruction or that there isn’t another Asylum somewhere else in the universe.
A TARDIS might be able to land there but would require the PCs to lower the force field in order for it to leave. They’d have to protect themselves from the nano cloud, Daleks and the threat of full conversion.
They might also go to the Asylum on a specific mission. They could be there just to destroy the Daleks, striking a psychological blow against the Parliament by killing those they consider beautiful.
They could seek an alliance with the inmates or free them in the hopes of causing chaos. They might also seek out information that the older Daleks retain. An inmate might have details of other secret Dalek installations.
If the PCs have had prior encounters with the Daleks they may find that some of the inmates are there because of their shared past. There could even be some inmates who recognise the PCs from events that haven’t happened yet.
In a campaign or adventure centred on Dalek politics the Asylum could be used as a threat. Political opponents might be accused of being too filled with hate or mental scarred by their past and shipped off to the Asylum. What lengths would such a Dalek go to prove their sanity?
A particularly twisted adventure could use Oswin’s revelation as a starting point. The PCs might awaken in the Asylum only to discover they are Daleks their characters have encountered. In an attempt to understand their enemy these Daleks now believe themselves to be the PCs. Do they go mad, embrace their Dalek identity or try to unite with their true selves?