What Could Have Been: Dinosaurs On A Spaceship

Dinosaurs on a SpaceshipThis article is a continuing look at elements from first drafts or things that were removed during editing. I am using the ‘Doctor Who Magazine: The Doctor Who Companion: The Eleventh Doctor, Volume 6’ as a guide.

The TARDIS Ejected

In the first draft shortly after arriving on Silurian spaceship the two Ankylosuars the group encounter accidentally knock the TARDIS into a space lock and eject it. While Rory is concerned about this the Doctor is just gleeful that there are dinosaurs on a spaceship.

Putting the TARDIS out of reach increases the stakes of the adventure. The PCs can’t simply retreat into their time machine and escape from the threat. They either have to gain access to it while dealing with the current threat or wait until they’ve dealt with the threat and then recover the TARDIS.

You could tie in ticking clock, with the TARDIS getting further out of reach. Even if the threat doesn’t have a time limit itself PCs will still feel compelled to deal with it quickly before their TARDIS is gone forever.

In this particular scenario the TARDIS being sent into space could lead to an exciting sequence in which the PCs must perform a space walk in order to reach it. If they can pilot it then all they have to do is reach it, get inside and have it re-materialize on the spaceship. If not then they’ll have to find a way to grapple it and drag it back to the airlock.

It is possible that the PCs could use the ships teleporter to beam them into the TARDIS, although the time machines own security systems might defeat this and the ships teleporter might only work internally.

The PCs could get the villains to recover the TARDIS for them. In this story Solomon was shown as a collector so could probably have been persuaded to obtain the TARDIS, since it would have been very valuable. The PCs would then just have to get it away from him.

“You’re not the only one who can use the teleport. Where you run this ship, I’ll find you in seconds.”

The lines of dialogue from Solomon indicate how technology can be used to reduce the PCs choices. Here the characters can’t escape from their pursuer, since both can teleport. This will force them to come up with a new strategy.

In this situation there are various things PCs could try. They could split up, meaning that even if Solomon can teleport anywhere he can’t be in more than one place at any one time, giving the PCs a chance to carry out their plans even if they are more vulnerable by being alone.

They could teleport to a location where they’d have the advantage. This plan benefits from the fact that they know that their enemy will follow them so they can put him exactly where they want him.

They could sabotage the teleport technology, denying it to both of them and thus taking away his ability to pursue them anywhere. They could also try to change who can use the system, preventing Solomon from using it.

In a different scenario if the enemy is the only one that can use the teleport system they become much more terrifying. You could never run, never escape. An adventure could be based around an alien society where this technology is used to control and repress the population.

The Sacrifice of Nefertiti

The first draft ended with Nefertiti sacrificing herself by knocking out the Doctor and making sure only she and Solomon were in his pod before it was destroyed. Amy points out that Nefertiti vanished from history and this is the reason why.

I quite like this ending, since it removes the Doctor’s rather brutal treatment of Solomon and makes a strong connection with history, solving a mystery. This is reminiscent of how ‘The Wasp and The Unicorn’ explained Agatha Christies’  disappearance.

This can be a clever way to combine history into your scenarios, especially when they feature historical figures as companions. If someone went missing then it maybe because they died during one of your adventures.

Generally speaking this is also a noble way for a PC to be retired, by letting them go out in a blaze of glory. You may want to allow any action carried out by character succeed in the understanding that they’ll die as a result.

The TARDIS To The Rescue

An alternative to the above scene was that the Doctor would rescue Nefertiti by materialising the TARDIS around her. While this can be dramatic if used sparingly this was eventually dropped and a more practical means of saving her was developed.

The TARDIS is a marvellous thing but much like the Sonic Screwdriver it can be over relied upon. While they can save the day it is much more satisfying for other means to be found to solve the current problem.

A clever GM can come up with numerous reasons why the PCs technology can’t help them but the players should be encouraged to come up with different solutions without having obstacles put in their way.

One possible incentive is to give Story Points when they come up with ingenious solutions or exciting actions. By not rewarding the use of the TARDIS or Sonic Screwdriver unless they are really called for players will naturally look for other solutions in their desire to obtain more Story Points.

A Poisonous Spider

In the stage directions for Solomon he is described as being on black crutches, these extended limbs giving him the appearance of a poisonous spider. I like this idea and is a good way to add menace to villains who are otherwise physically frail.

In an adventure you are free to have the villains use advanced cybernetics to overcome their physical drawbacks. This is more unnerving if in the process they become non-human. In this case Solomon’s spindly limbs would make him more arachnid than man.

Emotion Inhibitors

A cut line from the episode would have explained that the two robots behaved the way they did because they were picked up cheaply from Illyria Seven due to the emotional inhibitors on their AI circuits being damaged.

This raises the question of why an AI would need emotional inhibitors. Are emotions a naturally consequence of intelligence? It could be that the computer programmers of Illyria Seven could only simulate intelligence by modelling how organic species brains work which unfortunately also included emotions.

Could emotional inhibitors be used on organic species? Not only could a species like the Cybermen change people to their logical ways others could find use for them. PCs might find that emotional inhibitors are a useful weapon against aliens that feed on emotions or a sure-fire way to guard against a creatures fear factor.

A civilisation might use emotional inhibitors during a mourning period or to get over the heart break of relationship ending. This could lead to an adventure that explores what happens when people hide from their emotions rather than confront them.

The Reason For Riddell

Another cut sequence would have revealed that the reason why the Doctor brought Riddell along was because he was due to die the next day in his timeline. This was the Doctor’s chance to give him one last adventure.

While Amy sees this as an act of kindness it could also be interpreted as the Doctor picking someone whose death wouldn’t affect history, since he knew that his time was running out anyway.

It is a shame that this was taken out of the episode as his inclusion makes much more sense in this light.

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