‘The Name Of The Doctor’ presents a campaign format that combines ‘Doctor Who’ and ‘Quantum Leap.’ Clara (or her echoes) scattering through the Doctor’s timeline to protect him from the Great Intelligence.
This could be a way to frame an anthology type campaign. Each adventure could be a different Doctor and set of companions who are targeted by the Great Intelligence. At first they might not even be aware that he is influencing events, until they encounter Clara.
If only the companions encounter Clara then continuity can be maintained to explain why the Doctor doesn’t recognise her in his 11th incarnation. You might not even reveal Clara’s name to the players, simply introducing her as a mysterious woman with important information.
Since the players will be playing different roles each adventure, their characters aren’t likely to realise that the same woman is helping the Doctor across the years. Only when previous companions get to meet would they be able to compare notes (which is an adventure in itself).
Just as the Doctor attracted attention so might Clara. People could start collecting records of her appearances. The PCs could be members of an organisation like UNIT or Torchwood who start to notice this pattern and make a special effort to respond to her appearances.
In many ways Clara would be like the Observers in ‘Fringe’, alerting the PCs to when something strange is afoot. They may infrequently encounter Clara but something it is enough to know that she was there.
It is important to remember that it is the echoes of Clara that will be encountered. If ‘Asylum of the Daleks’ and ‘The Snowmen’ are any indication she would be unaware of her true nature and could very well die in the course of saving the Doctor.
The campaign could focus on the PCs, put in the same position as Clara. It could be that after she entered time didn’t right itself. River Song, using the telepathic connection with the 11th Doctor’s TARDIS could send it out to recruit old companions or new PC characters to follow her in.
There might be simply too many incidents for even a million echoes of Clara to deal with. There could also be incidences where the echo fails to save the Doctor. This is where the PCs come in.
Each adventure begins with one of their echoes arriving in a new location, sometimes with a backstory in place to allow them to interact with their surroundings. Their job is to locate the Doctor and protect him from the Great Intelligence.
You could use existing stories as the basis of these adventures, fitting the player characters in like ‘Forrest Gump’ or the Deep Space 9 episode ‘Trials and Tribble-Ations’. They exist in the background, protecting the Doctor without his knowledge.
This works well for players who are familiar with the entire run of Doctor Who. Their pre-created backstories allow them to fit into any scenario while still playing a version of the same character.
One week they might be UNIT soldiers preventing an alliance between the Great Intelligence and the Master, the next week they could be a resident of Castrovalva preventing the 5th Doctor being trapped for all eternity or find themselves as sailors on the Mary Celeste, preventing the Daleks from capturing the 1st Doctor.
You might also use this opportunity to create unseen adventures for the Doctors. This removes the safety net of fore-knowledge for the players. You can shift the focus of the adventure so that it is their characters who are saving the day, with the Doctor blissfully unaware of their actions.
If nothing else the 2nd/8th Doctor adventure Clara stumbles into during the adventure is worth exploring. Did the two Doctors cross paths? Who were their travelling companions at the time? What needed both their attention?
Don’t forget that the time stream also contains the Doctor’s future. Clara only saw 11 incarnations so the player characters could concentrate on that aspect of his life. This gives you even greater freedom, since we don’t know what his future holds.
If you don’t want to explore the future it is simple enough to justify this. Since the Great Intelligence knows that his attack will wipe out the 11th Doctor there is no need to attack his future incarnations, since they will be the first to vanish.
While the important character remains the Doctor the significance of the player characters is greatly increased. They are the most important person in the universe’s protectors and guardians. By association they are equally important, if not more so.
This is tinged with sadness in that the player characters are just echoes. Their existence comes to an end once they have completed their appointed task. This can give them the impudence to take greater risks, since they know that they won’t survive the adventure.
There is also the question of what will happen to the original player character. Will they burn up or will the Doctor be able to save them as well? It could be that they can put in motion their own rescue mission while travelling through the Doctor’s past.
This campaign model works equally well for a short or long term campaign, allowing players to explore all aspects of the Doctor’s adventures.