In ‘Dalek’ we first learn that the Doctor isn’t the only survivor of the Time War. A single Dalek fell through time, landing in 1962. For 50 years it was brought and sold by different collectors until it finally ended up in Van Statten’s collection in 2012.
That still leaves a lot of time for the PCs to cross its path. Is this truly the first time that it has been active? Given Van Statten’s utter lack of knowledge about what the Dalek is it seems likely that he isn’t privy to its entire history while in the hands of collectors.
The Dalek can only be encountered post-Time War but it is unclear whether subsequent changes to the universe might have altered that. One of the most frequently raised points is that Van Statten isn’t aware of the Daleks, even though the events of this story take place after the Battle of Canary Wharf.
It seems likely then that the 50 year timeline that the Dalek experienced was erased or significantly altered once its brethren arrived from the void. This can be important for PCs travelling within this unaltered timeline, allowing them to exist in a world where most people have never heard of the Daleks.
It is also possible that the crack in time or the reboot of the universe also removed the stray Dalek. You might decide that the reason the Dalek survived the Time War is because it fell through the crack in time.
Regardless we know that the Dalek arrived on the Ascension islands. This is an isolated volcanic island in the South Atlantic Ocean, midway between South America and Africa.
At the time the island was in the hands of the Americans. Throughout the sixties they would develop an airfield, used for large aircrafts and an emergency runway for space shuttles.
From the account provided we know that people knew when the Dalek arrived, since we know it burned for three days. It is likely that it was found by the United States Airforce. What did they make of it?
This is a perfect basis for an adventure. The island provides an exotic, beautiful setting. The presence of the US Airforce trying to work out what the Dalek is providing interesting NPCs and the time period can provide Cold War paranoia. You need only introduce Soviet spies investigating the falling object to really get things moving.
Even inert the Dalek provides a tangible danger. Anyone touching it will burst into flames, although protective gear can get around that (and the US Airforce will have the resources to do this).
If the Roswell crash occurred in your campaign world (and Doctor Who fiction says that it did) the US Airforce may have experience in dealing with extra-terrestrials. Once the personnel report what they’ve found they’d be provided with the required information about alien life or high ranking officer with the required clearance would be despatched to take control of the operation.
There would be little reason to keep the Dalek on the island and the first order of business would be to take it back to the United States, either by air or sea. Either are good opportunities for it to be stolen or for the vessel carrying it to crash, allowing it to be salvaged.
If it does make it to America it could be taken to Area 51 or some other secretive holding facility. This would make another good setting for the PCs to arrive at. There is also the danger that the Dalek might take advantage of the other alien technology surrounding it to conduct repairs and escape.
We must assume that the technology at the time prevented the Airforce from cutting the Dalek open. Its shell might even block x-rays, preventing them from learning what is inside.
There is plenty of evidence to indicate that Daleks can go into hibernation, their shell providing them everything they need to stay alive. With its refusal to give up any of its secrets the airforce could keep it in storage, until it is eventually forgotten.
That doesn’t mean that they might not begin developing new technology and what they do learn about the Dalek casing. They may give private contractors just enough information to develop their own designs.
PCs might run across anachronistic technology from the 1960s onwards that have vaguely Dalek design. There could be anti-gravity generators, Dalek-like metallic shells designed for the military or for exploring hazardous environments, eye stalk cameras and more. It might take them awhile to trace this back to the US Airforce and the source of this inspiration.
How then did it end up in the hands of collectors? If it is not stolen it could be an inside job. There could be a member of the airforce who decides to sell secret alien technology to pay for his retirement. Who knows what else they might take with them.
Once on the collectors market who else could end up with it? This will depend upon when this happens. The 1970s feels a little early for this to occur, with the 80s onwards be more likely (but for an X-files vibe you could make it the 1990s). The earlier you set it the easier it is to have an elderly Mr Grayle make an appearance (his death undone from the events of ‘The Angels Take Manhattan’ or maybe that hasn’t happened in this timeline at all).
Are all of these collectors unaware of the Daleks? From Van Statten’s attitude it would appear that it is the only ‘living’ alien on the market. All the collectors like him in that they only want it because it is rare or do some want to gather scientific information from it?
There are many stories you can tell about the owners of the Dalek, ranging from their motives to what they get out of owning it. Do they sell it willingly or is it taken from them by force. You create the theme that the Dalek is cursed, a terrible fate befalling whoever owns it.
Consider as well that UNIT and Torchwood would know what a Dalek is. It could be that the Airforce kept it a secret and by the time the American branch of UNIT found out it was already gone. Still this, would be enough to put them on its trail.
This is an angle that you could explore for a UNIT based campaign, with the PCs chasing the trail of the Dalek through the years. Time travelling PCs might also join forces with UNIT to find the Dalek.
Infiltrating an auction could be an exciting adventure. Do they try to bid on the Dalek (when bids will be very high) or will they try to take it (but will anyone respect their authority?). They could even be caught up in a heist as certain collectors decide they want the alien at any cost.
You can let the PCs actions determine if they actually manage to obtain the Dalek. Time does not need to be disrupted by this. Even if UNIT do capture the Dalek by 2012 it will somehow find its way back into Van Statten’s hands but at least the PCs have kept it safely locked away until then.
Just why does the distress signal broadcast by the Dalek bring the Doctor to 2012? It could be that this is when the Dalek was finally able to repair its communication system. There could be an incident prior to this where the PCs were involved in how it obtain the parts it needed to do this.
There is room for an adventure just before Van Statten brought it where the Dalek was able to get free. It could be the very appearance of the PCs in their TARDIS that awakened it.
Ideally the Dalek should remain unaware that any of the PCs are Time Lords, so that the Doctor’s appearance and revelation about the end of the Time War retains its impact. If it does find out you can excuse its lapse in memory to its apparent madness.