“How Soon They Forget.”

inforarumThe mini-episode ‘Inforarium’ shows how the Doctor went about removing himself from the collective knowledge of the universe. In this particular case his target is the Inforarium, the greatest source of illicit information in history.

It is another facet of the Doctor Who universe that can be explored in your own adventures. Player characters might have cause to head there to gather information (for a price) or trying to remove their secrets from its database.

We don’t know when or where the inforarium is and the fact that operative the Doctor speaks to appears human doesn’t provide us with much of a clue. The Doctor is deleting himself from databases so it would make sense for him to start with earlier ones, than later (since time should re-write itself so that data about the Doctor won’t be available to future archivists).

The Doctor mentions that the inforarium has been selling information to the Daleks, Cybermen and Sontarans. While the Daleks have time travel and so don’t help to estabish a time frame and the Sontarans have been around since before the middle ages the cybermen (who don’t develop time travel outside of the comics) would place it at some point after the 20th century. Given the level of technology it would make sense to place it in the far future, especially as even the Doctor is prevented from just erasing the information about himself. 

While the operator is alone in the room the Doctor speaks to he does try to raise an alarm. This suggests there either other guards on the inforarium or that there is an automated security system (possibly including robots).

Information stored in the Inforarium is backed up across 12 realities. This suggests there are multiple realities where the Inforarium exists and they all share stored information. Unless these 12 realities are identical there must be a way to tell which information belongs to which reality.

This technology is reminiscent of how the Time Lords created multiple home worlds in different realities to act as decoys in the BBC books. If this technology is wide spread it suggests an age where people don’t just explore space but other realities.

The Inforarium sells this information. Considering some of the customers the Doctor mentions the facility must have some way to prevent hostile aliens simply taking the data. Either they have very strong defences or it continually gathers new information, making even the most blood thirsty race see the long term benefits of leaving it in place.

It is conceivable that the Inforarium also buys information. Aliens who regularly come  across illicit information could make their living by dealing with the facility. PCs who are short of cash could still buy information by exchanging secrets of their own.

Since the Inforarium is known in recorded history it is likely that its existence isn’t a secret (unless it isn’t discovered until later). How do large organisations such as corporations and galactic empires deal with a facility that will trade secrets with their enemies?

In addition to coming to the Inforarium to buy or sell secrets (or to prevent either) the PCs could work for the facility. They might be despatched across the universe to gather information or trade with local information brokers. If they have a TARDIS they could be sent to discover lost knowledge from the past.

The Doctor’s actions in this mini-episode are also worth examining. His objection to the Inforarium is not that they trade secrets at all but that they sell information to the Daleks, Sontarans and Cybermen. He claims that this is naughty.

Unless there is a galactic law on trading with these particular species the owner of the Inforarium might not see this. In addition the information he sells could conceivably gathered elsewhere (the same place they got the information to begin with), it is just more convenient for those races to come to the inforarium where all the data is in one place.

The Doctor only takes steps to protect information about himself, which further suggests his real problem is that they are selling information about the Doctor to his enemies. He also puts his desire to be alone above the rights of the rest of the universe to know about him.

In order to make sure that no one remembers anything about him the Doctor memory proofs the data. He says he learned how to do this from the Silence. This is an interesting way to allow a character to develop after encountering a new alien race.

In game terms a character could be justified in duplicating the effects of an alien they have encountered as long as they give a good explanation and have the resources available. Spending 1 or 2 story point should allow a PC to briefly do the same thing.

This can be a good way to have a call-back to the PCs previous adventures. It can also provide an incentive for the PCs to seek out new aliens, both to challenge them and so that they can learn new tricks, once they’ve defeated them.

The mini-episode neatly shows that the operator is stuck in a loop. Unable to remember the Doctor’s recorded message he reactivates it only to repeat the same cycle, over and over again.

The Doctor clearly knew this would happen and in fact manipulates this into happening (his final words implanting the idea to recheck the data and thus trigger the message). Given that by his own admission the operator is just making a living it seems cruel to leave him in this state.

What will happen to this nameless operator? Will someone find him and break him out of the loop or will he eventually collapse and even die due to exhaustion, dehydration or starvation?

We have certainly seen the dark side of the Doctor and how his companions act as his moral guide. If this is an indication of what the Doctor was like when he travelled alone between ‘The Angels Take Manhattan’ and ‘The Snowmen’ there could be many more people who the Doctor has cruelly punished.

This could be an interesting scenario to base an adventure around. The PCs could arrive to find some cruel, powerful entity has inflicted terrible torment on others only for them to discover that the entity is the Doctor. This could be a big shock if one of the PCs is an earlier incarnation of the Doctor.

You might create an adventure based around the freedom of information. Should people have access to all knowledge or are there things they shouldn’t know? Do the opinions of the PCs change when the information in question relates to them?

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