In ‘The Time Of The Doctor’ we learn that Lady Kovarian led a breakaway chapter of the Papal Mainframe back along the Doctor’s timeline to prevent the siege of Trenzalore. Their plan was to kill the Doctor, ensuring that he would never be in a position to let the Time Lords through the crack in time and reignite the Time War.
They were responsible for blowing up the TARDIS, thus causing the cracks in time and the events of’ ‘The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang’. We now know who, although not the how or why.
Does the Papal Church have knowledge of how to destroy a time capsule or is this something that the Kovarian chapter learnt themselves. Is it a remote weapon (maybe something that was left over from the Time War?) or something that has to be placed within the TARDIS.
They are also responsible for trying to turn River Song into an assassin. From her perspective ‘The Pandorica Opens’ takes place after ‘The Wedding of River Song’, when she has rebelled against the Church but could she still have been programmed to carry out their mission.
Could the voice whispering ‘Silence Will Fall’ been in her mind? A mental trigger for her to sabotage the TARDIS. It does begin to explode when she is alone in the craft and she has certainly demonstrated mastery of its controls and functions.
Her meeting the Doctor out of order could have been intentional. Ensure that the end of her timeline intersects with the 10th Doctor so that the 11th Doctor (the one that the chapter is trying to destroy), accepts her and in subsequent adventures trusts her (perhaps because he knows she dies sacrificing her life for his).
If true, even after River Song destroys the TARDIS both she and the Doctor are unaware of her involvement. Meaning that any other assassination attempts in the 11th Doctor’s future (and River Songs past) are more likely to succeed.
River Song could have been mentally conditioned to forget any paradoxes in her timeline. If she had successfully killed the Doctor at any point she might simply forget this (maybe with the help of the Silence) and if she meets another incarnation of the Doctor when their timelines meet not only would she not know what she has done but she could try to kill him again, with time rewriting itself as a result.
As with much of time travel this does seem confusing and the simplest idea is that the Kovarian chapter were trying to establish the fixed point in time at Lake Silencio but remember that River almost killed the Doctor before he reached that point in his life. Clearly she couldn’t have been programmed to kill him only at one particular point, just when the opportunity arose.
It would appear that the destruction of the TARDIS was meant to kill the Doctor and the destruction of the universe was an unforeseen side effect. The fact that the result of the attack echoed backwards and forwards through time resulted in the various races banding together to create a trap for the Doctor, thus removing him from the TARDIS when it exploded and creating a situation in which he could repair the damage. If you choose to think of the universe as a sentient entity then this can be seen as a method of self-repair.
Turning to the use of River Song to act as an assassin we can now assume that the Silence present as Lake Silencio was there to establish the fixed point by observing it. Just as the grave stones in ‘The Angels Take Manhattan’ prevented the Doctor from saving Amy and Rory having a member of the Kovarian chapter witness his apparent death ensured that it couldn’t be undone without a paradox.
Only these two events are mentioned so we could assume that the Kovarian chapter was defeated once and for all at the end of ‘The Wedding of River Song’. This is suspect as the defeat we saw occurred when history collapsed and those events were erased when things were returned to normal.
Not only is there the strong possibility that they escaped but that there were other attempts we didn’t hear about. The Kovarian chapter might continue to follow their agenda until either they are utterly destroyed or they think to check later in their own timeline and establish that the Doctor didn’t summon the Time Lords after all.
In your own campaign the Kovarian chapter could be encountered by earlier incarnations of the Doctor, either directly or backing other enemies. Following the track record they might be responsible for all the strange things that happened throughout the Doctor’s established history.
For example they could decide that the Master has the best chance of the destroying the earlier incarnations of the Doctor and are directly responsible for saving him whenever his destruction seemed assured (for example ‘Planet of Fire’) or they might have attempted to strike at the 4th Doctor just as he was time scooped during ‘The Five Doctors’ leading to him being trapped in the vortex.
There is a lot of potential for them to join up with the Great Intelligence, given that their agenda is much the same. They could be responsible for his creation or team up with him in his plan to wipe the Doctor from history. If they are moving backwards along his time stream they could encounter the Great Intelligence first from their perspective and it his plan that inspires theirs.
Other PCs might become involved with the Kovarian chapter by learning of their attacks on the Doctor and trying to stop them. They might pursue them all along the Doctor’s time line, ensuring that his history is preserved.
The PCs could find themselves under attack from the chapter because they will encounter the Doctor later in their time stream and help him. If the church is able to eliminate them now then the Doctor could die. This could be a good way to foreshadow a later meeting.
The chapter could be allies of the PCs. If River Song is indeed brainwashed to get close to the Doctor so might the PCs. The Kovarian chapter could help the PCs, providing information, aid and technology all because they know that eventually they’ll meet the Doctor, at which point their programming or the hidden bomb in the equipment they’ve been given will activate.
A companion who is secretly backed by the Kovarian chapter would make for a good background detail or secret. The companion could be a sleeper agent, unaware that they are a weapon to be used against the Doctor when they eventually meet.
If River Song is responsible for the destruction of the TARDIS then any encounters with her in your own games have that potential for danger. She could be completely unaware of her own actions as she sabotages their efforts from the inside.
While this could run the risk of damaging continuity if you are using an established Doctor it isn’t out of character for him to know more than he is letting on. If the Doctor realised the truth before ‘The Impossible Astronaut’ he might still keep the information to himself both to preserve his own history (so that the events of ‘Silence In The Library’ can still occur) and so that he might learn more.
Alternatively the Kovarian chapter could have been fooled and thought that the Doctor had really died at Lake Silencio. The Doctor could have successfully erased details of his adventures (even later ones) and managed to keep a low enough profile that the chapter believed they’d succeeded in their cause.
What would they do then? Would they return to the Papal Church to face punishment or accolades for what they’ve done only to find that history hadn’t changed? Would they try to avoid the consequences of their actions by finding somewhere else in space and time to spend their final days? Or would they decide on a new mission? The chapter could decide that as they’ve succeeded once in making history better that they should continue improving it.