While most episodes only depict events that take place over a few hours, days or weeks in ‘The Time Of The Doctor’ hundreds of years pass. This gives you plenty of material for adventures and a whole campaign focused on this single period in the Doctor’s life.
One player can take the role of the 11th Doctor, aging over the years. He has a terrible responsibility and a constant temptation to summon the Time Lords. Can he continue to think of ways to defeat the enemy on his doorstep?
Other players can take the role of residents of Christmas. We know very little about their background or why they are on this remote world, giving you plenty of room to flesh out these details.
They must be ever vigilante for intruders. Are there guards who patrol the perimeter? Is there a voluntary militia that assembles against threats the Doctor can’t easily defeat with his sonic screwdriver? Does the town council meet with the Doctor to discuss arrangements and pass on information?
This gives a rich variety of roles for the players to take. Not only will they be fighting alongside the Doctor but they’ll be living their lives in the town. The stable setting allows you to devote some time to their personal lives and the day to day affairs of the town, between attacks.
The great span of time allows for a more generational take on player characters. Each adventure might be divided by years or decades, with players shifting their control from their original characters children and grandchildren.
They could also take the roles of members of the Papal church, orbiting overhead. Not only would they have to watch for any aliens invading the planet (which would require the appropriate response) there is also the diplomacy and bureaucracy of dealing with the other races.
There are two distinct eras that a campaign can transition through or start at. The first era is where aliens try to kill the Doctor without being noticed. This is a cold war period, where open conflict is to be avoided.
The second era is where the war turns hot. All of the Doctor’s enemies descend on mass, fighting each other and the allies of the Doctor (including the Silence and the church soldiers).
This period allows more focus on normal life, with the tension of knowing there is always danger. Threats are small but hard to detect. Vigilance should be the PCs watch word as their enemy depends on stealth and the element of surprise.
To keep the PCs guessing Christmas could have problems of its own. If people are going missing is it because they’ve become lost in a snowstorm or is there a Weeping Angel lurking? If the water supply dries up is it because the river has frozen or is it because the Ice Warriors have created a dam to lure the Doctor into an ambush?
The Papal Church must make sure they don’t antagonise any of the aliens into open conflict while still remaining firm. Any movement from the alien ships must be scrutinised. Is it innocent or are they about to begin an attack?
For all the fear and threat of death there are still moments of joy to be had. From the montage of clips we are shown there do appear to be some happy days. Make sure that the PCs are reminded of what they are fighting for.
This period is more suited to a combat focused game. We see battles with Cybermen, Daleks, Silence and soldiers but there should be many more races. While what we are shown occurs centred on Christmas there could be other conflicts elsewhere on the planet.
Any old enemy of the Doctor could be encountered during this period. The PCs will face the worst that history has to offer and likely will not escape alive. This is a war that will rage for hundreds of years and it is a miracle that the town survived at all.
If you’ve run through the Cold War period everything you’ve established about the setting and the PCs lives is at stake now. People will die and it is only a matter of whether the players can save the NPCs they really care about.
We saw very little of how the 11th Doctor handled this conflict. Surely he must have been thinking about the horrors he witnessed during the Time War and the things he was forced to do. Did he fear he’d become the War Doctor again or did he find another approach where he could live up to his name?
Eventually we know that only the Daleks remained, successfully killing or converting the Papal church. An adventure based on this final attack would be harrowing, as friends die and rise as servants of the Daleks. Can the PCs make it out alive?
Elsewhere In The Universe
We don’t know when this took place but it is mentioned that the assembled aliens have come from across space and time (meaning that one or more used time travel to get here). While this gathering is bad news for the people of Christmas it could be good news for the rest of the universe.
PCs travelling about during this period would suddenly find all the major alien races weakened as their resources are diverted. This could be the perfect opportunity to finally overthrow them, shattering their empires once and for all.
Even factoring in time travel that is hundreds of years that soldiers, ships and weapons are being send to one planet. This gives the PCs a huge advantage and could allow them to face against enemies that they wouldn’t dare challenge before.
This approach makes sure that something good comes out of the siege of Trenzalore. Those races that retreated would return to find the PCs have scored a massive victory against them when their backs were turned. One from which their enemies might never recover.