WHAT I LEARNED FROM: THE FORBIDDEN TIME

forbiddentimeThe Forbidden Time’, written by David Lock, is a companion chronicle narrated by Anneke Wills as Polly and Frazer Hines as Jamie. It is a atmospheric tale in which a species who can walk through time, the Vist, cordon off a section of the 1970s and issue dire penalties for anyone who dare enter the forbidden time.

After the public receives a telepathic warning Polly, years after her travels with the Doctor, explains how she, the Doctor, Ben and Jamie have already become involved in these events.

The adventure is suitably weird, with the time travellers caught in a shadow Earth and facing a race with abilities far beyond they’ve encounter before. Anneke Wills gives a good performance, full of yarning for days gone past and a very good impression of the 2nd Doctor.

SPOILERS FROM HERE ON IN!

IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO COLLIDE WITH OTHER OBJECTS IN THE VORTEX

The Doctor asserts that nothing within the Vortex really exists since it is nowhere and nowhen. This is obviously not quite true as the TARDIS collides with the Time Wall erected by the the Vist. It is possible that its presence caused an eddy, like a pull of gravity.

This titbit of knowledge means that the Vortex can be a good way to avoid colliding with others, particularly if their TARDIS is about to be time rammed. The Time Wyrm uses this tactic to avoid the 7th Doctor’s attempt to time ram her in ‘Timewyrm: Genesys’.

THE VIST CAN WALK THROUGH TIME

The alien race in this story are particularly interesting. They can move through time as simply as others can move through space. This is an entirely natural ability as they are perplexed by the TARDIS.

They perceive time different, able to see the past and future as if they are in the distance. The Doctor explains that they can use landmarks to navigate but have to transverse the geography in time, which can lead to dead ends. In short they can’t go directly to any point in history, they have to find the proper route there.

The Vist appear to have spent most of their time being nomadic, harvesting energy from different periods of time. Fed up of other races leaching these resources they decide to fence of this section of Earth history, unaware that other races can simply skip past this forbidden time but when the Doctor explains they don’t care.

The story ends with the Vist being tricked into travelling back to the start of time where the Doctor anticipates they will become stuck, trapped for all eternity. It is unclear how long it will take the Vist to travel that far so PCs might encounter them on their way there.

It is reasonable to believe that there might be other species with the ability to move in time. Possibly the Time Lords would hunt these races as potential threats. They could be rare enough that the PCs will be the first to encounter them and must decide what to do with them.

YOU CAN CAST SHADOWS IN TIME

When the Vist create their wall it casts a shadow, creating a parallel Earth sideways in time. This might be something akin to the pocket dimension encountered in ‘Hide’. Everything appears to be in black and white. Composed of an ash like substance it is easy to pass through most solid objects. No living creatures are duplicated.

PCs could encounter these shadow dimensions and need to find what is blocking time. These dimensions could be desirable for storage or a way to hide, leading races to specifically create things to cast the shadow across time.

Such barriers are only temporary without maintenance as they are eroded by the time winds.

THE TIME LORDS WEREN’T THE FIRST RACE TO EVOLVE

The Doctor admits to Polly that the Time Lords weren’t the first race to evolve so that leaves the question of which species did. The Doctor claimed to the Vist that the first race would have the right to declare ownership of space and time.

A race that discovers that they were the first might make such a claim. This could threaten the position of races like the Time Lords, especially if the race have the power to enforce their claim.

Of course there are more than a few species who crossed over from the previous universe. These races (often godlike in power) could challenge such claims of ownership. The PCs might be caught in the middle of this dispute.

BEN AND POLLY PEAK AT THE FUTURE

During their travels Ben reads car magazines and Polly glances through fashion magazines. While trivial this obviously gives them some foreknowledge of what is to come. There is no indication that they’ve abused this knowledge but potentially a crafty companion could exploit this, for example investing wisely or staying one step ahead of the current trends.

This could be a subtle way for PCs to demonstrate their own interests. When they arrive in their own future do they have any hobbies or interests that they catch up on? This could be a way to explain how their character is familiar with certain aspects of their own future.

THE FUTURE CATCHES UP TO YOU

For Polly, narrating the story, she is aware of how events turn out with the Vist. She, and everyone else, are only now approaching the forbidden time but she knows her past self and her companions have dealt with the situation.

PCs who have several adventures in their near future can experience something similar when they return to their own time period. They know what is going to happen and can’t do anything about it without affecting their past selves.

While it is a relief in situations like this there are plenty of occasions where the Doctor and his companions arrive after terrible events have occurred. Some times these are minor, isolated incidents and in other situations they are full blown invasions.

For example what if a companion arrive 10 years into his future, where the Daleks have invaded London and been exterminating rebels for 5 years. When he returns to his own time period he knows that there will be 5 years of misery and death to survive through before his younger self and the Doctor arrive to deal with the situation. This could be a harrowing situation.

They might try to tip the odds in their favour, acting behind the scenes to secretly aide their younger selves without changing history. It could be that their youth incarnation led such a charmed existence because they were their own guardian angel.

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