Biological Structure/Abilities

  • When mortally wounded, a Time Lord can regenerate themselves into a new form.

The Doctor knew it was a fallacy that people introduced to vacuum burst under the internal pressure of their bodies, although eardrums, mucus membranes in the nose and throat, and of course the eyes, were known to rupture under space conditions. Space alone, however, will not kill immediately. If oxygen starvation can be forestalled and hence brain damage and organ death held back beyond the first ten minutes, the worst a body in open space faces is the penetration of the unshielded rays of the local star, and the radiation outward of its internal heat, and the bends. The bends, though painful, were too long-term to matter. Cancers were ninety-nine per cent certain in the first twenty minutes, but again, they would not have time to spread far. In twenty-one minutes, even a Time Lord would be frozen meat. Frozen within degrees of absolute zero, frozen beyond the capacity of DNA analogues or symbiotic nuclei to carry viable information. That was twenty minutes longer than he had any right to expect. He hadn’t quite decided what to do with the time, but while there was life there was, he supposed, hope. The theory was good, but the practice – what was the Earth phrase? The practice sucked.

The temptation to give in, to let go, beat on the Doctor’s mind. He could imagine X-rays and gamma rays impacting deep into his flesh, oxidising tissue and releasing free radicals. Killing him slowly with light. The cold was worse now, too. But as long as he concentrated he could hold fast. Eight minutes gone. He could keep the healing mechanisms in his body working at all deliberate speed, switching off the hormonal and subhormonal triggers that would have fired the engines of regeneration. He knew his body’s input signals were near flat-line. Under normal circumstances, a triggered regeneration would have been the best he could hope for, but here in deep space with little or no environmental feedback, a regeneration would be both a colossal waste of energy – energy the body needed at the cellular level to hold back the abnormal and dysfunctional cells that were developing and fix the damage done by the expansion of ice in the bloodstream and tissue. Any regeneration under those circumstances couldn’t possibly be stable; once triggered it would cause a cascade effect, setting off all his remaining regenerative cycles, burning then out in a futile attempt to adapt to deep space.

Hopefully a futile attempt. There were old horror stories on Gallifrey about Time Lords forced into chain regenerations in alien environments, each step in the chain changing them further away from the accepted norms of their culture. Sometimes in the early days of the exploration of time and space, they would come back, only to be quietly killed, or walled up in their own TARDISes. He had wondered once if he kept regenerating in human company whether he would grow more and more like them – and look how that had turned out. Ten minutes. The age when regenerationally challenged individuals would be hidden away as a House’s shame or stasered into unrecognisable protoplasm had been a brutal time, of course, aeons ago. A Dark Time.In his day such an accident would be greeted only with kindness, with pity and the dedicated care of the Hospitalers. Even so. If he was to die here and now, it would be in his present flesh, not as something his companions would never recognise. He knew now he was going to die; there might be ways out of this but he couldn’t stop regulating his body long enough to think. Twelve minutes gone now.

~The Taking of Planet 5

DOCTOR: Rose Tyler. I was going take you to so many places. Barcelona. Not the city Barcelona, the planet Barcelona. You'd love it. Fantastic place. They've got dogs with no noses. Imagine how many times a day you end up telling that joke, and it's still funny.

ROSE: Then, why can't we go?

DOCTOR: Maybe you will, and maybe I will. But not like this.

ROSE: You're not making sense.

DOCTOR: I might never make sense again. I might have two heads, or no head. Imagine me with no head. And don't say that's an improvement. But it's a bit dodgy, this process. You never know what you're going to end up with

(The Doctor double over in pain.)

ROSE: Doctor!

DOCTOR: Stay away!

ROSE: Doctor, tell me what's going on.

DOCTOR: I absorbed all the energy of the Time Vortex, and no one's meant to do that. Every cell in my body's dying.

ROSE: Can't you do something?

DOCTOR: Yeah, I'm doing it now. Time Lords have this little trick, it's sort of a way of cheating death. Except it means I'm going to change, and I'm not going to see you again. Not like this. Not with this daft old face. And before I go

ROSE: Don't say that.

DOCTOR: Rose, before I go, I just want to tell you, you were fantastic. Absolutely fantastic. And do you know what? So was I.

~The Parting of the Ways, Series 1

    • Time Lords can Regenerate 12 times in normal circumstances:

ENGIN: What about his character?


ENGIN: Oh, Doctor, could you please be a little more specific?

DOCTOR: Yes. He was evil, cunning and resourceful. Highly developed powers of ESP and a formidable hypnotist. And the more I think about it, the less likely it seems.

ENGIN: What?

DOCTOR: Well, that the Master would meekly accept the end of his regeneration cycle. It's not his style at all.

ENGIN: But that's something we must all accept, Doctor.

(Engin hands the Doctor a drink.)

DOCTOR: Thank you. Not the Master. No, he had some sort of plan. That's why he came here, Engin.

ENGIN: After the twelfth regeneration, there is no plan that will postpone death.

~The Deadly Assassin

When they came [to America] to launch The Eleventh Hour, I went along to this screening in LA and journalists put their hands up, and one of the first questions was, "What will happen when he reaches the thirteenth regeneration?" There's a fascinating academic study to be made out of how some facts stick and some don't – how Jon Pertwee's Doctor could say he was thousands of years old, and no-one listens to that, and yet someone once says he's only got thirteen lives, and it becomes lore. It's really interesting, I think. That's why I'm quite serious that that 507 thing won't stick, because the 13 is too deeply ingrained in the public consciousness. But how? How did that get there?

~Russel T. Davies

  • Time Lords have the Imprint of Rassilon, which makes them immune from the causal effects of having one's past self removed or killed from the time line:

Being a Time Lord meant more than simply having a good education, political power and a pompous title. The Rassilon Imprimatur actually changed the body of a Gallifreyan on a genetic level, force-evolving them from mere terrestrial beings into creatures of time, itself.

Many of the benefits from this are covered in the Time Lord Trait, but there are a host of other benefits as well, including bodily regeneration, the ability to symbiotically link to a TARDIS and the ability to survive for short periods in the Vortex without immediate dissolution (D6xResolve minutes, in game terms).

Most importantly of all, Time Lords are ‘mapped’ onto the Vortex by their genetic investiture. This means, in effect, that a Time Lord’s ‘reality’ is much more solid than other, more ephemeral beings, and as a consequence is that much harder to change or erase. Even taking earlier incarnations out of their respective timelines serves only to weaken a Time Lord rather than erase them outright, and the Blinovitch Limitation field around a time-knapped earlier incarnation (in game terms, an RTD field strength of 2, see pg.190 for more info) is so strong that it is very difficult to do any permanent harm to them. This gives a Time Lord time to locate the source of their problem and hopefully correct it before too much damage can be done to their permanent timeline.

~The Doctor Who Role Playing Game

  • Time Lords can withstand time based phenomenon

The Doctor as standing slightly back from the Glamour, now in it’s rightful postion on the altear, and took out his sonic screwdriver. ‘I don’t think this is really going to do much, but perhaps it’ll scramble the thing long enough that I can buy some time to work out how to really shut it down.’

‘How?’ asked Ruth.

‘I’m a Time Lord,’ the Doctor said.

‘And that means what in this situation?’ asked Jack, not unreasonably.

‘It means that there are many chronon-energy-based events that I can withstand better than most. Time schisms, time eddies, time distorts, time fields, time ruptures, time quakes…’

‘Cakes? What’s a time cake?’ Jack lauged.

‘He said ‘‘quake’’, nitwit,’ Ruth said, nudging him in the ribs.

‘Not ‘‘time cake’’? I’d love to eat time cake,’ Jack replied.

The Doctor sighed dramatically. ‘As I was saying, although not for long and not always as precisely as I’d like, as a Time Lord I can withstand the changes in time that surround such events for a while. A bit. Longer than any of you lot can, anyway.

~The Big Bang Generation

  • They are resistant to time being slowed or stopped:

In the Director’s study the Master had installed himself at the Director’s desk, calmly drafting a proposal to double his own grant for the Director to sign. The clock of what had once been the old stables began to chime. Suddenly the Master frowned and looked up. The chiming was slow, dragging, slurred, as if the old clock was somehow running down. But the Master knew better. It wasn’t the clock that was slowing down – it was time itself.

‘The fools!’ he snarled, and hurried from the room.

~The Time Monster

  • They can walk through time barriers and pull others through it:

Time barrier, then. Wall of temporal displacement. Two layers, each with time on one side a second earlier than on the other. You can walk through one from either side, but no through both. Anybody short of a Time Lord who tries to go though, it's like they're waking through a wall. If they keep trying, all sorts of bizarre effects star happening, many of them fatal.’

~Human Nature

"The barrier feels disturbing. I don't know why, but I had a feeling of dread as I approached it, a terrible fear of dying. I was just plucking up the courage to take a run at it when I saw this youngster wandering down the path. He seemed quite surprised to see me, but when I called to to him, he walked up to this...barrier, well, whatever it is, took my hands, and pulled me through. It was like ducking through something very hot and there was a muddy taste. But here I am." ... Smith didn't answer. He steeped onto the bridge and walked forward, his hands reaching out to grasp Timothy's.

Through the barrier.

The fires stretched all the way to the horizon. The ground was blackened and steaming. In the distance stood a vast statue, a little girl with a balloon, made of crystal. It's head stood amongst the slight grey clouds.

Smith looked up at the burnt orange of the sky. 'I know this place,' he said.

"While you're with me, you do,' Timothy told him. They were standing amongst the flames. 'The barrier is two perceived frames of time, differnt ones, put next to each other. I'm not sure what that means, I was just told it. But a sort of...rubbing between them, that's what huts the people who try to go through it. Unless they're something called a Time Lord. They can just walk straight through. That rubbing is also what lets us do this."

"What is this place? Is it hell?"

"It's one possible future. This is the Doctor's home. This is Gallifrey."


The man and the boy were standing across the bridge again.

Smith let his hands drop to his sides. Timothy walked forward, the barrier shimmering around him, and joined Smith on his side of it. Handleman was still watching, entranced.

~Human Nature

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