Time Lord Ethics

Time Lords are strongly ethical beings – although their ethics are not human and they are not always guided by human notions of pity, compassion or guilt. A Time Lord’s ethical code is written into his Rassilon Imprimatur, the biological profile that enables him to travel in time and face the Vortex without being drawn into it. Violating the code causes a Time Lord to sink into Eclipse.

A Time Lord character can choose an ethical code but most frequently their code is prescribed by their College. Three codes are given for each College, one exterior in focus, one interior, another balanced.

Prydonian Arcalian Patrexean Cerulean
Interior Show honour in battle Uncover secrets Your word is your bond Trust in others
Balanced Allow no wrong to go unpunished Do no harm Speak only truth Oppose all paradoxes
Exterior Neither offer nor receive quarter Protect those in need Guide lesser species onwards Do not interfere with the Web of Time

These Ethics are explained below:

  • Show honour in battle – engage your enemy face to face and avoid surprise attacks, sneaky tactics or unmatched odds; this means Prydonians will not set a more violent defeat condition than their opponent (see Combat & Threat)
  • Allow no wrong to go unpunished – show no mercy to wrongdoers and make a point of tracking down any who escape; the player has some latitude in defining “wrong” and “punish”
  • Neither offer nor receive quarter – do not surrender and do not accept the surrender of a worthy opponent; the player has some latitude defining opponents as “worthy” and may accept the surrender of mere minions (but should not invite it)
  • Uncover secrets – be curious and investigate anything mysterious; the player can prioritise secrets in order of importance but should be nosey even about trivial things
  • Do no harm – do not willingly hurt or kill intelligent beings (or other animals unnecessarily); this means never setting a defeat condition higher than Restrain
  • Protect those in need – never stand by and allow others to suffer or be hurt; the player is free to prioritise some people’s needs higher than other’s (but not his own character’s)
  • Your word is your bond – your word, once given, is binding and you must keep all promises freely given and speak the truth when under oath
  • Speak only truth – do not lie, under any circumstances; the player can avoid speaking the truth by changing the subject and should get away with half-truths and ambiguous statements
  • Guide lesser species onwards – do what you can to help lesser species (eg humanity) evolve and progress; this means never doing anything to set back their progress by concealing knowledge and offering what ever help is needed
  • Trust in others – accept every stranger as a potential friend and turn no one away who approaches you in friendship; the player should always attempt negotiation before resorting to violence
  • Oppose all paradoxes – do nothing to create a temporal paradox and take every measure to prevent paradoxes occurring and resolve the ones that do; this Ethic forbids characters from invoking the Watcher before Regenerating
  • Do not interfere with the Web of Time – do not interfere with the unfolding of history by changing historical events, taking things or people from their historical period or allowing yourself to be reported in the historical record; an exception can be made for Companions or events that are in a state of temporal flux (which includes most things on 21st century Earth)


Time Lords have been exposed to the Vortex, which has a lasting effect on them. Ordinary beings are sucked into the Vortex and out of time and space altogether. By virtue of their Rassilon Imprimatur, Time Lords can avoid this fate for a while. The Eye of Harmony used to ensure that Time Lords in Gallifrey or carrying out sponsored missions in the universe remained protected from the Vortex. However, rogue Time Lords forsook this protection and since the Time War all surviving Time Lords are in this vulnerable position.

The process of being drawn into the Vortex follows three stages, known as “Eclipse”. The side effects vary depending on the Time Lord’s College or highest Aspect. Eclipse deepens when a Time Lord violates his ethical code or during Regeneration (traumatic regenerations can deepen Eclipse by more than one step). If a Time Lord is in the third stage of Eclipse and has no Companion he will be drawn back into the Vortex (and out of the game) in a short while.

Prydonian (Dynamism) Arcalian (Stasis) Patrexean (Memory) Cerulean (Foresight)
1 Irritable, bursts of temper, loss of emotional control Gaunt, pale, death-like pallor, stiff joints Distracted, dreamy, forgetful Talks to self, “seeing things”, easily lost or confused
2 Outbursts of rage, destructive or self-destructive behaviour, acting on impulse Rotting, hideous appearance, loss of appendages, difficulty moving Amnesia, forgets companions and allies, forgets how to operate TARDIS Hallucinates continuously, difficulty telling fantasy from reality
3 Psychotic frenzy Decaying corpse Trance-like state Waking dream

Time Lord Ethics

Ghosts of Gallifrey Jon_Rowe