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Gallifrey: A Rough Guide was a two-part prose story by Steve Lyons and Chris Howarth. Published in Doctor Who Magazine 297 and 299, it served as an overview of Gallifreyan history — and more generally worldbuilding about Time Lord culture — using the in-universe framing device of a guide for temporal tourist as, falling its own passing into history after the events of The Ancestor Cell, the ups and down of Gallifreyan history became a destination for such recreations.

Because the story doubled as a collation of all information established in previous stories to the authors' knowledge, it had the unusual feature of including "continuity citations" for the many facts which were not original to the Rough Guide. However, they were clearly separated from the text of the story, allowing the in-universe framing to remain unbroken.

Publisher's summary[]

Looking for a relaxing holiday of apricot-coloured sun, brown sea, red sand and no sex? Then come to the world of the Time Lords. Gallifrey's amenities are second-to-none, and its recent utter destruction — in BBC Books' The Ancestor Cell — means that package holidays are more reasonably priced than ever. Your tour guides are Steve Lyons and Chris Howarth

Look, stop us if you've heard this one, but there were these three GallifreyansThe Pythia, Rassilon and Omega may bestride Time Lord history like colossi, but there's a lot more to the distant past of the Doctor's home planet than black holes, big vampires and bowships. All of which makes Gallifreyan much less dull than was previously thought — and, with more than ten million years of history to choose from, the ideal destination for the temporal tourist. But which time periods provide the best bang for your buck?


Following the destruction of Gallifrey, its prior history becomes a destination for temporal tourism for humans. A guide is written by a tour operator to help the time-traveller who has paid the cost of hiring a TT capsule navigate their way to, and through, Gallifrey's history. After a discussion of its coordinates and an overview of locales of interest on the planet, from Riff City to the Death Zone, the guide is given over to a history of the planet, although it is pointed out that this history is uncertain and often changing.

This history begins with the Old Time and its Death Zone, where, despite the later accepted historical assertion that Rassilon was the one who put an end to the brutal blood sports of the older Gallifreyans, there is clear evidence that he actually oversaw the game himself, using a method of time travel predating the official adoption of such technology by Gallifrey. Rassilon then experiments with black holes, making a crucial mistake that unleashes the Yssgaroth into the universe and sparks a "centuries-long war". Still a "young man", Rassilon devises the Bow Ships as weapons and turns the tide of the war, ending with all the vampires dead save for their leader, who flees into E-Space. (The guide advises that the "visually stunning final battle" is "best viewed from a safe distance".)

The Intuitive Revelation follows, Gallifrey's "greatest period of upheaval" as the Pythia's forces of magic clash with the forces of science spearheaded by the "infamous" Triumvirate of Rassilon, Omega and the Other. Year Zero is pointed out as the location of a particularly interesting event, the detonation of Qqaba, but also of one of the occasions when the dangers of time-travelling tourism impacted Gallifrey's history as one unlucky tourist, dubbed "Fenris the Hellbringer" by the later Time Lords in their mythologies, caused Omega to lose his grip and fall into the black hole, being atomised by a vengeful Rassilon in retaliation. Eventually, the Pythia loses the war and hurls herself into the Crevice of Memories That Will Be, cursing the Time Lords with her dying breath. The concept of regeneration is invented as a way to allow the Time Lords to survive this sterility, followed in short order by looming. At the exact instant the curse is laid, one last natural-born is born: Susan, the grand-daughter of the Other, who throws himself into the looms in protest after Rasilon sends in troops against protestors in the Pythia's temple. Susan is rescued by the Other's future reincarnation, the First Doctor, who went back in time using the Hand of Omega, breaking "every rule in the book". The newly-elevated Time Lords proceed to abuse their power in various way, from the genocidal Time Wars against other races to the slaughter of the last natural-born Gallifreyan by their loomed descendants, not to mention the unintentional but no less bloody results of their interference on the planet Minyos, which leads them to establish a non-interference policy. They then "get a taste of their own medicine" as they are attacked by another time-active force, the Order of the Black Sun.

Next comes the "recent pas". Although official histories claim that the subsequent centuries of the Rassilon Era, as Gallifrey emerged from its times of war, was a period of "ordered calm". The tour operator, however, points out that this is a "gross exaggeration", starting with the "slight disagreement" between the Time Lords and their own leader of the High Council, Morbius, who "destroyed several civilisations in his mad quest for eternal life". This "sets a precedent" for members of the High Council going "a bit loopy". This is, however, also a possible era for the birth of Susan. One point in this era that is of interest to anyone who likes meeting celebrities in their youths is the shared Academy day of the Deca, "whose zany pranks included sneaking into the relic room, stealing books from the library and battling the ancient being known as the Celestial Toymaker". At some point in this era, Savar sets out to save Omega from the black hole but, upon finding him, mistakes him for the god Ohm and runs off in a panic, ending up getting his eyes stolen by the I. This is also the time of the student revolution admidst which Susan finds yet another potential point of origin as "Larn", the last descendant of Rassilon, absconded from Gallifrey as a seven-year-old girl by the First Doctor to get her away from the chaos and bloodshed of the said revolution.

The "modern era" is defined as beginning with the Doctor's first trial in Gallifreyan Year 309906 and is busier still than the eventful supposed "period of peace" that preceded it. One of this era's most significant early events is the return of Omega, now completely mad, whose plot for vengeance collapses so thoroughly that the destruction of his realm provides Gallifrey with a brand new power source to replace the one Omega had been sapping to bring them to their knees. Also notable is the Master's assassination of the outgoing President, made possible, characteristically for this era, by a mad High Councilmember, Goth. Other examples of this trend are the degeneration of Borusa into a maniac obsessed with increasing his own power and lifespan; the especially ambitious plans of Luther; and the crimes of Niroc as President against the Earth in the "Ravalox" debacle. Thanks to the interference of a future version of the Doctor, Borusa briefly returns, Niroc is deposed, and Flavia returns as President while Earth is put back in place and Niroc's crime is erased from time. Flavia offers Romana a place on the High Council, only for Romana to eventually use that to overthrow Flavia and replace her as President. When President Romana is abducted by the Daleks, she is replaced in turn by an "un-named figurehead". Meanwhile, the Pythia's Curse is finally broken as Leela conceives the first natural-born child on Gallifrey in "ages" with Andred.

The final segment of history on offer is the "future" outbreak of a final War which provides a greater variety of destinations to the temporal tourist than ever, thanks to eight planetary clones of Gallifrey constructed in an attempt to "keep the Enemy confused", as well as history itself being "unusually fluid" throughout the War period. Gallifrey eventually turns out to be responsible for its own ways as it turns out that the Enemy was in fact evolved from the very first cells in the universe as a result of the Time Lords' own "irresponsible misuse of a miniature universe in a four-dimensional Klein bottle". The constant tug-of-war between the Enemy and the Time Lords rewrites the War to be shorter and shorter, and the tour operator ends on an announcement that tours of this tail end of Gallifrey's history will very soon become unavailable due to the timeline becoming too short to be visited.



  • During some eras of Gallifrey, the female gender went out of fashion completely and women became completely absent. Even in the "more enlightened" times, Time Ladies remained a minority, with no more than ten percent of the planet's population ever being female.
  • The Tribunal prosecute "temporal transgressions" and are the ones who can bring down such punishments as temporal erasure or exile on Earth.
  • Collars, originally only worn on ceremonial dress, increasingly became an all-consuming trend in Gallifreyan fashion over time.



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