This article will offer some ideas for play-by-post games in the ‘re-imagined’ Battlestar Galactica universe. I’ve thought up twelve, just for a sense of continuity with the show.
12 Ideas for Battlestar Galactica RPGs
After four seasons and the spin-off ‘Caprica’ we still know so little about this universe that it’s essentially a giant blank canvas outlined only by a beautifully elegant world-concept (or should that be ‘worlds’-concept?). What we do know offers a tantalizing glimpse into the wider story of colonial civilization. For example, we know very little about the history of the twelve colonies and the only worlds we’ve ever visited are Caprica, Tauron and Gemenon. With a further nine colonies yet to explore and an entire universe beyond the colonial system how could you not find a virtual sandbox of your liking? Here are my suggestions…
1. ‘Second Fleet’
This is perhaps the most obvious idea and I’m sure it’s been done before. The idea is that during the attack on the colonies a second rag-tag fleet formed and set out in a different direction to the Galactica. Was it headed by another battlestar? That’s for you to decide. I honestly don’t think this a very creative idea but if you feel like commanding your own battlestar or spending some time in Laura Roslyn’s shoes, go for it.
2. ‘Carry On Carillon’
In the original BSG series Carillon was the first planet visited by the fleet. Carillon was not one of the twelve colonies but rather a mining outpost and the location of location of a luxurious – if somewhat tacky – casino. Carillon wasn’t mentioned in the reimagined series but there’s no reason you can’t find a place for it. The reimagined Carillon would probably be a small planet, moon or asteroid located in some insignificant corner of the colonial star system, or possibly in a neighbouring system. It wouldn’t have an oxygen atmosphere but there’s no reason it can’t have a casino – asteroid miners have to drink and gamble somewhere.
Did the Cylons forget to destroy Carillon when they wiped out the twelve colonies or do your characters die the way they lived – drunkenly fornicating with four-eyed strippers?
3. ‘Viva Libran’
We know from various sources that the colonial star system contains four stars. However, in ‘The Plan’ a Cylon hybrid can be heard saying “three stars, three battles”. According to Serge Greystone (via Twitter) one of the four stars is considered to be an outlier. Exactly what this means is unclear but I have always assumed that one of the twelve colonies is located some distance from its counterparts, orbiting this ‘outlying’ star. Was this planet overlooked by the Cylons? We can at least surmise that it was spared the brunt of the Cylon attack.
This outlying colony would be a great setting for a BSG story or game set after the Cylon attack. There would likely be more survivors here than anywhere else in the colonies and it would therefore be the ideal place to mount a resistance. When the Cylons finally decided to leave, this would also be the ideal place to begin rebuilding colonial civilization.
Which colony could this be? My guess would be Libran. As the home of the Inter-Colonial Court, it only makes sense that Libran would be an isolated world so as to be considered impartial in inter-colonial disputes. While Libran has at least one large city (Themis) Serge Greystone has also stated (via Twitter) that much of its landmass has been declared a nature reserve. If Libran is a relatively wild and undeveloped planet the Cylons might have considered it a secondary target. Nature reserves would also be great hiding places for resistance fighters.
Of course, there is one flaw with this theory and that is the fact that Libran was seen to be under attack in ‘The Plan’. In fact, all twelve of the colonies were shown to be “burning” in some way at the start of the film. The way I see it, the answer to this problem is simple. We only saw the courthouses of Libran burning (and words to that effect from the hybrid). It’s possible that Cylon agents launched relatively small-scale attacks against the populace of Libran while the Cylon fleet was busy wiping out larger targets.
NOTE: A map of the colonies has recently been published by Quantum Mechanix. However this is only considered to be semi-cannon and ignores much of the information given by Serge Greystone’s Twitter page.
4. ‘Aquarion Dynamics’
Another interesting location is the cold ocean world of Aquarion. It has no large continents and its inhabitants live either on the ocean itself (ships or floating cities) or on the small volcanic islands that make up its landmass. Small communities are great for roleplaying games and community is what Aquarion is all about.
The most interesting place on Aquarion has to be the research compound first mentioned by Serge Greystone (via Twitter). Subsidized by the colonial government and the colonial fleet it is at the forefront of both military and civilian science. I like to think of it as ‘Battlestar Galactica’ meets ‘Eureka’. They probably even make robotic daggots.
Did this high-tech facility survive the Cylon attack? Sure, why not; it probably has secret bunkers and other cool stuff. Or you could set your game before the fall of the colonies.
5. ‘New Kobol’
After the destruction of their civilization, months on the run and a severe water shortage, stumbling upon a habitable world that just happens to be the ‘home of the Gods’ must have seemed nothing short of a miracle to the people of the fleet. Surely some of them would want to stay behind and try to make a life for themselves on Kobol. Ok, so Kobol was hardly safe – what with the Cylons kicking about and the prophecy about any return to the planet exacting a price in blood – some people must have thought it worth the risk.
This would essentially be a colonization sim – struggling to survive against the odds, building a new civilization, defending from external and internal threats, that sort of thing. Only what a world to colonize! Kobol must be littered with ruins and ancient secrets. Perhaps there are even some pieces of advanced ancient technology lying around. Of course the biggest mystery is what really happened on Kobol all those thousands of years ago (something the show has implied but never directly answered). Do you have the answer?
6. ‘What? No Aliens?’
This might be a bit of a stretch but the original BSG had aliens in it, so why not the remake? Perhaps some colonials survive and, somewhere out on the fringes of space, they meet salvation in the form of an advanced alien race. Perhaps the colonial government was aware of their existence all along.
7. ‘Raiders of the Lost Colonies’
The Gods (and/or ancient humans) clearly had advanced technology; they were able to transport the entire human species from Kobol to the twelve colonies after all. But what happened to this technology? Did the colonials lose their capacity for interstellar flight, only to rediscover it centuries later? At least some knowledge of the ancient sciences must have remained and the Gods must have left behind some pretty interesting artefacts too. I propose an Indiana Jones style quest to search out these ancient devices and rediscover the secrets of the Gods.
8. ‘Pirates of Picon’
This is my favourite BSG roleplaying idea.
If you’re going to explore colonial history then why not do it in style on an old Pican tall ship, the way Admiral Adama always dreamed he could. This would appeal to fans of the alternate history (or parallel worlds) genre as it would essentially be a period drama set on the high seas of a completely imaginary world.
“Cubits of eight, cubits of eight – sqwark!”
9. ‘Mining the Frontier’
Deep space mining was big business for the colonials. Many of the ships in the colonial fleet were designed exclusively to mine and process minerals such as tillium. Why not set your game on a mining ship out on the frontier? A mining outpost called Troy is also mentioned in the show, Boomer claimed to have been born there. Some kind of terrible disaster occurred on Troy but that’s about all we know. Colonial miners had hard lives but were probably very well paid for their dangerous work. they probably spent much of their free time and money in the casino on Carillon (if such a place exists in your interpretation).
10. ‘Colonial Movers’
Ok, so a roleplaying game about an interstellar removal company doesn’t sound very exciting but at least you get to travel. The way I see it there are two options; you can set your game aboard the Colonial Movers ship in BSG’s rag-tag fleet, or you can set your game before the fall of the twelve colonies and command a vast interstellar haulage fleet.
“We Move Anywhere”
11. ‘All’s Hell That Ends Hell’
This is a concept that could be applied to any BSG story but suits the ‘Second Fleet’ idea best of all. Whereas the characters of Battlestar Galactica guided by the light of the one-true-God yours might be led astray by a much darker omnipotent force. If the show wasn’t dark enough for you this would give you the opportunity to explore the dark side of mythology and colonial culture.
Is there a planet called ‘Hades’ in the colonial system? Perhaps it was overlooked by the Cylons and a small group managed to survive the attack, living in a grim, overcrowded abandoned mining complex.
12. ‘All of This Will Happen Again’
To try to continue exactly where the show left off would probably be a bad idea, but fast forward several thousand years and the story starts to pick up again. You might want to explore what happens when we on Earth begin building Cylons of our own. Remember, the Centurions are still out there. Might five of them make their way back here?