We were finally closing our “season finale” of the Battlestar Galactica game last night. The session before had seen two character deaths, and one nearly done for. And that was the first act… Last night saw three major plot moves, the most important being the culmination of the Lucky character’s plot arc, the next most the settling of Admiral Cain and Pegasus into the fleet.
The second act revolved almost exclusively around the defense council — led by President Pindarus (the father of Galactica‘s commander, a PC), player character VP Jones, the defense minister, and the security minister (another PC) — interviewing Cain about her actions since the Fall of the Colonies. There was a hard push for her having tried to execute her XO for refusing and attempting countermand her attack (this time on a Tauron shipyard the Cylons were using — a prime target, but a highly dangerous one), another for her stripping the Scylla and civilian ships for parts. They are not aware, yet, of the condition of the Six in the brig.
In the end, despite serious reservations, and her seeming unwillingness to submit to a change in operation command from her to Galactica, the characters decided having Cain and Pegasus‘ firepower was more important than pursuing her missteps while she was — to her knowledge — the only Colonial ship, and the entirety of the human race, left in the universe. She was on a mission of revenge — they convince her the missions has changed; she is now the guardian of mankind. The character in the game (and the show, I submit) is a creature of duty…having the civilian fleet and tens of thousands of people has given her new perspective. Much like the post-resurrection ship attack in the show, the admiral is getting time to breathe and reassess her situation.
As the admiral and the commander character were returning to their ships, the Cylons jump in right on top of the fleet — well within the defense perimeter, and the shooting starts. Two Cylon basestars jump in and are escorted by a massive, glowing, crystalline vessel — the Blaze that has been repeatedly seen in Lucky’s visions. He knows that this is the moment of truth — when the “two and ten vipers” have to ride into the flame (the Blaze.)
The next act was all battle. We used an even more stripped down very of the fleet combat rules in the BSG page here on the site. For each capital ship action, there would be two squadron level actions, and two personal fighter or raptor actions. The Cylons jump in and hammer the civilian and warships. Cloud 9 — which houses the government in our game (why stay on a small liner when you can have conference rooms and spacious cabins, and the best food still in the fleet?) — took a good hit, Pegasus got banged up, and they almost lost their wee escort vessel, Cygnus. One liner would eventually be destroyed.
The squadron combat was handled simply — both sides got to roll their alertness or intelligence, and their tactics skill, plus any assets applicable. The number rolled was the number of enemy fighters or raptors destroyed over a one-to-two minute period. The side with more numbers got a die step on the skills. This time around, I had the Cylons running with higher pilot and tactics skills to represent the experience the killed raiders had passed on to the Cylons. It was brutal — 40 vipers and 10 raptors lost over the course of the battle, and similar numbers for the Cylons.
In the end, Lucky and the squadron of rookies take a run at the Blaze, with their vipers attacked by strange ‘shard-like” glowing fighters or missiles that, on impact, simply disappeared their target. (We didn’t go into it, but they were destructively uploaded to the Blaze’s memory.) Lucky is the only one, thanks to liberal plot point use, to ram the Blaze. Having been prepared as an instrument of “God”, he is able to remain conscious of himself, even as he is incorporated into the Blaze. There was a virtual reality journey through Hades to the citadel of the Blaze, Dis, guided by the young girl/angel that had been helping him prepare. Finally, there was a battle of wills to destroy the Blaze, and Lucky wakes in an infirmary — his memory hazy, more like a dream, to find he is Colonel Aurelius, formerly of the battlestar Pleiades. The implication from the uniform flashes, etc. is that he is now resurrected 7000-8000 years in the past as the man who wrote the Aurelian Prophesies they used to guide them in the game ’til now. (It was also fan service for the gamer who was in the last iteration of the game…where the ship was Pleiades and Aurelius was the oracle.)
As for the “current” portion of the campaign, as Lucky hit the Blaze, there was a brilliant flash and the ship of lights was gone. The Cylons, stunned by their god abandoning them, fled and jumped away.
The goal was to keep the mystical elements of the show, but leave “god” more undefined and open to interpretation, but also to set up the idea that the Cycle of Time has seen a steady collapse of “gods” from once-near-omnipotent machine intelligences, through the Lords of Kobol, to Man and the Cylons. Like the Greek myth it’s stealing from, each “age” sees the heroes and gods as less — more flawed — than those who came before. It also allowed for us to have a heroic goodbye to a main character who has been in the campaign, but played by two players, before the current player leaves for San Francisco. (Selfish bugger!)
The final act saw the fallout of the battle and the shake up of the command structure the government demanded. The players mourned the loss of the popular Lucky, started putting the fleet back together with officers moved around, promoted or demoted. The president punished Cain tangentially by demoting her pet CPT Shaw, and her XO, Fisk for the Scylla incident (they opened fire on civilians, after all.) Other characters were moved to Pegasus to “keep an eye on” the admiral and to help her integrate into the fleet.
Overall, it was an exceptional game night. We ended, instead of the usual 9:30-10pm, at 11pm and none of us had noticed the time. Afterward, several of the players were obviously thrilled with the way the “episode” had gone and how the story is unfolding.