I restarted my Battlestar: Galactica campaign a few weeks ago, now that the new gaming group has gelled. Right off the bat, I wanted to do something different than the last campaign, which was a “second fleet” scenario that was running alongside the at-that-time new series.

For that, I decided to follow the Caprica model and do some serious retconning on the setting: while it is still a few decades after the first Cylon War, and most of the trappings of the new show are still around, i started tinkering with the basic premise of the first few “seasons” — instead of jumping straight to the new sneak attack, as with the last campaign, I’m starting a few years prior (undefined for the players, but hinted at if they’re paying attention to the background material — the CNP is nearing initial rollout, Galactica is slatted to be turned into a museum.)

I am using a lot of the material from Caprica and Quantum Mechanix excellent Map of the Twelve Colony of Kobol for the setting — fleshing out the rest of the 12 Colonies, instead of sticking with just Caprica, Gemenon, and Tauron. Most of the characters are from the lesser colonies — Arelon, Scorpia, and Canceron.

As with last time, the characters are heavily crafted with background hooks: family and friends, favorite locales, homes, etc…all the stuff they could lose later.

New to the setting, but what could be inferred from the two shows: there are still robots a-plenty in the Colonies, but they are non-AI; artificial intelligence is banned, according to the miniseries, and I have special squads of Colonial Security Service personnel whose job is to stop illicit AI development and manufacture…but they have butler bots, sexbots (but heavily controlled — in my campaign, I’ve inferred the Cylon rebellion started with the sexbots and caretaker androids — the stuff they were trying to make as self-aware and responsive as possible), and the like. There are self-driving cars. There’s virtual reality gaming and augmented reality similar to the stuff in Caprica (or on your smartphone, for that matter.)

The Colonial Fleet has been steadily forgetting the lessons of the Cylon War and modernizing their ships with heavily firewalled networks for faster response and more precise control of the vessels. There’s a compartment of people whose jobs are computer security and the safeguards on the ships are much improved — the Cylons won’t just cut through their electronic defenses like butter…but they will, in theory, eventually win out. (Hence the need for the CNP back door.)

The Colonial government has been expanding quickly and taking it on itself to dictate to the various colonial worlds — think the European Union vis-a-vis its members. Some of the worlds are “deadbeats” (like Greece or Portugal), others are the financial engines of the colonies (these are Leonis, Caprica, and Tauron), and some are like Brussels or the District of Columbia — purely government sinks of support (Libran and Picon.) These worlds aren’t over their tribal identities, and they aren’t working together as well as the federal state in Caprica City would like. They smuggle, they play fast and loose on spending and taxation, and there’s a sense in the younger Colonials that the Cylons are gone, no longer a threat…a position the government has been fostering for political reasons for years. The fleet is always on the edge of downsizing.

The beginning episodes are dealing with the Expeditionary Task Force — a group of detached duty battlestars and militarized civilian exploration vessels that are charting the surrounding star systems, setting up mining and science stations, and conducting deep-range early-warning missions to watch the Armistice Line (and occasionally breech it.) They know the Cylons are doing the same, but neither side has caught the other outright. There are also pirate activities that muddy the waters, so that Cylon presence hasn’t been proven. There have been outposts that have gone missing — crew, cargo, ships…pirates? Cylons?

One of the things we’ll see is that people and their personal effects — diaries, media libraries, etc. go missing — but not the tylium they’re mining, not the ships and buildings. Why would pirates steal people and not the valuables? Why would Cylons kidnap people that are relatively low on intelligence value? The point is to play up a much more mysterious Cold War scenario, coupled with the sorts of internal political intrigue that make governments too slow to respond to threats — even obvious ones.

Added to this, Colonial archeological teams have been finding evidence that there was an older, advanced civilization predating the Colonies foundings by tens of thousands of years…was it the Lords of Kobol? Are their history and scriptures wrong? This is causing backlash from the religious community and portions of the political apparatus — could Colonial society have existed before Colonization? Aliens? What’s going on..? (All of this has happened before and all will happen again…maybe the gods play out this scenario over and over through time?)

The goal: eventually the characters will discover the Cylons are either training people to act as agent provocateurs or are possibly recreating them in android form…but using biological means to disguise them. There will be more than the 12 models, but they are usually not perfect copies, mentally; the 12 are the leaders and will vaguely resemble the Lords of Kobol (the whole historical cycle thing again) in their personalities, but will be monotheists. No “Final Five” stuff.