This is one of those game session reviews that might help — as with the last part — to show how you can take an established universe, a licensed product like Battlestar Galactica  or Star Trek, and make it your own while retaining elements of the original material. Last week saw part two of our version of the miniseries. (Recap of the first part.) Many of the same elements as the show were there, but with the necessary differences to make the game setting our own:

The ship made it to Ragnar Anchorage, but before going in to dock, they made contact through a series of repeater buoys to the crew of the station. (There’s a lot of important materiel in the eye of a storm on a gas giant…they’re going to have a maintenance and control staff.) They have to convince the XO of the station that they have clearance and a need to take materiel from the station, but finally get permission to dock.

The new president, former interim defense minister (and Commander Pindarus’ father), pulls together the rump government he has — Education Minister Laura Roslin, a quorum member from Picon, a Peoples’ Assemblywoman, Aaron Doral — the Deputy Director for Public Education that was in charge of turning Galactica into a museum, and the Colonial Budget Officer chairman (a new PC named Malcolm Jones) together, along with Commander Pindarus to decide what they do next. They need intelligence, and as Roslin points out, there’s a lot of shipping caught in the crossfire that need led to safety. There was a long bit of haggling over what to do, with the commander, quorum member, and Doral favoring finding the remaining elements of the Fleet and conducting a counterassault. They’re on the ropes and they’ll never be stronger. Roslin and the assemblywoman favor running with the civilian ships. But if they can “save” even one Colony world, they are in a better position to rebuild than if they run and have to start from scratch; the commander points out that technology backslide would probably take them another 2000 years to get back to where they are now.

The president decides to send raptors and shuttles to find ships, but more to collect intelligence on the progress of the battle. (At this point, they think they’ve lost maybe 80% of the fleet, max. — so 24-25 ships left.) While all this is going on, they dock with Ragnar, and the XO goes in with PC, SGT Cadmus, and a bunch of work gangs to load up the ship on munitions, medical supplies, food, and anything else not nailed down. The XO of the station is a sickly man named COL Conoy. He’s dodgy and takes the XO off to do the paperwork for the supplies — there could be more units coming and he wants to know what they take so he can supply others — but it’s a ruse. The man tries to kill the XO, but is stopped by the sergeant. They injure him badly but don’t kill him. While the PC wanted to, the XO says to the effect, “how we treat our prisoners is a reflection on us…and they need intelligence.”

Conoy (a humanoid Cylon like his counterpart int he series) came aboard yesterday as a crew replacement. He was able to frag the CIC of the station with an anti-personnel mine and secure most of the crew in a section of the station and vent the air. We left that subplot for the night with the SAR crews re-pressurizing the section and hoping to find survivors.

Meanwhile, the battlestar Minerva jumps in over Ragnar. They find out the Cylons have lost about 50% of their assault force after the older ships got in the fight, and the newer ones that figure out the CNP was the culprit for their technical troubles restarted their computers and physically cut their networks. But they’re still outnumbered, and intelligence shows they have much fewer ships than they thought. Most of the unaccounted for vessels are part of the expeditionary forces — they could be anywhere. Minerva and her escort Cygnus are in bad shape; the Cylons keep finding them, and quickly — even when they jump. The crew realizes they are being tracked and suspect that the ships are tagged some way. They figure out the Cylons must be tapping either navigation or DRADIS and find a device on the bottom of the DRADIS console they thought was part of the museum network.

Realizing they are weaker than they thought, the idea of running is the stronger argument…but run where? Another thing they considered: there are almost certainly Cylon agents in the fleet, and seeing the condition of Conoy, the commander realizes if they can stay in the storm at Ragnar long enough, they’ll be able to suss out who the bad guys are. But how long do they have to wait? We left it there for the night.

So the basic narrative of the miniseries and the show is mostly intact: the Cylons have attacked, the apocalypse is upon the characters, and they have to decide if they stay and fight, or run for it. Not being constrained to a four hour miniseries, we were able to explore a few issues in more depth: the arguments over stay or go were much more heated and for a while there they were looking at some variant of “find a safe spot for the civilians, then go secure the space over Aerilon [the planet with the least damage] and hold the line.” The characters are more affected by their losses, with the pair of pilot PCs being nearly unable to function. The commander is angry and wants to hit the Cylons hard, but he’s being rational…they can only do so much. Their knowledge of the human Cylons and the effects of Ragnar have them using the setting in a manner that the characters in the show did not and could lead to a fleet that is less likely to have Cylons in their midst. This gives the characters hope that they might be able to ignore that element of the show.

More realistically, there are surviving military units in disarray, but still fighting. However, the fog of war is keeping the PCs from knowing the whole story, or they have to act on incomplete or faulty intelligence. They know how many ships they have, but not the number of survivors: it could be 20,000, it could be 60,000. Keeping the characters in the dark makes their jobs harder, but also amps up the central emotional queues of this particular setting: uncertainty, paranoia, and fear.