This week’s Battlestar Galactica continued to move away from the TV show canon, while trying to actually one-up the style and flavor of the same. Looking for resources to mine, a recon raptor discovers a moon orbiting in the upper limits of a gas giant’s atmosphere — the word have been severely attenuated by the white dwarf it orbits when the star went nova millennia ago. The whole system is engulfed in the planetary nebula of the nova, awash with radiation — including the signature that affects Cylons — and debris. It’s far too dangerous to hide the fleet in, but the moon is somewhat protected from the nebular radiation by the strong, also dangerous, magnetic field of the gas giant.

They jump in to do a survey of the moon, battling strong atmospheric currents, the magnetic field of the gas giant and the powerful flux tube along the field line connecting the moon to its primary. They discover remnants of a settlement, badly eroded by micrometeorite, gas friction, and other elements…perhaps a mine? they estimate, based on the damage the place has been there for over 2000 years.

Despite the heavy DRADIS interference, they pick up on a massive object that seems to be trapped, circling the flux tube…it turns out to be an ancient, massive vessel that the pilot (the CAG, a PC) recognizes from a recurring dream I’ve been describing, as one of the galleons that brought humanity to the 12 Colonies!

A quick sketch i whipped up for the session...

A quick sketch I whipped up for the session…

The markings are those of Kobol-era Libra — the ancestors of the Librans, whose population we’d remarked on several times, has been historically much lower than the other Colonies. There was damage to the craft, indications of weapons impacts among the millennia of damage done floating in the atmosphere of the gas giant. They were making plans on how to board an investigate — having to take into account the heavy energy fields, the charges the recon raptor or shuttle’s hull would pick up, how to communicate through heavy communications interference, etc…

We ended there, but the hope is that the hulk will provide a key to the location of Kobol, and Colonial prehistory. The episode also shows how you can veer from the direct plot of an RPG setting based on an established property, and still keep — or enhance — the feel of the original material. In this case, the visions characters are having started as very ephemeral or confusing, but as events happen, they are making more and more sense.

One of the central tenets of Battlestar Galactica –both the 1978 and 2004 shows — was that the characters were trapped in events that were bigger than just their exodus. In the original show, the “ship of light” and its angelic beings were somehow interested in the plight of the Colonials; similarly, the Final Five were shown as being of light, draped similarly in white, and the “ship of lights” is riffed on in one of Starbuck’s paintings.

What I’ve been working toward is establishing that there may be some kind of cosmic force that is continually playing out this cycle of collapse, discovery, and rebirth over and over again, with differing protagonists and antagonists…but always toward some end that is unknowable. Kobol may be the home of godlike creatures that were overthrown by an angry, jealous “Blaze” (as per the cut scene in Kobol’s Last Gleaming), or maybe they themselves were just one set of oppressor-turned-oppressed in the Great Cycle.

I’ve kept the Scrolls of Pythia as a major plot point, but added the Aurelian Heresies — an apocrypha that might predate Kobol, itself — and which has strong influences from the Eleusian Mysteries of Greek myth — a cycle of decent into the underworld or some deadly event, self-discovery or rehabilitation, and the resurrection or rebirth of the character/civilization/etc. It ties tightly to Hades and his capture of Perephone, and I’ve dropped hints that “the Blaze” may have been Hades revolting against the Lords’ rule…but maybe not. Every point here has been to enhance the mystery and mysticism of the setting, but to temper it with some of the characters positing more sensible reasons — the Kobolians were some kind of alien race than made humans; the Kobolians were just exceptional humans; they were the Cylons of the Titans…

Don’t be shy when running a licensed setting to shred what you don’t like, pump up what you do, and go your own way. Your game is best thought as a reimagining, not a canon-inclusive sideshow. This gives the characters the chance to be the heroes, having real influence on their universe, instead of heroes playing in the shadow of the people in the property.

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