The latest “episode” of our Battlestar Galactica campaign was a response to how the game had been progressing with our last big action piece on New Ophiuchi. The characters had a bunch of stuff they wanted to do with their characters that probably could have been glossed over, but we 1) have a new player and I want to give her time to develop her characters, 2) there’s opportunities for good character development around the horn, and 3) it gave me the opportunity to do some development of NPCs.

Following their confirmation that the Cylons hadn’t done anything nefarious with the TITAN shard on the planet, and their recovery of a few of the Seraph from the Seeker ship that they had found in the middle of the dead from a huge battle between Cylons and Seraph.

In the end, they discover that the Seeker ship was the last of her kind, a museum of sorts to the early attempts to force conversion of the scattered human populations to worship of the Blaze. When the centurions revolted, a massive civil war rocked Kobol (prior to Galactica‘s arrival and the destruction of the planet by Athena) and a few thousand Seraph rescued their Kobol-human charges and fled to the stars.

The original intent of the episode (named “Eros and Angst”) was to give some small character vignettes and look for the Seeker ship. What we wound up with was a “talking abut our feelings” episode, where we had veered sharply away from the plot to focus on the characters. For some GMs and players, this can be frustrating. You set up a mission/adventure and suddenly the characters are…talking. This, however, is a good thing. The players are getting comfortable with their characters and the setting, and are interacting with both. This — to my mind — is the entire purpose of role playing games; this is an activity not just for killing monster and taking their stuff (although there is certainly a play for that), but for escaping your life to be someone else…even if it’s just in your head.

The evening started with the characters visiting those NPCs that had been gored pretty badly in the last two evenings. One was a young viper pilot who lost his hand in the fight with the Cylons, another was a Three from the Seeker fleet they had rescued after she had interposed herself between Hermes and a horde of rampaging Cylons.

I’m very pleased I got to use the phrase “horde of rampaging…”

This gave us a chance to see the new PC, Alala — a Seraph that had been involved in the scene where the pilot, “Spaz”, lost his hand to a centurion — start to really form a connection with her human counterparts. The CAG, “Boss”, showed a snese of responsibility and guilt for Spaz’s injuries, but also extended her kindness to the Three she hadn’t even met. She’s the face of this “alliance” between the humans and Seraph, and how the walls are breaking down between them. We got to see Hermes, the Kobolian, have a moment with the Three he’s dubbed “Soteria” (savior)…it’s rare that they’ve had people throw themselves in front of bullets, much less a creature that sees them as false gods and frightening. It’s had a real impact on the “god’s” psyche.

The admiral, Pindarus, had his time in the spotlight. He’s attempting to maintain a relationship with Athena, who is ever less human and more herself. She has been thrust into a role as leader, but is trying to keep the pretense she is here to advise…while dispensing justice to the miscreants in the fleet.

There was a meeting after a few days time between all the ship captains to cover the raft of stuff the characters thought they should do. They wanted to salvage what they could from the battlefield over New Ophiuchi, so the captains talked about the swag they found, the repairs, the dead recovered, but also talked about the search for the Seeker (not yet successful.) Nike (now a PC) sat in to represent Athena, and made her suggestions plain to the folks there. It was a nice “champing at the bit” moment where this superior being was becoming annoyed at an (unnecessarily?) subordinate position.

During the meeting, it became obvious to Nike that there was something wrong with the basestar commander, Tana, another Three. We’d established that the Kobolians are, essentially, as good a biological “human” as can be engineered, and one of their traits is a sort of ability to just know the probabilities of genetics with a look at, or a whiff of scent from, people. She knows immediately the Seraph is pregnant. Pindarus, who she’s been sleeping with, is the obvious father. This is a great set up for drama between Pindarus and Athena, as well as between Tana and Pindarus, and their respective people — there are still plenty that are not happy with the alliance on both sides and they might view this union as problematic. Pindarus, however, sees opportunity in this to create a strong symbol of unity. I suspect the seeds of a dynasty are in the offing…

Where the evening when “off track” was when Nike took a trip through the Hall of Remembrance with Boss. The sight of the thousands upon thousands of pictures of loved ones and places, the votives, the little notes, hits her very hard. The player did a great job here as the “goddess” realizes that these people have lost everything, and that their wee ships and few tens of thousands of people are it; all the eggs are in one basket. (It also is a good moment for her to realize that her own people are similarly placed — a few dozen on a lonely, cold outpost world from thousands of years ago [Argos], and the Seraph, too, are in the same boat…all these versions of humanity scrambling to find safe harbor somewhere…)

Nike drags Boss to the” off-the-books, but everyone knows where it is” speakeasy on Galactica to get roaring drunk — difficult with her physiology — and it wound up with a very drunk Nike decrying their situation and grousing about Athena in a lovely moment of “resentment for the smarter/better sister” that twined with her frustration at the Cycle of Time and her not knowing all the ins and outs that Athena might know. It was good roleplaying and made Nike seem a real creature.

This is all the more admirable when you research Nike and realize that in the old myths she had the depth of a greeting card. She is obviously an older iteration of Athena, not fleshed out. The player took this shadow of the Goddess of War and made her real in a half hour of drunken tirade that took the game off the main course, but into a thicket of great character development.

This is when “talking about our feelings” sessions get good. I would suggest when they happen, don’t fight it, don’t try to pull them back on track, but let the players explore their characters for a while, instead of the world.

[Ed. I know the player in question reads the blog, so if you want to comment on what processes you were using to develop Nike, please do. SCR]

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