I had dinner last night with a gaming buddy I occasionally play with here in Albuquerque last night. We got talking about the various stuff we’ve been playing, what we’ve wanted to play, and I mentioned that the Battlestar Galactica game that’s dominated my group’s sessions for years was coming to an end. He pointed out I’ve been attempting to wrap this for a few years, and he’s right…but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.

This past week, the rag-tag fleet reached Earth, 4 years and 9 months after the campaign first got restarted with a crappy pilot session about people going missing from a mining outpost on the Armistice Line. (I found the date on my computer’s calendar: 27 April 2011 — just ten days after my daughter was born…) There’s still a few episodes left, mind you, but the main conceit of the game — reaching Earth and (hopefully) safe harbor is the subject of next week’s session. Other than a few more loose ends to tie up, the game is over. My friend, at this point, bet me $20 I don’t finish by March. How could I resist?

But now I have a hard date for the finish of the game: February 25, 2016.

For five years, this campaign has dominated my life. Discussing it with one of the players during the ride home the other night, we were talking about the game. It is the longest continuous campaign I’ve ever run; it was the longest campaign he’s ever played in. During the course of the game, it moved from a Cold War conspiracy-style setting, to a military and post-apocalyptic setting, to an increasingly science-fiction setting mixed with Greek mythology, to a political thriller, and then hard into transhumanist science fiction. There have been players that have come and gone, but we two had been playing from the start, and three main players since the Fall of the Colonies, about three and a half years…the characters are rich, well-developed; the setting feels lived in, realistic — despite the increasing science fiction aspects; it’s been, I feel safe to say, epic.

There were a few really big risks I took. Early on, I threw out canon from the reimagined show, but kept the good stuff from the setting. The Adamas were not the focus; the player characters took the place Apollo and Starbuck and the commander.  A bigger risk was going with “the Blaze” elements that got cut from Kobol’s Last Gleaming (a mistake, in my opinion); the “angry god” that destroyed the harmony of God and Man became the main antagonist, and the humanoid Cylons became “Seraph” — his “messengers” and replacements for the Lords of Kobol, Hades’ “family” whom he missed. I brought in Athena to replace a popular NPC and though I’d really screwed the pooch doing it. After a few sessions, it was obviously better. And in the end, I think I may have run my best game in the 37(!!!) years I’ve been playing RPGs.

Better than the excellent Babylon 5 game that was the first time I tried to do a coherent, planned out story arc. Better than the surprisingly good and long-lived Star Trek game at the start of the aughties, after I moved back to Albuquerque. Better than the very good espionage and Victorian sci-fi games from the ’90s, or the uproariously fun Shanghai campaign for Hollow Earth Expedition that faded away after this gam started.e..and like a good TV series, I want to see how it ends, but I don’t want it to stop.

Now the question — the same one I’ve been trying to work my way through for about six months, once I realized how close we were to the end — is “what next?” Or maybe more appropriately, “How do I top this?” and I suspect that’s my big mistake when thinking about the next games. I didn’t set out to top myself with Galactica, I just wanted to do the best game I could for people.

I sent out an email to the group, looking to see what they wanted to play or run. The newest player likes to GM, I was hoping to coax her into the center seat, but we’ll see. The big favorite seems to be a cyberpunkish sci-fi game, Atomic Robo, and I’m thinking I’d like to take a crack at either Space:1889 or Hollow Earth Expedition‘s Revelations of Mars settings, but I think that’s it for space opera for a while.

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