After a six month hiatus from the main storyline of our Battlestar Galactica game for an Atomic Robo adventure and a side mini-campaign dealing with Pegasus in our game universe, we returned to Big G and her smaller fleet on Thursday.

This was essentially the equivalent of a teaser/first act for his adventure, titled Remnants of Apotheosis. We rejoined the crew with a teaser that recapped the goodbye party on Cloud 9 where the fleet was splitting — 47,000ish survivors of the Fall of the Colonies were remaining on Argos, an old Kobolian outpost world, where they had found enough arable land and a strong enough ecosphere to survive. They had also discovered the old Citadel of Zeus, and with the aid of a few Kobolian leaders — the “Olympians” Athena, Ares, Artemis, Hermes, Hephaestus, Nike, and Poseidon — had managed to overhaul enough of the place to support settlement and repair the old planetary defense systems. Out tag on the final episode of the last “season” was that Poseidon was resurrecting some of the other Olympians and Kobolians from the DNA patterns they had located in the data archives. (The Kobolians used DNA for data storage as it is much more robust and long-lived than other forms of data storage.) Athena, realizing that Poseidon was setting the world up to be his own personal kingdom, made certain that Zeus’ pattern would be one of the first batch resurrected.

The other portion of the fleet was 18,021 “pilgrims” headed to Earth under a quasi-military dictatorship led by a PC, Admiral Pindarus. The civilian government is small, as appropriate for a population the size of a small town, with a lot of the powers resting with the ship captains. The whole enterprise, however, is being overseen by the Triumvirate — Athena, Hermes, and Nike — who are advising the fleet. Athena also knows the Olympians will be needed when they get to Earth.

Part of this pilgrimage are 1300 “Seraph”, the “humanoid Cylons” that had been the servants of the Blaze, whom they later found out was Hades. The god of the underworld had gone to Earth to fine the TITANs, those ancient machine intelligences that had created the Olympians and humans on Kobol after having destroyed all life on Earth sometime in the past. He came back having “touched the face of God” and was driven mad, seeking to set himself up as God. The Seraph traveling with the Colonials have been released from behavior restraints (including infertility) that the Blaze had placed on them out of gratitude and a realization that their race will die off in a few generations without Mankind.

This first evening saw Admiral Pindarus and the Seraph commander, Tana (a Three [think Gabrielle Reece for the look]) starting to develop a friendship. Other characters are still trying to recover from the shock of the Fall, the discovery of their Gods, the destruction of the Blaze by an incarnation of Athena that had, in essence, inhabited the body of one of their senior officers (and then girlfriend to Pindarus.) Now the fleet is split, they are having to come to grips with their new allies (and it is just as hard for the Seraph.)

The B story is the impending marriage of a Three, ow a viper pilot aboard Galactica, and that ship’s operations officer, a LT Rhadmus. The Triumvirate, the human and Seraph leaders see this as a symbolic thing that might pull the races together; the two lovers just want to get hitched. One of the other PCs is a Nine (think the Leoben model from the sho) who resurrected after the final battle with the Blaze despite the resurrection system being offline. He was downloaded with programming, and is possibly a messenger from (the real) God. He is finding himself in the middle of the Seraph’s politics, which has been exacerbated by the models seeing greater individuality since their sudden acquisition of free will. He is convinced that Athena is some kind of messenger or angel of God, and is finding himself at the tip of the spear on the politics of this marriage.

Meanwhile, the fleet has jumped away and started its six month trek to Earth, with planned stops at worlds the Seraph had known had been settled by the 13th Tribe, which had traveled with the Blaze to Earth 3000 years ago. Their first stop is New Ophiuchi (named for the 13th Tribe) where the final battle with the Blaze happened.

We broke about that point. My estimate is four to six more “episodes”, which means between eight and twelve more evenings of play in the campaign. If I’m right, we should see the end of this long-running campaign sometime around the end of the year.

The end of our big battle on Aquaria happened last night. The characters had pushed into the industrial section of Kyros, much of which had been flattened by orbital bombardment, and found a “puppet factory”, as they were calling it — an installation where the Cylons were creating a new hybrid machine…the IL Series (after the “diplomat/leader” robots in the Old Series.) They found a charnel house of body parts — human and Seraph (what our humanoid Cylons are called) that had been used as parts to cover the robotic innards of this new series. It was a particularly gruesome scene that culminated with being attacked by a half-finished IL build out of a Six and a hand-to-hand fight with a “lamprey” — a 20 foot long machine lamprey with multiple sets of buzzsaw teeth.

The pilot PC, callsign Fists, got pretty banged up in the altercation, and Oscari, commander of Aegis, and another PC, had to jump in to save her. In the end, the Aquarian resistance, backed by the small battle group under Pegasus, managed to win the day and destroy the Cylon forces.

But there wasn’t much of a reprieve before the toasters jumped in in force. Three basestars, two captured battlestars, 60 large armed transports, and thousands of raiders jumped in, and the battle group was left on its back foot. Before the fight could commence, however, they got a call from a “Basestar Prime” that asked for a cease fire and parlay. For a moment, it looed like Cain’s hatred of the Cylons might lead them into a fight they could not win, but she got talked into hearing them out by the other commanders.

The meeting on Pegasus was tense and creepy, with the arrival of the Cylon delegate — IL-K, built out of a Two. She offered a truce to the Colonials: an immediate end to hostilities, except where they Cylons would have to defend themselves from the unruly resistance while the Cylons packed up over the space of a week, and then left the Colonies. They would retire to 3000 light years to antisinward. From that line starting at galactic center to the rim to 90 degrees, would be Cylon space; human space would be from that line to 270 degrees. They would agree not to interfere in each other’s space or the treaty would be rendered null.

The characters are suspicious — why? Why cut and run now? IL-K’s response: the costs now outweight the benefits of remaining in the Colonies. They have been fighting a proxy war for a God that is now dead. Their former masters (the Seraph) are no longer a threat. They do not need the biospheres the humans do, and… they have more important concerns than war; it is petty. Beneath them.

After a bunch of agonizing over the idea of signing, the Colonials agree, and to their surprise, over the course of a week, the Cylons either pack up, or destroy the facilities they are leaving behind, then they jump away!

The War is over and the Colonials…won? Tens of billions dead for nothing. An entire culture destroyed for nothing. Victory Day is declared, the characters get to take part in over-the-top revelry on Aquaria, but the hard part is ahead…waiting for the politics of the Twelve Worlds (really only eight now, not counting the worlds that have irreparable ecospheres…) to settle enough to start rebuilding.

The tag saw the admiral dispatch Aegis to find Galactica and tell them the good news. They can come home.

Next week will either be the return to the main campaign plot line, or a few weeks of Atomic Robo. I haven’t decided.

Last night saw the Big Push — the small task force, led by Pegasus, made their move to liberate both Aquaria and Libran. We started in media res with “Fists” — one of the PCs who has risen to wing commander of the task force — in her viper, caught in a flat spin in the clouds over Aquaria while a battle rages around her. She has to punch out, and as she falls out of the cloud deck, we can see the burning city of Kyros, the forests around it toppled and on fire, contrails, smoke, and dust from the orbital bombardment that preceded the assault on the Cylon stronghold. She is falling toward the frigid ocean to the east and desperately trying to get her chute to turn away from the water…

We then jumped back to show some of the preparation — on Aquaria, the other PC, Commander Oscari, is organizing the assault. We followed the long slog from The Complex, a miles long series of caverns under the Alhous Mountains which once housed the Aquarian HQ for the Fist Cylon War, and which has thousands of refugees living underground, to the outskirts of Kyros. Along the way, they had to test against the cold and fatigue. They lose people on the way to the elements, dropping them at the various woodland cabins, picking up other volunteers along the way. One vignette, they find a large farm that was the headquarters for a hundreds strong resistance cell burned to the ground.

Meanwhile, the fleet finally gets their ships in order, and the 170 or so vipers are ready for the fray. With Pegasus, the post-war build Columiba-class Ares to provide high orbit protection from any Cylon response, and the Berzerk-class Hecate, and the Erinyes-class Aegis tasked with orbital bombardment of the two main bases of operations on Aquaria, they jump out from Ragnar to their target. As they do, their old armed tender Demosthenes and the exploration ship Striker jump to Libran on a suicide mission — they are going to use the ships to destroy the Cylon positions on Libran.

The bombardment goes swimmingly, with the Cylon airbase at Kyros destroyed quickly enough that only a squadron or two of the raiders get airborne. They hit the large industrial park where the Cylons are barracked and their construction facilities are located, smashing them flat. Oscari leads the 2500 man strong assault into the city, only to receive the krypter call from Fists. As the character has a fatherly connection to her, he leaves the assault in the hands of his capable brigade commanders and rushes to save her from any Cylon attack.

This led to a fight with centurions near one of the only standing skyscrapers that saw a few injuries, but they rescue Fists and try to get back to the main force, only to be cut off by a four-story high Decurion tank (go here for the stats.) The 40mm autocannons of the tank make short work of the entire street, kill six of their ten people, but they were able to call in air support to make good their escape.

Plot points were flying fast and plentifully in this episode. Fists got injured a few times, the commander was suffering from the cold with his Flaw of Chronic Injury from a viper crash a decade ago.

Eventually, they work their way back to the lines and take part in a raid on the “puppet factory”, where they think the Cylons are making their creepy new IL-Series cyborg — a more “Terminator”-esque creature than the skin jobs from the show. We left off with them assaulting the seemingly empty, half-destroyed facility, only to be confronted with something “horrifying.”

Next week, we should see the conclusion of this battle, and depending on how things go, maybe even the Pegasus storyline.

A couple of comments on a few of the Battlestar Galactica related posts brought up an “issue” with the Cortex system — that the Cortex system is not really set up for simulation-style combat. I see this as a feature of the more story-oriented focus of the Serenity and BSG settings, but it is certainly a legitimate complaint if you are looking for a lot more viper on raider action, rather than talking about our feelings action.

So I thought I’d expand on some of my “fast and dirty” fleet-scale rules.

ON THE FIELD OF BATTLE

The Battlestar Galactica game lends itself naturally to mass combat — be it fights between hundreds of fighters, multiple capital ships banging away on each other, or large numbers of resistance fighters battling the toasters on the Twelve Colonies after the Fall. (It would equally well for doing some flashbacks of the Unification War, if you are playing Serenity…)

These large set pieces can be settled several ways to lend that element of randomness that can lead to surprises in your game.

THE EASY WAY…

The leadership of the combat groups can run a straight test against each other to see if they meet a specific goal, like “capture the high ground”, “push the Cylons back to liberate the Farm”, or “destroy or rout the resistance group.”

In this case, you could have the respective commanders roll a test like ALERTNESS or INTELLIGENCE+PERCEPTION/TACTICS versus each other to succeed and hand wave the number of losses. This removes the tendency for GM fiat, and can give the players some kind of input on how things play out.

However, if your players aren’t in the upper echelons of command, you might want to give them a bit more influence on events…

Zoom In, Zoom Out

One way to address the various scales of combat is to focus on a select mission or task that is essential to the goal. Maybe you’re a rifle team on Omaha Beach and you need to hit that machinegun emplacement to allow the rest of the Allied landing parties to get ashore in one piece. You play out that mission, then any success might give bonus shifts for the overall conflict.

Say your group is fighting to clear an area of a basestar group over a planet. You might have the initial TACTICS test to by the commander of your battle group set up initiative and give a bonus for the first actions.

You zoom into the squadron or player-level fight between the vipers and raiders to see how they are doing in their goals. Then you zoom into a particular dogfight, or maybe it’s an electronic warfare mission by raptors to jam Cylon transmissions. You play out those low-echelon character’s actions, then if they succeed/fail, have some kind of consequence. Maybe the EW mission jams the Cylon missiles (use as the defense test for the battlestar against being hit); maybe the vipers were flanked and get to launch an attack on your battlestar.

Then zoom back out as the fight unfolds and apply shifts to the actions of the characters to the TACTICs or other tests of the leadership.

Cortex uses “scales” to address the differences between a player character, or a vehicle, or a massive spacecraft. These scales are PERSONAL, LARGE (Planetcraft in BSG), and MASSIVE (Spacecraft in BSG). Each represents a 10x difference in power. For example, a character attacks a raider with personal scale weaponry. Only with a damage of 10 would they have any effect, and that would be a 1 to the raider.

For mass combat, these also apply in time. In MASSIVE scale combat between capital ships, each round is about 10 minutes. For planetcraft, it’s about a minute/round. For personal, it’s roughly 6 seconds. This may seem short, but many modern naval battles between fleets have taken place in the space of an hour.

You can zoom in and out of the fight from capital level, into a personal dogfight or task, then back out to the squadrons duking it out. There are roughly 10 actions for the character in each squadron-level fight, 10 in each capital ship fight. (I typically truncate squadron to capital fights to three rounds for the fighters to each round of big ship action.

ADDING “CRUNCH”

Gaining Initiative

The commanders of both sides roll an ALERTNESS or INTELLIGENCE+PERCEPTION/TACTICS contest to determine initiative. With a successful test, they can lend a die shift up for one of their subordinate units’ test — a gunnery shot, a squadron/group conflict between fighters; on the ground, this could be given to an artillery battery, or a tank platoon, or even an individual character.

Size Matters…Zoom Out, Stay Out

 

One issue with a large-scale fight is that addressing every single fighter would take a sizable number of sessions to play out, and would lose the dramatic impact. (Think about the fights in Battlestar Galactica, they don’t show a whole battle — usually, the dramatic highlights are shown and the fight is over in a matter of minutes.)

To get around this problem, there are a few things you can do.

Option 1: Have the CAG or leader of the fighter flight/squadron/group test against a Cylon raider — AGILITY+PILOT vs. the Raider’s stats and use that as an overall indication of how well the fighters are doing. It also, by extension, give you an idea of how good the player character is doing.

The number they succeed by is the number of raiders that have been damaged/splashed by the vipers. The raiders, then get their chance to hit the vipers, same roll, same effect. It gets you a quick and dirty idea of how things are going in the fight without knowing it was poor Jo-Jo that caught a packet. The downside is it does not take into account disparate numbers of force. I like this for quick fights of small, relatively evenly matched groups.

Our vipers are usually up against anywhere from 3-1 to 6-1 odds against them…this first suggestion tends to favor the small group, especially if they are led by a PC who can throw plot points around.

Option 2: Enter scale again. A planetcraft/large-scale vehicle like a viper can attack a basestar, but they need to score 10W to do any real damage. Let’s assume that to achieve that kind of hit would take several vipers, so let’s assume (and admittedly, we’re rounding down heavily) that a flight of vipers could probably hit with the equivalent of a d2W in spacecraft or massive scale.

So using that as a baseline, let’s break down the size of various units for a quick and dirty idea of what kind of damage they can dole out, and what they can take (using the 10x scaling, a viper can take 1.4 points of damage. We’ll round that down if you want to play this dark and gritty, or 2/bird if you are playing more cinematic-style.)

For the sake of simplicity, you can assume that a unit retains it’s abilities until 1/2 their life points are taken, then they have the usual two step down presented in the rules. At 0 life points, the unit is rendered ineffective or destroyed (depending on the style of play.)

Typical unit sizes follow (based roughly on US Naval standards and what we’ve seen in the show.)

space units

One reason for using the spacecraft scale is to allow planetcraft to assault large targets and vice versa, and also brings the time and damage scales of fighters in line with the capital ships.

Example: A wing of raiders is lunched from the basestar and quickly aproach Galactica, the raiders break into several groups to attack the vipers screen — a groups’ worth (100), with three other groups going after respectively, 1) the civilian ships, 2) Galactica, and 3) acting as a defensive shield for the basestar.

Galactica is banging away on the basestar, but also has their point defense system firing on the raiders and their missiles. The PDS can be used as a defensive roll against the raiders’ attack roll, or they can attempt to destroy any raiders that breach it. (Due to the planetcraft scale, and the large number of PDS batteries, you don’t get a damage die, but you hit them at spacecraft scale with all Basic damage translated to Wound.)

Galactica’s weak air group (40) vs the raiders have equivalent life points and STR, and resolve the fight from the CAG’s tests (or the PC, if they aren’t the CAG…why? Because you’re in the credits.)

Now, if you want to give the PCs a bigger slice of the action, you could zoom in and break it down into the squadron they command, or even a single dogflight.

Remember that at 1/2LP, the unit loses -2 shifts to their strength (at d0W, they can only do 1W of damage to their target, no matter their success.)

MEANWHILE, ON THE SURFACE…

These rules can be applied to the surface, as well.

Infantry vs. Armor

One issue to content with is scale, again…infantry or characters are personal scale, but can gain access to planetcraft/large scale weapons like shoulder-fired missiles, satchel charges and IEDs, or anti-materiel rifles.

While you should resolve character actions by zooming in on their efforts, the general scale of the battle is set by the scale of the units involved.

Echelons

Echelon refers to a formation or the level (scale) of troops involved in a fight. Personal level fights are conducted by the PCs and perhaps up to a half dozen NPC. Anything larger than that is

low echelon

But really large battles, need a bigger scale:

high echelon

Massed artillery exchanges with vehicle or personnel should be conducted at the Massive scale, due to the amount of firepower being talked about.

artillery

Low echeon battles take place over the space of minutes to an hour — each round of combat is the equivalent of 10 personal scale action rounds, or about a minute. High echelon rounds take place about 10 minutes/round. Keep in mind that high echeon battles have frequent periods of maneuvering or regrouping, that can be added into the overall length of the battle.

DAMAGE REPORT

The original rules were not designed to address how damage could effect the performance of a vessel. To give players a bit more “crunch” and provide more flavor here is an alternate, expanded system for damage and repairs.  There’s nothing that says the GM has to roll on these tables or use the ideas, but they can provide some guidance for how damage could be handled in a space battle.

Instead of suffering effects at 1/2 the life points of the craft, damage begins to pick away at a ship or vehicle at 1/4 the damage, 1/2, 3/4, full damage, and greater than that damage.

Up to a quarter the total life points (round up), the vessel takes nothing more than cosmetic damage: scratched paint, dents, small holes to hulls or windows…nothing that is immediately harmful.

Between a quarter and half the total life points, the vessel is damaged badly enough that some systems could be effected — fuel lines could be holed, valves blasted open, power lines or hydraulics cut.  The effects are felt, but not seriously enough to stop operation of the craft.  Check to see what system is hit each time the vehicle take damage in this range to see what systems could be compromised.  Check the vessel’s ENDURANCE at Easy (3) and if it fails, apply a -1 die step to the appropriate attribute.

Between half and 3/4 of the life points, the damage is now serious enough to effect two systems at -2 die steps.  Check to see which systems are hit, and apply the modifiers.

Over 3/4s but less than full damage, the systems are seriously compromised enough that the vehicle now suffers -2 die step to all attributes, and an ENDURANCE test at Average (7) is made to see if the effected systems fail.  This can mean a loss of important function, like propulsion, or simply the loss of something like communications.

Once damage exceeds the total life points, the craft is on borrowed time, and the vehicle is coming apart around the pilot or crew’s ears…the ENDURANCE test Hard (11), but the results of failure are much more severe — the craft will start to come apart around them. The craft is dead and can take no actions.  They have one chance to “punch out” in something like a car or a fighter; in a capital ship, the craft takes 2W/round until the craft reached double it’s Life Points, then it has come apart, sank, or otherwise ceased to be a viable transport.

Here are some ways to determine systems that are damaged:

Stun damage is assumed to be minor — blown circuit breakers,  crashed computers,  cut electrical lines or hydraulic hoses — stuff that can be fixed quickly (in a matter of a round or two) or with jury rigging, if the system can be gotten to.

stun

Wound damage is much more serious, and might not be reparable without significant time (longer than a battle, for instance…)

wound

Not crunchy enough..? Here’s a tighter breakdown for you…

system 1

system 3

system 4

Repairing damage is as in the book — you run a repair test against the total number of damage the ship has taken.

These are still a bit rough, but if anyone runs them, or improves on them, let me know how they’re working.

I’m combining two weeks of the game here, partly because I’ve been swamped with work and school, and patly because — while things happened — thematically, I thought these would work well together.

The Pegasus side-plot has been going well, and is racing toward its conclusion. The small, embattled task force under Admiral Cain has been doing hit-and-run and recon missions for a few weeks (actual and game time) and finally had made contact with the more coherent resistance movements on Aquaria and Libran — the planets least destroyed by the Cylon attacks with an eye to establishing a beachhead.

Two operations were envisioned, with the PC — Commander Oscari late of Hecate, and now CO of Aegis, making good changes to their tactical operations, from having raptors launch prior to staging an attack, and jumping in with the capital ships to provide more immediate electronic warfare support, to pushing a series of preemptive strikes on the Cylon’s quickly dwindling capital resources before attempting to free the two Colonies.

His suggestions lead to OPERATION SUCKER PUNCH — where  two pronged attack on Cylon basestars is planned and executed as a lead in to OPERATION RETURN. This mission picked two basestars providing CAP over Sagittaron and Persephone — a dwarf planet on the outskirts of Cyrannus “Helios Alpha” that is home to military bases and tylium mines the Cylons have been using.

The Colonial intelligence shows that the Cylons have half a dozen basestars left in the Colonies, and two battlestars they had taken during the conflict. Everything else is MIA or was confirmed destroyed in the Civil War with the humanoid Cylons (or “Seraph” as the Blaze called them.) Much of their CAPs over the Colonies are composed of hordes of older-style raiders — easier and quicker to make, and specifically created for anti-ship missile use, which makes them less efficacious against the Viper MK VII. There are thousands of these things over most of the planets, but they are also an older design without jump capability. The ultimate strategy is to wipe out their capital ships and then pick off the lighter craft as they can, while coordinating the ground resistance movements into a coherent force.

SUCKER PUNCH goes off with a massive battle over Sagittaron. A couple of lucky first hits by the Cylons were negated with judicious plot point use, and Aegis came away relatively unscathed, while Hecate was hit hard, but remained operational. They were able to kill the basestar, and the fighter groups rolled remarkably well, dropping raiders handily and only losing a dozen or so of their air wing…however, with 8-1 odds, they did not destroy the fighter screen for the planet, and were unable to conduct orbital bombardment on Cylon industrial sites on the planet.

After returning to Ragnar Anchorage, where the task force has been taking refuge, they learn Pegasus and her air group were successful in destroying their basestar and hitting the mines and bases on the surface of Persephone.

SUCKER PUNCH was a massive success and the task force now is balanced against their foes…the Cylons have four basestars and two battlestars; the Colonials have finally repaired Ares, a post-First Cylon War Columbia-class battlestar and Cain impresses the civilians from their support ships to help run it. With Ares and Pegasus as their heavies, Aegis and Hecate as light battlestars, the players and NPCs felt confident enough to queue OPERATION RETURN.

The mission in broad strokes was to have the southern and northern resistance cells — each about batallion to brigade-sized attack Heim and Kyros, the two cites the toasters are based in, after orbital bombardment by the light battlestars (the heavies are providing high orbit overwatch, in case the basestars show up…) After bombing their infrastructure, select squadrons with provide air support for the resistance, which will go in, clean up the Cylon menace, grab any ordinance, fighters, etc. they can and secure any operational manufactories.

Worried that the lower-ranked, inexperienced officers might not be up to the task of coordinating such an operation, Cain assigns Oscari to the ground mission (mostly so we could see some of this action…) He finds the resistance with 6000 fighters at the ready, complete with snowmobiles, tracked trucks, some heavy weapons they’ve recovered from the Aquarian militia and Colonial Marines, as well as home-made anti-personnel mines and mortars. After tightening the plans, the GO order is given and the troops start to move toward their targets…

Off-screen, the liberation of Libran, which is lightly defended with Cylons mostly operating in two cities, is depending on the Libran resistance — which has a large contingent of Colonial Marines, and the Libran Sea Service (their coast guard) in their ranks and is led by one of the higher ranking officers of the LSS. The commander of Hecate had crafted a plan — a Carossian Lure — based on a historical battle. (Sort of our equivalent of the Trojan Horse.)

The Carossian Lure was a strategy from the Battle of Caros, between the forces of King Darius IV of Leonis and the upstart kingdom of Caros, under King Taro Vespar. (A distant ancestor of one of the senior officers, Colonel Vespasian.) Caros was the capital of the island of Cirrus — a famed resort for centuries. Darius launched a massive attack on Cirrus and besieged Caros for weeks, before finally the city was raided. What they didn’t know was Taro had evacuated the city through ancient catacombs over the space of the fighting, and a small force was left behind to draw in the Darian forces. With the town in their hands, they were shocked to find themselves suddenly surrounded by Cirran forces, and key portions of the city near the gates were set alight. At that point (and this was a period in Leonine history where gunpowder and artillery, and explosives were still relatively new) the catacombs were blown by sappers, destroying much the city and Darius’ force.

In this version, the Colonials are using their armed tender Demosthenes and a lightly armed exploration vessel, Striker, both under skeleton crews, to lure in the Cylons, get as many of their raiders as close as possible (and inside their jump effect bubble) and let them board the vessels, then jump the whole show right on top of the main Cylon bases on the surface of the world. Hopefully, they kill tens to hundreds of raiders, destroy their bases and infrastructure, and decimate (or worse) the Cylon forces, leaving the Librans to wipe out the remaining toasters at their leisure.

If they can pull this off — they’ve got two beachheads in one day, and lose two ships they had marginal use for. With the loss of the two basestars from SUCKER PUNCH, they are hoping to shift the initiative and balance of power to the Colonials.

Next week — the battle of Aquaria.

The group picked up on Aquaria last Thursday, where they had made contact with the resistance movement in the Alhous Mountains near Kyros. About a thousand people were living in a cave complex complete with some hot springs, lit by fire and candlelight save in the places where electricity is needed (the infirmary.) They don’t use anything that gives off an electronic signature while inside. The people here — from children to the elderly, are all armed to the teeth, and have been fighting the toasters (or “chromers” as they call them, and the “fleshers” — the humanoid Cylons) in the still-pre-winter mountains and old growth forests around Kyros. The Cylons, it turns out, don’t do well in snow.

The characters produce aerial and orbital reconnaissance for the rebels to use, try to start putting together intelligence, and try to find out if the Aquarians are up for a push on the Cylons. They find out the Cylons still have relatively low numbers due to a successful IED campaign, and a suicide plane attack on the factory that was turning out new units. The resistance movements have been talking to each other — the bad weather and terrain is something the Aquarians are used to, and they do courier work between the small settlements throughout the continent. Some Aquarians know there’s been a war, but they haven’t even seen a Cylon. It’s a culture of communal living but a respect for individual hunting prowess, there’s a good survival skill set for many of the people, and they are ready to be led into battle.

The Cylons, however, have not been resting on their successes. There are several new models of mechanical terror that have been loosed on Aquaria (and it’s assumed, other Colonies). To address some of the isues of the “new” centurions, the Cylons seem to have designed new centurions that have moved away from the biomechanical paradigm of the Seraph (humanoid Cylons) and have them using scrounged materiel, instead of the small-caliber arm-mountd guns. They are shorter, bulkier, and tougher, and like all the newer critters, have FLIR as standard, making them very hard to avoid. For these, we used the design from the stillborn Galactica reboot.

Cylon front color concept

ATTRIBUTES: Agility: d6   Strength: d12   Vitality: d10   Alertness: d10   Intelligence: d10   Willpower: d8

SECONDARY ATTRIBUTES: Initiative: d6+d10   Life Points: 22   Armor: 4W, 3S

TRAITS: Electronic Interface d8, Enhanced Vision (FLIR) d4, Formidable Presence d4

SKILLS: Athletics d6 (Lifting d10), Discipline d6, Guns d6 (Autofire d8), Heavy Weaponry d6, Knowledge d6, Mechanical Engineering d4, Perception d6 (Hearing, Sight d10), Pilot d6, Planetary Vehicles d6, Technical Engineering d6 (Hacking, Security Systems d10), Unarmed Combat d6

 

 

They also have “steel wolves”, as the Aquarians call them — robotic wolves with razor sharp teeth and claws, and a bite that can crush bone. They are lightly armored for speed, and have large paws to deal with the snow.

ATTRIBUTES: Agility: d8   Strength: d8   Vitality: d6   Alertness: d8   Intelligence: d4   Willpower: d6

SECONDARY ATTRIBUTES: Initiative: 2d8   Life Points: 14   Armor: 2W, 2S

TRAITS: Built for Speed d6, Enhanced Sensors (FLIR and Hearing) d4, Limited Battery d4

SKILLS: Athletics d6 (Running d10), Unarmed Combat d6

I also borrowed a bit from the Terminator franchise for some of this stuff. There are the centaurions — centurion torso/head assemblies mated to motorcycles, or on Aquaria, “snow machines”, armed with 7mm autocannons.

VEHICLE DATA: Scale: Personnel    Length: 5’    Widths: 2’    Height: 3’terminatormototerminator1200

ATTRIBUTES: Agility d6, Strength d6   Vitality d4   Alertness d6   Intelligence d6   Willpower d6

 

SECONDARY ATTRIBUTES: Initiative: d10+d6    Speed: 150mph    Life Points: 10    Armor: 1W, 2S

TRAITS: Fast Throttle d4, Formidable Presence d4, Unstable Platform d4

SKILLS: Athletics d6, Heavy Weaponry d6, Perception d4

ARMAMENT: 2 7mm autocannons d8W Personal Scale, Skirmish Range [200 yards]; Blades d4W

 

 

And lastly, the Decurion — a four-story high tank that is armed with massive autocannons, guided missile pods, and can house a platoon of centurions.

terminator_salvation_newpic_9VEHICLE DATA:  Scale: Vehicular    Height: 44’    Width: 45’    Crew: Autonomous, but carries up to 6 centurions.

ATTRIBUTES: Agility d4   Strength d10   Vitality d10   Alertness d8   Intelligence d6   Willpower d6

 

SECONDARY ATTRIBUTES: Initiative: d4+d8    Speed: 60mph    Life Points: 20    Armor: 3W, 2S

TRAITS: Formidable Presence d6, Large Footprint d4, Stable Platform d4 (ignores snow, up to 10 water)

SKILLS: Athletics d4, Heavy Weapons d6 [Autocannons d8], Perception d6 [Sight d10]

ARMAMENTS: 2 50mm Authocannons: d10W Vehicle Scale, Skirmish Range (5000m); 2 missile pods (armored) d8W Vehicle Scale, Skirmish Range (5 mi)

After the talks with the Alhous resistance crew, they were going to attempt to make contact with the resistance near Heim — the world’s capital, and the other main base of operations for the Cylons. Unfortunately, there raptor had been discovered, and the toasters were waiting. A decent firefight ensued in which were saw the snow centaurions, the steel wolves, and the decurion in action, as well as the new centurions (who are quieter than their older versions.) These forces were being let by a new humanoid Cylon, but one that was a bit creepy — the Aquarians had mentioned the Cylons were taking people and turning them into Cylons; flesh covering, robotic underneath. One of these “IL series”, as it called itself, was waiting for them, and in a strange twist, tried to get them to surrender, rather than kill them…

They were able to squeak out a very tight escape by jumping the raptor right there on the ground to their RP with the exploration vessel Striker (part of their task force) to report back. That was where we broke for the night.

Another night of our side plot about Pegasus and her small task force causing havoc for the toasters back at the Colonies on Thursday. In this episode, we had some housekeeping from the aftermath of attacking the Boneyard and cutting out an older battlestar, Ares. The small escort they’ve had with them since the Exodus began, Demosthenes, is so battered as to be deadlined. The old, great Ares and Pegasus, too, require serious repairs. To find some respite, they have retreated to Ragnar Anchorage to repair, refit, and provision.

Ares‘ automation systems are unique — the Cylons didn’t use a hybrid, like the Seraph would, but a complex series of computers that use biomimetic materials, but aren’t biology. Their surveys of the Colonies have shown the Cylons are building old-style raiders, rather than the biomechanical ones the Seraph fielded. The characters were curious as to why? Is there some kind of ideological reason? Cutting the ties with their skin job masters? Or maybe they can’t do the biomechanicals?

While the ships are under repais, Admiral Cain doesn’t want to waste time and let their OPTEMPO slide. She assigns some of the senior officers with ground combat training to make contact with the resistance movements on Aquaria and Libran — the two worlds that look to have the most successful and cohesive movements, and have the lowest concentration of Cylon opponents. They need a beachhead for work from, and the commander of Aegis — a PC named Philip Oscari — gets the Aquaria mission.

After a dangerous low-altitude atmospheric jump (LAAJ), they hard land in the snows of Aquaria and quickly make contact with suspicious resistance fighters armed with a collection of hunting rifles. Soon after, they are aggressed by “steel wolves” — sleek, wolf-like robots with razor claws and teeth. They are fast, light, and designed for snow operations, but the hunting rifles and automatic weapons soon make short work of them. They are, however, the harbingers for the “centaurs” — centurion bodies mated to snowmobiles. They don’t get a good look at these that night; they are too busy escaping to the “Complex” — a series of underground caves with hot springs in the mountains outside Kyros, the nearby city.

Here they find thousands of people — children to adults — living in the labyrinth, fed well on reindeer and other game and fish. They are led by a historian and politician, and a bunch of local hunters. They also have a Two, which they use to ascertain if the crew are “human’…apparently, they know the 12 models of skin jobs (or fleshies, as they call them), but there’s a new kind of skin job, and it’s worse than they can imagine. They didn’t get into that too deeply, as the night’s session concluded.

Last Thursday, we had our next “episode” of the BSG campaign, where we are following a side story of what happened to Pegasus (in our continuity), when they returned to the Colonies to keep the Cylons busy while the fleet headed for Earth.

One of the elements I threw at the characters were that their Cylon prisoners all “feel” a presence — the means by which they uploaded seemed to be trying to make a connection to them. The players, of course, know this is about the time of the Blaze (Hades) reaching New Ophiuchi and attempting to reboot an old sliver of the TITAN, Hecate.

Worse, reconnaissance of the Colonies shows the Cylons, freed from their Seraph masters, have been busily setting up infrastructure to make power, and more centurions and old-school raiders. (The assumption is the method for making the biomechanical ones is either beyond them, ideologically dissonant, or takes too long.) They find out there are resistance movements on nearly all the Colonial worlds, but that the situation is more chaotic than expected. Rather than humans vs. the bad guys, there are Seraph-human alliances, but also widespread human on human post-apocalyptic “gang” warfare. Pulling everyone together to fight the toasters might prove more difficult than they expected. They also find out the Cylons are firing up some of the old materiel the Colonials had in storage, which gave us a new setting location GMs might find useful: the “Boneyard.”

After the Cylon War, the Colonies didn’t need as many ships in operation, and many of the old vessels were pretty battered. Fortunately, space is really big, so they mothballed a large swathe of their old warships at the Cyrannus Military Aerospace Repository (C-MAR) or “Boneyard.” Positioned at the barycenter of the four suns, it’s a stable, gravitational liberation point. C-MAR consists of a massive anchorage for parts, ammunition, and other storage, and is surrounded by ships spaced in a arc around the station, spaced 200 miles or so apart, that occasionally have their positions stabilized by tugs. There were, at the time of the attacks, about 150 escorts, tenders,flatops and other mobile docks, and other light vessels from the first War to the present in storage and in various conditions — from a parts ship waiting to be cut up for scrap, to ships that could be restarted and made ready with a few weeks work. Also here were five salvageable “heavies” — two of the surviving Columbia-class from the first war: Athena and Atlantia (which had been replaced with a Mercury-class), as well a post-war build ColumbiaAres. There was also the “death ship”, so called for her myriad failures that caused her eventual decommissioning  — a Minerva-class named Hera. 

The Cylons were restoring AthenaAres, and Atlatntia to operational status, and the place is only defended by raiders on CAP. It was decided to go in and destroy two, and attempt to “cut out” one of the ships. They chose Ares to grab, used their escort Demosthenes to carry shuttles with nearly every marine they had, and a large, armed DC team. They jump in, Pegasus and Hecate banging away on Atlantia and the still-crippled Athena, maneuvering on her reaction props only. The ships are moving slowly, and their combat response is lackluster — they suspect the ships are mostly automated. They quickly destroy the latter, but the Cylons try to ram Pegasus, and succeed only in glancing off of her (still does a lot of damage!)

Meanwhile, the PCs aboard Aegis make their attempt to shield Demosthenes assault on Ares, first hitting the landing bays to clear out the few raiders aboard the old battlestar. This turned into a good dogfight, while Old D launched her boarding party. Problem the first: Ares was mostly complete — her engines are online, the FTL is operational, and she’s got ordinance to throw. There was a good fight that with judicious use of plot points by the PC commanding the ship lead to no damage to Aegis and Ares’ guns disabled.

The boarding party, with had a “10” along to help them with the automation, meets solid resistance, but they have numbers on the Cylons. The 10 is able to gain access to the ship’s network the Cylons established and trick the centurions into repelling a fake assault in a place that Aegis could hit with their guns (the arm to the flight pods.) He’s able to get the FTL up and running, and they take the ship with relatively low losses.

We ended the night there, as we had run late and the wife and daughter were wanting to get to sleep…

Last week’s game was primarily a “let’s talk about our feelings” and planning episode. Tonight, we should be getting down to the business of killin’ toasters.

The ending act to the last “episode” was last week — having captured a half dozen humanoid Cylons and their 10 human charges, the crew of Hecate was charged with interrogating them for intelligence on the disposition of the Colonies, and any other information that might be useful. The characters, and especially Admiral Cain, were horrified by the “traumatic bonding” they saw in the humans toward their captors.

The nominal leader of the skin jobs is “Victor”, a Twelve. (We have our own Cylon models for the game, for those just tuning in, and their personalities vaguely parallel the Lords of Kobol they were based on…no surprise as their “God”, the Blaze, was in reality Hades, one of those lords who warred on his family.) Victor is a massive, amiable Oliver Platt sort, who from the jump has been cooperative. He realizes that with the internecine fighting between his kind and the centurions, as well as the humans, he’s got little choice but to try and cut alliances.

We learned that he and “Kara” — an Eleven (our “Boomer”) — had been the commander and a lead researcher, respectively, at a “Farm”, a fertility research center to aid the Seraph (what the Cylons call themselves) with their inability to breed. The descriptions were appropriately horror movie quality. Victor claims to have been against the War with the Colonies, and the humans confirmed that from the start, Victor’s Farm regularly had mass escapes that they know were staged by Victor. Three of the humans — a father and his two little girls — had been rescued from experimentation and worked in “the Big House” because he took pity on them. Apparently, Victor has a soft spot for kids (and not in a creepy way.)

Kara, on the other hand, has a lover, a young biochemistry grad student she rescued from sex slavery to aid her in their research. It’s obvious this kid is badly traumatized and is convinced he’s in love with the 11. He’s also established something we learned with the Galactica fleet — the Seraph have strange mental blocks that prevent them from hacking their own software and hardware.

There is a Five from the same camp that was in charge of bringing back the escapees. She hates Victor, disagrees with him on almost everything, but in the end, when the centurions rebelled, he was the one that saved the three Seraph, and over a hundred humans by talking the centurions down. They had a small loyal cadre the Five commanded until a final battle with well-organized Cylon forces that destroyed mot of the Seraph and human resistance in their particular province of Virgon.

The last two Seraph: a Four (the Simon model from the show) was a sleeper agent that had been in place for about a decade, having taken the identity of a young doctor named Ross Andromachus. His research was actually instrumental in the treatment the commander PC received the repair his several spinal nerves after an accident in a viper seven years ago. (The reason he is no longer a Viper pilot.) Once activated, he attempted to rescue his wife, unsuccessfully, and wound up running a Farm near Boskirk, and attempted to make the situation for the subjects less than odious (unsuccessfully), but did set as many people free as he could once the centurions rebelled. He was captured by human resistance fighters, but vouched for by a few of those he set free. He was a prisoner of the human resistance and was their doctor until he was released as part of a deal to ally with Victor’s group of rebels.

Last is a Ten they call “Chief” of “the Engineer”, who had been just that on Basestar 16. He is ambivalent about the humans — he was a soldier at war with them. It’s nothing personal, but they were the enemy. Now they both have a more pressing issue — the toasters. As such, he’s willing to work with them to try and figure out how to kill the murder machines. He had little knowledge of the situation on the ground, but was able to confirm the general numbers of the Cylon forces in the Colonies — six basestars and two battlestars that had been taken in combat. He also confirmed something the others commented on — the centurions have been rapidly retrofitting factories to build more Cylons. If they don’t hurry to the Colonies, they might soon find themselves up to their necks in machines. The upside, building even the simpler, older versions of basestars will take months.

The characters learned that the situation on the ground is better and worse than they expected. The big worlds, like Canceron, Aerilon, Virgon and Leonis, survived the nuclear assaults much better than anticipated. While the environments are badly toxic in many places, the worlds are still habitable in the right areas. The resistance groups, both human and Seraph, are fighting relatively small number of centurions — battalion to division levels, at most. However, Virgon — for instance — had a long history of weapons ban and regulations; the resistance fighters are making due to cobbled together arms, low-capacity hunting guns, bows and arrows, and whatever they could grab from the centurions and Colonial units destroyed. Many of the survivors are locked in conflict with each other for food, water, medicine, or power — people gone mad. (Cars in the post-apocalyptic desert!)

We learned that certain worlds are doing better than others in fighting back: Canceron, with its rich liberal/libertarian tradition, was long considered “crazy” for their tendency to prep for disaster, for their love of guns and free speech, and being left the hell alone. Now, with a gun behind every blade of grass, and despite being one of the targets for heavy nuclear bombardment, Canceron is holding up quite well against the toasters…but their problems with in-fighting and crazies just trying to get by is exacerbated by their individualistic tendencies. The two worlds doing the best are the jungle-heavy Libran, and the Scandinavian-like Aquaria, where the centurions have a hard time with the environment.

There was a lot of concern about what to do with the captives. The admiral doesn’t want to waste food and time on those they can’t trust and have no utility to the mission, Hecate‘s CO (a PC) wants to wring them for all the utility they have and certainly doesn’t want to dispose of the humans, and the CAG of Hecate (another PC), finds herself in the unenviable position of pushing the policies of the government they left behind — treat the Cylons as POWs with a certain level of human rights.