A look back at the Battlestar Pacifica episodes.
by Linda Naughton ('Faraday')
I’ve always thought of BSP like a television show. So in the same vein as Krieger’s BSP Video Blog, I decided to write the “director’s commentary” for each of the episodes. It is, of course, terribly biased from my own memories and perspectives - my own personal trip down memory lane. But hopefully there will be some amusing tidbits and insight. Enjoy!
Table of Contents
I saw an ad on OGR from Zarquon (hereafter just “Z”) asking for a coder to help with a Battlestar game he was building. I ultimately agreed to help mostly for selfish reasons. Z’s vision sounded cool, so I figured if I helped him get it up and running, I’d at least have someplace fun to play on. I signed up to help, but made it clear that I wasn’t interested in having an active role on staff. I just wanted to code.
Famous last words.
From the beginning, Z had a pretty clear idea of the themes that were going to make BSP unique and set it apart from the show. It basically boiled down to three elements: A smaller fleet, martial law and an emphasis on the human conflict. The latter was what appealed to me the most - the idea that mankind is, in many ways, its own worst enemy.
Tying into that was the idea of the Cylon motivations. Z thought it would be interesting if there was a bit more to it than just: “Humans! Exterminate!” He came up with the idea that Pacifica’s fleet was an experiment of sorts for the Cylons, to see how the humans reacted in stressful situations. Put the rats in a maze, poke them, and watch them turn on each other. This explains some of the seemingly bizarre actions the Cylons took at various points - like sparing the civilian fleet in Abandoned or not taking more advantage of their moles, who really could have crippled the fleet.
The theme of Pacifica returning to the Colonies was also set at the beginning. It was a cool idea, but unfortunately nobody had a good idea of how the fleet was going to get home without committing suicide against the overwhelming Cylon force, or what it was going to do once it got there. The return to the Colonies always seemed like the endgame, which presented problems when it was stated as an IC goal from day one.
I have a lot of respect for Z. BSP was his vision, and without him - none of this would exist. Unfortunately, right around the time the game was set to open, Z’s RL took a hold of him and never really let go. I remember it being about a week before the game was set to open, and we had no Battlestar! The Dream and the 118 were finished or nearly so, but nobody had done anything with the Pacifica itself.
Thus began my mad scramble, the weekend before opening day, to build the Battlestar. I watched all the DVDs and took notes about where things were in relation to one another (“Valley of Darkness” was actually one of the better episodes for that, since it showed some of the ship’s geography while they were running around fighting Cylons). I mashed all that info together with research on real aircraft carriers and what was on them, and voila - the Pacifica was born. Every room was built with an eye towards generating RP, and I’m somewhat proud of the fact that they all saw at least one scene during the course of the game (with the possible exception of the Galley).
My favorite rooms were the Laundry Room and the Head. The Head, of course, came right from the show. So many amusing scenes happened in there that I just had to build one. The Laundry Room idea was sparked by my carrier research. On a real carrier you just toss your laundry into a communal bin and the support folks do it all and get it back to you. But I thought it might be more fun to have a laundromat where people did their own. I figured these two rooms might get the occasional scene when folks were bored. I never in a million years envisioned that they would become as popular as they were. Every time I saw someone RPing there, I just had to smile.
May 19, 2006
We had a pretty good turnout on opening day. Even all of the FCs were there - something that would prove a rarity in the future. Z and the other staffers handled the space battle, which went pretty smoothly.
Of course, that left everybody else who wasn’t a pilot or CIC officer. I’m still not sure exactly how it happened, but somehow in spite of my ‘I only do code’ mantra, I ended up with four windows open, running scenes for the civvies, engineering, sickbay and the marines. It was the first of many Fara-Multitasking-Marathons. In spite of the insanity, it was actually great fun, and reminded me that I enjoy running plots.
Don’t look too closely at the timeline of events at Ragnar. Z’s plan from the start was to have Pacifica arrive there after Galactica and its fleet had already left. The wreckage they found and the “survivor”, Boomer, were just part of the Cylon ploy to mess with the humans. But given how long Galactica was there loading up on supplies and waiting for Roslin’s bunch to join them, it’s pretty silly to think that both the Pacifica and the Siren managed to miss them - and miss each other. Also, I think everyone involved sort of forgot that Ragnar was a gas giant with crazy EM interference. Oh well - our first continuity glitch :)
I wasn’t really involved in this episode. Z and the others seemed to have plot stuff pretty well in hand, and I convinced myself that the marathon during the opening day TP was a one-time thing. Hah.
Anyway, the initial few episodes were about building the fleet, and this was the first. It also served a few other purposes - to give the marines their first taste of combat, to introduce the upgraded Centurion models, and to cause a little more havoc with the Cylons frakking with the computer systems.
The mystery jump was never really explained. Was the virus planted during the attacks, or afterwards by a mole? Why did the Cylons want Pax to find the Voyager? Why had they rounded up all the humans on Voyager rather than just killing them? I’m actually not sure what the original intent was. Much much later, I sort of decided that Tallus planted the virus and there was something on Voyager that the Cylons wanted to get into the fleet: a tracking device, maybe, or just another mole.
Speaking of tracking devices - something they never really dealt with in the show was how the Cylons kept finding Galactica. Space is one big-ass place, and it seems a little too convenient that they kept stumbling upon each other. We decided early on that our Cylon moles would be capable of broadcasting the fleet’s position back to the Cylons. That meant the Cylons knew where Pacifica was most of the time. That’s also why the Cylon attacks stopped after the last mole, Simon, was dealt with.
Funny tidbit: At the end of this episode, Halwinder and Vought had the heavy raider towed back to Pacifica for analysis. I think everyone pretty much forgot about that, staff included. When Vought mentioned it about a year later (after the big deal of Pax capturing a Raider during Archimedes), we couldn’t very well say that it had been sitting under a tarp on the hangar deck all this time. So we retroactively decided that Monk had refused to let the ship on board, and had it destroyed.
On the surface this was just another ‘building the fleet’ episode, but it served the more important purpose of kicking off the military/civilian conflict. Pretty much from day one, Z had intended to spark discord between the two factions. This was the episode that introduced martial law, and raised the specter of the Pacifica leaving the civilians behind to rejoin the fight - two things aimed at distinguishing BSP from the show.
The whole bit with Hannah being accused of treason wasn’t planned ahead of time. Her broadcast was (Z wanted the civilians to find out that the Pax was intending to leave them), but it was only during the TP that Z had the idea of having Nash arrest her. I agreed because it sounded fun. We figured there would be some uproar among the civilians about her arrest (which was the whole idea), but didn’t expect that the PCs would nearly riot in Cat’s over it! Or that the incident would catapault Hannah to infamy and change her from my token civilian alt to my main character.
Z was very big on putting control in the hands of the players. When Governor Annette vanished, we decided to hold open elections rather than just making her a NPC. Belmont and Aaron were the only PCs running, and for some odd reason we decided it would be more interesting if it were a three-way race. Enter Sarah Abrams.
Abrams had been one of our Cylon moles from day one (her and Boomer). She was a sleeper agent who had been planted among Annette’s staff. She hadn’t really been active up until this point, so we recruited Charlie to play her and had her enter the race.
We never expected her to win. Honestly, we figured Belmont would. The election wasn’t rigged; the staff didn’t even have our characters vote. The PCs voted Abrams in fair and square. Then came an awkward moment: “Frak, they elected the Cylon. Now what do we do?”
We eventually decided that Abrams’ programming would just have her be utterly ineffectual. Essentially sabotaging the government through inaction and poor decision-making rather than overt action. That’s why she sat on so many important issues and put less-than-qualified people in charge of things. It was pretty funny when she was later revealed as a Cylon and everyone was like: “Ooooh. So that’s why she sucked so much!”
This one was all Bailey. It was a neat idea, sort of a ‘dungeon crawl’ through the creepy wrecked freighter. I miss Bailey. We didn’t always get along, but in the early days he was the rock of the MUSH - our only really active FC. He sparked an awful lot of RP. Plus - it’s Michael Clarke Duncan. How can you not love him?
Left Behind was the brainchild of Iio and Chiron. It initially centered around two pilots being left behind after a battle, but we later decided to expand it to include more folks by shooting down the fleet shuttle as well. I was a bit leery of leaving everyone stranded for a week, isolated from RP, but hoped that the cool drama factor would balance it out. We didn’t get too many complaints, so I guess it worked out okay.
We also tied in the destruction of the 118. Once the game had been up for a couple months, it became obvious that very few folks were playing civilians, and even fewer wanted to be penniless refugees from the 118. We decided to close down the 118 as an active RP ship, and blowing it up just seemed like a cool, dramatic thing to do.
During this episode, Tyler enacts a plan where Vipers are lashed to Raptors somehow so they can be taken along with a jump. Later on, we decided that was a bit unbalancing, since it essentially made the Vipers jump-capable (albeit indirectly), and it probably shouldn’t have worked in the first place. We didn’t retcon it, exactly, but when the idea came up again in a later episode, we tried to steer folks away from it.
The moment when Private Lisp accidentally shoots Limmer, and everyone’s reaction, is one of my favorite scenes in the game.
This was another of Bailey’s plots, intended to give the engineers and marines some action at a supply depot. Finding interesting things for the non-combatants to do was a constant challenge, especially later on. I mean, there’s only so many times you can blow up the rec room or have the engineers held hostage.
Even coming up with things for the marines to do was sometimes difficult. If you look at the show, there weren’t really a lot of episodes involving the marines, yet the marines on BSP were by far our most popular and active department. That’s why we had a disproportionate number of boarding actions and other ‘ground’ TPs compared to the show.
I think it was during this episode that Bailey first planted the idea of us needing a coded combat system, and shortly after that - +combat was born.
Save the Children was originally just intended to be a little one-off TP to tie in with Hannah’s marine story and give the marines a chance to be Big Damn Heroes. The idea was to have the marines caught unprepared and charge off to save the kids with improvised weapons. Of course, we never really worked out what improvised weapons they’d have, so the PCs were kind of at a loss. Ooops. But it worked out in the end.
And who can forget Marcus sawing off the leg of a Centurion with an arc welder! Goofy, but fun.
The civ/mil conflict was intended to be one of the central themes of the game, but the conflict was all happening off-camera. The PCs didn’t seem to be engaged by it. Rather than giving it up as a lost cause, we tried to “fix” it by bringing the conflict into everyone’s faces. I think what we ended up doing instead was more like bashing everyone in the face with a baseball bat. It sorta backfired. Okay- it really backfired.
Still, the storyline wasn’t entirely bad. I thought it was interesting to examine how a news agency would be run after the end of the world. What would be the checks and balances? Who would be in charge? How would the military react to criticism?
Besides, if we had done things differently we wouldn’t have gotten to see Alora deck Ian, poor Draco’s first trial by fire.
This wasn’t really much of an episode, but it did tie in with the overall civ/mil conflict. It was also the spark that led to the formation of the Fleet Militia. The militia was another of those ideas that sounded good on paper but didn’t work out too well in reality.
We were trying to spice up the civilian sphere and give them something to do. It didn’t occur to us at the time that most of the folks who wanted to play soldier would’ve just made up military characters in the first place. Letting the civilians fight was somewhat redundant. Still, it was important for what we had in mind for Abandoned, and it tied in well with the civ/mil conflict. Also, purely from a selfish perspective, I had great fun with it :)
The engineers originally conceived the idea of a hostage situation in engineering during FTL maintenance. We just took the idea and wove it into a larger plot, adding the bomb on the hangar deck and the hostage-taking in CIC.
The plot itself went pretty well. It was the investigation afterwards that was a mess, because we had done a crappy job of working out the terrorists’ motivations and logistics. We knew Janus wanted revenge for the death of her daughter, but who were the rest of these people? What exactly were they hoping to accomplish? And, Draco’s favorite question - his white whale - How had they gotten into the arms locker?
We didn’t fully work out the details until months later (during Retribution), but I think we managed to cobble together a pretty sensible retroactive explanation for everything. We made Tallus a Cylon mole and tied it to the “frak with the humans and turn them against each other” theme. Tallus was the ring leader, manipulating each of the participants in a different way to bend them to his will. With Janus, he played the revenge card. With Sylvar (the guy in CIC) it was the religious card. And so forth.
The final piece of the puzzle came with the “Moirae Sting Operation” storyline, where Moirae introduced Elom Cooke, the marine she had wrapped around her little finger. Moirae had been helping Tallus, and Cooke was the one who gave up the code to the arms locker. Moirae’s sense of humour: Elom is “mole” spelled backwards.
Somewhere along the way, we realized that the civ/mil conflict just wasn’t working out very well. We also realized that it just kept escalating and escalating with no end in sight. We needed a resolution. This episode was meant to do that. It was also meant to be the kick-off for a week-long series of plots while the fleet was split up. I called it “sweeps week”.
The bare bones plan was pretty simple: Pacifica jumps away, civilian fleet is attacked while they’re gone, Pacifica comes back, and everybody realizes that they need each other. Reconciliation begins.
It didn’t quite work out as we intended. We expected a mutiny; that was one idea for how the fleet was going to get back together. But we didn’t expect a mutiny within the first five minutes of the episode. We also didn’t expect the PCs to be so split down the middle. There were a sizeable number of folks, mostly among the marines, that actually supported Nash and were ready and willing to shoot the mutineers to secure the ship.
The only saving grace was the civilian side. Things worked out pretty well there, with everyone freaking out about being left behind, and the militia banding together to defend the fleet. The final battle in Colonial Square, with the marines coming in at the last minute to save the day, was pretty cool.
Random tidbit: It was during the planning of this episode that we began to wonder: “Whatever happened to Commander Monk?” We had shuffled him off without much of an explanation when he idled out and Nash took over, and promptly forgot about him. Now we had to strain credibility to come up with a reason why he had been absent all this time but would still be able to step in and bring the fleet back together if all else failed.
What we eventually worked out was that Monk had been suffering from lupus, which was attacking his kidneys. He had been in pretty poor shape, but recovered somewhat after a kidney transplant from one of the dying crewmembers in Chains of Command. He made an appearance long enough to sort out the mess and put Starr in command, and then promptly disappeared again. I always meant to do a little FNS article about him dying eventually, but totally forgot about it.
The marine base on Picon was almost called “Camp Monk”, but I figured Nash was more a poster child for the marines, since he was the one who kept trying to go back to the Colonies.
The introduction of the Siren’s fleet was a direct result of new folks having trouble with their backgrounds in chargen. That was always a problem with an enclosed environment like the fleet - trying to explain why all these new faces were always popping out of the woodwork - but it got worse and worse as time went on. The exchange program provided a sensible alternative to the “I’ve been here all along, really” trend in backgrounds. It also provided us a place to send people when they idled out, without having to kill them off.
It was also just plain cool. RDM had said in one of his blog entries that there were other types of ships in the Colonial Navy, but we had never seen them in the show. Introducing the Siren and Atalanta gave some variety. It opened up more possibilities, tactically, by giving the fleet more than one military ship to play with.
Hat’s off to Iio and Chiron, who worked out all the backstory and such for the new ships, and came up with a cool new commander for us. Starr rocked. Though I’m still not clear where the ‘bullfights on Leonis’ thing came from.
My only contribution was the insistence on having the Colonial Hauler. I always loved the “Colonial Movers - We Move Anywhere” ship from the original series, and I wanted one too.
This was our first big attack mission - the first time Pax and its fleet went on the offensive. Apparently it wasn’t all that memorable, since I can’t really remember anything interesting about the battle itself. More interesting was the mutineers in the brig being let out to fight a fire on Pacifica. It was always fun whenever I got to blow up parts of the ship :)
This episode was entirely player-conceived and run - by Psiharis and Tug, if I recall correctly. The mutineers wanted something useful to do while they were stuck on Tantalus, and the long-neglected deck crew just wanted a little plot.
I found it pretty funny that the power failure on the Tantalus had been caused by a rat getting fried in the circuitry, yet during the Binky episode some months later everyone was all: “The fleet has rats? Since when?”
This was one of my all-time favorite episodes. Everything about it just seemed to fall into place, and a lot happened.
For starters, it was one of the few times that folks got to plan out an attack. I always wanted to do more of that, but it just proved difficult to schedule and coordinate.
Then there was the discovery of the Orion. That was mostly Iio’s idea, as she kept watching me blow up ships in the battles and wondered how they were going to replace them. But apart from giving them more supplies, the Orion also led to some really great scenes. Ghost of Orion, where the crew goes through the lockers of the deceased Orion crew members, was very moving, and is one of my favorites.
Incidentally, I picked the Orion because - out of all the Battlestars on the wiki - it was the one with the most “former crew members” now serving on Pacifica.
Lastly, of course, was the capture of the Raider and the introduction of the Cylons’ bio-mechanical technology. I felt bad that this never really went anywhere, because I think it disappointed a lot of folks. But I just really hated Starbuck flying the Raider in “You Can’t Go Home Again”. It struck me as the equivalent of someone crawling inside a dead horse and trying to make it gallop by squeezing on its entrails. (Which is a very disgusting and bizarre analogy, but I’m sticking with it because it really does seem to fit.)
This episode came about when we were planning They Look Like Us. We decided to ‘out’ two Cylons during that TP, and were trying to figure out which ones. Abrams was an obvious choice, given the: “OMG, our governor was a Cylon” reaction that was bound to happen.
When it was a choice between outing Tallus, Moirae, Boomer, or some as-yet-unseen Cylon, Tallus was another obvious choice. Since he was in the brig, he was a dead-end as far as other plots were concerned. The others we could still use for nefarious purposes.
We didn’t want to deal with two Cylons in the brig, so that led us to a quick decision: Abrams must die.
We also wanted to resolve some of the unanswered questions lingering from the Chains of Command investigation now that we actually had some answers. That’s why we decided to have Tallus’ old gang be the ones responsible for the governor’s assassination, so they could get caught.
Why would Tallus want his fellow Cylon assassinated? The funny thing is - he didn’t. When he got captured, he left the rest of his ‘cell’ without a leader. In their efforts to get him back, they went after the most prominent target they could find - the governor. They had no idea she was a Cylon.
The damnable thing is - we went through all this trouble to resolve the original Chains of Command investigation and still didn’t get Draco the answer of how they got into the arms locker. It wasn’t really intentional; it just worked out that it wasn’t revealed. Poor Draco.
This episode was also memorable for one of my favorite Roan scenes - where he was shot in the hair (that precious, precious hair) and then played it up like he was dying or something. I love Roan.
It was getting to the point where the players were anxious to figure out that the Cylons looked human. We had a hard time figuring out how to do that. Even if we had a ‘twin’ of someone show up, it seemed like a pretty big leap to all of a sudden realize: “OMG, they must both be Cylons! The Cylons look like us now!”
The show was no help on this front either. In the miniseries, Leoben just basically out and tells Adama he’s a Cylon. He could have just as easily pled food poisoning or something :)
We struggled for awhile, until we remembered a little plotline Marcus had suggested, about the Pacifica coming upon a derelict Cylon base star. We figured if the base star had some humanoid Cylons on it - particularly faces that were already known to the folks in the fleet - they’d be able to put the pieces together. Admittedly, the idea that this particular base star was staffed only by Leoben and Biers models was a bit of a cop-out, but we didn’t want to reveal all the Cylons all at once.
The show was pretty goofy about its depiction of Cylons. They’ve got super strength, the ability to download themselves, fiberoptic jacks in their arms, and glowy red spines - and yet they’re indistinguishable from humans even on autopsy? The hell? This plotline raised that ugly question on BSP, since of course the first thing people wanted to do was build a Cylon detector. The first thing we decided was that Doc Cottle must’ve been on crack at the time he did Leoben’s autopsy.
Our canon, which was never really revealed ICly, went something like this: The humanoid Cylons were cloned from actual human DNA. In other words, somewhere out there (albeit it 20 or 30 years ago) was a human who looked like Biers, and one that looked like Leoben, etc. So part of the reason they were able to pass for humans so easily (and reproduce with humans) is because, at some biological level, they were human. Just modified.
Part of the cloning process involved augmenting the Cylon models with organic “cyberware”: muscle and reflex augmentation, nerves capable of transmitting light signals like a fiberoptic cable, and so forth. Because it was all biological, it didn’t show up on things like X-Rays, and likely wouldn’t even be noticed on casual surgery. But it was there if someone looked closely enough under a microscope, or started cutting apart the spinal cord or brain to take a close look at the nervous system.
This was really just intended to be a standalone action episode for the non-combatants. The EM interference allows the Cylons to sneak on board, there’s a fight, the end. I never expected that folks would be so set on figuring out where the Cylons were going or how they had found a weak spot to get on board. Both were reasonable questions to ask, but we just didn’t expect there to be a huge investigation, so we had no route for folks to find answers.
For the record - the one group was heading towards the mess hall to kill a bunch of people, and the other was going to ‘rescue’ Tallus by killing him in the brig and letting him download. The weak spot was just a matter of them flying along the outside of the ship until they found an area of battle damage.
Another of my favorite episodes. It was such a nice change of pace to turn everyone loose on a planet for awhile. It also took the crunch off of our supply situation, which was really getting to be a pain.
The temple mystery was all Iio’s idea. She just thought it would be cool to have something ancient on the island that they found, akin to the ruins on Kobol in BSG season 2. The trident was supposed to be just a tribute to Poseidon, since this was mostly a water planet. It had no real function; it was just a religious relic left behind in the temple as an offering.
Apparently we didn’t hide the thing well enough, though, because someone found the temple within the first ten minutes (just wandering around OOC for fun) and even the main group found it during the first day of exploration. And then everyone figured out the tile mystery right away too. It was meant to be a little harder.
Random continuity glitch: The slogans were written in modern Colonial language. We probably should have made them in the BSG equivalent of “Olde English” or something, since the temple was built by the ancients.
Mavros did such an amazing job desc-ing the island, especially since all I gave him to go on was a rough map and a couple of RP locales. I loved the final battle at Camp Archer and the clearing. It was a cool shoot-em-up, and it was fun to have the marines and militia fighting alongside each other for once.
My favorite moment from this episode was Corbett flashing Limmer and the marines who were skulking around on the beach. But Alora and Hannah’s mud wrestling match runs a close second.
This episode sort of fell flat. It seemed like something we had to do, given the revelation that Abrams was a Cylon, but I think the civilian faction was so far gone at this point that nobody really cared anymore.
The destruction of the Dream was a mixed bag. It was a huge event, and the scenes of the evacuation were amazingly cinematic and cool. The fact that it was completely unexpected just made it all the better.
Unfortunately, it seemed to have a negative impact on RP. This caught me off guard. In the months leading up to this episode, hardly anybody was RPing on the Dream. That’s part of what motivated us to blow it up.
I think the impact was probably more an IC one than an OOC one. Even though nobody was RPing their shore leave on the Dream, they liked the idea of shore leave on the Dream. Taking that away took away some sense of normalcy. It made their characters’ lives bleaker. To some extent that was intentional. It seemed more suited to the post-apocalyptic theme. But I guess there’s such a thing as too bleak, where RP is concerned.
Of course, I can’t talk about this episode without mentioning Mavros, who was the one who planted the original insidious idea about the Dream being particularly vulnerable to attack.
This was a fairly generic assault mission. It was notable for the rather unexpected death of Sprata, and for the Hallway of Doom, which caused me to pull my hair out.
As a GM, when you call something the “Hallway of Doom”, ask the players, “Are you sure you really want to go in there?”, give them a tipoff in the form of a tripwire attached to a bomb, and a freebie round of +combat where the Cylons spray down the hallway and miraculously miss - I think you’ve been more than fair in warning them that going in there is not such a great idea. So when they still persist in fighting in that damn hallway- well, sometimes it’s hard not to just say: “OK, you all get massacred. Roll up new characters.”
I settled for just putting everyone in the hospital.
Alora had the idea of a plot where some folks got trapped in the observation deck. We waffled back and forth between making it sabotage (which begged the question of who would do such a thing and why) and just random battle damage that caused a short in the door controls.
At around the same time, we were realizing that the Tallus plot was going nowhere, so we decided to kill him off.
For some reason, I decided to tie these two events together. This led to the rather bizarre plot with the engineer crewman sabotaging the obs deck so he could divert attention away from the brig and- you know, it’s so crazy it’s not even worth explaining. I console myself by remembering that - as goofy as this plotline was - it pales in comparison to some of the silly stuff on actual TV shows. :)
Hook was basically just a recycling of the Scar episode. Hook actually turned up briefly later on, but I guess it wasn’t obvious enough that it was him because people didn’t really comment on it. (Or maybe they did and I just missed it.) The idea was to have him keep coming back, to introduce the idea that the Raiders can resurrect, but we got busy with the Colonies plotline and this just got lost in the shuffle.
Arcadia and Meridian were essentially one episode, broken up into two parts so there’d be some time in-between. It would’ve been a little too obvious if they found a massacre with evidence of Colonial weapons and then a week later ran into a Colonial ship whose crew was behaving a little strangely. As it was, people put the pieces together pretty quickly even with the time gap.
Anyway, several folks had submitted TP ideas suggesting what I’ll summarize as: “Let’s run into a ship of evil people.” I wasn’t a big fan of that. I mean, an entire ship full of evil people? That just seemed too convenient and cheesy. But I did like the idea of running into a ship that had been forced to make some tough, morally-gray decisions, and that’s what interested me about Meridian.
So, the episode was really just a blend of the Gideon Massacre and the Scylla plotline from the show. It mixed the idea of nabbing ‘useful’ people they came across and leaving the rest behind, and an accidental massacre that resulted from a tense situation.
I liked the philosophical implications: Meridian press-ganged people, but Starr drafted hundreds of civilians against their will. With the one, there was the immediate threat: “Come with us or we’ll shoot you,” but with the other there was the implied threat: “Come serve the military or we’ll court-martial you for desertion and then we’ll shoot you.” Was it really all that different?
This one was pretty straightforward. The enclosed environment of the fleet meant that all of the common colds and flus and such would have made their rounds in the first few weeks, and after that everyone would be acclimated to each others’ germs. So to have an epidemic in the fleet, we needed an external antagonist. Enter the infamous monkey, smuggled aboard the Pride by a wayward student.
I think this episode was hampered by the lack of medical PCs. There was really only Dorian at this point, and only so much she could do by herself. But it was worth it to see Landon with the monkey.
Collision Course came about because Moirae wanted a plotline that let her prove her worth to the fleet. Draco and I came up with the idea of her thwarting a Cylon virus that was endangering the fleet. I had always liked the idea of the Cylons taking over a ship and using it as a giant battering ram - it just seemed kind of cool.
Sadly, this episode suffered from poor timing. It took place during the summer doldrums, when folks were vacationing and whatnot. Moirae just ended up languishing in her cell. That’s what ultimately led to her escape attempt, since she felt the character really wasn’t going anywhere.
Speaking of her escape- there was a pretty funny bug in the +roll code. It was using the same skill level for both people. If, for example, you were to do an opposed roll between Moirae’s Unarmed (Superb) and Hannah’s Unarmed (Good), the code was actually rolling Superb vs Superb. If you did it the other way (Hannah vs Moirae), it was rolling Good vs Good. So no matter what you did, the combatants were evenly matched.
The bug wasn’t so noticeable when you had well-matched people sparring in the Gym. But when you’ve got two Cylons going up against two MPs, the results were rather comical. I even tried boosting the Cylon skills, but then the MPs kept rolling better!
Once I discovered the bug, we all just chocked it up to the MPs having a really lucky day, which led to many jokes about what Draco had been feeding them.
Resistance got off to a slow start, taking place at the end of summer, but once it got going - man, it rocked hard. I loved this episode. I think it’s probably my favorite out of all of them.
What impressed me the most, early on, was how interesting the characters were. I think knowing that these characters were short-term, and didn’t have to integrate well with the Battlestar’s RP environment really opened up the possibilities and encouraged a lot of ‘colorful’ characters. I loved all the Saggies. Everyone did such a great job, too, of jumping right in and playing these guys who had been together for a year under the most extreme circumstances. I loved the way they all played off each other.
Malcolm’s betrayal was also pretty interesting. That was all Draco’s idea. Malcolm, deciding that the band of rebels was too incompetent and was going to get him killed, went to the Cylons and agreed to sell them out in exchange for setting himself up in a comfy life. I thought it was funny that folks thought he was a Cylon. It was a perfectly reasonable assumption, but no - he was just a traitor.
Of course, the battle at the hideout after Malcolm’s betrayal was almost disastrous. It was a trap, obviously, so the Cylons had pretty overwhelming forces. But the PCs persisted in standing a fighting, even when we had Maura and Malcolm yelling at them to withdraw. It was hard to avoid killing everybody.
The tie-in with the marines crash-landing on Sag had been planned from the start, so one of the things I had in mind was a big reveal of an as-yet-unseen Cylon. I wanted it to be someone familiar, to maximize the shock value. I actually initially approached Limmer about it, since he had made a “Wouldn’t it be funny if-“ comment about Limmer being a Cylon once. But he turned it down, which got me thinking about who else I could snag.
Corbett worked out perfectly. Apart from being just a generally great RPer and a colorful character, she had a lot of connections to a lot of PCs. Her being a Cylon had a lot of impact. Also, she was already dead - so turning her into a Cylon certainly wasn’t depriving her of future RP opportunities. Lastly, I’ll admit there was a selfish aspect as well, given the storyline it opened up for Hannah.
Of course, I had to approach her with the caveat: “So- I can’t promise that they won’t just shoot you out of hand.” But she was game, and I think it turned out to be a lot of fun.
Back when we decided to close down the game (in May), Iio and I sat down and tried to work out the end game. We knew it had to involve going back to the Colonies. That had been such a central theme to the game that to do anything else would have just been unthinkable.
If we had strictly followed the show’s timeline, by the time Pacifica got back to the Colonies, the Cylons would have been gone. That seemed pretty frakking anti-climactic, so we quickly decided to stray from the show. We decided that much of the Cylon fleet had withdrawn, but that a splinter faction refused to give up the Colonies and stayed behind to keep occupying them. This provided a force that would be too much for a head-on attack, but small enough that some hit-and-run missions were plausible.
I really enjoyed the Colonial attack missions. I’ve always found planetside combat to be far more interesting than space combat or ship boarding actions. You’ve got buildings, and weather, and trees- a lot of variety and cinematically cool possibilities - like the Vipers strafing the Cylons at the shopping mall.
The motivation for the Cylons finally leaving was directly tied to the loss of their resurrection ships during one of the attacks. Since they were kind of on their own from the rest of the Cylon fleet, they weren’t about to risk permanent death just to hold onto the Colonies. So the fleet didn’t beat them directly, but - like any good guerilla fighters - made the cost of them staying more than they were willing to pay.
The finale was admittedly a little rushed. Events leading up to this took longer to wrap up than expected, and that didn’t leave much time before Christmas. Part of me wishes we’d had time to explore life on Picon a little more. The original plan had been to have less of a time jump, and leave folks a couple months to RP life on the ground before the final attack. I’m not really sure that would have worked out, though. Everyone knew the end was near, and there was precious little RP on the surface even in the weeks we had. Plus it’s hard RPing after a time jump. The setting, the relationships - everything’s different. So maybe it worked out for the best.
We talked about various possible endings for the game. The other front-runner was to have the fleet pick up some folks from the Colonies and then run away - either to look for a new home, or to go off after Galactica/Earth. Feedback from the players indicated that folks weren’t keen on a rehash of the Earth storyline, so we quickly nixed that idea. And having them just scoop up some people and run just seemed pretty unfulfilling. We needed something grander - more climactic.
That’s when I had the idea to blow up Pacifica. It seemed fitting to end the game by destroying the ship that was its namesake. Although the characters’ stories could continue, the Pacifica’s story was over.
I can’t think about this episode without getting all misty. I was so sad to see the game come to a close, and to think that there wouldn’t be any more stories involving these characters I had come to love. But was MUSH endings go, it was pretty frakking cool. We definitely went out with a bang.