Monday, December 13, 2010

So Say We All

Greetings, Readers!

So it seems that lately I've been on a Battlestar Galactica kick.  I wasn't very interested in the series after viewing the pilot, and not long thereafter, I gave up my subscription to the "good" cable.  As a result, I've come late to the party on this series.  I'm really enjoying it so far, and I've been lucky that I've not been given many spoilers as to how the series ends, or how major plot elements are supposed to unfold.  I'm well into Season 4, and while the series has gotten a bit "out there" (if you will), I'm still enjoying it.

Let me stop right there. You might be asking yourself, "What the hell does this have to do with Dungeons & Dragons?  You know, the subject of this blog?"

Well, I'll tell you.  As I continue to watch the series, it occurs to me that the idea of a whole civilization of people fleeing for their survival across the vastness of space, and facing a terrible and driven enemy was a FANTASTIC idea for a campaign setting. However, for awhile, I couldn't figure out how to translate such an epic story into a fantasy campaign of the same scope.  My biggest problem was the vastness of space covered in  Battlestar Galactica.  The other day, I finally figured it out.  What you'll find below, is a rough outline for a FANTASY themed campaign setting based on the themes and devices found in Battlestar Galactica.  

Note:  For typing ease, I've replaced "Battlestar Galactica" with "BSG" and "My Campaign" with "MC".  Here goes:

01) In BSG, the survivors of the Cylon attack flee across space in a collection of civilian & military spacecraft.  In MC, the survivors of a Githyanki attack, flee across the Astral Sea in a collection of fortified & unfortified islands and fortresses.

02)  In BSG, the main bad guys are the Cylons (who look like humans) and their machine servitors.  In MC, the main bad guys are Githyanki (who can disguise themselves as other races in this setting) and their construct servitors.

03)  In BSG, the survivors (humans) are searching for a mystical planet called Earth.  In MC, the survivors (a number of races) are searching for a mystical Prime Plane called "Earth" (or substitute alternate world of your choice).  For me, there's something intriguing about a group of fantasy inspired races searching for a "real" Earth, the source of their original creation.

04)  In BSG the main protector of the fleet is a large space battle ship/carrier called, "Battlestar Galactica" (hence the show's name).  In MC, the main protector of the fleet is a large floating keep called...well, I haven't decided what to call it, yet.

05)  In BSG, the fleet "jumps" to different parts of the galaxy using an FTL (Faster Than Light) drive.  In MC, the fleet "jumps" to different parts of the Astral Sea by using a special "Create Portal" ritual.  

06) In BSG, only Humans are mentioned (although they come in several different races based on their planet of origin).  In MC, many races exist (members of a very large empire).

That's the biggest chunk of what I've worked out so far.  There are a number of things I haven't worked out. It's not a requirement that the campaign setting exactly duplicate everything from the Battlestar Galactica television series.  For example, I left out the whole "Humans created the Cylons and now they're rebelling".  There may be some connection developed for that, but for now I'm leaving it.

Well, that's about all I have.  What do you guys think?  Are there enough BSG fans out there, that this could be developed into a campaign setting?  I'd love to your thoughts.

Until next time...

Game excellently with one another.


  1. I've been working with similar ideas for over a year now. My current Gurps Campaign is called "Knights of the Astral Sea" and features the destruction of the characters' 1930's-era world by an extra-planar power. The players' world had already discovered Interdimensional travel and colonized dozens of worlds. Now, after the apocalypse the players race from world to world in BSG fashion, constantly pursued by a vastly superior foe.

    I've posted session writeups here:

  2. @Risus Monkey: Very cool! An interesting take on the whole "civilization fleeing for its life" theme. Good stuff!

  3. Anonymous11:53 AM

    I know this is an attempt to make a BSG themed game out of DnD, but the Battlestar Galactica RPG by Margaret Weis Productions is a superb RPG. I fully recommend looking into that. If not to play it, then to at least get some ideas to implant into your DnD campaign.

  4. @Anonymous: Oh, good call, whoever you are! I wasn't even aware such an RPG existed. I'll have to look that up. Thanks!

  5. Anonymous12:49 PM

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  6. @Grendelwulf: Glad you enjoyed the post. "Battlebarge Astranautica" is an awesome name. Go for it! It's all yours!

  7. Anonymous12:53 PM

    Thanks! Great post! Very inspiring. I want to do a game like this now.

    If I can toss a suggestion to you, ye olde greek stories about Jason & the Argonauts were titled

    "Astranautica" could be a cool ship name.
    Battlebarge Astranautica? :)

    If you don't want it, I'll certainly take it.


  8. Anonymous12:54 PM

    Whoops! Was correcting my post when you replied.

    Okay, I will. Thanks again for the inspiration.

    Now, time to crack open my BSG dvds...

  9. Anonymous2:40 PM

    All of this has happened before, and it will happen again. . .

    The origins of the illithids are often shrouded in mystery, with conflicting stories offered in past D&D editions and in the current version of the game. Conflicting stories hide the true nature of the illithids, which may be something else entirely.

    The 3.5 Edition D&D supplement Lords of Madness provides that the Illithid were a star-faring people who existed at the end of time. Facing annihilation, the Illithid traveled to the past, arriving roughly 2000 years before the present in any given D&D campaign.

    The 2nd Edition book The Illithiad suggests they may be from the Far Realm, an incomprehensible plane completely alien to the known multiverse. There is no mention of time travel in this theory. Instead, they emerged somewhere and somewhen countless thousands of years ago, beyond the histories of many mortal races, and spread from one world to another, and another, and so on. It is explicitly stated in this book that the illithids appear in some of the most ancient histories of the most ancient races, even those that have no mention of other races.

    The 4th Edition preview Wizards Presents Worlds and Monsters supports the claim that mind flayers originate from the Far Realm.

    . . .and they have a Plan!

    In these differing versions of the story, much of the variance hinges upon a fictional text called The Sargonne Prophecies. The Illithiad described the Prophecies as misnamed, and that much of it sounds more like ancient myth than prophecy. Lords of Madness takes the name more literally, and states that The Sargonne Prophecies are in fact prophecy — or, perhaps more accurately, a history of the One version came from The Astromundi Cluster, a Spelljammer boxed set produced before The Illithiad. This version holds that the illithids are descended from the outcasts of an ancient human society that ruled the now-shattered world called Astromundi. The outcast humans eventually mutated, deep underground, into the mind flayers. (This boxed set also introduced the entity known as Lugribossk, who was depicted as a god of the Astromundi flayers then, but was later retconned into a proxy of the god Ilsensine.) In the retconned history of the illithids found in either The Illithiad or Lords of Madness, the emergence of illithids in Astromundi becomes a freak occurrence due to the intervention of Ilsensine through its proxy, since the illithids of Astromundi have their own histories as emerging solely upon that world.

    However and whenever it occurred, when the illithids arrived in the Material Plane of the far past, they immediately began to build an empire by enslaving many sentient creatures. They were very successful, and soon their worlds-spanning empire became the largest one the multiverse had ever seen. They had the power — in terms of psychic potency and the manpower of countless slaves — to fashion artificial worlds. One such world was this empire's capital, called Penumbra, a diskworld built around a star, which was a thousand years in the making. Such was their might that the Blood War paused as the demons and devils considered a truce to deal with the illithid empire.

    Eventually, the primary slave race of the illithids developed resistance to the mental powers of their masters, and revolted. Led by the warrior Gith, the rebellion spread to all the illithids' worlds, and the empire collapsed. The illithid race itself seemed doomed.

    . . .

    So, following the BSG theme, humans "evolved" into Illithids. Illithids enslaved (created?) the Githyanki. The Githyanki now hunt humans and other races to prevent ANY of them from evolving into Illithids!

  10. Stealing from Mass Effect a little, i think "The Citadel" or similar is a suitably simple yet powerful name for your 'Battlestar Galactica'

  11. @Saeblundr: Personally, I was leaning towards something with the word "Citadel" in it myself. Maybe the Citadel Astralica or some such thing. Hope you enjoyed the post!