Margaret Weis Games premiered the Battlestar Galactica role-playing game at Dragon*Con this year, selling the book before the public release.
Based on the “re-imagined” Battlestar on the Sci-Fi Channel, the show has established a fanatic following that prizes the “new” BSG for tightly-woven character and event-based plotting, as well as a lack of technical information.
I kept hearing from a lot people inside the gaming community and a lot fans that you can’t do a Battlestar game because it’s such a story-driven show. There is no room in the narrative for a role-playing game,” said James Chamber, vice president of Margaret Weis Productions. “What we did is create these new characters, and an initial adventure showed them that at the end of the adventure, they could join the Capirican resistance, go find the Galactica, or go off and do their own thing.”
Battlestar is known for its lack of technical information. Fans don’t know what makes the ship go, how it generates power, or why Cylon fighters have missiles while Colonials favor guns. Creating a role-playing game in the absence of technology can provide a challenge for game designers. Fortunately, Weis’s company had an off-the-shelf solution in the Cortex rule system they created for their best selling Serenity RPG. Serenity has recently been green-lighted for a fifth printing and has sold 25,000 copies to date.
Battlestar Galactica and Serenity have technology that doesn’t really matter to the story,” Chambers said. “You’re not going to save the day in Battlestar by ‘Re-aligning the warp coils’ for example.”
Hard-core fans might expect Weis to “cut corners” with the book’s printing, but the company forewent the decision to copy the show’s trademark angled-paper edges.
It’s something we explored early on, and if you look at layout you can see we referenced it in design, but as far as cutting the paper itself, it didn’t work out,” Chambers said. “We looked at it. It would have cost us more, and the paper wouldn’t have held up as well. We didn’t want to put out an expensive book that would fall apart in our fans’ hands.”