The Miranda Conspiracy

Gamemaster's Thoughts

Part of me really wishes I had not made this a focus of the campaign, but I did, partly because that was a direction the players wanted to go in. Especially when Raleigh made his character, Captain Sata, a relative to the woman from the Miranda Broadwave. So, I need to come up with some backstory about what happened.

Colonization

A group within the Terraforming Commission and pre-Unification Interplanetary Council had to be involved. They carefully selected potential colonists from across the 'Verse so that there would be no one area that contributed a large number of people. They may have even restricted the recruitment so that it was not widely seen. Perhaps it was censored in the cortex so that people on each world saw it as a local program to their world only. The reason for that will be explained shortly.

Atmosphere Processors

Only the atmosphere processors on Miranda that were near colonies were built to spread the Pax. That is one of the weak points in the story; imagine how much drug you need to contaminate the entire atmosphere of a planet with a effective dose. It would have been more reasonable to dose the water supplies, but I'm stuck with the lines from the movie, I didn't think I could change it. So the processors close to the cities dumped the drug into the air and it blew downwind to hit the cities.

The specific processors may have manufactured the drug in secret components so it did not have to be shipped in by bulk transport. Some chemical elements needed for manufacturing the drug would have been filtered from the atmosphere itself, others had to be covertly delivered, probably with fuel deliveries. Only a very few people on Miranda knew about the Pax, these "caretakers" may have been given an antidote treatment to make them immune.

Disaster

Once the Pax reached effective doses, it began to have its desired effect. Unfortunately, there was an error in the plan. Maybe the drug was not excreted properly and built up to excessive levels, or maybe it was far more potent than planned. But, people began to give up on life and literally lay down and die. The caretakers panicked and called for help. And then they discovered the second unintended result: reavers.
The tenth of a percent that had an opposite reaction became the reavers. They killed any caretakers and others that might have been naturally resistant to the Pax. They ambushed and killed the crews of the rescue ships.

Aftermath and Coverup

Eventually, someone had to survive long enough to get the word out. Maybe the Miranda Broadwave is a recording of the last message to get out. Rescue missions were halted and the planet declared off limits. The conspiracy leaders saw the reports on Reaver psychosis and assumed (wrongly) that they were psychopathic killers reduced to an animal level of intelligence. Therefore, they would be restricted to the planet, unable to operate technological devices, especially spacecraft. They could be left to quietly kill each other off and eventually everyone would be dead.
The conspiracy released word that there had been a terraforming accident on Miranda and the colonists had died. But, since they had restricted spread of the recruitment information, no one knew that people from all over the 'Verse had gone and that the total number of dead was in the millions. Newstories were manipulated and censored to suppress the number of people involved, casualties might have been believed to have been in the thousands only. Inquiries were hushed up, one way or the other.
Then the War of Unification began and the deaths of a "few" colonists became an insignificant news item. The conspiracy may have further censored and destroyed old news about Miranda to help the event fade from public knowledge.

Miranda Today

Miranda is a planet of empty cities. Livestock in the fields have gone feral and the species best suited to life without human care have spread. In the movie, Zoe says they saw at least a dozen cities, there may be 30 or so dead cities of a million people each spread across the planet. All powerplants and atmosphere processors went into controlled emergency shutdowns when their fuel was exhausted, most vehicles that ran on liquid hydrogen will have empty tanks as the gas slowly vented over the years.
There are very few reavers on the planet, they lived in ships and stations in orbit. As I mentioned in my Reavers article, they ate supplies and livestock left over from the colonization. They do not raid other worlds for victims for need, but because they enjoy it.
When Mal and the Serenity fled from Miranda, a large portion of the reavers followed them to Dante and were destroyed by the Operative's fleet. However, not all of the reavers followed the Serenity and not all that did were destroyed. There are still reavers around Miranda, but the number is much fewer than it had been, perhaps half what it was. This made it possible (but difficult) for the crew of the Yellow Submarine to land on Miranda in Secrets of Miranda.