The Babylon Project was our last, best hope for peace. A self-contained world five miles long, located in neutral territory. A place of commerce and diplomacy for a quarter of a million humans and aliens. A shining beacon in space, all alone in the night. It was the dawn of the Third Age of Mankind…the year the Great War came upon us all. This is the story of the last of the Babylon stations. The year is 2259. The name of the place is Babylon 5.
-Capt. John Sheridan
I’ve been fiending for some science fiction lately, and the few books from the Mongoose Publishing Babylon 5 Second Edition OGL game are the first things pulled out of storage to sate me. This is one of games where I only have a handful of books, so my artificial limits of what books to use are actually not that artificial here!
The Babylon 5 RPG was part of the Open Game License explosion in the 2000s. When Dungeons & Dragons 3e came out, Wizards of the Coast made a decision to release the underlying mechanics and game concepts in an open license for third party and fan development. This is still known as the Open Game License and formed the basis for the later d20 expansions and compatibility. The underlying mechanics are therefore something familiar to many role players today – the main mechanic is to roll a d20, add appropriate modifiers, and compare the result to a difficulty or opposed roll for the result. The attributes are ones you have seen before – Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma; Characters have levels and hit points; and the Character classes are mostly familiar.
Some of the OGL based games got really interesting in where they would deviate from the existing d20 framework to emphasize certain things about their games. In the Babylon 5, 2e, game, the characters all have much lower hit point totals making combat far more dangerous, the starship design system to encourage the potential for fleet and fighter based combats, and the influence system that modeled how influential your character was and what sort of favors could be used to bring non-violent solutions to bear. Similar to the FASA 1879 game, Babylon 5 puts a premium on non-combat abilities and especially on diplomacy and investigation as befits a series and license that revolves around a diplomatic space station. This importance is reinforced by the unique Influence statistic that measures how influential the character is in different circles of society which increases by level as well as potentially by actions in game. Influence is checked by taking the Influence score, adding 2D6 and any additional modifiers to compare against a difficulty to use it.
I will be using one set of rolled statistics to make this group of characters, so with a 4D6 roll, dropping the lowest, the resulting attributes to assign will be: 12; 16; 15; 10; 12; 15
Babylon 5 Notes
Babylon 5 is a setting from the mind of J. Michael Straczynksi set on a space station in the year 2258 and proceeding further forward to 2262 and beyond. Babylon 5 represents a diplomatic space station where representatives of the five main spacefaring races and the League of Non-Aligned Worlds can “prevent another war by creating a place where humans and aliens could work out their differences peacefully.” As the fifth space station of the Babylon project, Babylon 5 was conceived in the shadow of the Earth-Minbari war and included the declining Centaurii republic and their former colony the Narn regime. The mysterious Vorlons, who will play into the larger metaplot across the 5 seasons, and the multitude of species that make up the League of Non-Aligned World also gathered on this Earth built station in a crucial time in history. The larger story of Babylon 5 is a passing of the torch story regarding these new starfaring races stepping out form the Shadows of the the precursor races and the political clashes that happen along the way. JMS has said that he wanted Babylon 5 to do for science fiction what Hill Street Blues did for police procedurals, and in a large part I think he succeeded. I could write at long length about the Babylon 5 story and a micro and macro level, but if you are already a fan you know that and if you are not, check it out today!
I remember watching the pilot when it aired in 1993 and it was absolutely stunning for its age. The story was deeper than expected and the special effects made heavy use of computer generated graphics through a “video toaster” that was nearly unheralded at the time. It is a story and a setting that I adore and I have to recommend that you watch it. Babylon 5 spawned one of the first internet fandoms with dedicated websites, back when you had to code things by hand in html when the original Netscape Navigator was the best WYSIWYG tool. I’ll write this as if we are in the middle of the series, in late 2259 on the back end of the second season to give it a place and a time as a reference for those of us who are Babylon 5 Fiends.
I wanted to make a group that would be mostly aliens, and only let myself use one alien from the “Big 3” – Minbari, Narn, and Centauri – so I got to pull out the lesser used species that are part of the League of Non-Aligned worlds. I also trended more towards the lower class and underling characters as a great way to slip them into the background of the Babylon 5 world without worrying that they would somehow change the world. Attaches, assistants, and the other characters running around the background with their own stories are just as engaging as the ones we saw on the small screen. I only gave them their standard Influence advancement in levels, but the game also contemplates providing Influence as part of the reward system with Experience after adventures, so these could be further advanced if you use them in a game at home.
Nakir’s Zocalo Bar Happy Hour Drinking Society
In the year 2259, Babylon 5 houses over 250,000 souls adrift in space. The tensions are running high between the Narn and Centauri while Ambassador Delenn has undergone a remarkable chrysalis while on Babylon 5. Great events are unfolding across the galaxy – the signs and portents of the coming of shadow – but not everyone can see that future fast approaching.
In a bar off the Zocalo, Nakir Pri-Wakat accepts all comers, even the pak’ma’ra should they pay the tab, as a Brakiri seeking fortune, a group of regulars gathers to compare their weeks and days. These junior executives and aides de camp are not privy to the decisions made at the highest levels of C & C or their governments. They found each other on the station, in a similar station in life, and have been fast friends as best they can be knowing that their respective governments may change things with the stroke of a pen. Hurtling towards the point of no return, this unlikely group of friends and associates will leave their mark on the soon to break out War of Shadows and the formation of the Interstellar Alliance, but that is a story yet to be told.
Vr’korl – pak’ma’ra Diplomat
July 3, 2018
Everyone sees the pak’ma’ra and everyone ignores the pak’ma’ra. They are a galactic underclass, but always with a seat at the table of the League of Non Aligned Worlds because of their systems rich supply of Quantium-40. What many don’t realize, or perhaps forget, is that even the collectivist pak’ma’ra have diplomats and Vr’korl is one of them. Vr’korl may be a carrion eater, as all pak’ma’ra are, but Vr’korl embodies the curiosity that is part of the pak’ma’ra way. As part of the pak’ma’ra speakers whose role is to observe and speak with other races, Vr’korl came as an attache to Babylon 5 and found the same thing – ignorance, shunning, and dozens of races who look past other pak’ma’ra. Vr’korl also found friends who may hold their nose, but don’t begrudge the smell of Rmm*zzq!wwx at the bar with them.
Mia Cory – Human IPX Agent
July 10, 2018
Not everyone coming through Babylon 5 came at the behest of a government or military. Mia is an Agent sent by IPX to Bab5. When Bab5 finally went live, IPX decided to use the small suite of offices it had leased as a political favor and actually try to recoup that investment. Mia drew a short straw to be sent to the cursed station, as Babylon 1-4 had been sabotaged or disappeared along the way. Being at the bottom of the pecking order is never fun, but Mia has been spending a lot of time in Nakir’s with her friends, and that alone has made the trip worthwhile … and the steady supply of Grome Peetcha helps there too.
Durvoon – Worker Caste Minbari Worker
July 17, 2018
Durvoon is one of the many Minbari that you never look twice at. In many ways, the Worker Caste of the Minbari are seen and not heard similar to the pak’ma’ra’s ubiquitous but overlooked presence. Durvoon is a technician called to extol the virtue of toil but also of sharp and clear mind. Working alongside other Minbari on Babylon 5 in service to Ambassador Delenn and the Grey Council carries great honor, but Durvoon is not blind to the machinations of the other Castes and yearns only to feel free in either his work or in flight.
Stephen Biggs – Human Soldier
July 24, 2018
One true statement is that a space station, and especially one like Babylon 5, will need security. Stephen Biggs is a security officer assigned to duty on Babylon 5. A former GROPOS, or ground pounder, his military record served him well to transfer for security on a doomed space station. Stephen wasn’t always the most responsible, and while he hadn’t made a major mistake in undistinguished career, he also hadn’t distinguished himself in the Earthforce Security Corps. Sometimes he wondered whether he would have been better off joining the Earthforce Postal Service. He and Durvoon have found an odd sense of balance or comfort between them as they both see others reaching far higher than either of them intend to.
Tenilla- Drazi Telepath
July 31, 2018
Drazi Telepaths are not often thought of … to others races great shame and fault. Tenilla is an attache to Ambassador Vizak using her training as a member of the Freehold’s Military Intelligence and Telepathic powers for the good of the Freehold. Surviving the somewhat brutal upbringing in her clutch of three siblings, Tenilla followed a path familiar to Drazi legends by joining the Freehold Military. Before she could distinguish herself for direct combat, her talents fast tracked her to military intelligence. Now serving the Freehold and Ambassador Vizak aboard Babylon 5, Tenilla is slowly learning to curb her Drazi instincts to barrel through every problem head-on.
BABYLON 5 and all related characters and elements are trademarks of and © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Copyright © 2006 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. The Babylon 5 2d Edition game is subject to the OGL and was published by Mongoose Publishing.