When I joined my new gaming group, I knew they had a policy of cycling through campaigns and GMs on a regular basis, and I’d started to think about running a game. Then someone asked me about it, and the snowball started to roll its way down the side of the mountain. I found myself getting increasingly excited at the prospect of running a game of B5, and started rewatching the series and working out plots that could tie into the main storyline.
So, a week and a half later, I’m confident enough in it that I’m happy to reveal my campaign proposal.
It was the dawn of the third age of mankind, approaching the tenth anniversary of the Battle of the Line and the end of the Earth-Minbari war. December 2257: Babylon 5 has recently opened its doors as a diplomatic station, and is a centre for trade for humans and aliens located in neutral territory.
The EarthForce explorer vessel Lancelot is en route to Babylon 5 to resupply and perform some crew transfers before starting a mission of exploration on the galactic rim. Captain Horatio Grisham commands; he has a reputation for being something of a maverick. Rumours are circulating that he’s been assigned this mission to lower his profile.
Among the personnel due to board at Babylon 5 are members of a survey team that includes both military personnel and civilians (who either have specialised skills thought to be useful on the mission, or special knowledge about the region where the ship is heading).
The central characters of Babylon 5 were equipped with greatly differing agendas, lots of secrets, and fought amongst each other to a great degree. Running this type of game would make it hard to keep everyone involved, and I don’t think I’m up to it at present.
Player characters will all be members of the aforementioned survey team. This gives everyone reason to work together and provides scope for civilian and alien characters despite being based on an EarthForce vessel, but doesn’t prevent them from pursuing their own agendas (rather like Crusade).
That said, having Narn or Centari in the group would complicate things, due to the enmity between those species. Having such characters would complicate a number of plots I have in mind and likely force the group in a certain direction once galactic politics reach boiling point. Should the group include representatives from both, and then party in fighting could reach extreme levels. I’m not going to rule them out entirely, but if people would like to play a non-human then I’m going to look more favourably on Minbari and League characters (since they tend not to have entire species out for their blood for extended periods of time)!
I am planning on starting with beginning level characters, so the Lancelot comes complete with an NPC captain, but he might not be around forever. Then there is the other advantage of the survey team, which is that that it lets me nudge the PCs off in a shuttle and remove the spectre of someone standing over them. Grisham is a representation of the EarthForce command structure, not an NPC who will micromanage the players.
I have made a resolution not to let the canon railroad the plot. JMS’ masterpiece will be vulnerable to player machinations, and certain plotlines I have in mind will see player involvement in events that could dramatically alter the course of the Shadow War. This has the advantage that I can let players dabble with key events without having to stop them breaking the plot, but means that the TV show could become increasingly less reliable as a guide to what is happening as time goes on.
Still, the club to which I belong runs games in six week blocks, so I get regular injections of breathing room in which to work out what is going to happen to the universe next. Given that in an Exalted campaign, the players have managed to systematically destroy massive chunks of the defences around Creation – by accident – this is probably a very good thing!