The Babylon 5 Companion

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Re: What I'd Like to See

Postby Morden » Sun Sep 14, 2003 11:40 pm

Guest wrote:As well as Crusade stuff, I'd like to see material based on The Legends of The Rangers movie (particularly the enigmatic Hand who are supposed to out-Shadow the Shadows) and the other movies and possibly - although there are probably copyright issues - the books and comics.
No offense, but can't we just kind of forget the whole Legend of the Rangers thing ever happened? I mean it was just bad. Really... really bad.

Besides, I don't buy that they can out-shadow the shadows for a second. Remember that Legend of the Rangers takes place before Crusade, yet in Crusade their major enemies were the drakh. My guess is that The Hand was just some upstart group of punks who were trying to gain power through fear... that or they were somehow related to the drakh.
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Re: What I'd Like to See

Postby Neo » Mon Sep 15, 2003 1:15 am

Baraendur wrote:
No offense, but can't we just kind of forget the whole Legend of the Rangers thing ever happened? I mean it was just bad. Really... really bad.

Besides, I don't buy that they can out-shadow the shadows for a second. Remember that Legend of the Rangers takes place before Crusade, yet in Crusade their major enemies were the drakh. My guess is that The Hand was just some upstart group of punks who were trying to gain power through fear... that or they were somehow related to the drakh.
Each to thier own I guess, I didn't think it was that bad personally, the hands minions and thier technology didn't really come over as something that would make the shadows look like insects, as they state in the feature length,. However we do only see thier minions and not the hand themselves so I guess the true power of the Hand is never actually witnessed.
Otherwise I enjoyed it., I really liked the Liandra and it was nice to see a crew that seemed very reminiscent of an RPG group made flesh :)
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Re: What I'd Like to See

Postby frobisher » Mon Sep 15, 2003 1:10 pm

Baraendur wrote:Besides, I don't buy that they can out-shadow the shadows for a second. Remember that Legend of the Rangers takes place before Crusade, yet in Crusade their major enemies were the drakh. My guess is that The Hand was just some upstart group of punks who were trying to gain power through fear... that or they were somehow related to the drakh.
The Hand just worked a damn good PR job on their toadies (head toadie was of course the guy who told us that they made the "Shadows look like insects"). The very fact that the Liandra, a pretty small ship (sub Whitestar) could actually significantly damage their ships points to them being "not very good".

Of course it's quite conspicuous that they come out of hiding once the Shadows and other Ancients had left for the Rim...

LotR wasn't one of jms' best bits of work, but the potential could clearly be seen there (I suspect if it had gone to series, quite a few changes would have been made...)
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Re: What I'd Like to See

Postby Saberhagen » Mon Sep 15, 2003 6:54 pm

Baraendur wrote:Besides, I don't buy that they can out-shadow the shadows for a second. Remember that Legend of the Rangers takes place before Crusade, yet in Crusade their major enemies were the drakh. My guess is that The Hand was just some upstart group of punks who were trying to gain power through fear... that or they were somehow related to the drakh.
I tend to agree -- if nothing else it would completely undermine the dramatic impact of The Shadows if there was just some other 'bigger fish' out there. This was exactly what went wrong with the expanded Star Wars universe - having established the Death Star as the ultimate weapon, a bunch of hack writers kept coming up with a never-ending succession of even more powerful weapons (the ludicrously indestructible Sun Crusher being my personal 'favourite'). If The Shadows were the greatest force of chaos, then so be it ...

But there's still the element in Legend Of The Rangers that The Hand had retreated to an alternate dimension of darkness (I seem to remember) and there was the ancient city that G'Kar spoke of with its mysterious pyramid ... that's all good gaming material. And so what if The Hand were all hot air: doesn't stop them being a potentially exciting enemy; especially as the PCs gradually learn the truth! :twisted:
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Re: What I'd Like to See

Postby Morden » Tue Sep 16, 2003 2:22 am

Saberhagen wrote:
Baraendur wrote:This was exactly what went wrong with the expanded Star Wars universe - having established the Death Star as the ultimate weapon, a bunch of hack writers kept coming up with a never-ending succession of even more powerful weapons (the ludicrously indestructible Sun Crusher being my personal 'favourite').
...snip....
But there's still the element in Legend Of The Rangers that The Hand had retreated to an alternate dimension of darkness (I seem to remember) and there was the ancient city that G'Kar spoke of with its mysterious pyramid ... that's all good gaming material. And so what if The Hand were all hot air: doesn't stop them being a potentially exciting enemy; especially as the PCs gradually learn the truth! :twisted:
On the Star Wars universe, I think that its been hit and miss. The Zahn books were hit, the Jedi Academy was an enormous miss (largely because of the Sun Crusher - what a joke!). I'm not even going to say that it was more hit than miss, but there are some fine books in the series. The jury's still out on the New Jedi Order, but its looking like a miss.

As for the point you make about the possibility of The Hand being some fine gaming material, I would tend to agree that there is some potential, but their introduction was so weak that it is forever tarnished.

One thought occurs to me about their toadie's statement: the shadows did look like insects. Arachnids, really. The point being that it is always possible it was an intentional play on words. Oh well, I guess we'll never know. Just like we'll never know how the drakh plague ended.
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Postby Mherduwynn » Tue Sep 16, 2003 4:14 am

Point of note: Something is only tarnished if you allow it to be. That's the wonderful thing about reaving material for gaming ideas. You can decide to dismiss all of the context around a subject and use only what you wish. Legend of the Rangers had its problems (I am not sure where the hand-to-hand ship's cannons came from, but they were certainly not well implimented in the show), but it also had an incredible amount of potential.

In short, while I agree with you on most points, Baraendur, I cannot agree that the show was a wash. I have found that by deciding to enjoy something and watching it with a positive outlook, I have had a much happier experience whenever I do. Life has enough out there to give you ulcers; why invent more?

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Postby frobisher » Tue Sep 16, 2003 10:39 am

Mherduwynn wrote:Point of note: Something is only tarnished if you allow it to be. That's the wonderful thing about reaving material for gaming ideas. You can decide to dismiss all of the context around a subject and use only what you wish. Legend of the Rangers had its problems (I am not sure where the hand-to-hand ship's cannons came from, but they were certainly not well implimented in the show), but it also had an incredible amount of potential.
Agreed there - plus, the setting is just so ripe for RPG action.

I mean, who wouldn't want to be a Ranger? Plus you can be an eclectic mix of aliens, be damned heroic and beat people up with big sticks.

The Liandra is the perfect small ship for PCs - atmospheric and jump capable, artificial gravity so you don't need to worry about the up chuck of lunch etc, and less effective than a Whitestar so they'll be frightened by a fair few things.
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Ways TO Fix Perceived LoTR Problems

Postby DKeith2011 » Tue Sep 16, 2003 10:19 pm

Stupid fire control system
Make this a cybernetic interface that the user perceives in the minds eye in what ever way is comfortable to him. This could account for the high accuracy and tracking rates of Minbari weapons.

Enemy that makes the Shadows look like insects
Taken at face value this could mean that The Hand compares to the Shadows the same way the Shadows compare to the younger races.

This could mean they have an EXTREMELY long view of things, after all if you are effectively immortal and possibly living in another dimension where time doesnt work quite the same you can afford to be patient. This could explain why we never heard anything else over the course of material set at a later time and still allow for them to show up at some future date.

The evil ambassador said the ships we saw were the least of the ones available to The Hand. This means that they could have been considered the equivalent of an LCV, super-heavy fighter or less. If so The Hand could have some really monstrous ships to unveil.

Anyway, just my thoughts on cleaning up the mess that was LoTR.
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Postby ShadowScout » Tue Sep 16, 2003 10:43 pm

"The Hand"...

...well, unless JMS himself pops up and says so one way or another, we can only guess.

Mine is that they are not as great as advertised by their toadies... mainly for reasons already mentioned by others - the "LotR & 'Hand' before crusade - no 'Hand' threat, or any kind of mention of one in ACtA and Crusade" and the "'Handy' ships betting beaten up by obsolete ole Liandra"... add to that the fact that they Did get out from under their hole only after the Shadows and Vorlons went away, and the "yeeach - not again" factor of making up ever bigger threats for every small add-on story (Yeah, I also disliked the neo-StarWars stories... except the ones by Zahn - good thinking without need for strange new superweapons), and I get to the point where I don't take their toadie's words at face value (well, I wouldn't do that anyway, as somewhat experienced roleplayer :wink:).

So in my B5 universe, the Hand was just a bunch of mid-born guys who found that extremely old city (probably build by Lorien with his race's equivalent of lego blocks), with the extradimansional portal or whatsit, and hid there from the Shadows (or the Vorlons, or the Kirishiac, or some other ancient race)... and when those had finally gone beyond the rim, they came forth again and, having missed the battle, tried to intimidate the victor... (well, they at least had better PR guys then the Shadows or Drakh, I grant 'em that)

Personally, if I need an threat bigger then the Shadows for my campaign, I'll be satisfied with some half-insane but brilliant scientist seeking to build a special jumpgate into some theorized kind of extradimensional space where his calculations show travel should be almost instantanous... a "thirdspace" for lack of a batter word :mrgreen: (now Those ships did generate the feel of a threat bigger then the Shadows)
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Re: Ways TO Fix Perceived LoTR Problems

Postby hassanisabbah » Wed Sep 17, 2003 2:14 pm

DKeith2011 wrote:Stupid fire control system.
In Legend this was utterly rubbish - So much so that me and my friend (we all watch B5 togeather - an old post RPG tradition) missed most of the first episode it cropped up in, laughing hysterically. They looked like those E'd up muppets that are still dancing post club in the motor way service station....
wrote:[Enemy that makes the Shadows look like insects
DKeith2011 wrote:
You'd think that the Vorlons, esp Kosh, might just have mentioned them, in an Ok theres these Shadow Maties, out to destroy the Universe, but they are nothing compared to these other maties.....

Babylon 5 was a poorly acted mediocre series that was rescued by very advanced and complex plots and storylines. It challanged the mould of US TV programmes and introduced a heafty internal continuity of story, that was woven through the whole series.

Crusade - Not on the same level, but has a very B5 feeling little bit harder to get into as the story is not as developed

Legend of the Ranger - Its just a rubbish half price spin off (IMHO) that I wanted to like, and tried to defend, but can't. If it has any redeming feature it will be that it is forgotten as being related to B5
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Re: Ways TO Fix Perceived LoTR Problems

Postby Guest » Wed Sep 17, 2003 5:05 pm

hassanisabbah wrote: Legend of the Ranger - Its just a rubbish half price spin off (IMHO) that I wanted to like, and tried to defend, but can't. If it has any redeming feature it will be that it is forgotten as being related to B5
I think the fundamental flaw with LoTR was that where B5 tried to be different from mainstream TV sci-fi, LoTR appeared to be jumping on the mainstream band wagon with its wacky, rebellious, multi-ethnic, mismatched crew of rule breakers ... a formula that has been done to death is a multitude of genres besides sci-fi. Setting it in the richly developed B5 universe didn't bring it up to the original shows level because it didn't bring anything new to the mix.

That, being said, if I'm being completely anal about things: it was written by JMS, it did happen and therefore it is canon to the B5 universe and therefore it's better surely that we - as gamers - take what we've been given and shape it into something better, rather than just trying to ignore it.
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Back to the B5 Companion...

Postby Clansmanone » Thu Sep 18, 2003 9:25 am

Hello all!

Okay, I'm jumping in on the discussion a bit late (hopefully not too late), but here's a quick rundown of what I'd like to see in the B5 Companion.

- Alternate Hit Points. I think going to a model of Constitution + Class Bonus at 1st level, with Class Bonus added every level thereafter sounds about right. It gives Constitution *some* role in determining hit points, at the very least. Doing a quick comparison using characters from the core book and the first two suppliments...hmm...gives roughly +6 hit points or so on the average, though a few are less (+1 or +2) and a very few more (+12 or so). Okay, a PPG hit will still kill a normal (Constitution 10) being on a slightlly above-average roll (or a near-maximum damage roll against a Narn...) so this isn't out of line.

- Critical hits like out of d20 Modern -- MDT should be equal to Constitution, DC 15 Fort. save to avoid being reduced to -1 hit points and dying. High-level characters (e.g. Garabaldi) can still be dropped by a single shot. Checks with the show's "reality."

- Clarification of rules regarding the SRD material not in the core book. Not to re-ignite any flames, but we should at least have things updated to be 3.5 compatible if this information isn't going to be in the companion (I vote yay).

- Add some feats from d20 Modern, specifically the hand-to-hand combat feats. Ditch the feat Improved Unarmed Strike, and go with the following feat trees:
* Brawl (Improved Brawl, Knockout Punch, Improved Knockout Punch)
* Combat Martial Arts (Improved Combat Martial Arts, Advanced Combat Martial Arts)
* Defensive Martial Arts (Combat Throw, Improved Combat Throw, Elusive Target, Unbalance Opponent)

Many of the skill bonus feats (Builder, Confident, Creative, Deceptive, Educated, Gearhead, etc.) are also appropriate, and should be included. If the MDT option above is included, the Improved Damage Threshold feat is a must!

- Rename the Lurker & Worker classes. Please! I see the Lurker as more of a Jack-of-all-Trades type class than a criminal. I would say 'Rogue' or 'Scoundrel' for class names -- they've pretty much been taken, but they seem to fit the bill pretty well. Seems to fit with the "...hustlers, entrepeneurs, and wanderers..." line from the Season 1 intro, at any rate.
The Worker...eh...pretty much bites. I would say a "Citizen" class could cover the majority of most normal folks, with an "Expert" class for the more technical (but non-scientist) professions.

- Most of the classes seem...well...pretty thin as far as abilites go. Skill poins aren't terribly high, and the lack of class abilities at a consistent rate is kind of off-putting. I would suggest a few more bonus feats/abilities spread out among the different classes (or an option for such). Let's face it -- the combat ain't what gets things done in B5; it's skills and abilities. A few quick suggestions...

* Agent: Add a couple of more sneak attack dice somewhere along the progression (maybe changing it to 2nd, 6th, 10th, 14th, and 18th), a couple of more skill mastery abilities (go to 3rd, 6th, 9th, 12th, 15th, and 18th) and bonus feats at 4th, 8th, and 16th levels.

* Diplomat: Seems about right as is. Maybe a bonus feat at 3rd.

* To Be Renamed Lurker: Seems about right; maybe add a +1d6 sneak attack at 5th, a +2d6 sneak at 10th, and a +3d6 at 15th.

* Officer: Add bonus feats at 2nd, 6th, 10th, 14th, and 18th levels; Start Way of Command at 4th with a +1 bonus, increasing to +2 at 8th, +3 at 12th, +4 at 16th, and +5 at 20th; Make Branch Elite an 11th level ability.

* Scientist: Make Use Alien Artefact a 2nd level ability and give bonus feats at 3rd, 6th, 9th, 12th, 15th, and 18th levels.

* Soldier: Make Covering Fire a 2nd level ability, give bonus feats at 3rd & every 3 levels thereafter, make To The Limit a 6th level ability and give increases at 12th & 18th.

* Telepath: Fine as is.

* To Be Renamed Worker: Maybe bonus Skill Focus feats at 3rd & every 3 thereafter and a Salary Increase at 4th & every 4 thereafter with a cumulative +1 bonus to Profession checks.

Okay, these are pretty extreme examples in comparison to what's in the core book now, but I don't think they are horribly abusive. If characters (PC or NPC) are meant to be fragile or less reliant on special abilities, keep them low-level. Still, this should simply be an option (nothing more) for a "highly competent characters" game.

- The idea of 2 Background skills at +2 each and a background/racial feat are simply brilliant. I say include them!

Okay, that's about all my sleep-addled brain can come up with for now. I'll probably have more to add later.

Be seeing you!
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Gah!

Postby Clansman » Thu Sep 18, 2003 9:32 am

Gah! The above should've been posted on my regular account. Ah well, I'm me...same things as above...going to sleep now! :roll:

One additional note, though -- material from the B5 movies should be a definite must for the companion. I can't think of anywhere else it should be put, to be honest, and it should be given some coverage.
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Re: Back to the B5 Companion...

Postby Saberhagen » Thu Sep 18, 2003 4:34 pm

[quote="Clansmanone- Most of the classes seem...well...pretty thin as far as abilites go. Skill poins aren't terribly high, and the lack of class abilities at a consistent rate is kind of off-putting. I would suggest a few more bonus feats/abilities spread out among the different classes (or an option for such). Let's face it -- the combat ain't what gets things done in B5; it's skills and abilities. .[/quote]

Personally I think the classes are fine as they are, as with Hit Points. B5 is a low power game that aims to encourage ROLE playing not RULE playing. :cry:

'Powering up' the characters is the last thing the game needs, it just gives Munchkins and Rules Lawyers more opportunities to subsitute dice rolling for role-playing and more things for people to argue over rather than getting on with the game.

The companion shouldn't be a complete rewriting of the main rulebook, just a few patches for things that might have gone slightly wrong and a whole host of adds -- such as trading rules and, as Clansmanone suggested, material from the B5 films that isn't covered elsewhere ... which I guess includes list favourites 'The Hand' :twisted:
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Postby Guest » Fri Sep 19, 2003 7:02 am

[Quote: Personally I think the classes are fine as they are, as with Hit Points. B5 is a low power game that aims to encourage ROLE playing not RULE playing. 'Powering up' the characters is the last thing the game needs, it just gives Munchkins and Rules Lawyers more opportunities to subsitute dice rolling for role-playing and more things for people to argue over rather than getting on with the game.]

I don't think that's necessarily true at all. I've had plenty of great role-playing only sessions (not RULE-playing) in an Epic Level D&D game I ran. While some people may believe that more character abilities = poor role-playing, I believe that those apples do not equal these oranges. All I am suggesting is an option for those who like highly-competent characters. I like playing characters that can do things, lots of things if necessary. My concern, looking at the PrCs in The Coming of Shadows, is that most players will move into PrCs first chance they get in order to get more 'bang for their buck' rather than stick with one of the core classes -- which should be able to handle 90%+ of all characters, IMO. The way to do that is to give them more options.

Now, I'm not suggesting a re-write of the rules or a blanket "Thou Shalt Have Uber-Characters" but rather an *option* same as different hit point options and the like. Throwing around perjoratives like "Munchkin" and "Rules Lawyer" is more a sign of personal bias than constructive criticism -- just because some folks may have different styles of play doesn't make them "wrong" or "bad." Now, would such an approach be non-canonical? Perhaps, perhaps not; look at Crusade -- an incredibly powerful prototype ship, Technomage, second in command is a Teep, Captain has an "Apocalypse Box" -- powerful characters with a lot of ability, but still fertile ground for good stories and character interaction.

Hey, that's just my opinion anyway. Matt & co. are gonna do what's best for the game, if past experience is any guide. I'm just throwing out some ideas, is all.

-Clansman.
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My opinion

Postby Saberhagen » Fri Sep 19, 2003 12:37 pm

Anonymous wrote:[Now, I'm not suggesting a re-write of the rules or a blanket "Thou Shalt Have Uber-Characters" but rather an *option* same as different hit point options and the like. Throwing around perjoratives like "Munchkin" and "Rules Lawyer" is more a sign of personal bias than constructive criticism -- just because some folks may have different styles of play doesn't make them "wrong" or "bad." Now, would such an approach be non-canonical? Perhaps, perhaps not; look at Crusade -- an incredibly powerful prototype ship, Technomage, second in command is a Teep, Captain has an "Apocalypse Box" -- powerful characters with a lot of ability, but still fertile ground for good stories and character interaction. -Clansman.
No offence meant -- of course it was my personal bias showing through, but I don't think that stops it being constructive criticism. In a nutshell I've RPGed on and off since about 1977, always on that quest for the elusive 'perfect system' and when I heard that D&D was being revamped as this slick new d20 system that would be adaptable to all genres I was delighted ... until reading the Players Handbook and items in the Dragon I realised it was all about power gaming; getting the biggest bonus from combinations of Feats etc. Thecore mechanics are so simple (roll a die, add a number, score over another number to succeed) that it seems a shame to overly complicate the issue with too many 'add-ons'.

What drew me to the B5 game is the fact that this 'cub scout badge collecting' aspect of the d20 seems to have been really trimmed back, giving the system more a flavour of Call of Cthulhu - in that anybody can be a physical threat (as in 'real life') and big monsters (e.g. The Shadows) are best run away from.

So, that's all I'm saying - I'd rather see more stats for new characters, pieces of kit, ships, aliens etc and more information expanding the B5 universe than more feats and skills (I'd expect that once the Major Race supplements are published there'll be enough feats to keep everyone happy anyway). And - of course - giving the flexibility of the d20 system if you like a Feat from another system (e.g. d20 Modern) there's nothing to stop you using it.

So enough rambling - the B5 Companion will only have a finite number of pages in it and I'd rather see material that tells us more about the B5 universe than more feats and special abilities for characters.
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Postby MongooseMatt » Fri Sep 19, 2003 2:06 pm

Funnily enough, I have been considering alternate hit point rules for the Companion - but making characters even weaker, not more macho!

It is up for debate whether we include any 'optional' rules in the Companion, as I have a mortal hatred of them. They just seem so wishy-washy 'we kinda thought this was a good idea but would never use it in our games though we think some people might' kind of thing.

In addition, we won't be adding anything from the films in the Companion - this will appear in the relevant season books and in other volumes. The B5 Companion will concentrate a) on rules tweaks and additions and b) 'cool' stuff for players to do. Like dodging security on the B5 station. . .
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Postby KDLadage » Fri Sep 19, 2003 6:08 pm

I posted a discussion (in this thread) on several options for hit points. These would allow a Game Master to tailor the game to the level of combat deadliness desired in her/his game.

Please feel free to use any and all of that.

If you want it edited, expanded upon or trimmed down -- I am available for that, too.
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Postby Morden » Fri Sep 19, 2003 6:54 pm

ShadowScout wrote:"The Hand"...

So in my B5 universe, the Hand was just a bunch of mid-born guys who found that extremely old city (probably build by Lorien with his race's equivalent of lego blocks), with the extradimansional portal or whatsit, and hid there from the Shadows (or the Vorlons, or the Kirishiac, or some other ancient race)... and when those had finally gone beyond the rim, they came forth again and, having missed the battle, tried to intimidate the victor... (well, they at least had better PR guys then the Shadows or Drakh, I grant 'em that)
Now that is brialliant, and very good for RPGs. I could imagine them as being much like a race of psychotic minbarri - or, worse yet, a psychotic offshoot branch of actual minbarri (drow anyone?).
ShadowScout wrote: Personally, if I need an threat bigger then the Shadows for my campaign, I'll be satisfied with some half-insane but brilliant scientist seeking to build a special jumpgate into some theorized kind of extradimensional space where his calculations show travel should be almost instantanous... a "thirdspace" for lack of a batter word :mrgreen: (now Those ships did generate the feel of a threat bigger then the Shadows)
Oh yeah, Third Space aliens do represent an interesting threat and I could see them as being just as (if not more) powerful than the shadows. One thought that has crossed my mind is whether or not The Hand are actually the Thirdspace aliens. My reasoning is that we never learned anything about them other than that they are quite powerful. They might be interested in this dimension. Its hard to say really. It could explain how an uber powerful race still exists without ruining the continuity of the show. It still does not explain where they were during Crusade though.
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Postby Garibaldi2257 » Tue Oct 28, 2003 3:19 am

Now, this might be Hearsay, but from everything I've read, and this goes back to the beginning of B5, someone contracted JMS to do a certain number of B5 movies, and LotR was the last of them, so it may be that he just sort of threw it out there.

The Hand being the aliens from thirdspace does make a lot of sense.

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